Beginner’s Guide: Getting Started with Solana

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Key points to remember

  • Although Solana is still in the early stages of its development, it already has a lot to offer users.
  • Wallets like Phantom and Solflare make it easy to interact with the network.
  • Solana’s central limit order book, Serum, offers one of the best decentralized trading experiences.

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Launched in March 2020, Solana aims to address scalability issues faced by other smart contract blockchains like Ethereum. While still in the early stages of development, users can already take advantage of a whole host of features on Solana.

Why use the Solana ecosystem?

From the point of view of the average user, the biggest advantage of using Solana is the high speed and low cost of the network. With transactions billed in fractions of a penny, the fees for interacting with dApps are barely noticeable. In addition, other complex transactions are also much cheaper. The cost of striking NFTs, which can cost users an exorbitant amount of gas on Ethereum, is significantly reduced on Solana, even in times of severe network congestion.

Solana’s consensus mechanism also helps alleviate one of the biggest issues other competing blockchains face: transaction management. With Solana’s Proof-of-History Consensus, transactions are time stamped and processed in the order they are submitted for validation, making it nearly impossible for other users to profit from transaction stacking. Frontrunning protection improves the end-user experience and makes Solana a more attractive platform for future developments such as token stock trading.

Choose a wallet

To get started with Solana, you need to set up a compatible wallet.

For those looking for a Web3 in-browser wallet similar to MetaMask, the two best choices on the market today are Phantom and Solflare. Both wallets are non-custodial and offer features such as SOL staking, in-wallet token exchanges, and NFT support with full video and audio capability. Solflare’s browser extension is only available for Firefox, while Phantom is compatible with Google Chrome, Brave, Firefox, and Microsoft Edge.

Mobile wallet options are more limited. The Exodus wallet might be the best option available today, in part because it allows SOL staking. However, as Solana grows more and more wallets are expected to start offering mobile versions; Solflare has already announced that it will develop a mobile application.

Once you have chosen the wallet you want, download the extension or app from the wallet website and follow the steps to create a new wallet. Make sure you write down your opening sentence and keep it safe. If you already have a seed phrase from an existing Solana wallet, you can import it into Phantom or Solflare after downloading the browser extension.

Once your wallet is set up, the next step is to add funds so you can start using the network. Solana’s native token is SOL; you need it to pay the transaction fee. The easiest option is to use a centralized exchange such as Coinbase or Kraken to buy SOL with fiat. Once you have purchased SOL, follow the steps to remove the coins from your Solana wallet. On Phantom and Solflare, you can find your wallet address at the top of the browser extension; click on it to copy the address to your clipboard and paste it directly into your withdrawal transaction.

Trade on Solana

Once you’ve set up a wallet and transferred from SOL, you can start exploring Solana’s growing DeFi ecosystem.

All DeFi applications in the Solana ecosystem can operate through a central limited order book (CLOB) exchange called Serum. Made possible by Solana’s incredibly fast block times, Serum allows any application on the network to share its liquidity. Unlike dApps like Uniswap, Serum does not use cash pools to facilitate transactions; rather, it matches sellers and buyers like a traditional exchange. For the end user, this means lower slippage and less price fluctuations when using Serum.

Serum trading is simple. After sailing to website, enter the application by clicking on the “Trade on Serum DEX” button. Then connect your wallet using the button in the top right corner of the page. Whether you use Serum or any other app, you will usually find the login button in the same place on every site.

Once your wallet is connected, you can start making transactions. First, select your trading pair from the drop-down list on the left of the site. Then create an order using the fields on the right side. In the example below, Crypto Briefing buys SOL on the SOL / USDT market. Select the trading pair of your choice, enter the price at which you want to buy or sell the asset in the top box, then enter the quantity you want to buy or sell in the box below. A last box on the right should automatically fill in and indicate the cost of your order.

SOL / USDT trading on Serum (Source: Serum)

After checking that everything is correct, submit the order by clicking on the buy or sell button. In this case, the button indicates “Buy SOL”. Depending on the wallet you are using, you may need to click on permissions before your transaction goes live. Make sure you only allow trustworthy sites to interact with your wallet; otherwise, you could lose your funds. Once your order has been fulfilled, you should navigate to the page and click on the “Checkout” button for your newly purchased asset. The funds will not appear in your wallet until you have settled them, so remember to do so after each transaction.

The serum trade is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Solana. If you are looking for more advanced trading options, be sure to check out Mango Markets. The user interface is similar to Serum, and it also allows users to take advantage of on-chain margin trading and perpetual contracts for certain assets.

Raydium is another of Solana’s most popular apps. While Serum only uses an order book to facilitate transactions, Raydium takes a dual approach. Using Serum’s order book combined with its own liquidity pools, Raydium can browse both to find the best trades with the lowest slippage. Additionally, since Raydium uses cash pools, users can provide cash and earn interest on fees generated by the protocol. Currently, users can earn 15.93% APY through the SOL / USDC pool on Raydium.

Solana’s NFT ecosystem has also seen growth after crypto’s first “NFT summer”. The best market for non-fungible products made from Solana is arguably today Solanart. In recent weeks, NFTs have exploded on Solana, with floor prices for popular projects like Degenerate Ape Academy increasing at a rapid rate. Last week, a Solana Monkey Business NFT sold for $ 2.1 million; he was hit for 2 SOL a few weeks ago. Although Solanart is not as streamlined as the main OpenSea NFT marketplace, it has all the basic functionality to buy, sell and explore NFTs on Solana.

Getting to know Solana early can give users a serious edge over other market players. The network is growing at a rapid pace and is likely to become more popular as the crypto space grows in the future.

Disclaimer: At the time of writing this feature, the author owned BTC, ETH, and several other cryptocurrencies.

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