Bitcoin Has Power to Break People Out of Poverty, Current System Broken

Bitcoin Has Power to Break People Out of Poverty Current System Broken

Bitcoin Has Power to Break People Out of Poverty, Current System Broken

Can Bitcoin help people break out of poverty? What if we could build a financial system with Bitcoin that would lead to a more equitable and fairer society?

Bitcoin has been around for nearly a decade now and it has survived many doomsday predictions regarding its demise. It has grown to become an accepted medium of transferring money, it has also been recognized as a currency in some countries like Japan.
 

Why is the existing system broken?

The present financial system is supported by large-scale financial institutions that provide financial services. This means banks, insurance companies, credit card companies, housing finance companies, money transfer companies etc.

The problem is that while these businesses have existed for a long time, accessibility has always been an issue. According to the world bank, two bln people still do not have access to a bank account. Yet this present financial institution based payment system is stuck in an archaic era.

People are expected to use cash by withdrawing it from a bank account, they are supposed to deposit money physically at a bank teller or a machine and there are costs attached to just using and maintaining the system.
 

Digital is the answer

Digitalization and using modern technology like smartphones has many benefits. The World Bank Working Paper titled – The Global Findex Database 2014, Measuring Financial Inclusion around the World says:

“Moving from cash-based to digital payments has many potential benefits, for both senders and receivers. It can improve the efficiency of making payments by increasing the speed of payments and by lowering the cost of disbursing and receiving them.”

The report points out further that digital payments increase transparency of payments reduce leakages and provide a first entry point to a formal financial system.

 

The currency is the financial system

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that have emerged have several advantages. Firstly they are digital. There is no cash to handle. You do not need vaults, armored cars or any of the other infrastructure that makes handling cash expensive.

Secondly, some cryptocurrencies have features like smart contracts built in, which can be used by people to conduct transactions securely with each other without the need for intermediaries institutional or otherwise.

As MIT Technology Review recently quoted Joi Ito, Director of MIT Media Lab as saying about Bitcoin:

“Whether you’re an individual trying to get access or you’re a pensioner with lots of money tied up in the market, you’re going through these intermediaries that don’t represent you very well. [Bitcoin] creates a much more level playing field, and hopefully, it will reduce the complexity of the financial system.”
 

The poor need to be unshackled

Regulatory hurdles need to be surmounted before digital currency can truly go mainstream, however, there is hope for the future as countries are getting around to the idea of Bitcoins becoming a part of the system.

There are advantages as well. Digital currencies are transparent and some currencies like Bitcoin offer a transaction ledger that is public. These currencies can help the poor gain freedom from cash which is money that offers anonymity to drug dealers, corrupt officials and others preying on them. Digital currencies also takes out the need for people living in remote areas to go to centers of population for making transactions.

Conversely, it also frees up financial institutions from having to put up infrastructure and staff in remote locations. Whichever way you look at it, the poor gain significant freedom from the advent and use of digital currencies.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

 

By Shivdeep Dhaliwal

David – http://markethive.com/david-ogden

Should You Accept Cryptocurrency In Your Small Business?

should you accept cryptocurrency in you small business

Should You Accept Cryptocurrency In Your Small Business?

 

Despite the controversy and challenges that occur — small-business owners are embracing cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin. The main reason, according to the more savvy entrepreneurial-types, is that by using the latest technology they can stand out from other businesses.

Does that mean that accepting cryptocurrencies is the right fit for your business? It actually depends on your business’s particular situation and needs, but for the most part, cryptocurrencies can offer the following advantage for business owners.

In years past U.S. merchants have had to pay over $78 billion in credit and debit card processing fees. Since cryptocurrencies are decentralized, meaning that they don’t require a bank to verify each transaction, you can eliminate those transaction fee which normally cost 2 percent up to 5 percent for each transaction.

In other words, it costs almost nothing for your customers to transfer funds to you. As for you — as a business owner — don’t have to share your hard-earned revenue with that third party financial institutions.

More privacy and security for your customers.

According to a research by Statista, 17 percent of shopping cart abandonment is over payment security concerns, with another 18 percent is due to excessive payment security checks.

With cryptocurrency transactions, customers don’t have to share personal data when making purchases because they rely on a send-only protocol, meaning that counterfeiting and identity theft are decreased because there aren’t any number for hacker to steal.

Transactions are processed quickly.

Waiting for a funds to become available in your bank account isn’t just frustrating, it can negatively impact your cash flow. That’s not the case with cryptocurrency transactions. In most cases, these transactions occur in real-time because there aren’t multiple banks holding-up the payment process.

Even if it’s not that quick — funds are typically available in just a couple of minutes.

It’s an international currency.

If your business exports goods and services, or purchases supplies or materials from other countries, then cryptocurrencies like bitcoin can help you get around those expensive foreign transaction fees, exchange rates, or currencies.

Since eCash, like bitcoin, is a global currency and it’s not tied to any single government or company. In other words, it ignores border restrictions. So as long as both parties accept bitcoin, you’re good to go.

No fraud, no chargebacks.

 

Cryptocurrencies are similar to cash, in that you either have it or you don’t and all transactions are final. This is because transactions are added to the blockchain via a complex system called mining.

This system verifies funds and makes it pretty much impossible to spend more than you own. Also, since both parties must approve the transaction, there aren’t any disputes to worry about it. This means that chargebacks don’t occur and are a thing of the past.

Acquire new customers.

There are serious die-hard fans of cryptocurrencies. Having your customers already familiar with cryptocurrencies is a plus and can be a major assist for your business since they actively seek out businesses that accept digital currencies.

Of course, that’s a niche market. However, as a general rule of thumb, when you offer more payment options the more customers you’ll be able to attract. In fact, it’s been found that up to 28 percent of shopping cart abandonment is caused by the lack of a payment option a shopper prefers to use.

We’re moving away from paper.

Both cryptocurrencies and digital wallets are continuing to grow. In fact, both the blockchain and bitcoin had banner years in 2016. Bitcoin was the top currency in 2016 and is being valued at around $1,000.

It’s expected this trend will continue in 2017 and and began a high growth beyond 2017 as people become more familiar with this digital currency.

Instead of resisting this change, it would make more sense for your business to become an early adopter and embrace cryptocurrencies so that you can set yourself apart from your competitors.

The bottom line.

While accepting cryptocurrencies can set you apart as an innovator and an early adopter of fintech. Cryptocurrencies are faster and cheaper than processing traditional payments, and are relatively secure.

As yet, cryptocurrency is not equally regulated. Some countries are working to restricted cryptocurrency use.

If is not considered as stable, yet. Cryptocurrency isn’t as regulated as the price of eCash and it can fluctuate suddenly.

Limited scaling. The system is designed to only process so many transactions at this time. However, the fintech revolution is solving many of the issues surrounding the scaling.

Lack of applications. There aren’t as many applications to process virtual currencies as compared to apps that can process credit or debit cards. However, several companies are in the race to come up with the MVP app for cryptocurrencies.

Security. While identity theft and counterfeit can be greatly reduced with this type of system, there’s no system in place to prevent human error, technical glitches, or fiduciary fraud. (Of course, there never has been anything to stop those very same issues in traditional banking, either. Cryptocurrency still remains the most secure banking method as a result of the blockchain process.)

Makes planning more challenging. Since cryptocurrencies are decentralized, and 100 percent digital, it can make preparing financial statements, determining taxes, and figuring out your prices difficult.

If you do decide to start accepting cryptocurrencies after weighing the pros and cons, you can easily get started by using digital wallets like Due and Coinbase.

There’s also POS systems like XBTerminal that allows customers to pay from any mobile bitcoin wallet by using NFC or QR code.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

This article was originally published on Due.com.

David – http://markethive.com/david-ogden

3 Simple Ways for Earning Cryptocurrency From Home

3 simple ways of earning cryptocurrency from home

3 Simple Ways for Earning Cryptocurrency From Home

Cryptocurrencies represent awesome payment systems that enable anyone to send and receive money to and from anyone in the world; convert it to fiat currencies easily and use it to buy whatever one might choose whether online or offline. However, one of the drawbacks of cryptocurrencies is that it can be somehow hard to buy them, especially in selected countries where it is difficult to open a bank account.

Throughout this article, I will show you three ways to make money online in the form of cryptocurrencies using just your laptop/PC and an internet connection:

1-Blogging on Steemit.com

Steemit.com is a blockchain based social network, that incentives its users for posting and curating (upvoting) content. On Steemit, you can make money online, in the form of crypto, for posting new content and/or curating (up-voting) the content of others. The social network has three forms of currencies/tokens:

STEEM: which represents a cryptocoin that is tradable on a number of exchanges such as Poloniex.

Steem backed dollars (SBD): whose value is linked to the USD. SBD is also tradable on cryptocurrency exchanges.

STEEM Power: which are influence tokens that give users control over the amount of earnings they gain by posting and curating content.

When you publish a post on steemit, you will receive rewards for it after 24 hours depending on the number of upvotes it received by other users, who create content. Your earnings will be divided into 3 portions

a. 50% will be in the form of STEEM Power

b. 25% will be in the form of STEEM

c. 25% will be in the form of SBD

STEEM and SBD can be instantly transferred to an exchange and sold for Bitcoin, while you can only convert STEEM Power to STEEM, to be able to sell it, through a complex process known as “Power Down”.

 

2- Mining Altcoins Via Minergate:

Even though I remember that I used to mine around 1 whole Bitcoin every 36 hours in 2010,using just my PC, it is now impossible to mine Bitcoin and most major altcoins using a PC, as the networks of all these coins have grown massively and their networks’ difficulties have skyrocketed too. However, there are a handful of altcoins that you can still mine using a PC with reasonable specifications.

Minergate provides a descent service that enables you to mine a number of altcoins using your PC or laptop including Monero, bytecoin, Ethereum, Ethereum classic and others. The software also has a great option; “Smart mining”, which automatically picks up for you the best coins to mine according to market prices and network difficulties.

With a few clicks, you can download, install and start mining cryptocurrencies using your laptop. The higher the specifications of your PC (processor, RAM) and GPU, the bigger the amount you can make via Minergate’s mining software. Roughly speaking, a dual core i5, 8 GB RAM PC with a 1 GB Nividia Geoforce GPU can mine what is worth around 10 cents per day.

 

3- Donating your PC processing Power for Gridcoin GRC:

Gridcoin Research (GRC) is a cryptocurrency network that is created to facilitate multi-party computing and reward volunteers who donate their computing power to BOINC projects with GRC. You can make between 8-30 cents per day via donating your PC’s processing power to the gridcoin network.

Follow the BOINC client and gridcoin installation guides on gridcoin’s official website and in less than 20 minutes, you will be earning gridcoin for donating your computer’s processing power.

 

David Ogden

Entrepreneur

 

Author Dr Tamer Sameeh

David – http://markethive.com/david-ogden

Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken adds Dash to Listings

cryptocurrencey exchange kraken adds dash to listings

Dash, the fifth most valuable cryptocurrency by market cap, has announced its partnership with Kraken Digital Asset Exchange – one of the world’s oldest bitcoin exchanges with the largest selection of digital assets and national currencies.

The partnership comes in the wake of a record surge for the cryptocurrency, which experienced a 6x increase in price per ($11 to $72 USD) and a 10x increase in trading volume ($3 million to $30 million USD) across Q1. Dash is now open for trading on the platform with buy and sell pairings including DASH / EUR, DASH / USD, and DASH / BTC. Kraken is expected to offer Dash margin trading in the near future, the release said.

“Kraken is excited to offer Dash on their trading platform and our teams are working closely to ensure clients can begin trading the currency immediately. Kraken is an incredibly well established and well structured organization, and amongst the best in the exchange business. In terms of reputation, they represent the highest standard for client satisfaction. Dash is a project that has implemented very original ideas that resonate well with the market, and as a top tier exchange, Kraken’s mission is to provide clients with access to digital currencies that are in demand and provide value”, Dash VP of Business Development, Daniel Diaz, said.

Following several business partnerships around the world, the implementation of the Sentinel software upgrade and the announcement of revolutionary decentralized payments system called Evolution, Dash has been on record breaking trajectory. Its total market cap skyrocketed from $78 million USD (January 1st) to an all time high of $835 million USD (March 18th), with new international markets unlocked alongside user demand.

“As the leading exchange in the Euro market, Kraken’s global reach helps Dash successfully meet the needs of our users and investors. The entire integration experience was very positive and we have high expectations for the partnership going forward. This is a significant achievement for Dash because our ecosystem needs high quality and trustworthy exchanges like Kraken to thrive, and we know they will play an important role as a fiat gateway”, Diaz continued.

Founded in 2011, Kraken Digital Asset Exchange is based in San Francisco, with offices around the world. Trusted by hundreds of thousands of traders, institutions, and authorities, including Germany’s BaFin regulated Fidor Bank, Kraken is the first exchange to display its market data on the Bloomberg Terminal, pass a cryptographically verifiable proof-of-reserves audit, and one of the first to offer leveraged margin trading. Kraken investors include Blockchain Capital, Digital Currency Group, Hummingbird Ventures, Money Partners Group, and SBI Investment.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

David – http://markethive.com/david-ogden

Bitcoin Steams Ahead

Bitcoin Steams ahead

Bitcoin Steams Ahead

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts will have noticed that bitcoin’s price has been going up steadily over the past few days. It is always difficult to pinpoint the exact reason for this behavior. Japan’s new cryptocurrency regulation went into effect, and there is a big bitcoin marketing campaign on the /r/place subreddit. Both factors may contribute to future bitcoin price gains moving forward.

BITCOIN PRICE PREPARES FOR ANOTHER MAJOR RALLY

It is impossible to deny the recent bitcoin price gains. Over the past few days, the value per BTC has surpassed US$1,100 once again, after a few weeks of downward price momentum. Enthusiasts always believed this negative price trend was only temporary, though, as there is no reason for the bitcoin price to lose value over time.

That being said, the ongoing scalability debate hasn’t done the bitcoin price any good. Bitcoin Core and Unlimited supporters continue to “duke it out” on the internet, which generates some negative attention for the popular cryptocurrency altogether. However, it would appear even those debates are no longer sufficient to keep the bitcoin price down for an extended period of time.

It is also worth mentioning there is some positive attention on bitcoin right now. Japan recently introduced their new virtual currency regulation, which effectively removes the sales tax on bitcoin purchases. This makes bitcoin more approachable and affordable to everyday consumers in the country. Regulatory developments like these can pave a bright future for bitcoin moving forward.

Moreover, there is a dedicated bitcoin marketing campaign taking place on the /r/place subreddit. Reddit remains a key place to discuss bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Advertising on other subreddits will introduce more mainstream internet users to cryptocurrency as a whole, which can only be a positive thing in the long run. The bitcoin logo is getting some good exposure on this subreddit, that much is certain.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

 

Author JP Buntinx

David – http://markethive.com/david-ogden

Bitcoin wobbles as traders turn to other cryptocurrencies

bitcoin wobbles as traders turn to other cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin wobbles as traders turn to other cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin wobbles as traders turn to other cryptocurrencies

It's been a volatile period for Bitcoin investors, as holders of the cryptocurrency prepare for a potential 'fork' in the blockchain.

From Friday morning until Monday afternoon, Bitcoin was trading under the $1,000 level, and even fell beneath $900 on Saturday. This is significant as, barring the weekend of March 18 and 19, Bitcoin has traded above $1,000 since early February and hit a fresh all-time high of around $1,325 on March 10.

Bitcoin is currently back above the $1,000 handle, but is well off these recent highs, wiping billions off of its market cap value.

There are several causes for the recent volatility: Chinese regulators cracked down on Bitcoin exchanges, while U.S. authorities rejected a proposal for a Bitcoin-backed exchange-traded fund (ETF). The current concern is over the future of the Bitcoin technology.

Bitcoin faces a scaling issue, where the number of Bitcoin transactions that can happen on the blockchain at any one time is limited. This is creating a backlog of transactions that are needed to be processed and slowing down the system.

A group called Bitcoin Unlimited advocates for increasing the size of the blocks on the blockchain in order to process more transactions, but this has split the community. To increase the block size would involve splitting the blockchain, causing a fork and creating two major blockchains. This would effectively create two different coins and it's not clear which would become dominant.

As a result, investors are hedging their bets or selling out of Bitcoin, waiting to see whether or not the fork will happen, and if so, which blockchain will be favored by the market.

Data from Bitfinex indicates around 49 million more coins have been sold than bought, or roughly 5 percent of total coins traded, in the last 30 days. Through March, the number of long Bitcoin positions held by investors has decreased from 26,858 to above 23,142, while the number of short positions has increased from 9,820 to 14,731.

Meanwhile, the market cap of blockchain assets other than Bitcoin, such as ether, dash and monero, has more than doubled since March 10 from $3.5 billion to more than $7 billion, according to Chris Burniske, blockchain products lead analyst at ARK Invest.

"At the same time, Bitcoin's market cap has gone from $19 billion to $16 billion. Hence, Bitcoin's market cap has lost $3 billion in value while the combined market cap of all other blockchain assets has added more than $3 billion," he told CNBC via email.

"Given these market indicators, it would appear investors are diversifying their blockchain asset holdings, positioning themselves for a generally rising tide in this emerging asset class."

Whether or not the fork happens is hard to tell, but it may harm Bitcoin's brand, according to Jani Valjavec, co-founder of ICONOMI, a digital asset management platform for cryptocurrencies. Valjavec argues the brand is the main thing behind Bitcoin's value.

"It has wide acceptance now, real world use cases, it can be a great store of value, and it is currently trusted by the community. Our understanding is that a hard fork, instigated by two parties with very competing interests, will primarily weaken the brand," he told CNBC via email.

"The next biggest brand in the distributed economy is Ethereum, and that's why we believe it will benefit the most."

However, Fran Strajnar, co-founder & CEO of data and research company Brave New Coin, says the market is still within the parameters of a Bitcoin bull cycle.

"The proposed contentious fork is unlikely but better to happen now than in the distant future. We would end up with the original Bitcoin and remaining miners activating segwit (a well-designed package of system upgrades) and a new, much smaller, privatized alternative version of Bitcoin," he told CNBC via email.

"The sum result of all the network fork (fear, uncertainty and doubt) is we are seeing investors hedge by buying into ether. We expect a price drop if there is a fork but a similar outcome to Ethereum, where the long term market capitalization increases for both assets."

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

 

Luke Graham

 

 

David – http://markethive.com/david-ogden

Will $1,000 become new baseline for Bitcoin

Recently, the price of bitcoin surpassed US$1,000 for the first time since the first few days of January. It stabilized at the $1,020 margin in most global markets and exchanges. Some regions like South Korea, Japan and China demonstrated arbitrage opportunities, with bitcoin being traded at around 7~8% premium.

bitcoin being traded at around $1,100 in South Korean #bitcoin exchanges including Korbit & Coinplug. Nearly 7% premium. pic.twitter.com/NeuWFzhn9f

— Joseph Young (@iamjosephyoung) February 3, 2017

Although many factors can be analyzed to explain the recent price surge of bitcoin, the most evident factor is the decline in the value of US dollars. Previously, when both the mainstream and bitcoin media reported that the Chinese market controlled approximately 93% of the global bitcoin exchange market, analysts and investors closely looked at the development of the Chinese market and regulations. As such, events like the devaluation of the Chinese yuan or introduction of tightened policies such as the imposition of regulation on Wealth Management Products were perceived as major factors behind the increasing value of bitcoin.

However, due to the requests of the Chinese central bank, Chinese bitcoin exchanges came to a consensus to add trading fees. As a result, inflated volumes were eliminated and the Chinese bitcoin exchange market began to demonstrate legitimate trading volumes.

Upon the “clean up” of Chinese bitcoin exchanges as the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) like to describe it as, it was revealed that the USD/BTC pair is more liquid than the USD/CNY pair. In other words, major USD supporting exchanges like Bitfinex, Kraken and Bitstamp represent a larger trading volume to that of the Chinese bitcoin exchange market.

According to bitcoin trading data providers like CoinMarketCap, the BTC/USD pair is currently demonstrating a daily volume of $41 million, while the BTC/CNY pair is demonstrating roughly half of that, at around $21 million.

Therefore, it can be said that economic uncertainty, financial instability or political events in the West or the US in particular will have a larger impact on the price of bitcoin and its trend.

There is also news that Bitcoin’s price jumped by around $30 just yesterday shortly after it became clear that Bitcoin Unlimited had overtaken segwit in hashrate share.

In other news Infinity Economics opened it new wallet to some 80,000 owners, who can now send and recieve XIN to one another. The next stage to be implimented with be the voting system, which will allow owners to formulate the direction of the coin.

David Ogden

 

David – http://markethive.com/david-ogden

Bitcoin Prices Spike Above $900 But Turbulence Remains

Bitcoin Prices Spike Above $900

But Turbulence Remains

 

coindesk-bpi-chart-94

 

Bitcoin prices passed $900 today, though this feat was diminished by several rallies that ultimately failed to push its value above this benchmark. Overall, the digital currency rose to as much as $904.76, after falling below $880 earlier in the session, climbing above this level amid modest volatility.

Later in the session, the price mounted another comeback, hitting a high just above $905, according to the CoinDesk USD Bitcoin Price Index (BPI). At press time, however, the price had dipped again to a value of $894.95. This upward movement represented the latest session of relatively mild price volatility, at least compared to the sharp price fluctuations experienced earlier this month.

Most notable, however, about the day's trading, may have been the lack of any serious decline over the day's trading. Bitcoin prices enjoyed their latest climb in spite of new Chinese regulatory developments that found the nation’s exchanges responding publicly to pressures from the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank.

Bullish sentiment

Still, market sentiment has been bullish, according to figures provided by a handful of exchanges, even with the confirmation that major Chinese exchanges Huobi and OKCoin had stopped offering margin trading. The market was 91% long on 19th January, Whaleclub figures reveal. In addition, more than 53% of Bitfinex orders that were executed in the 24 hours through 22:15 UTC were buy orders, according to BFX Data.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

David – http://markethive.com/david-ogden

Everything You Need to Know About Bitcoin

Everything You Need to Know About Bitcoin

Many netizens have heard of bitcoin, the digital currency. This means it exists electronically. To be more precise, bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency – the implication of security and encryption is important. Cryptocurrency, or digital currency, is an invention of the Internet. Basically, someone out there thought, "hey, what if…Read more. In this post, we attempt to identify 10 questions about Bitcoins that can give you a clearer understanding of what it is, what it does and how you can use it to buy products or services online.

What are bitcoins?

Bitcoin (capitalized) refers to the software or network (ie: the Bitcoin Network), while bitcoin (not capitalized) refers to the digital currency itself (ie: two bitcoins). he price fluctuates, depending on what people were willing to pay for it. It traded for as low as pennies (during the infancy stage) to as high as USD1200 during its peak in 2013.

Who developed the idea of bitcoins?

The idea of Bitcoin was conceptualized by Satoshi Nakamoto, an anonymous figure. In May 2008, he shared a white paper [PDF] about Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency. Without disclosing who he was, Satoshi outlined how the currency would work: bitcoins would be ‘mined’ by computer software, transferred directly amongst users and recorded in an untamperable ledger without the need of a third party.

Part of Bitcoin’s appeal is Satoshi Nakamoto’s anonymity, who many view as a selfless act towards a new era of financial revolution. Online detectives have identified a few candidates, including a real-life Japanese person sharing the same name. Some even theorized that Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym for a collective.

In May 2016, the Bitcoin community was shocked when Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright identified himself as Satoshi Nakamoto. Some people believe his claim, some didn’t, but on the whole the Bitcoin community is unaffected – the Bitcoin ecosystem is decentralized, and cannot be controlled by any person(s), including the creator.

What is so special about bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer currency and runs on a system which allows you to send and receive bitcoins without a third party. To put simply, fiat currencies rely on third parties, such as banks or payment processors like Visa, to verify the transaction. This is how you and I can ensure payment sent was indeed received. However, bitcoin transactions are recorded in a public ledger called the bitcoin blockchain. This information are permanent and publicly viewable on Blockchain.info and cannot be edited or deleted.

This means that the transaction records act as proof of transaction. Bitcoin is also programmed to be non-duplicable, which means double spending is highly unlikely.

What is decentralized currency?

Bitcoin is also a decentralized currency, as in no one government, individual or group holds authority over it. This makes bitcoin spendable anywhere in the world as long as the receiver accepts bitcoins as payment.

Decentralised currencies are a unique concept. Similar to the internet, it is free from geographical boundaries – this is why bitcoin is also dubbed ‘the currency of the internet’.

Due to lack of control and regulations, many countries are understandably wary of bitcoin – and other cryptocurrencies in general – but some progressive countries such as Japan have started to recognize it as currency.

Is bitcoin anonymous?

Bitcoin’s anonymity is a myth. Or rather, it is now much harder to make anonymous transactions with Bitcoin. Because as the ecosystem matures, many bitcoin service providers have started implementing KYC/AML regulations. KYC/AML stands for know your customers/anti-money laundering . This requires users to submit proof of identity and proof of residence.

It is also fairly easy to trace bitcoins. Bitcoins are usually bought from bitcoin exchanges, received as payment, or donated. With transaction details publicly viewable online, it is possible to trace where the bitcoin came from.

 How do you use bitcoins?

Bitcoin can be used for spending, similar to money. Some people also keep them for investment purposes, while others prefer to use them as a method to make international money transfer.  Bitcoin exists electronically and is kept in ‘bitcoin wallets’. There are many types of bitcoin wallets: desktop wallet, mobile wallet, online/web-based wallet, hardware wallet and even paper wallet.

To read more about bitcoin storage, check out this article by CoinDesk. You can have as many wallets and bitcoin addresses (where you receive money from others) as you like.

How many people are using bitcoin?

Estimates vary – it is hard to find out the exact number of people who use Bitcoin. One way to measure number of bitcoin users is by measuring the number of bitcoin wallets. According to CoinDesk’s State of Bitcoin and Blockchain 2016 report, bitcoin wallets doubled to 12.77 million in one year, from the end of 2014 to the end of 2015. Even though many bitcoin users have more than one wallet (it is common to hold a few wallets), this is an indication that the number of bitcoin users worldwide is increasing.

Another way to estimate bitcoin usage is by the number of bitcoin transactions, which has steadily increased. Although this could mean that the same people are simply making more bitcoin transactions, it is fair to assume that there are new bitcoin users in the mix, too.

How do I acquire bitcoins?

There are three main ways to get bitcoins: mine them, buy them, or work for them.

Bitcoin Mining
Bitcoin mining used to be really profitable. However at the current time it is no longer cost effective for the average individual. One will need to buy specialised Bitcoin mining equipment, get/rent dedicated spaces for them, and pay their associated costs (rental, electricity and cooling costs).
Buy Bitcoins
You can buy bitcoins from many online exchanges. There are a lot more options now than ever before – there are global bitcoin exchanges and also country-specific bitcoin exchanges. You can also buy them from other people via Localbitcoins.
Work for Bitcoins
Some people get paid in bitcoins, instead of cash currencies. Websites such as XBTFreelancer… and Coinality list jobs with bitcoin payments.There are other less effective ways to acquire bitcoins. You can get (very) small amounts of bitcoins from bitcoin faucets, which pay you to look at advertisements. You can get them as donations. There are also bitcoin ‘investments’ but if you wish to not lose money, Badbavoid companies that are listed in itcoin Badlist.

How do I send/receive/spend bitcoins?

Bitcoin wallets come with bitcoin addresses, which represent a destination, similar to an email address. Bitcoin addresses are alphanumeric, between 27-34 characters in length. Many bitcoin service providers have user-friendly user interface which allows users to generate bitcoin addresses, send and receive bitcoins.

To send bitcoins, users simply have to ensure positive balance in their bitcoin wallets, insert the receiver’s bitcoin address, and hit send. There is a small miner’s fee to process the transaction – miner’s fees are given as a reward and incentive to Bitcoin miners for maintaining equipment. Bitcoin transactions usually take less than an hour to arrive, but it can take longer or shorter depending on the fee amount and the bitcoin service provider.

You can spend bitcoins anywhere that accept bitcoins as payment. You can also use a Visa/Mastercard-linked bitcoin debit card issued by companies like Wirex or Coinbase.

What are bitcoin’s disadvantages?

Depending on who you ask, you’ll get different answers. Coders and programmers might argue that bitcoin is already an outdated network, compared to some of the newer cryptocurrency networks available. Here we will concentrate on bitcoin’s disadvantages to the casual user:

Advanced digital knowledge is necessary

Bitcoin can be stolen in many ways. It is the bitcoin owner’s responsibility to keep them safe, and this meant implementing additional layers of security such as 2-factor authentication. Keeping them in web wallets can be dangerous. If you have a significant amount of bitcoins, you are advised to keep them in hardware wallets such as Trezor or Ledger.

Bitcoin service providers can be hard to trust

The biggest names have failed the Bitcoin community. Who can forget the Mt. Gox incident in 2014. It was the biggest bitcoin exchanger at the time and practically disappeared overnight along with almost 745,000 bitcoins. More recently in 2016, thieves stole almost 120,000 bitcoins during the Bitfinex hack – and experts still don’t know how they did it.

Lack of acceptance

Cold hard cash is still the widest and most used form of payment – it’s acceptance is second to none. By contrast, bitcoin is only accepted at a handful of shops. However, bitcoin debit cards help to address this issue – linked to payment processors, they help make bitcoin spending a bit easier.

Lack of protection

In general, bitcoin is not considered legal in most countries around the world. Therefore, theft or scam victims have almost no option for recourse. However, the legal landscape is ever-changing and one of the best spots to update yourself on where bitcoin is acceptable or not is Bitlegal.io.

Anti-bitcoin politicians

While many countries around the world mainly cautioned the public against the risky nature of Bitcoin, some politicians or political parties have extreme views about bitcoin. Russian and French lawmakers are considering banning it altogether.

Wrap Up

Bitcoin is cool, but the underlying technology behind it – the blockchain – is even cooler. Turns out, having a method to record data in a way that cannot be tampered or deleted is a good thing. It is also a cost-effective method to store information. Many companies including major banks have expressed interest in the blockchain technology.

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

David – http://markethive.com/david-ogden