MANA is the currency that will drive the virtual economy of Decentraland. Sort of a blockchain version of Second Life, Decentraland will let you use MANA to buy property, goods and services in the virtual world. Although Decentraland is not yet in beta, here’s how to buy MANA now.
What Is MANA?
MANA is the in-world currency of the upcoming virtual world Decentraland. Like the teen-oriented Habbo and the adult-themed Second Life, Decentraland plans to create a digital world people can explore. This isn’t a massively-multiplayer online role-playing game like World of Warcraft which gets built by a centralized game developer. Instead, residents of Decentraland will create their own environment and form their own communities.
In this respect, Decentraland is similar to Second Life. People will be free to do what they want and hang out with whoever they want in Decentraland without the specter of a centralized authority dictating their actions.
The Three Ages of Decentraland
Decentraland’s developers describe their project’s history in terms of “ages.” The earliest proof of concept, the Stone Age, demonstrated a land registry that recorded the ownership of one-pixel “plots” of land on a 2D map. The registry identified the location of the land, the property owner and described the property.
Decentraland evolved into the Bronze Age in 2016 with the release of a virtual world. Although three-dimensional, Bronze Age graphics were rudimentary. The models and texture used to render in-world features were stored on BitTorrent. Users could download the Bronze Age blockchain, a modified version of Bitcoin, and explore the world.
The next version of Decentraland is still in development. The Iron Age, however, will provide an experience much closer to what Second Life has offered since 2003. Once released, people will have access to chat, dynamic avatars and other social options. A scripting system will let people create their own 3D content and interactive applications. More importantly for this guide, the Iron Age will introduce Decentraland’s virtual economy.
What is MANA? What is LAND?
MANA is the currency Decentraland residents will use to buy and sell their creations. It’s an ERC-20 token recorded on the Ethereum blockchain. MANA is the only way that you can buy property in Decentraland. One MANA will let you buy a 10-meter by 10-meter plot of land in the virtual world.
Decentraland’s property registry will record that purchase and issue you one LAND, a unique, non-fungible cryptographic asset. People can buy parcels of LAND near each other to form shared communities, or Districts. Decentraland fans have proposed several districts already. Aetheria, for example, will have a steampunk theme while Arena will be an artistic hub.
When Does Decentraland Open?
After three years of development, Decentralized seems to be close to the public release of the Iron Age update. On December 10th, the second auction of LAND got underway. A year earlier, the project auctioned more than 34,000 LAND to project insiders and alpha testers to create Genesis City.
Another 9,000 LAND will get distributed in the latest auction. Decentraland is using a Dutch auction format in which the price of each LAND starts at 200,000 MANA and declines to 1,000 MANA by the time the auction ends on December 25th. All of the MANA collected in the auction will get burned, so Decentraland’s developers will not profit from it.
Sometime in 2019, Decentraland will enter the public beta phase of the Iron Age. Users will be able to access the virtual world through mobile apps, desktop browsers and virtual reality headsets.
At some point in the future, Decentraland will evolve into the Silicon Age. This version will exist fully on a blockchain, allow users to edit the laws of physics and have improved support for 3D and VR.
How To Buy MANA?
The Decentraland project released nearly 3 million MANA during its initial coin offering (ICO) in August 2017. The way Decentraland ran its ICO, however, left many fans frustrated. The team had created a Chrome browser plug-in that was designed to let 1,000 people on a whitelist Shapeshift into MANA. At the last minute, the team decided not to release the plug-in and made people on the whitelist take part in the ICO with everyone else.
Even then, most people weren’t able to buy MANA. A Brave New Coin report at the time cited Decentraland co-founder Ari Meilich who said, “Taking a closer look at our token holders, 7 out of the top 10 MANA holders correspond to pools or crowdsale partners.” These investing pools snapped up the entire $24 million inventory of MANA within 35 seconds.
Since then, MANA has circulated on several exchanges, even though the token doesn’t have much utility yet. The supply of MANA remains above 2.6 million. Of that, just over 1 million are lying dormant in MANA wallets with another 1.27 million in general circulation. These numbers will likely change as the Iron Age beta approaches and MANA gains more utility.
Since MANA is built on ERC-20, many Ethereum wallets will support the token. The Decentraland team recommends several options to meet different needs.
Most people will use MetaMask, the browser plug-in that lets you run distributed apps like Decentraland. It works with Chrome, Firefox and Opera as well as Brave browser. Of course, the Ethereum project’s own Mist wallet supports MANA, as does the Trezor hardware wallet.
The Decentraland project has also indicated that the mobile wallets Coinbase Wallet, imToken and Trust Wallet support MANA.
Decentralized token trading platforms
Decentralized token trading platforms specialize in the tokens built on the Ethereum blockchain. Their peer-to-peer systems protect your coins by avoiding the centralization of the big crypto exchanges. On the other hand, these platforms rarely offer support for other cryptocurrencies beyond ether and bitcoin.
According to DappRadar, IDEX is the most popular decentralized trading platform. The popularity of IDEX may be due to the exchange’s “semi-decentralized” structure. The project claims its approach delivers faster transactions and ensures higher liquidity than competing services. Having said that, IDEX only has 700-800 active daily traders. This calls into question how liquid the exchange’s markets really are.
IDEX lists more than 400 tokens, including MANA. The maker/taker fee structure costs 0.1% and 0.2% respectively with gas fees applied to the taker side of each trade.
EthFinex was once part of the Bitfinex crypto exchange, but now operates separately. You can trade MANA for US dollars, bitcoin and ether. Besides placing spot trades on EthFinex’s markets, more advanced traders can use leverage to maximize their returns.
The platform has a maker/taker fee structure. Market makers receive a 0.1% “loyalty fee rebate” in the form of the platform’s NEC utility token. Fees for market takers start at 0.2% and decline to 0.1% as their trading volumes increase.
Paradex is a small, no-fee trading platform owned by Coinbase. The service offers a 20-token listing with MANA trading pairs on the wrapped ether and DAI markets. However, trading volume on Paradex is so low that nobody seems to be using the platform for MANA trading.
Simple crypto exchanges
Simple crypto exchanges offer a nice balance for casual crypto traders. You don’t have to limit your choices by using the token-only platforms. At the same time, you don’t have to deal with the complexity of advanced exchanges. The only catch is that you end up paying higher fees for the convenience of these quick trades.
ShapeShift provides one of the easiest ways to convert crypto. Most exchanges use base markets that force you to trade coins on their listings only with the most popular cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether. ShapeShift, on the other hand, lets you trade any token on its listing with any other coin on its listing.
You will find MANA on the platform’s 50-coin listing. While ShapeShift geo-blocks certain tokens that Americans are not allowed to trade, MANA is not one of these. You will not pay specific fees for executing trades, but ShapeShift builds a 0.5% fee into the exchange rate.
The highest liquidity, fastest trades and lowest fees are only available at the big centralized crypto exchanges. More than 30 exchanges report MANA trading volume to CoinMarketCap. Not all of them are major exchanges. Only 4 of the 10 largest exchanges and 6 of top 20 exchanges list MANA. Nevertheless, the available options should meet the needs of most advanced traders.
Binance was the first crypto company to relocate to Malta. The Mediterranean island nation offered a friendlier regulatory environment than Binance’s previous homes in Hong Kong, Japan and China.
Despite its globe-hopping, Binance remains an extremely popular crypto exchange, thanks to its 140-coin listing. You’ll find MANA paired with both bitcoin and ether. Binance traders pay low fees that start at 0.1% and get even lower the more you trade. Discounts are also available to Binance users that own 50 or more BNB (Binance Coin).
From the beginning, Bittrex’s founders focused on enterprise-class security and performance. This was unusual back in 2013, when many exchanges were built by enthusiasts with little experience in the financial industry.
For an American exchange, Bittrex has an unusually large listing of more than 200 coins and tokens. Such a large selection is competitive with the big Asian exchanges. Bittrex’s trading fees, however, are less competitive. The flat 0.25% fee applies regardless of your trading volume or whether you’re a market maker or market taker.
Coinbase renamed its advanced trading platform GDAX to Coinbase Pro in 2018 as part of a new strategy. The company wants to extend even further past its origins as a quick-and-easy place to buy bitcoins. Serving advanced traders and institutions will drive much of its growth.
You can buy MANA on Coinbase Pro, but it only pairs with the stablecoin USDC. Market makers pay no trading fees. Market takers pay between 0.1% and 0.3% depending on their trading volume.
Hong Kong-based HitBTC launched in 2013 and has grown into one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world. Over the past five years, HitBTC has expanded beyond retail trading among crypto enthusiasts. Features like over-the-counter trading and brokerage partnerships serve a growing number of professional and institutional traders.
HitBTC has a 300-coin listing with MANA trading on ether and bitcoin base markets. The maker/taker fee structure rewards market makers with a 0.1% rebate on their trades. Market takers must pay, but the 0.1% fee is among the lowest in the industry.
Huobi is a Chinese crypto exchange that has navigated the difficult regulatory waters by opening subsidiaries around the world. The main global site is available to everyone except people living in China or the United States. A separate subsidiary, HBUS, serves the US market.
Huobi’s global exchange lists MANA along with more than 160 other cryptocurrencies. HBUS, however, does not support MANA trading on its more limited markets. The exchange applies a flat 0.2% fee on all trades, which get reduced when customers use Huobi’s utility token.
OKEx is another Chinese exchange that has moved to the friendlier environment of Malta. Support for fiat trading and a crypto futures market attracts sophisticated investors around the world.
MANA is one of 120 coins and tokens OKEx supports. You can trade for MANA on the bitcoin, ether and tether base markets. Market makers pay 0.1%, while market takers pay 0.15%.
After hitting a rough patch in 2017, America’s Poloniex exchange was bought out by Wall Street-backed Circle Financial. 2018 has been a year for rebuilding, but the new management seems to have brought renewed stability and resources to the table.
Poloniex has a 50-coin listing and supports MANA trading on bitcoin, ether and tether base markets. The maker/taker fee structure starts at 0.1% and 0.2% with discounts for volume traders.
Other exchanges to buy MANA
Depending on where you live, these other exchanges may also be useful places to look for MANA trades.
- Bancor Network
- Kyber Network
What’s the Best Way to Buy MANA?
The large number of exchanges ought to cover a wide range of trading priorities. You may just want to pick up a few MANA to get into Decentraland’s Iron Age beta program. You may want to make a larger investment in LAND to start building a home in the virtual world. Or you may see MANA’s new utility as an opportunity for crypto investing.
For beginner traders
Casual traders or those new to the crypto game will find ShapeShift to be the easiest way to get MANA. The costs are higher than your other options, but you can get your MANA with little hassle.
For advanced traders
For most people around the world, big exchanges like Binance and OKEx provide a full trading experience and low fees. Americans may prefer the regulatory certainty that comes with exchanges like Bittrex and Coinbase Pro.