A market index tracks the performance of a group of stocks, which either represents the market as a whole or a specific sector of the market, like technology or retail companies. You’re likely to hear most about the S&P 500, the Nasdaq composite and the Dow Jones Industrial Average; they are often used as proxies for the performance of the overall market.
Crypto-only exchanges do not handle any fiat currency, they don’t work at all with « real world money ». They will however allow you to trade a very large amount of cryptocurrencies. They have « markets », where you can exchange mainstream cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) or Litecoin (LTC) for other less known cryptocurrencies. They will offer similar services as advanced exchanges but you will not be able to cash out. You would have to convert the cryptocurrencies you own to a more common one (BTC, ETH or LTC for example), send it to one of the fiat to cryptocurrency exchanges, and then transfer it to your account. Alternatively, you could also just decide to pay for goods and services in cryptocurrency. Or you could also withdraw the money via Bitcoin ATMs (where you send Bitcoin to an address and get cash, just like you would on a regular ATM).
Those exchanges allow the purchase of cryptocurrency either via a card payment, or via a wire transfer / SEPA deposit from your bank account. They will also require some sort of identification because they are bound by financial laws related to customer due diligence and AML (anti money laundering) legislation. You may be asked to provide identification information such as an ID card, a passport or a proof of address. Note that some sites have different thresholds to buy cryptocurrency or withdraw fiat currency to your bank account based on the level of identification info you have provided. If you are into this seriously, make sure to provide the info necessary to the level you want to reach in time, not at the last minute when you want to liquidate your positions (or said differently, when you want to cash out).
Many online brokerages do not limit their customers to just online stock trading. Full-service brokerages offer banking services including checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, and more with deposits of up to $250,000 backed by the FDIC. Bank of America (Merrill Edge) and Chase (Chase You Invest Trade) are two examples of banks that also offer online trading.
We used a five-star-based rating system to rate companies in the discount stock brokers list above. The best brokerage firms would get the highest, five-star rating. In 2020 not a single firm got five stars, however six brokers were rated at four and half stars. Any brokerage house with two- or one-star rating should be avoided. Three-star rated firm is perfectly fine, but there are, probably, better options for investors to consider. All companies with three and half stars and higher are recommended for at least one category of investors.
Market Depth – the Market Depth view shows the total cumulated offer and demand for a given cryptocurrency. This is the place where we can identify the « sell walls » I was talking about in a previous section. A market that is not manipulated (or at least not overtly) will have a stair-shaped graph on both sizes, with people willing to buy or sell at different values.
Advanced exchanges such as Kraken and GDAX will allow you to do what is called « pair trading ». Pair trading allows you to trade one fiat currency against one specific cryptocurrency, or cryptocurrency against cryptocurrency. For example, you might have an USD/BTC pair (exchange US Dollars for Bitcoin), or a GBP/ZEC pair (exchange British Pounds for Zcash), or even a BTC/LTC pair (Exchange Bitcoin for Litecoin). Bear in mind however that most exchanges which handle fiat currencies do not manage a lot of cryptocurrencies, only the mainstream ones.
Dollar-cost average: This sounds complicated, but it’s not. Dollar-cost averaging means investing a set amount of money at regular intervals, such as once per week or month. That set amount buys more shares when the stock price goes down and fewer shares when it rises, but overall, it evens out the average price you pay. Some online brokerage firms let investors set up an automated investing schedule.