Event review by Steve McDevitt

I recently attended an introductory course on trading cryptocurrencies held by the Irish Institute of Financial Traders (IIFT). The purpose of this one day course was to give an overview of the Blockchain world, all the way from it’s underlying technology, the ecosystem that has built up around it so that by the end of it they could feel confident to get involved in trading cryptocurrencies.

It was hosted by Jillian Godsil who told her story of getting involved in this world and introduced the course tutor Morgan Pierce to the class. Later in the afternoon she brought Michel Comini who’s company Gimmer, an automated bot trading platform, was currently in the middle of it’s own ICO. This was a very interesting angle to hear from someone who was right in the centre of the maelstorm. Morgan is a very enthusastic and passionate teacher who did impressively well to not only get through such a large amount of information and topics but to also demystify chunks of dense information in a way that was accessible to her audience. With a background in marketing, technology and startup / venture capitalism it gave her very relevant and applicable skills from the real world to teach the course material. Being held by the IIFT the audience consisted of traders, high value clients and people who were either new to the scene or looking to further their knowledge on the subject.

The course started with an overview of how blockchain works, from it’s decentralised network & permanent record, examples of how information is stored to the system and what miners do and why and the attributes associated with it. There was plenty of back and forth,  audience was actively involved and lots of interaction asking questions and pressing for details and clarification. With the fundamentals of the technology driving cryptocurrencies complete we moved onto the various applications and possibilities that blockchain could be used for.

To put this in context we were given a brief history of money and its functions followed by the same with Bitcoin, a compare and contrast between Fiat and cyrptocurrencies. From here we discussed the blockchain ecosystem. Key to this was explaining that not every cryptocurrency is trying to be ‘money’ and that blockchain technology could lead to the building of a new version of the internet. The ability to create value in the form of a coin to many of tasks that we do everyday could radically change the way businesses and individuals interact as well as how information is stored and shared.

Morgan moved onto the nuts and bolts of how to trade currencies, how to buy and sell and safe ways to get started. Wallets, exchanges and how to move between them and the costs involved were discussed as were trading strategies and apps to help keep track your portfolio. How and why to participate in ICOs was neatly followed by Michel’s talk from the point of view of someone at the coalface as Gimmer was currently in the middle of their own ICO. This background gave pointers of what to look when reviewing white papers, the team behind and the steps that they had taken to get there.

With over 1500 coins and the backdrop of the volatile market cryptocurrencies were going to drew similarities to the dot-com days and the boom and bust that followed that it. Born from the success and failure of those companies are many of the websites & apps that we use everyday. According to Morgan the technology has the possibilities to write a new version of the internet that will radically change where the power lies. As one trader pointed out, the reason they were all there was to make money, and though there was no golden ticket or insider trade secret handed out, everyone left the course with a roadmap of how to get started armed with a considerable amount of information and background knowledge.

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