Orca for Everyone, Part I: Getting Started with Solana

This post was originally published on Orca

Orca for Everyone is a guide to navigating DeFi from the team behind Orca: The most user-friendly cryptocurrency exchange on Solana.

Ahoy there!

Want to explore the vast ocean of cryptocurrencies, but don’t quite know where to start?

Welcome to Orca: The most user-friendly exchange in crypto.

Using cryptocurrency may seem daunting, but it’s our mission to show you how easy, simple and fun it can be.

In this installment of Orca for Everyone, we’ll show you how to begin your journey into cryptocurrency. You’ll learn the basics of how to buy crypto with regular money and how to set up a wallet so you can use it to explore the fascinating world of decentralized finance.

But before we cast off on our voyage, let’s get you up to speed on the basics…

An intro to Crypto and DeFi

You’ll likely have heard of Bitcoin, which is popularly regarded as a kind of “digital gold”: a store of value and (though this view is controversial!) a rival to paper currencies.

Nowadays, much of the cryptocurrency space offers an alternative to the traditional financial system, like banking and financial markets. This area of crypto is referred to as decentralized finance, or “DeFi.”

Clean, fast, and playful, Orca is a decentralized exchange, or DEX: a marketplace where users can trade cryptocurrencies and earn yield without depending on any bank or broker.

What makes this possible is the foundation on which Orca is built: the Solana blockchain.

Thanks to Solana’s low cost and super-speedy transactions, Orca users don’t have to worry about many of the problems facing DeFi applications on older blockchains, such as Ethereum.

Solana’s native method of payment is a cryptocurrency of the same name, often referred to by its ticker, SOL (yes, the two have the same name, which can be tricky!). SOL makes the Solana ecosystem go round, and you’ll need it to use DeFi applications such as Orca.

Next, we’ll show you how to acquire, store, and use SOL!

Step 1: Buying SOL

Purchasing SOL with regular currency (such as $, €, £, and ¥) is straightforward. It can take a few days to complete the process, so it’s a natural first step for your adventure into DeFi.

First, you’ll need to set up an account with a crypto exchange that accepts regular currency deposits (a “centralized exchange”) — we’ll use the cryptocurrency exchanges Coinbase (recommended for users residing in the USA) and FTX (recommended for non-US users) in this example.

For those on mobile, both Coinbase and FTX are available on the iOS App Store and Google Play Store.

As you’re still learning the ropes, it’s worth starting out with small purchases to get a feel for the task — no more than you’re comfortable losing. You don’t want to stumble off the deck before you gain your sea legs!

But please note: Coinbase has a minimum withdrawal limit for SOL (at the time of this writing, 1.12 SOL). That said, you don’t need to be a big fish to join the fun at Orca! If you’d prefer to start your adventure with a smaller quantity of SOL, consider FTX or FTX US, which have no minimum withdrawal requirements.

Once you’ve clicked “sign up” on either website, you’ll be led through the process of setting up an account and verifying your identity. Once that’s complete and you’re signed in, you’re all set to get your hands on some SOL!

Coinbase: Click “Buy/Sell” on the top right of the main page. Then select “Solana,” followed by your chosen method of payment.

If you’d prefer to purchase a specific quantity of SOL (rather than denominate the purchase in USD), click “custom” on the previous screen and enter your desired quantity. Then click the “Preview Order” button, followed by “Buy now”. You’re all set!

FTX: Click “Fiat” at the top right of the home page once you’ve logged-in.

Then click “DEPOSIT VIA CARD”, and follow the instructions given to add your debit or credit card as a means of payment (you will need to have completed FTX’s Level 2 Identity Verification before you can complete this step).

Once that’s done, you’ll be able to fund your FTX account with your debit or credit card.

Note that all currency deposited in this way will automatically be converted to dollars. Not that it matters of course, as we’re buying SOL anyway!

Once you’ve some dollars in your account, it’s time to get your hands on some SOL. Using the search bar at the top of the screen, type in “SOL” and select the “SOL/USD” currency pair suggested.

This will bring you to the market for buying or selling SOL tokens in dollars. There’s a lot going on in this page, but don’t be overwhelmed by all the flashing indicators and the brightly colored chart. For our purposes, only one element of this page matters — scroll down beneath the chart to find it:

It’s here that we’ll be buying SOL. To ensure our buy order is filled swiftly we’ll be using a“market order”, which will execute at the prevailing market rate, rather than at a specific price: select it under “Order type”. Then, enter the how much you’d like to buy in the USD field (in the example above, $50 worth), and click “BUY”. Your order should be filled immediately.

Using either of the methods above, you may have to wait a few days before your purchase is available to withdraw. If so, simply continue to Step 2 once that period has passed.

Step 2: Setting up a wallet

Well done, you now own some SOL!

But don’t celebrate yet; your adventure is only just beginning.

You won’t be able to explore the Solana ecosystem and the many opportunities within by keeping your SOL on a centralized exchange. You need a DeFi wallet — one that supports Solana.

If you plan on using your web browser for this expedition, we recommend Phantom, an easy-to-use browser extension wallet. After installing Phantom, you can find it in the extension tray on the top-right of your browser window, beside the address bar.

To keep it there for easy access in the future, click the jigsaw puzzle piece in the top right of the window, then click the pin icon beside Phantom in the drop-down menu.

If you prefer to use your mobile phone, you can use web wallets like Solflare (in Beta) or Sollet, which can be used in a mobile web browser.

After installing your wallet of choice and setting it up, be sure to keep your password complex (but memorable!) and to keep your secret recovery phrase in a safe place, per the wallet’s setup instructions.

In particular, make sure you don’t leave a digital trace of your recovery phrase — don’t take a photo or a screenshot, or save it in a text document on your computer where a wily cybercriminal might get access to it. Write it down in the real world — on a piece of paper — and guard it as you would a treasure map. You don’t want to lose your SOL (or any of the other treasure you’ll acquire on your travels)!

Step 3: Identifying your SOL address

Now that you have a wallet, it’s time to find your Solana address.

This is also known as your “public key,” and it functions much like your bank account number for all things Solana. Each address is a unique string of letters and numbers between 32–44 characters long. If others wish to pay you on the Solana blockchain, or you want to fill your wallet with SOL, you’ll need this address.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to memorize it or type it out. The norm is to simply copy and paste!

We’ll use Phantom here as an example. First open Phantom in your browser, then simply click the name of your wallet (it defaults to “Wallet 1” if you haven’t given it a special name yet).

This will automatically copy your Solana address to your clipboard. You now have an address to send your SOL tokens to! Which brings us to our next step…

Step 4: Sending SOL to your wallet

Hop back onto Coinbase or FTX.

Coinbase: Click the white “Send/Receive” button at the top-right of the screen. Select “Solana” in the “Pay with” box. And in the “To” box, paste the address that you copied from your wallet earlier.

When specifying how much SOL you would like to send, remember that on Coinbase there is a minimum withdrawal required for SOL. Once you’ve entered it, click “Continue” and confirm the withdrawal.

FTX: Click “WALLETS” at the top left of the home page — then scroll down to Solana and click “WITHDRAW”.

Enter the amount of SOL you would like to send (there is no minimum withdrawal amount on FTX), and your Solana address, which you copied from your new wallet earlier.

Complete the 2FA Authentication process (in the image above, a text message), then click “WITHDRAW”.

Once you’ve sent your SOL from your exchange account to your wallet, open the Solana wallet you set up earlier, and wait for your SOL to arrive. Solana transaction times are blissfully shorter (and cheaper) than other blockchains — usually on the order of a few seconds, and only a few cents in transaction fees! However, it sometimes takes centralized exchanges like Coinbase and FTX a bit longer (another reason we’re diving into DeFi!), so don’t be too worried if you have to wait a bit before your SOL shows up in your wallet.

Congratulations: you are now the proud owner of some SOL and a user of the Solana blockchain!

You are now swimming across the surface of Solana… but the best is yet to come!

While SOL is a remarkable asset by itself, the real riches of the Solana ecosystem lie in the deep:

  • Easily accessible (if risky!) yields in the double or even triple digits…
  • Not merely digital assets, but digital treasures like NFTs…
  • And lightning fast, cross-border payments — anytime, and virtually anywhere.

Sound too good to be true? It’s all out there, waiting for you. But don’t take our word for it! We’d like you to explore it for yourself. And that’s what we’ll be showing you in the next chapter of our voyage.

In part II, we’ll show you how to dive into DeFi by making your first “swap” — the local lingo for exchanging one cryptocurrency for another — on Orca.

In the meantime, welcome to the pod!

To be continued…

Disclaimer: The content of this communication is not financial advice and should not be relied on by any persons as financial advice. This communication has not been provided in consideration of any recipient’s financial needs. We have not conducted any financial assessment based on the personal circumstances of any recipients. All persons are encouraged to seek their own independent financial advice prior to taking any further action.

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