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FAQ: How to Invest in Cryptocurrencies in Malaysia (Aside from Bitcoin)

invest cryptocurrency malaysia

This is a follow-up to my Bitcoin FAQ articleYou need to understand bitcoin first before diving into other types of cryptocurrencies. If you have not read that, you might find this confusing, so read that first. 

This article looks at cryptocurrency and altcoins from a more ‘investor’, rather than ‘tech’ point of view. If any info here is wrong or outdated, please let me know by commenting.

What is the difference between cryptocurrency and altcoins?

Cryptocurrency refers to all digital currencies that use cryptographic techniques to produce its output, like transaction details. So basically all, if not most of blockchain-based digital currencies are cryptocurrencies.

Altcoins – short for ‘alternative coins’. An umbrella term that generally refers to any digital currencies that is NOT bitcoin. Altcoins are not just ‘currency’, they may have wider applications.

  • Bitcoin – clear-cut ‘currency’
  • Altcoins – may be tech platforms, payment network,’bitcoin 2.0′, scams, social media, marketplaces, jokes, basically it can be 1001 things because the underlying technology (blockchain) can be applied in so many ways

What should I know about cryptocurrencies before I get them?

You should know that..

A – They are diverse.

  1. Some are straightforward ‘currencies’ too, like bitcoin. The Bitcoin network’s data ledger records the amount, time, sender address and receiver address. There are many cryptocurrencies marketed as ‘Bitcoin 2.0’ – Litecoin, Dash, and similar. They are designed to be faster, cheaper and more scalable than bitcoin.
  2. Other cryptocurrencies are created as part of blockchain tech platforms. They have their own defining features and value prepositions, usually super high tech blockchain stuff. For example, Ethereum has Ether; the platform is known for its smart contract. Augur is known for its decentralised prediction marketplace and Golem promises decentralised supercomputer. This category has the most exciting developments, tech geeks are having fun 🙂
  3. Some overlap with #2, but some platforms allow you to create your own dapps (decentralised apps). Some examples include Ethereum, Nem, Lisk, MaidSafe, and more. You can build blockchain tech platform with its own cryptocurrency on top of another blockchain tech platform that has its own cryptocurrency; ie Augur ($REP) was built on the Ethereum platform ($ETH/$ETC). If you are a coder, definitely check them out.
  4. Some are kind of just for novelty. Like Dogecoin, based after the Shiba Inu meme. Created as a joke but surprisingly resilient. Such coin, very wow. Novelty coins are not particularly interesting beyond the fun factor.
  5. Privacy-centric cryptocurrencies like ZCashMonero and Zcoin promises anonymity, something bitcoin does not offer.
  6. A few are created as part of social media platform, like Steem. In this platform, content creators who get upvotes are rewarded with $STEEM.
  7. Some are community or fan-based. There’s a singer who created her own cryptocurrency and uses it to reward her fans. The value is determined by the community and used as an expression of loyalty.
  8. Some countries have begun to experiment with cryptocurrencies, digital currencies and blockchain. Some I know includes Sweden, Senegal and Singapore. I have no idea why they all start with ‘S’.
  9. Theeeen there are what we call shitcoins, which are ‘cryptocurrencies’ that use the name to scam people. One popular example is OneCoin. Apparently their ‘blockchain’ is little more than an Excel sheet lol. If you know how to spot Ponzi/MLM schemes, you’ll know how to spot these. They’ll say stuff like, ‘Our coin has the potential to be like bitcoin!’ but has no real technology to back it up.

This guide very helpful in explaining the description, pros and cons of some popular cryptocurrencies. The ones I mentioned above are some names you should know and be familiar with.

B – They are way riskier than bitcoin

If bitcoin is considered a high-risk investment, I’d consider altcoins as super high risk.

Why? Bitcoin benefits from the ideology behind it – it was inspired after the 2008 financial collapse caused by financial institutions (recommended movie to watch: The Big Short (2015). It has ‘for the greater good’ connotation; the person/group who created it remains anonymous to this day. For better or for worse, bitcoin politics and governance is messy as no one entity can claim they ‘own’ it.

Altcoins, in contrast, are mostly created by private companies and institutions. There are now self-interest involved, whether it’s for financial gain and/or to push a particular agenda/technology. Also, words like ‘blockchain’ and ‘cryptocurrency’ doesn’t mean anything if the implementation is shit. Therefore, I would say that any particular altcoin is only as good as the team behind it, just like any other startupAnd you know the high failure rate of startups. 

C – The altcoins world is full of rumors, speculations and pump-and-dumps

I’ll be honest – I think many altcoins rise in value because people get rich via bitcoin and they seek to diversify to other cryptocurrencies, sometimes without a strong enough reason. There is a lot of herd mentality, even more than bitcoin (which at least is affected by world events). I’ve seen crazy rise and fall in value on day-to-day basis. Once, this one altcoin’s value reduced by 70+% in one day.

Altcoins tend to rise in value when bitcoins rise in value, but this observation is not consistent enough to be fool-proof.

D – New altcoins are created all the time

And sometimes they are offered early to investors, even though the tech startup behind it have not done much work on it beyond a website and a white paper (a document that explains the technology they’re working on, the potential and how it can be used). This is called ICOs – Initial Coin Offerings – and many times you can only buy them with Ether. ICOs can get millions of dollars in funding in hours, sometimes even seconds, but my opinion is some ICOs are a hype. I don’t think that putting your money in a buzzword is a healthy way to invest. Sometimes it’s literally, “Hey guys, we’re doing X, we need to raise X million through ICO, the sale is open from [date] to [date]. No we don’t have a working prototype, that’s what the money is for. Kthanks”.

Without actual work put into it, it’s a bit too close to gambling for my taste, but hey.

That said there are worthwhile ICOs to invest in. Do you due diligence. You’re investing in the startup.

Where to buy cryptocurrencies like Ether in Malaysia?

NEW UPDATE

  • Buying Ether with MYR (bank transfer) – Coinhako (note: referral link; Get RM15 if buy/sell more than RM300. Also sells bitcoin.
  • Buying Ether, Litecoin and Dogecoin with MYR (bank transfer to sellers) – Coinexy. Make sure to pick a seller with good track record. Also sells bitcoin. (note: referral link)

To buy other types of altcoins, you have to (1) buy bitcoin first from bitcoin exchanges then (2) convert/exchange them though Poloniex, Bittrex or Shapeshift. The next section will cover the ‘how to buy’.

Here are places to buy bitcoin in Malaysia:

  • Buying with MYR (bank transfer to sellers) – Localbitcoin. Make sure to pick a seller with good track record. (note: referral link)
  • Buying with MYR (bank transfer to sellers) – Remitano. Make sure to pick a seller with good track record. (note: referral link)
  • Buying with MYR (bank transfer) – Luno (note: referral link; Get RM5 if buy/sell more than RM250)
  • Buying with MYR (bank transfer) – XbitAsia. I’ve not used this option.
  • Buying with MYR (via bitcoin ATM) – Pinkexc Malaysia in Ipoh
  • Buying with Paypal – Wirex (note: referral link; get 25% off plastic cards). Get a virtual card (the first one is free), verify account, then transfer money from Paypal into the card to buy bitcoin
  • Buying with debit/credit card – Cex.io (note: referral link)

How to buy cryptocurrencies like Ether in Malaysia?

This is as simplified as I can make it:

  • Step 0: Research about the cryptocurrency you want to buy. Have a good reason beyond ‘because people tell me it will rise in value’ (nope, not always)
  • Step 1: Have bitcoin. If you don’t have it, buy them first
  • Step 2: Transfer bitcoin to Poloniex or Bittrex
  • Step 3: Select the currency you wish to get. Make the exchange from BTC
  • Step 4: Transaction complete; your altcoin wallet in Poloniex or Bittrex will hold the amount
  • Step 5: Guard it until you plan to sell it

In Poloniex, the interface looks like this:

 cryptocurrency malaysia

I would show Bittrex screenshot too but my account is stuck during SMS verification stage 🙁

What should I know about buying cryptocurrencies, especially altcoins?

I’m not going to repeat what I’ve said in the Bitcoin FAQ article,  so again please read that if you haven’t.

Specific to altcoins, you should know that:

  • Similar to bitcoin, altcoins are kept in specialised wallets. Bitcoin wallets CANNOT be used for altcoins – sending altcoin X to a non-X wallet may cause you to lose your funds.
  • Poloniex and Bittrex are trading platforms. Best for people who are familiar with trading, but easy enough to navigate.
  • Shapeshift and Changelly are a simple coin conversion tools, and the fees are generally higher than Poloniex and Bittrex. You need to sort out your own altcoin wallets if you want to use this option.
  • Some altcoins are listed in Poloniex, some in Bittrex, some both. Shapeshift and Changelly have less selection, but they cover all the popular altcoins.
  • Like bitcoin, the security of your altcoins is only as good as the digital security you place on it. The same advice applies – set up 2FA, strong passwords, spread your money across exchanges, keep it offline if you can, etc.
  • Many altcoins are traded against BTC. You’ll see BTC/ETH, BTC/LTC, BTC/XEM rather than USD/Altcoin
  • Reminder that it’s SUPER HIGH RISK

Which altcoins should I buy?

The one that you think has the potential to grow in value. Seriously, treat them like a startup and find out (1) the team behind it, (2) the strength of their working product (not just white paper), and (3) their growth plan.

A good way to find out if the altcoin is good and worth buying is if the community works on the tech development side of it rather than just talk about the investment potential side of it. Too many times you just hear about the latter.

Where can I find more information on altcoins?

If you are a swing trader, then look for people who give altcoin commentaries based on technical analysis. Look for Peter Sin and Fatih87SK on Twitter, among others.

For general discussions on cryptocurrencies, the Cryptocurrency Collectors Club on Facebook is great, as well as r/cryptocurrency and related subs on Reddit. Just mind the groupthink mentality there – negative (read: realist) sentiment on popular cryptocurrencies get downvoted or bashed a lot. We also have some discussions about altcoins in the Bitcoin Malaysia #1 Group (Open) Facebook page.

There are specific altcoin advocates for some currencies here in Malaysia. This section will be updated once they give me the OK to post their contact.

Which cryptocurrencies are popular?

It depends on which timeframe you look at. Bitcoin is the most popular and will probably continue to be the No 1 cryptocurrency for now. The rest of the altcoins compete for No 2 onwards. Nowadays, Ethereum is almost always No 2, except for that one time Ripple took over briefly.

Some altcoins have serious staying power, while the rest maybe will appear at the top of CoinMarketCap‘s or CoinGecko’s list for a short time before overtaken by other altcoins a few days or weeks later. As of time of writing (6 June 2017, see screenshot image from CoinMarketCap), the top 10 cryptocurrencies sorted by their market cap are:

  1. Bitcoin
  2. Ethereum
  3. Ripple
  4. NEM
  5. Ethereum Classic
  6. Litecoin
  7. Dash
  8. Stratis
  9. Monero
  10. Waves

But in the last 1.5 years of watching the market, altcoins such as Dogecoin, MaidSafeCoin, Lisk, Storj and Stella Lumens have all made appearances in the top 10. I have no doubt that the top 10 list will change again and again.

Why are there two Ethereums? What is the difference?

The short answer is Ethereum Foundation decided to implement something called a ‘hard fork’ to solve a community problem. Basically last time there was this thing called the DAO (decentralised autonomous organisation) and it collected a bunch of money and someone ‘hacked’ it (depends on who you ask) and gave themselves a significant portion of that money.

So Ethereum split into two: Ethereum and Ethereum Classic. They are two sets of data ledgers with the same ancestry – one version returned to the point where the hacking never happened while the other version continued on.

The long answer is fun to read if you like drama. It involves high-level smart contract hacking, ethics and rare usage of blockchain rollback. Read here and here.

On the actual difference between Ethereum and Ethereum Classic? Not much, it’s more ideological* than anything. They’re both tradable. From an investor POV, both has potential.

*Why I say it’s ideological: People who choose Ethereum over Ethereum Classic believes that the hacking is unethical and the funds from DAO were stolen, thus it should be returned. The people who choose Ethereum Classic over Ethereum believes that the hacker fairly exploited the smart contract feature in the DAO through his/her/their own cleverness, thus that makes it rightfully theirs.

Can I mine altcoins?

First of all, different altcoins use different terminologies. Some use ‘mining’, some use ‘harvesting’, some use other terms. But for all intents and purposes, let’s just use mining for now to refer to all the ways to earn altcoins without buying them.

The short answer is yes you can mine some altcoins. I don’t mine and I can’t cover ALL altcoins here, so please get specific details from their respective communities. There are some altcoins that you can still mine with simple equipment. Just be wary of dodgy cloud mining or anything with MLM or Ponzi structure.

There are some discussions about mining in Bitcoin Malaysia #1 Group (Open) Facebook page.

Are gains from cryptocurrencies taxable in Malaysia?

As of now, BNM does not consider cryptocurrencies as currencies and do not regulate them. Therefore, gains from cryptocurrencies are not taxable at this point. More and more countries worldwide are regulating cryptocurrencies though, so expect this in the future.

I personally calculate my gains using Zakat Emas calculation. No idea if this is the right approach, but trading is a zero-sum game – if I win, somebody else loses. I want my karma to be cleaner a bit.

Can I spend ether and other altcoins in Malaysia?

You can spend ether and any altcoins provided the merchants accept it as payment. Compared to bitcoin, the number of merchants accepting altcoins are much more limited.

If you want an easier way to spend it, I suggest getting a bitcoin debit card. Wirex has Shapeshift integration, so you can send altcoins to your Wirex account and it will appear as bitcoin in your Wirex bitcoin wallet. Wirex cards are linked to Visa, so effectively you’ll get to spend it at millions more places. Here’s an article I wrote about the cards’ usefulness, published on CompareHero. Use this referral link to get 25% off plastic Wirex cards).

ProTip: Use my referral link to register an account, then install the Wirex app (android, iOS) and get free virtual card (tutorial). This way, you get both free virtual card AND the 25% plastic card discount.

(Disclosure: I’m affiliated with Wirex)

Conclusion

Super high risk type of investment, but super high rewards as well. Take at least a few weeks to read what you can, join the communities (try to recognise the herd mentality), and make your selection based on the cryptocurrencies’ tech potential. A LOT of people have lost A LOT of money overnight because it’s very easy to get greedy. Do not invest more than what you can afford to lose.

Any specific questions about investing in cryptocurrencies in Malaysia not covered above? Comment and I’ll get back to you. This article will be continually updated with new info.

Author

40 comments

  1. Yaay!

    Already commented earlier on Telegram..

    Perhaps should add advisory to keep coins, bitcoin or altcoin in independent wallets, where each owner would have access to private key for each wallet address, hence freedom to choose which wallet app to use without cost of “withdrawal”, the ultimate goal for each owner of crypto currencies and assets.

    Exchange or 3rd party holders of crypto currencies and assets are honeypots for hackers, besides can be subjected to internal corruption where fund can get stolen or misappropriated.

    1. No idea which fee you mean. If blockchain fee for bitcoin transfers between bitcoin wallets, that depends on the load of Bitcoin network at the time, but expect a few dollars

  2. Hi Suraya, thx for the detailed info. If I want to attend a crash course for this cryptocurrency, any place u would suggest. Thx.

  3. Dear Suraya,

    I recently made quite a huge sum of BTC in return from online tradings. Let’s say I sell those BTC and received huge sum of money in my local bank account, won’t it raises eyebrows from local authority?
    If I were to use those money to clear my bank debts and loans and even use cash to buy properties, I expect sooner or later there will be local authorities knocking on my door and ask a lot of questions. As you mentioned, as of now capital gains from cryptocurrencies are still not taxable in Malaysia, do I need to be cautious when spending them? I plan to actually leave my 9-5 day job and be a full time cryptocurrency trader. So I am worried that in the future if I want to apply for bank’s services, they will not recognize my source of income and reject my application.

    1. Hi Leslie,
      I’m not a tax expert or an accountant, so I can’t answer your questions. But if capital gains are not taxable, now you’re not doing anything wrong in spending them. Plus the govt is encouraging us to spend money anyway.
      What I can tell you though is that I’ve heard rumors of banks flagging transactions over RM50k. No idea if this is true, just what I’ve heard.
      Perhaps you can ask your friends who make a living from playing forex? They’re not technically legal here, but many people still trade – they must have tips and tricks somehow when it comes to applying for bank services.

    2. hi there,mind to share your problem with me?we might deal the same thing but i think i already found the solution

  4. Hi Suraya, thanks for the informative post. I’m new to this, and would like to know, what happens if the exchange where I bought ETH closes down? Can my ETH be transferred out?

    1. Hi K, good question. The answer is to pick a good exchange, but we can’t trust ANY exchange after Mt Gox incidence. If it closes down, there is very little chance that you can recover your funds. This doesn’t just apply to ETH but to others as well.
      For this reason, if you have a large amount of cryptocurrency, I recommend getting a hardware wallet to keep it in.

      1. Hi Suraya, once again sorry for the newbie question, but what exactly should we be transferring out? Use the send ETH feature to send out?

        1. What to transfer out to protect yourself against failed exchanges? Transfer out all your funds into wallets where you control your own private keys. Is this what you mean?

  5. “I personally calculate my gains using Zakat Emas calculation” – what do you mean by this and if you could share a little. Thanks 😉

    1. Hey Shah,

      I mean exactly that. It’s hard to expand because I don’t know what I’m doing either. I just now that I should tithe my profit.

      As of now I equate bitcoin to gold (thus Zakat emas) and other altcoins to penny stocks (probably will use Zakat Saham). Will research more. If you know how or have suggestions, I’m all ears.

    1. Hi Alrod, I don’t understand your question, can you clarify? I don’t ‘generate bitcoin holdings’ with anything. I buy or earn them.

  6. Hey Suraya, I am trying to start trading in cryptos but recently customer service in Malaysian platforms are taking forever to get back to my queries. I would like to take up your suggestion and transfer bitcoins to another exchange; sell it for a fiat currency; and trade in that fiat currency; and then send back said fiat currency back to my Malaysian bank account. Is that doable? Say

    1. Buy bitcoin from XBits
    2. Send to Kraken
    3. Buy USD
    4. Trade pairs with fiat currency (USD/ETH , USD/BTC etc)
    5. Send USD back to Malaysian bank account and convert to Ringgit.

    1. Hi Dylan,

      Sounds doable, but I have not tried this option so I can’t confirm. Isn’t money transfer from USD to MYR expensive though, as compared to btc transfer? It could offset your profit.

  7. Hi Suraya, how can I transfer the bitcoin from Luno to other exchange to buy other cryptocurrency? I cannot find the transfer function in Luno.

    1. Hi Brian, it’s probably ‘send bitcoin’ or something like that. put the receiver bitcoin wallet and should be ok.

  8. Hi I love your website! We need more talents like you from Malaysia! Especially in crypto field. I think you’re the only local expert, I tried google search page by page. Only yours is the most useful one! One question : Is coinexy the best for Litecoin exchange? I saw that 1 LTC is 381MYR while in foreign exchange site which is now 80$ = 320 MYR. RM60 of commision is a lot!! Even buying LTC through BTC through Luno it will cost much more! Is that the only best way to buy LTC with local currency?

    1. Hi Felix, thanks for your comment! We have a fair amount of local experts in Malaysia, I have much to learn myself.

      Re: question about litecoin. Coinexy is the only way now to buy ltc using MYR. The price should be better once more people start using that platform, it’s still fairly new

  9. Salaam Suraya, congratulations to you. Not many ladies around with such a knowledge in crypto.

    May I ask besides Luno, is there any other company that accepts Ringgit directly to buy cryptos.

    Which international company would you recommend me to buy Crypto with?
    TQ

  10. Hi Suraya,

    You’re one of a kind and indeed awesome.

    Have you came accross tracto? It’s kind of like an ICO thing I guess. Any advice perhaps.

  11. thanks for approving me on the fb group and thanks for sharing this.
    i’ve signed up on your wirex link.. this gonna be my first cryptocurr linked card haha =)

    1. I’ve replied your other comments, but putting here as well for higher visibility –

      Hey Melvin,
      My bad, I haven’t updated the article. Yes, a Visa ruling caused this. Now most btc debit card are not available for non-European customers.

      Speaking for Wirex, it’s planned to open card orders again soon. Last update is ‘in a month or two’. You can pre-register here: https://wirexapp.com/will-my-wirex-card-still-work-oct-15/

      I don’t know about other providers punya plans, sorry 🙁

      1. Hi Suraya,

        No worries on that =) crypto world is ever changing.. so does the real world.. hard to keep up sometimes. Btw, i think i came across some article somewhere that Mastercard is also restricting sales of debit card to non-euro customers too. Hope Wirex comes up with the new one soon =)

        1. I hope so too. Wirex is sorting it out, we have a plan, but it’s not fast enough. I’ve had bitcoin debit card for a while, so not used to not having one 🙁

  12. Hey Suraya.Where have you been in my life? Been looking for a person of your expertise in cryptocurrency for ages and now I found you.Well..enough chitty chatter.Since Luno is already a Bitcoin exchanger in Malaysia…would it be possible for me to straight away to transfer some of my bitcoin to Poloniex to earn Ethereum rather than going through CoinHacko in Singapore? And normally..how much is the service or transaction fee from Luno to Poloniex?Lastly…do you have like other links other than this comment box to get in touch with you further on cryptocurrency..probably a facebook or a telegram group or something? Really appreciated it if you have.Thank you once again Suraya.

    1. Hi Rashid,
      After buying from Luno/other exchangers, you can transfer it to Poloniex to exchange to Poloniex, yes.
      The tx fee depends on the blockchain fee at the time. I heard now it’s a few dollars. Not much choice for this unfortunately 🙁
      You can find me in the Bitcoin FB group – there’s a few links to that in the article 🙂

  13. Is it the same thing with Blockchain.info Suraya? I understand now they do have Ether as well.Question is..do they accept Bitcoin transfer from Luno Malaysia to Blockchain.info as we speak? Thanks again in advance Suraya.Really really appreciated it.

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