There are countless tutorials explaining how to buy tokens. What makes this one different?
The theory. We are going to explain not just what to do, but also what is going on when you do it. Hopefully, it will take away all the unnecessary confusion. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to read FEW tutorials before sending your money somewhere.
When you say "Ethereum wallet" or (same thing) "Account", it means that you have pair of keys. A key is a meaningless string of numbers and characters; public key is used to send money to you, private key - to send money FROM you, in other words, to access your money.
As the result, private key should be kept, well, private, while a public key can be shown to third parties: it can not be used to cause you any financial damage.
To send money to someone, you need his public key. You send money using your private key and his public key. The thing is, your private and public keys are related, so when he receives your money, he knows your public address (but he'll never know private one, unless you do something stupid).
In a "real" world, when it comes to business, there are two types of acting entities: a person (physical entity) and a company (a legal entity). Mostly, though not always, they can do same things.
In an Ethereum world, same thing. An address can belong to a person, in this cace it is a "physical" entity, or to a contract, which acts similar to a legal entity in business. A contract (just like a company) has some rules according to which it performs financial transactions.
Now to tokens. A token contract maintains the list of public addresses it received money from and tokens those money bought. It is like an electronic accounting book. Saying that you own 10 tokens of, say, VIB, means that VIB contract has a corresponding record, that's all.
Most of the time (if a contract is written properly) you can just send money to it, and that's all: a contract takes money and you are listed in its database. To make sure a transaction happened you can go to etherscan.io and enter your (public!) address. You will see that money moved to contract's address.
Of course, if there is a way to make things complicated, people will make it complicated. A contract can have functions. What it means? Think of a "real life" company: a supermarket. You go there with your money, you pay... and that's not enough. You have to tell them what you are paying for. Sounds reasonable - for a supermarket. Strangelly, sometimes an ICO contract, that (unlike a supermarket) sells only one product (a token) does not "just take money", it wants you to send them to one of contract's functions.
That is not a big deal, but some wallets programs do not know how to do it and some require special knowleges. Lucky us, it does not happen very often, most ICO contracts can receive money, no questions asked.
To put is simple: if an ICO's "how to invest" page says "send money to an address", then you can use any wallet. If it says "use MyEtherWallet of Mist"... Well, your options are limited to these (very good but not entry level) wallet programs.
We are going to explain investing using two programs: MetaMask and MyEtherWallet. First is very easy to use, second is a professional tool. We'll also explain investing using a Web site.
Download and install MetaMask. MetaMask is a plugin for Chrome browser, and it takes about a minute to install it.
After the installation is complete, a fox icon appears on the upper-right side of a browser window. Click it and follow instructions. You will be asked to provide a password, so that your wallet (one you are about to create) can be encrypted. Make it reasonably strong.
Log in with a newly created password and find in a (very strangely organized) menus a "Create Account" item. By account (see above) they mean a pair of keys: private and public. Find (it is easier to find then to explain how to do it) the pricate key in MetaMask's menu and copy it to clipboard.
Now you need some ether. This tutorial is not about buying crypto currency, you can find plenty of "how to" guides online. One interesting option is an exchange that is built in a MetaMask itself.
When our ICO goes live, an address to send ether to will be published at ICO page. After money are transfered, go to MetaMask's "Tokens" tab and enter contract address, name (any, it is for you to see, but better to make it meaningful) and 0 as number of digits (anything from 0 to 18 will do, it is too, only for you to see).
Now you should be able to see your tokens, just give it some time as Ethereum transactions are far from being instant.
Our ICO provides tokens AND shares. Tokens are visible in MetaMask. Shares are only visible on our Web site (if you are a guru, you can extract this info from block chain as well). That is ok, just keep in mind that you have an extra bonus that isn't visible in MetaMask. We are going to talk about Web site later on this page.
As you can see, for a campaign that does not require approval, all you need to provide is your Bitcointalk Id and an address to send reward tokens to.
If a campaign does insist on approval, you have to follow an additional link, fill a KYC form on a campaign's site and wait for an approval.
MyEtherWallet is a professional tool, it has some very advanced features, and it is not an entry level program. However, most of ICOs recommend it, for an unknown reason.
Open MEW in your browser or download it from GIT (if you know how) and use locally. It has more than one way of storing data, I strongly suggest using "Keystore", which is essentially same Metamask does. Create a wallet, make sure your password is strong enough. Log in in "Send/Receive ether" section. You will see a form to send ether to an address...
After transfer is complete, click "tokens" and add token you just paid for: it is not "adding to wallet", it is just adding to the list.
BEFORE sending ether anywhere, you have to make sure your transaction does not get stuck. See, in Ethereum system, you pay variable fee for transactions, the more you pay, the faster, the less you pay... it can even get stuck.
Go to Ethereum Gas Station to figure what is current gas price. IMPORTANT!!! Default values both MetaMask and MEW try using are way too small!
It is possible to "attach" a web page in Browser to a working wallet in order to gain access to both Internet (a nice site) and block chain (actual data). Follow the link from ICO page to an "invest" page. Just make sure MetaMask is on.
The trick is, it is still MetaMask, all the Web page does is providing user friendly interface. When you enter all data and click "invest", MetaMask will catch up and ask for a confirmation.