Internet Computer (ICP) - how to buy, mine, and use it?

Anton Ioffe - January 20th 2024 - 6 minutes read

In an era where digital sovereignty and decentralization are not just aspirations but tangible realities, the Internet Computer emerges as a groundbreaking innovation, reshaping our interaction with the web. From the pioneering work of the DFINITY Foundation comes an ecosystem designed not only to challenge the status quo but also to offer a seamless marriage of functionality and governance unique to the blockchain world. Whether you're looking to dive into the potential of ICP tokens, engage with the nascent world of mining in a network far removed from traditional paradigms, or explore the burgeoning possibilities of Web 3.0 applications, this comprehensive journey into the Internet Computer's ecosystem will equip you with the knowledge to navigate and pioneer within this transformative digital frontier. Prepare to uncover the mechanics of acquisition, the thrill of participation, and the diverse uses of one of the most ambitious platforms in today's technological landscape.

Understanding the Internet Computer (ICP) Ecosystem

At the heart of the Internet Computer ecosystem is an innovative technology that redefines the concept of blockchain and cloud computing. The DFINITY Foundation has engineered the ICP protocol to introduce autonomous serverless cloud functionality to the public internet. This protocol lays the groundwork for a new breed of software dubbed as "canisters"—akin to containers in traditional cloud services but revolutionized for decentralized environments. These canisters are capable of running on the network independently without requiring central servers. They encapsulate all necessary code and data, enabling limitless smart contract capabilities for various applications, from social media platforms to decentralized finance systems.

Within this intricate network is the Network Nervous System (NNS), a groundbreaking governance mechanism that transcends typical blockchain models. The NNS is autonomous software that manages and orchestrates the functionality of the Internet Computer, ensuring that the network evolves in an adaptive and optimal manner. Think of the NNS as the conductor of a vast, decentralized orchestra, with each node providing its unique contribution to the symphony of network operations. The NNS exercises control over everything from economics to the very architecture of the network, and participants in the ecosystem can influence its decisions through a decentralized governance process.

The NNS also fortifies the security and integrity of the Internet Computer by providing a public key infrastructure that validates transactions. This core component is central to achieving consensus across the network, ensuring that the Internet Computer operates as a seamless and cohesive entity. The NNS facilitates the convergence of node machines, allowing for a high level of autonomy. Applications and services that run on the Internet Computer enjoy a degree of protection against tampering and are rendered unstoppable by design, embodying the foundation's vision for a truly decentralized cyberspace.

Acquiring Internet Computer (ICP) Tokens

To acquire Internet Computer (ICP) tokens, interested individuals generally start by signing up on a cryptocurrency exchange that lists ICP among its tradeable assets. Popular exchanges often facilitate the purchase of ICP with fiat currencies, such as USD or EUR, or by trading other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum for ICP. It's imperative to conduct thorough research on exchanges, considering factors such as security measures, user reviews, liquidity, and trading volume, which can influence the ease and safety of the purchase. After choosing an exchange, you'll go through a verification process, deposit funds or existing cryptocurrencies, and then place an order to buy ICP tokens, either at a fixed price (limit order) or at the current market price (market order).

Once the purchase is complete, an essential aspect to consider is the storage of ICP tokens. While keeping them on the exchange is convenient for quick trading, long-term holders should explore more secure options like hardware wallets or the official Internet Computer wallet, which offer enhanced security against hacking and unauthorized access. Hardware wallets are physical devices that store the private keys to your tokens offline, making them less susceptible to online threats, while the Internet Computer wallet allows for staking and participating in network governance.

The cryptocurrency market is notorious for its volatility; hence, timing and market conditions should be taken into account when buying ICP tokens. Additionally, be mindful of the exchange fees that come along with trading transactions as these can vary widely and impact the total cost of ownership. Finalizing an acquisition strategy may involve waiting for favorable market conditions to maximize the potential value received for one's investment or reducing exposure to price fluctuations by implementing dollar-cost averaging, where tokens are purchased at regular intervals regardless of price.

Participating in Internet Computer (ICP) Mining

Participating in the Internet Computer (ICP) mining landscape is a distinctly different experience from the traditional proof-of-work mining seen in other blockchain networks. Instead of solving complex mathematical puzzles, node providers contribute to the ICP ecosystem by hosting specialized hardware. These node machines are critical components that power the network's advanced protocols, and in return for their operational efforts, node providers receive month cash-equivalent payments of ICP governance tokens. The rewards are designed to incentivize the expansion and maintenance of the network's infrastructure, ensuring that ICP can continuously support a wide array of decentralized applications and services.

To become a node provider, interested parties need to invest in appropriate hardware that meets the efficiency and performance requirements set by the Internet Computer Association (ICA). The initial costs might be considerable, given the sophisticated nature of the ICP infrastructure. Additionally, these nodes are required to be housed within independent data centers, adhering to the standards and regulations dictated by the Network Nervous System (NNS) - a decentralized governance mechanism integral to the ICP network. The confluence of these factors makes the endeavor of joining as a node provider more suited for individuals or entities with the financial capacity to meet the upfront investment and operational costs.

Despite the absence of traditional mining practices, challenges abound for prospective node providers. Ensuring continuous operation and adhering to the rigorous specifications of the ICP network can be a complex process, often requiring a level of technical expertise and a commitment to long-term participation. As the network evolves and the number of applications and services it hosts grows, the demand for computing power increases, requiring node providers to stay competitive and adaptive to the ever-changing landscape. This dynamic ecosystem presents both opportunities and hurdles for those looking to contribute to the ICP mining mechanism, where the balance between cost, contribution, and reward becomes a pivotal aspect of the mining equation.

Utilizing ICP in the Growing Web 3.0 Landscape

ICP tokens are instrumental in the burgeoning Web 3.0 ecosystem, serving as a gateway for stakeholders to actively shape the future of decentralized internet. By staking these tokens in the Network Nervous System (NNS), participants gain the ability not just to vote on governance proposals but to partake in the evolution of the protocol itself. This democratic approach secures the network by distributing power among a diverse range of users, who can contribute to decision-making processes, propose amendments, and vote on the deployment of new features. The reward system, designed to incentivize constructive participation, aligns the interests of individual stakeholders with the overall health and growth of the network.

The use of ICP tokens extends well beyond governance, enabling the creation of decentralized applications and autonomous internet services. These platforms operate with unparalleled transparency, fostering an environment where users, developers, and investors collaborate in roles such as moderation and decision-making. Tokenization empowers users to participate within these services more holistically – through ownership comes influence, granting stakeholders a vested interest in the governance and direction of the platforms they use. The innovative model presented by ICP turns consumers into active community members, blurring the lines between service providers and service users and marking a significant paradigm shift from centralized systems to collective, token-governed ecosystems.

Moreover, ICP utilities are paving the way for true Web 3.0 experiences. By integrating with various blockchain technologies, ICP facilitates a seamless transition to decentralized social media platforms, gaming, virtual reality, DeFi, and enterprise solutions. This integration ensures that services are not only tamper-proof and free from traditional IT constraints but also fully on-chain—hosting data, computations, and user interactions securely on the blockchain. As such, ICP stands at the heart of a movement striving for full-stack decentralization, promising a future where the open internet services are governed by the users for the users, exhibiting true ownership and data sovereignty within the novel Web 3.0 landscape.


The article explores the Internet Computer (ICP) ecosystem and provides insights on how to acquire ICP tokens, participate in ICP mining, and utilize ICP in the growing Web 3.0 landscape. Key takeaways include the innovative technology behind ICP, the autonomous governance mechanism of the Network Nervous System (NNS), the process of acquiring ICP tokens through cryptocurrency exchanges, the unique approach to mining in the ICP network, and the transformative potential of ICP in shaping a decentralized and user-driven internet.