In order to determine where you stand as a Bitcoin enthusiast, I have devised a self-assessment tool. You are welcome to share your level after reading or let me know if you disagree with these definitions. I developed this system in response to some Bitcoin maximalists who deride newcomers for not fully comprehending the technical complexities required to achieve self-sovereignty. Instead, I believe it is essential to meet people where they are at in their Bitcoin journey.
If you do not yet own any Bitcoin, you are simply a “nocoiner.” This could be because you have not yet acquired any, or you may not be interested in doing so. The reason is not particularly important, and I’m open to hearing from you.
The next couple steps in the Bitcoin journey involves acquiring some Bitcoin. For most people, this means utilizing a custodial centralized exchange that complies with Know Your Customer (KYC) regulations, which involve verifying your identity and ensuring you are not involved in terrorist financing or money laundering activities. I’ve heard of people using decentralized exchanges (DEXs) like Bisq and people paying cash for bitcoin to avoid this process, but that is up to you to check regulations in your region and out out scope for this article, which is focused on your label as a bitcoiner and not jurisdictional rules.
A custodial exchange implies that the centralized organization retains control of your private keys, which means they, or the government authorities that oversee them, can lock you out of your Bitcoin holdings if they so choose. It is important to note that numerous centralized exchanges (CEXs) have collapsed over the years, such as Mt. Gox and QuadrigaCX. At this stage, it is more accurate to say you “have access to some Bitcoin,” as it could be taken away from you. This level applies to those who use platforms like Binance or Coinbase. In Canada, the easiest to use CEX to buy bitcoin is ShakePay.
Some CEXs offer non-custodial Bitcoin services. In Canada, two such exchanges are Bitcoin Well and Bull Bitcoin. When purchasing Bitcoin from these platforms, you must send it to a Bitcoin address – ideally, one where only you control the private keys. While this grants you greater control, it also places responsibility on you to secure your holdings. Essentially, you become your own Bitcoin bank. It is crucial to have a robust backup plan, as numerous Bitcoin holdings have been lost over the years due to inadequate security measures. Consider the possibility of device failure or a house fire; storing backups in a separate jurisdiction can help mitigate such risks. If you hold your own private keys to your Bitcoin, you can consider yourself a true “bitcoiner.”
This one is a bit of a stretch and strategy, but there are those that want self-soverignty, and to manage their own private keys, without using all of the space, time, and work to run a full node, and I think a soverign individual is the best label, altough I will propose a “Bitcoin Proce” for a few reasons as a better label for these individuals. The first one was after doing some google trend research for a client on bitcoin, I realized that an abnormal amount of people fat finger “bitcoin price”, and so Bitcoin Proce actually hits trend charts, as well as Bitcoin Pruce. (If you’re reading this and want the actual bitcoin price compared to USD, click here. Anyway, I decided to check if Proce was a word, and UD describes a Pruce “a stud, short in stature, who is young enough to tease and old enough to please. Proce is most commonly referred to as an “OG” and can wiggle the sticks with the best of them”. These typos memes have brought us many gems over the years, like HODL. I don’t know what all that means, but it seems that it could hold up for a few reasons. Anyway, I digress, if you run a pruned node, and manage you own private keys, well done!
The final stage in the Bitcoin journey is running your own full Bitcoin node, which makes you a part of the network. This requires a substantial amount of storage space, as the current size of the Bitcoin blockchain is almost 500GB. Becoming a node operator offers several benefits, including the ability to interact with the Bitcoin network, privately and securely, among others. Once you run your own node, you have achieved the status of a “Bitcoin maximalist.” or “Bitcoin maxi”.
If you hold enough bitcoin you that can’t afford to lose it, make sure you have a dedicate device, regardless of what level you’re at, and if you can, keep it air gapped.
If you’re looking for a 2fa/mfa solution for extra security, check out AirSecure which is an open-source, zero trust two factor authentication manager.
I run classes on how to acquire bitcoin safely and securely, reach out if you’re interested in this, starting from password management as an entire class which is mandatory; it’s important to me that those that want to get into the space can ask any and all questions they have, and have the confidence they understand the process, as far as they want to go.
Addendum: I buy bitcoin through CEXs to stay on board with the regulators, and have included several referral links in this article where I will recieve bitcoin if you purchase through these legal, regulated vendors. Have fun and stack sats!