If you’re planning on getting involved with NFTs, you’ll need to get familiar with ETH and MetaMask, as these are two things that are pretty much essential in this space.
What is ETH?
ETH (or Ether) is the currency of Ethereum, the blockchain that is the foundation for most NFT projects. In simple terms, you’ll likely need some ETH in your wallet to buy any NFTs.
What is a wallet?
Just like in the real world, you need a wallet to store your currency in. There are different types of crypto wallets. MetaMask is what’s called a ‘non-custodial wallet’ which means you are in full control of it. This makes it ideal for interacting with different sites to buy and sell NFTs. But with full control comes full responsibility – if you make a mistake (such as allowing someone else to get control of your private keys), no one can help you. So always be really thoughtful and careful about how you use your wallet and the sites (and people) you interact with on your NFT journey.
What are gas fees and why do they matter?
Whenever you move money or assets on the Ethereum blockchain you will incur gas fees (sometimes called network fees). In simple terms, gas fees are payments that are made to compensate for the computing energy required to process and validate transactions.
Gas fees are calculated based on supply and demand so fees will go up when the network is busier – meaning that fees can fluctuate dramatically from hour to hour and from week to week. You can view current gas fees via sites such as https://ethgasstation.info/.
Remember to allow enough ETH in your wallet to cover the gas fees for all your transactions!
How to set up your MetaMask wallet
There’s a helpful guide to setting up your MetaMask wallet here: https://www.one37pm.com/nft/tech/how-to-set-up-metamask-wallet
Please note carefully the section about setting up your recovery seed phrase (the 12 random words). Remember how I said no one can help you if you make a mistake? If you lose those 12 words, or someone else gets hold of them, your assets will be lost forever.
Getting ETH into Metamask
Now you have your wallet, how do you load it up? There are two main ways to do this –
Buying via an exchange
The standard way to load up your wallet is via an exchange. This method is pretty straightforward and should work in most countries.
A crypto exchange allows you to exchange your fiat (real world) currency for ETH, or any other crypto currency. One of the biggest and most well-known exchanges is Coinbase – this is the one I tend to use and I’ve found it reliable.
If you’ve never used Coinbase before, you can often find a referral link to get some crypto rewarded as you sign up. Mine is here and gives us both £7.40 in Bitcoin.
You will need to be at least 18 years old to create an account and exchanges like Coinbase will generally ask for some sort of identification during the set-up process, and sometimes the identity checks can take a bit of time, so bear that in mind too.
You’ll also be asked to set up some form of two-factor authentication (2FA) to help keep your account secure. I use the Google Authenticator app for this.
Once you have an account you need to link an account that you can deposit money from. There are different ways to do this, and these may vary depending on where you live. If you click on ‘Buy/Sell’ at the top and then choose ‘Buy’, it will show you the payment methods available.
Different methods have different fees attached and some are faster than others. Using a credit/debit card is the easiest for small amounts but for larger amounts it makes sense to add your bank account so you can deposit directly from that (and if you’re moving very large amounts on a regular basis I’d recommend you upgrade to Coinbase Pro, which is free to do and the fees are lower).
Done that? Now you can buy ETH on the exchange. Make sure you select Ethereum as the currency you are buying (it usually defaults to Bitcoin) and decide whether you want to buy a set amount in fiat currency or a set amount of ETH, bearing in mind that the exchange rates will fluctuate. You can switch your view by clicking on the double arrows on the right.
There will be fees for making your purchase which you’ll see when you click the ‘Preview Buy’ button. These fees include the gas fee (for making a transaction on the network) and there may be some other fees depending on the method you use for payment.
After you click ‘Buy’, you may need to go through some additional steps with your card issuer. Some banks are funny about crypto payments so there is a chance that your payment will be rejected. In this case, you will either want to try a different payment method (see below) or perhaps even consider opening a new bank account with a challenger bank such as Starling or Monzo (who tend to be more crypto-friendly).
Providing all goes to plan, you’ll see a screen to say that your order has been accepted and to wait for updates – nothing is instant in crypto, there are always waiting periods (which can be tense!).
The ETH you buy will go into your holding wallet on Coinbase (a custodial wallet). You then need to move that ETH into your MetaMask account. Be aware that there will be a gas fee again at this point so make sure you have more ETH available than you need to have in your wallet for whatever purchase you need to make at the end.
To do this, click on ‘Send/Receive’, choose to pay with Ethereum and the amount you want to send (or click ‘send all’) and make sure you put your MetaMask wallet address in the ‘to’ box. You can copy that address by clicking at the top of your MetaMask where indicated and then paste it in the box on Coinbase.
Always cut and paste, don’t copy out by hand as you risk making a mistake.
Once you’ve done that, click ‘Continue’, then ‘Send now’ and comply with any 2FA request you are given to confirm your send. You’ll see a confirmation screen then you just need to wait for the money to appear in your MetaMask wallet.
Buying directly via MetaMask
You can also buy ETH with a credit/debit card or via a bank transfer on MetaMask itself, via Wyre and Transak. These are called crypto on-ramps and are available via the MetaMask extension or app but may not be available to users in some countries. Some banks may block one or both of these on-ramps so if you find that one fails, it’s worth trying the other one.
To use these on-ramps you may be asked for some sort of identification, such as to record a video of yourself or take a photo of some form of ID.
Once you get through that stage, you will be asked for payment information and given a warning that the price of ETH may fluctuate while the transaction settles – don’t worry, this is normal as nothing is instant in the world of crypto!
In some respects, the process is slightly simpler than depositing via an exchange as there is only one thing you need to do and only one set of gas fees, but the other fees may be higher, depending on the method you use. I haven’t personally used either of these methods but there is a guide to using them here: https://decentralizedcreator.com/buy-ethereum-in-metamask/
Alternative – send ETH from Sorare
If you’re a Sorare manager with a spare ETH balance then you can also send ETH directly from your Sorare wallet. Choose the ‘withdraw to’ option and put your MetaMask address in the box. As I understand it, there are currently no withdrawal fees from Sorare so you should get the full amount that you request to withdraw.
I hope that’s useful as an overview. The most important things to remember are to keep your details safe, double-check everything and remember to leave enough time to do this as moving crypto can take time and just getting set up with different payment methods can also take a while.