dYdX is a non-custodial exchange. This means that your funds are either in your own wallet, or in a "smart contract" which is a program that runs on the Ethereum Blockchain.
Your dYdX account is owned by your Ethereum wallet. For Perpetuals, since they are on Layer 2 you will first need to sign up for a Layer 2 Perpetual account using your wallet via our website. Signing up is a one-time process. For Margin, no signup is needed - you can deposit immediately from your Ethereum wallet.
What is a wallet?
A wallet allows you to interact with Decentralized Applications (Dapps) on the Ethereum blockchain. You can store ETH, USDC, and other assets in your wallet. You will need a wallet in order to trade on dYdX.
Where can I get a wallet?
If you're using a desktop browser, we recommend the browser extension MetaMask.
You can also use Coinbase Wallet which is a mobile app that also allows you to use the desktop site by scanning a QR code to link the two together. (Note: this is a mobile app that is different than having a Coinbase.com account. Coinbase Wallet FAQ)
How do I fund my wallet?
Ether is what powers your transactions to the Ethereum Blockchain. By paying a little bit of Ether (ETH) with each transaction, a miner will include your transaction in the blockchain forever. Typically transactions only require a very small fraction of 1 Ether.
Depending on your country of residence, there may be different ways to get Ether or USDC. We typically recommend Coinbase.
Once you get Ether or USDC, you'll need to send it to your wallet, which has its own address, a unique identifier that defines your wallet.
How do I use my wallet?
Once you begin using dYdX, some actions may require you to sign a transaction which will be submitted to the blockchain. Signing a transaction with your wallet sends some of your Ether with your transaction so that it gets included in the blockchain.
For example, when you go to deposit funds into your dYdX account, your wallet will ask you to review and sign the transaction. This will display technical details such as the data you are sending and the price-per-gas you are paying. If this all looks good, then hit accept and your transaction will be sent out to the Ethereum network so that it can be mined (i.e. confirmed).
Depending on transactions that other people have sent, it may take some time for your transaction to be mined. By setting a higher price-per-gas fee that you pay, you can incentivize miners to confirm your transaction faster.