What Is Bitcoin ?
Bitcoin is the world’s first virtual or cryptocurrency. It was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. Using Bitcoin, people can now transfer money anywhere in the world for cheap price The bitcoin system is peer-to-peer Transfer which means that transactions take place without the need for a third-party.These transactions or payments are then recorded in a public distributed ledger called the blockchain, which uses bitcoin as its unit of account.
Bitcoins are generated after a block of data is processed, creating a block of transactional data in the bitcoin network. This is accomplished through a bitcoin mining client, although this function is no longer adequately performed via a regular central processing unit (CPU). The forecasted number of produced bitcoins is 21 million with an expected completion date of 2040.
Nobody owns the Bitcoin network much like no one owns the technology behind email. Bitcoin is controlled by all Bitcoin users around the world. While developers are improving the software, they can’t force a change in the Bitcoin protocol because all users are free to choose what software and version they use. In order to stay compatible with each other, all users need to use software complying with the same rules. Bitcoin can only work correctly with a complete consensus among all users. Therefore, all users and developers have a strong incentive to protect this consensus.
You can also purchase goods with it among several online sites such as Overstock.com and physical stores.Other companies, such as Expedia and Cheapair, have also started accepting Bitcoin, along with technology conglomerate Microsoft : users can add funds to their accounts with Bitcoin to purchase apps, games, and other types of digital content.Bitcoin Fees Is Very Low According To Others Currencies .Its decentralized design means that it isn’t controlled by any one individual, central bank, company, or country. In short, Bitcoin is an open-source international currency.
How does Bitcoin work?
From a user perspective, Bitcoin is nothing more than a mobile app or computer program that provides a personal Bitcoin wallet and allows a user to send and receive bitcoins with them. This is how Bitcoin works for most users.
Behind the scenes, the Bitcoin network is sharing a public ledger called the “block chain”. This ledger contains every transaction ever processed, allowing a user’s computer to verify the validity of each transaction. The authenticity of each transaction is protected by digital signatures corresponding to the sending addresses, allowing all users to have full control over sending bitcoins from their own Bitcoin addresses. In addition, anyone can process transactions using the computing power of specialized hardware and earn a reward in bitcoins for this service. This is often called “mining”. To learn more about Bitcoin, you can consult the dedicated page and the original paper.
The History of Bitcoin
There are many questions about Bitcoin, but the most common one to be asked is, “Who created it?” That answer is not straightforward, because the identity of the creator remains a mystery. All we have is a pseudonym – Satoshi Nakamoto. The accounts are no longer active; the coins in his wallet have never been spent. Satoshi Nakamoto has disappeared from the world, or so it would seem.
What we do have, however, are facts:
- On October 31st, 2008, “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System” was posted to a cryptography mailing list, published under the name “Satoshi Nakamoto”. The whitepaper outlined the foundation of how Bitcoin would operate.
- On August 18, 2008, an unknown person or entity registered the Bitcoin.org domain.
- On January 8th, 2009, the first version of Bitcoin is announced, and shortly thereafter, Bitcoin mining begin
The journey begins – January 2009
As Bitcoin started its journey, many began to voice theories about why it was created in the first place, and many views were brought forth at the time. Most of them stated that it was simply a response to the global financial crisis, which was a vital concern during that period.
An appetite for Bitcoin – May 2010
The famous ‘Bitcoin Pizza Day’: the day when the Internet witnessed the first real-world transaction with cryptocurrency. On 22nd May 2010, programmer Laszlo Hanyecz announced on the Bitcoin Talk forum that he would pay 10,000 BTC for two Papa John’s pizzas. At the time, this amount of Bitcoin was worth $25. A fellow forum user accepted the challenge and the pizzas were delivered to Hanyecz. These pies quickly became likely candidates for the most expensive pizzas of all time: at Bitcoin’s all-time high in December 2014, the pizzas would have been worth an eye-watering $11.47 million.
Bitcoin value increases tenfold – July 12, 2010
Over a five day period beginning on July 12, the exchange value of Bitcoin increases ten times from US$0.008/BTC to US$0.080/BTC.
November 6, 2010
Calculated by multiplying the number of Bitcoins in circulation by the last trade on MtGox, the Bitcoin economy exceeds US$1 million. The price on MtGox reached US$0.50/BTC.
25% of total Bitcoins generated.With the generation of Block 105000, 5.25 million Bitcoins have been generated, totalling more than 25 percent of the projected total of almost 21 million.February 9, 2011
Safety concerns – July 2011
Bitcoin’s growth quickly attracted the attention of criminals. Question marks were raised when several Bitcoin accounts started getting hacked and were found empty. People immediately started to think that Bitcoin and other virtual currencies were just as vulnerable as fiat currency.
Bitcoin reaches parity with US dollar.
Bitcoin touches US$1.00/BTC at MtGox, reaches parity with the US dollar for the first time.August 20, 2011
The first Bitcoin Conference and World Expo was held in New York City, NY.
Going legit, putting everything aside – July 2012
By July 2012, Bitcoin was up and running, but still hiding in the online shadows. At the time, the cryptocurrency was largely used to purchase illegal items at dark web-based black markets. But, on the other side, some startups were paving the way for Bitcoin’s legitimacy by boosting a new trading environment. One of the biggest names born during this period was Silicon Valley startup Coinbase.
2013 – Security Issues; Price Crashes
June of this year saw a major theft of bitcoin take place, from a digital wallet – once again highlighting some of the cryptocurrencies weaknesses. In the same year, another major security breech saw the value of bitcoin tumble from $17.50 to just $0.01. 2013 also saw the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network issue the first bitcoin regulation. This would be the start of an ongoing debate as to how best regulate the virtual currency. Bitcoin’s market capitalisation had reached $1 billion.
First Bitcoin ATM ever appears Vancouver –
November 2013 On one end, the Bitcoin community was being threatened by security questions; on the other hand, the world’s first Bitcoin ATM started operating at a trendy coffee shop in Vancouver, British Columbia. The ATM used a barcode scanner and hand scanner to confirm the users’ identity. Users could transfer funds from a virtual wallet to their smartphone. To prevent money laundering and other types of fraud, the maximum transfer amount was limited to $1,000 a day.
2014 – Mt.Gox disappears along with 850,000 bitcoins
This year was characterised by growing understanding and desire to regulate bitcoin. Not surprising after the world’s largest bitcoin exchange Mt.Gox suddenly went offline and 850,000 bitcoins were never seen again. Whilst there is still no answer to what happened to those Bitcoins, valued at the time at $450 million, at today’s value those coins would be worth $4.4 billion. The same year US released the Bit License – proposed rules and guidelines for regulating virtual currencies. Microsoft begun accepting payment in Bitcoins.
Value surpassed $1000 – January 2014
At this point Bitcoin was probably well beyond Satoshi’s wildest dreams, as the market price touched the $1000 mark. The total Bitcoin market was worth more than $7 billion. With all the questions pointed at the Bitcoin community, cryptocurrency was running at its own pace and reaching all kinds of landmarks. Specialists predicted the market to touch the $1000 mark and it did.
Time for some correction In Bitcoin Network – February 2014
Bitcoin users enjoyed a happy run while it lasted, but the virtual technology was bound to balance out at some point. The market was faltering slightly and some major hiccups followed the trend. Apple officially banned Bitcoin apps from their App store. Mark Karpeles, ex-CEO of collapsed exchange Mt. Gox, resigned from the Bitcoin Foundation and Silk Road 2.0 was hacked. It was stated that about 4,000 BTC were lost, which was about $400 million according to the market price at that time.
Slow start – January 2015
It was a slow start of the year for Bitcoin in terms of market price, at least when compared to 2014. Microsoft planned to take their Bitcoin program onto the global stage. Bitstamp suffered a major setback as $5 million worth of BTC were reportedly stolen during a hack. The Bitcoin Foundation planned a series of events to boost core development process. UK banks raised their voices to support Bitcoin while Europe’s biggest payments processor Ingenico adopted the world’s most famous cryptocurrency.
2016 – Bitcoin boomed
Bitcoin saw an annual gain of 54%, outperforming all fiat currencies. This was the year that the bitcoin really started to establish itself and provided holders of the currency various ways to generate a return or indeed use the currency. It was seen as a safe haven from traditional assets in a year of Brexit, Trump winning Presidency, the continued rise of ISIS and the refugee crisis in Europe.
2017 – Legitimacy and $20,000
The value of bitcoin jumped from $997 to over $19,661 and its popularity has soared exponentially. The currency went mainstream as it became listed on two futures exchanges CBOE and CME. The listing of Bitcoin Future contracts on these exchanges has boosted the legitimacy of bitcoin and made it more widely available. Despite the futures contracts providing ability to short bitcoin, the value of the cryptocurrency hits an all time high.
2018 South Korea brought in a regulation
On 22 January 2018, South Korea brought in a regulation that requires all the bitcoin traders to reveal their identity, thus putting a ban on anonymous trading of bitcoins.
On 24 January 2018, the online payment firm Stripe announced that it would phase out its support for bitcoin payments by late April 2018, citing declining demand, rising fees and longer transaction times as the reasons.
The mystery that surrounds Satoshi Nakamoto is fitting; privacy was a key value for both Bitcoin, and its users. Others have tried to claim his mantle – most recently an Australian man named Craig Wright, who has since withdrawn his claim. While we may never know who first created Bitcoin, we do know that the technology he started has left ripples in the financial industry. Bitcoin has risen to fame thanks to individuals such as the Winklevoss twins controlling and growing the market, and major events that have defined this new technology’s existence such as the Mt. Gox Ponzi scheme disaster. The people involved and the events that occur are a constant reminder that this market is unregulated and seem to fall in line with Satoshi Nakamoto’s goal of creating a decentralized network.
How does one acquire bitcoins?
- As payment for goods or services.
- Purchase bitcoins at a Bitcoin exchange.
- Exchange bitcoins with someone near you.
- Earn bitcoins through competitive mining.
While it may be possible to find individuals who wish to sell bitcoins in exchange for a credit card or PayPal payment, most exchanges do not allow funding via these payment methods. This is due to cases where someone buys bitcoins with PayPal, and then reverses their half of the transaction. This is commonly referred to as a chargeback.
How difficult is it to make a Bitcoin payment?
Bitcoin payments are easier to make than debit or credit card purchases, and can be received without a merchant account. Payments are made from a wallet application, either on your computer or smartphone, by entering the recipient’s address, the payment amount, and pressing send. To make it easier to enter a recipient’s address, many wallets can obtain the address by scanning a QR code or touching two phones together with NFC technology.
How is new Bitcoin created?
Bitcoins are only created as a reward for proof of work involving cryptographic hashes called mining. Users offer their computing power to verify and record payments in to a public ledger, known as the blockchain. Bitcoin that is already mined is in circulation and can be exchanged for goods and services. There will only ever be 21 million bitcoins in existence, with the final fractions of bitcoin being redeemed by miners in the year 2140. If this great bitcoin experiment succeeds and people still use it after that point, BTC miners will be supported exclusively by numerous small transaction fees – which are required to let your transactions be included swiftly into the blockchain. However, these coins can be divisible into smaller units, unlike regular currencies bitcoins are divisible by up to 10^8, which means that over time people will have the ability to use tiny little fractions of bitcoin to buy things. The smallest divisible unit of a bitcoin is aptly named a ‘Satoshi’.
History Of Bitcoin Price
How does bitcoin price calculated?
The price of bitcoin is determined by its supply and demand. When demand for bitcoin increases, the price increases, and when demand falls, the price falls. There is only a limited number of BTC in circulation and new bitcoins are created at a predictably diminished rate. Demand must follow this level of inflation to keep the price stable.
What are the advantages of Bitcoin?
Currency must have value to ensure stability. The most common way for a person to judge a currency’s value is what they can use it on; Bitcoin is no different, and a host of vendors and merchants now accept it alongside, or in place of, fiat money.
One early adopter of Bitcoin was the computer retailer Dell. In fact, when Dell started accepting Bitcoin, it became one of the largest companies to do so internationally. While the digital currency may total for just a fraction of the retailer’s total transaction volume, there are other key reasons why the growth of Bitcoin could be aboon for the retailer.
The acceptance of Bitcoin is a strategic decision on the part of these companies, most of which are reaching out to solidify their position with tech-savvy audiences. There’s a lot of benefit to Bitcoin, and a variety of reasons for its use, including:
- Faster Payment: Accepting wire transfers and checks is time consuming, and it can take several days for payment to clear. Bitcoin is faster and can take a matter of minutes, rather than days to process payment.
- Lower Transaction Fees: The cost to accept Bitcoins is lower compared to other payment methods, such as credit cards or Paypal.
- Payment freedom – It is possible to send and receive bitcoins anywhere in the world at any time. No bank holidays. No borders. No bureaucracy. Bitcoin allows its users to be in full control of their money.
- Choose your own fees – There is no fee to receive bitcoins, and many wallets let you control how large a fee to pay when spending. Higher fees can encourage faster confirmation of your transactions. Fees are unrelated to the amount transferred, so it’s possible to send 100,000 bitcoins for the same fee it costs to send 1 bitcoin. Additionally, merchant processors exist to assist merchants in processing transactions, converting bitcoins to fiat currency and depositing funds directly into merchants’ bank accounts daily. As these services are based on Bitcoin, they can be offered for much lower fees than with PayPal or credit card networks.
- Fewer risks for merchants – Bitcoin transactions are secure, irreversible, and do not contain customers’ sensitive or personal information. This protects merchants from losses caused by fraud or fraudulent chargebacks, and there is no need for PCI compliance. Merchants can easily expand to new markets where either credit cards are not available or fraud rates are unacceptably high. The net results are lower fees, larger markets, and fewer administrative costs.
- Independent of Governments: Since Bitcoin is decentralized, you own it – no authority has the right to take away your Bitcoin. People with concerns about mainstream banking systems unravelling find this a major benefit.
- Security and control – Bitcoin users are in full control of their transactions; it is impossible for merchants to force unwanted or unnoticed charges as can happen with other payment methods. Bitcoin payments can be made without personal information tied to the transaction. This offers strong protection against identity theft. Bitcoin users can also protect their money with backup and encryption.
- Elimination of Chargebacks: Once Bitcoin is sent, that’s it – you can’t chargeback, like you would with a credit card payment, which eliminates ‘chargeback fraud’ often used by criminals and scammers.
- Transparent and neutral – All information concerning the Bitcoin money supply itself is readily available on the block chain for anybody to verify and use in real-time. No individual or organization can control or manipulate the Bitcoin protocol because it is cryptographically secure. This allows the core of Bitcoin to be trusted for being completely neutral, transparent and predictable.
- Ownership of Currency: With Bitcoin, you own your coins. With other forms of digital fiat – such as Paypal,Payza,Perfect Money – your assets may be held, and your account eventually suspending, locking you out of your earnings. Bitcoin puts you in control.
What are the disadvantages of Bitcoin?
- Degree of acceptance – Many people are still unaware of Bitcoin. Every day, more businesses accept bitcoins because they want the advantages of doing so, but the list remains small and still needs to grow in order to benefit from network effects.
- Volatility – The total value of bitcoins in circulation and the number of businesses using Bitcoin are still very small compared to what they could be. Therefore, relatively small events, trades, or business activities can significantly affect the price. In theory, this volatility will decrease as Bitcoin markets and the technology matures. Never before has the world seen a start-up currency, so it is truly difficult (and exciting) to imagine how it will play out.
- Ongoing development – Bitcoin software is still in beta with many incomplete features in active development. New tools, features, and services are being developed to make Bitcoin more secure and accessible to the masses. Some of these are still not ready for everyone. Most Bitcoin businesses are new and still offer no insurance. In general, Bitcoin is still in the process of maturing.
What is the blockchain?
What is the blockchain? Bitcoins are produced, or “mined”, by individuals with high-end computers that solve encrypted math equations over a distributed online database called the blockchain. Whenever a Bitcoin transaction takes place, that data is encrypted and sent across the network for these mining computers to verify. They do so by decrypting the data. This process is known as cryptography and forms the backbone of security for Bitcoin (more on security later).
By allowing digital information to be distributed but not copied, blockchain technology created the backbone of a new type of internet. Originally devised for the digital currency, Bitcoin, (Buy Bitcoin) the tech community is now finding other potential uses for the technology.
Bitcoin has been called “digital gold,” and for a good reason. To date, the total value of the currency is close to $9 billion US. And blockchains can make other types of digital value. Like the internet (or your car), you don’t need to know how the blockchain works to use it. However, having a basic knowledge of this new technology shows why it’s considered revolutionary.
Is Bitcoin a Commodity, or a Currency?
Bitcoin is both. While it can be used to purchase items from major retailers, it’s also treated as property by government jurisdictions, such as the IRS.
The IRS issued a guide on Bitcoin for tax purposes, stating it will treat virtual currencies as property for federal purposes. They go on to state that:
In some environments, virtual currency operates like “real” currency — i.e., the coin and paper money of the United States or of any other country that is designated as legal tender, circulates, and is customarily used and accepted as a medium of exchange in the country of issuance — but it does not have legal tender status in any jurisdiction.
The notice provides that virtual currency is treated as property for U.S. federal tax purposes.
Typically, property is almost always something tangible that can be held in the physical realm.
The IRS goes on to state that:
General tax principles that apply to property transactions apply to transactions using virtual currency. Among other things, this means that:
- Wages paid to employees using virtual currency are taxable to the employee, must be reported by an employer on a Form W-2, and are subject to federal income tax withholding and payroll taxes.
- Payments using virtual currency made to independent contractors and other service providers are taxable and self-employment tax rules generally apply. Normally, payers must issue Form 1099.
- The character of gain or loss from the sale or exchange of virtual currency depends on whether the virtual currency is a capital asset in the hands of the taxpayer.
- A payment made using virtual currency is subject to information reporting to the same extent as any other payment made in property.
In addition to the IRS’s guidance, the United States Commodities Futures Trading Commission in 2015 that Bitcoin is, in fact, a commodity.
What is Bitcoin Mining?
Bitcoin Mining is a peer-to-peer computer process used to secure and verify bitcoin transactions—payments from one user to another on a decentralized network. Mining involves adding bitcoin transaction data to Bitcoin’s global public ledger of past transactions.
The mining process involves compiling recent transactions into blocks and trying to solve a computationally difficult puzzle. The participant who first solves the puzzle gets to place the next block on the block chain and claim the rewards. The rewards, which incentivize mining, are both the transaction fees associated with the transactions compiled in the block as well as newly released bitcoin
What is Proof-of-Work?
Bitcoin Mining is intentionally designed to be resource-intensive and difficult so that the number of blocks found each day by miners remains steady over time, producing a controlled finite monetary supply. Individual blocks must contain a proof-of-work to be considered valid. This proof-of-work (PoW) is verified by other Bitcoin nodes each time they receive a block. Bitcoin uses a PoW function to protect against double-spending, which also makes Bitcoin’s ledger immutable.
How Does Mining Create New Bitcoins?
New bitcoins are generated by a competitive and decentralized process called “mining”. This process involves that individuals are rewarded by the network for their services. Bitcoin miners are processing transactions and securing the network using specialized hardware and are collecting new bitcoins in exchange.
The Bitcoin protocol is designed in such a way that new bitcoins are created at a fixed rate. This makes Bitcoin mining a very competitive business. When more miners join the network, it becomes increasingly difficult to make a profit and miners must seek efficiency to cut their operating costs. No central authority or developer has any power to control or manipulate the system to increase their profits. Every Bitcoin node in the world will reject anything that does not comply with the rules it expects the system to follow.
Bitcoins are created at a decreasing and predictable rate. The number of new bitcoins created each year is automatically halved over time until bitcoin issuance halts completely with a total of 21 million bitcoins in existence. At this point, Bitcoin miners will probably be supported exclusively by numerous small transaction fees.
What Are Bitcoin Mining Pools?
During the last several years an incredible amount of Bitcoin mining power (hashrate) has come online making it harder for individuals to have enough hashrate to single-handedly solve a block and earn the payout reward. To compensate for this pool mining was introduced. Pooled mining is a mining approach where groups of individual miners contribute to the generation of a block, and then split the block reward according the contributed processing power.
Introducing the Bitcoin.com Mining Pool
Bitcoin.com has developed its own modern Bitcoin mining pool which offers two different payout methods, Pay Per Share (PPS) and Pay Per Last N Shares (PPLNS). Start mining on pool.bitcoin.com today to take advantage of our competitive cloud mining contracts.
Why do people trust Bitcoin?
Unlike centralized fiat payment systems, Bitcoin is fully open-source and decentralized. Transactions can be verified independently at any time. Bitcoin payments can be made instantly and directly without an intermediary. The whole system is protected by a combination of elliptic curve cryptography and hashing on the sha256 curve. Together these mechanisms sufficiently provide large enough random key-space that cannot be attacked by hackers or gamed through mathematics.
Is Bitcoin anonymous?
Bitcoin is designed to allow its users to send and receive payments with an acceptable level of privacy as well as any other form of money. However, Bitcoin is not anonymous and cannot offer the same level of privacy as cash. The use of Bitcoin leaves extensive public records. Various mechanisms exist to protect users’ privacy, and more are in development. However, there is still work to be done before these features are used correctly by most Bitcoin users.
Some concerns have been raised that private transactions could be used for illegal purposes with Bitcoin. However, it is worth noting that Bitcoin will undoubtedly be subjected to similar regulations that are already in place inside existing financial systems. Bitcoin cannot be more anonymous than cash and it is not likely to prevent criminal investigations from being conducted. Additionally, Bitcoin is also designed to prevent a large range of financial crimes.
What happens when bitcoins are lost?
When a user loses his wallet, it has the effect of removing money out of circulation. Lost bitcoins still remain in the block chain just like any other bitcoins. However, lost bitcoins remain dormant forever because there is no way for anybody to find the private key(s) that would allow them to be spent again. Because of the law of supply and demand, when fewer bitcoins are available, the ones that are left will be in higher demand and increase in value to compensate.
Can Bitcoin scale to become a major payment network?
The Bitcoin network can already process a much higher number of transactions per second than it does today. It is, however, not entirely ready to scale to the level of major credit card networks. Work is underway to lift current limitations, and future requirements are well known. Since inception, every aspect of the Bitcoin network has been in a continuous process of maturation, optimization, and specialization, and it should be expected to remain that way for some years to come. As traffic grows, more Bitcoin users may use lightweight clients, and full network nodes may become a more specialized service. For more details, see the Scalability page on the Wiki.
Is Bitcoin legal?
To the best of our knowledge, Bitcoin has not been made illegal by legislation in most jurisdictions. However, some jurisdictions (such as Argentina and Russia) severely restrict or ban foreign currencies. Other jurisdictions (such as Thailand) may limit the licensing of certain entities such as Bitcoin exchanges.
Regulators from various jurisdictions are taking steps to provide individuals and businesses with rules on how to integrate this new technology with the formal, regulated financial system. For example, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau in the United States Treasury Department, issued non-binding guidance on how it characterizes certain activities involving virtual currencies.
Is Bitcoin useful for illegal activities?
Bitcoin is money, and money has always been used both for legal and illegal purposes. Cash, credit cards and current banking systems widely surpass Bitcoin in terms of their use to finance crime. Bitcoin can bring significant innovation in payment systems and the benefits of such innovation are often considered to be far beyond their potential drawbacks.
Bitcoin is designed to be a huge step forward in making money more secure and could also act as a significant protection against many forms of financial crime. For instance, bitcoins are completely impossible to counterfeit. Users are in full control of their payments and cannot receive unapproved charges such as with credit card fraud. Bitcoin transactions are irreversible and immune to fraudulent chargebacks. Bitcoin allows money to be secured against theft and loss using very strong and useful mechanisms such as backups, encryption, and multiple signatures.
Some concerns have been raised that Bitcoin could be more attractive to criminals because it can be used to make private and irreversible payments. However, these features already exist with cash and wire transfer, which are widely used and well-established. The use of Bitcoin will undoubtedly be subjected to similar regulations that are already in place inside existing financial systems, and Bitcoin is not likely to prevent criminal investigations from being conducted. In general, it is common for important breakthroughs to be perceived as being controversial before their benefits are well understood. The Internet is a good example among many others to illustrate this.
Can Bitcoin be regulated?
The Bitcoin protocol itself cannot be modified without the cooperation of nearly all its users, who choose what software they use. Attempting to assign special rights to a local authority in the rules of the global Bitcoin network is not a practical possibility. Any rich organization could choose to invest in mining hardware to control half of the computing power of the network and become able to block or reverse recent transactions. However, there is no guarantee that they could retain this power since this requires to invest as much than all other miners in the world.
It is however possible to regulate the use of Bitcoin in a similar way to any other instrument. Just like the dollar, Bitcoin can be used for a wide variety of purposes, some of which can be considered legitimate or not as per each jurisdiction’s laws. In this regard, Bitcoin is no different than any other tool or resource and can be subjected to different regulations in each country. Bitcoin use could also be made difficult by restrictive regulations, in which case it is hard to determine what percentage of users would keep using the technology. A government that chooses to ban Bitcoin would prevent domestic businesses and markets from developing, shifting innovation to other countries. The challenge for regulators, as always, is to develop efficient solutions while not impairing the growth of new emerging markets and businesses.
What about Bitcoin and taxes?
Bitcoin is not a fiat currency with legal tender status in any jurisdiction, but often tax liability accrues regardless of the medium used. There is a wide variety of legislation in many different jurisdictions which could cause income, sales, payroll, capital gains, or some other form of tax liability to arise with Bitcoin.
Is Bitcoin a Ponzi scheme?
A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to its investors from their own money, or the money paid by subsequent investors, instead of from profit earned by the individuals running the business. Ponzi schemes are designed to collapse at the expense of the last investors when there is not enough new participants.
Bitcoin is a free software project with no central authority. Consequently, no one is in a position to make fraudulent representations about investment returns. Like other major currencies such as gold, United States dollar, euro, yen, etc. there is no guaranteed purchasing power and the exchange rate floats freely. This leads to volatility where owners of bitcoins can unpredictably make or lose money. Beyond speculation, Bitcoin is also a payment system with useful and competitive attributes that are being used by thousands of users and businesses.
How to Store Your Bitcoin
Before owning any bitcoin, you need somewhere to store them. That place is called a “wallet.” Rather than actually holding your bitcoin, it holds the private key that allows you to access your bitcoin address (which is also your public key). If the wallet software is well designed, it will look as if your bitcoins are actually there, which makes using bitcoin more convenient and intuitive.
Actually, a wallet usually holds several private keys, and many bitcoin investors have several wallets.
Wallets can either live on your computer and/or mobile device, on a physical storage gadget, or even on a piece of paper. Here we’ll briefly look at the different types.
Electronic wallets can be downloaded software, or hosted in the cloud. The former is simply a formatted file that lives on your computer or device, that facilitates transactions. Hosted (cloud-based) wallets tend to have a more user-friendly interface, but you will be trusting a third party with your private keys.
Installing a wallet directly on your computer gives you the security that you control your keys. Most have relatively easy configuration, and are free. The disadvantage is that they do require more maintenance in the form of backups. If your computer gets stolen or corrupted and your private keys are not also stored elsewhere, you lose your bitcoin.
They also require greater security precautions. If your computer is hacked and the thief gets a hold of your wallet or your private keys, he also gets hold of your bitcoin.
The original software wallet is the Bitcoin Core protocol, the program that runs the bitcoin network. You can download this here (it doesn’t mean that you have to become a fully operational node), but you’d also have to download the ledger of all transactions since the dawn of bitcoin time (2009). As you can guess, this takes up a lot of memory – at time of writing, over 145GB.
Most wallets in use today are “light” wallets, or SPV (Simplified Payment Verification) wallets, which do not download the entire ledger but sync to the real thing. Electrum is a well-known SPV desktop bitcoin wallet that also offers “cold storage” (a totally offline option for additional security). Exodus can track multiple assets with a sophisticated user interface. Some (such as Jaxx) can hold a wide range of digital assets, and some (such as Copay) offer the possibility of shared accounts.
Online (or cloud-based) wallets offer increased convenience – you can generally access your bitcoin from any device if you have the right passwords. All are easy to set up, come with desktop and mobile apps which make it easy to spend and receive bitcoin, and most are free.
The disadvantage is the lower security. With your private keys stored in the cloud, you have to trust the host’s security measures, and that it won’t disappear with your money, or close down and deny you access.
Mobile wallets are available as apps for your smartphone, especially useful if you want to pay for something in bitcoin in a shop, or if you want to buy, sell or send while on the move. All of the online wallets and most of the desktop ones mentioned above have mobile versions, while others – such as Abra, Airbitz and Bread – were created with mobile in mind.
Hardware wallets are small devices that occasionally connect to the web to enact bitcoin transactions. They are extremely secure, as they are generally offline and therefore not hackable. They can be stolen or lost, however, along with the bitcoins that belong to the stored private keys. Some large investors keep their hardware wallets in secure locations such as bank vaults. Trezor, Keepkey and Ledger and Case are notable examples.
Perhaps the simplest of all the wallets, these are pieces of paper on which the private and public keys of a bitcoin address are printed. Ideal for the long-term storage of bitcoin (away from fire and water, obviously), or for the giving of bitcoin as a gift, these wallets are more secure in that they’re not connected to a network. They are, however, easier to lose.
With services such as WalletGenerator and BitcoinPaperWallet, you can easily create a new address and print the wallet on your printer. Fold, seal and you’re set. Send some bitcoin to that address, and then store it safely or give it away. (See our tutorial on paper wallets here.)
Are bitcoin wallets safe?
That depends on the version and format you have chosen, and how you use them.
The safest option is a hardware wallet which you keep offline, in a secure place. That way there is no risk that your account can be hacked, your keys stolen and your bitcoin whisked away. But, if you lose the wallet, your bitcoin are gone, unless you have created a clone and/or kept reliable backups of the keys.
The least secure option is an online wallet, since the keys are held by a third party. It also happens to be the easiest to set up and use, presenting you with an all-too-familiar choice: convenience vs safety.
Many serious bitcoin investors use a hybrid approach: they hold a core, long-term amount of bitcoin offline, while having a “spending balance” for liquidity in a mobile account. Your choice will depend on your bitcoin strategy, and your willingness to get “technical.”
Whatever option you go for, please be careful. Back up everything, and only tell your nearest and dearest where your backups are stored.
What do I need to know to protect my Bitcoins?
Here are four pieces of advice that will help your bitcoins go further.
As you’d do with a regular wallet, only store small amounts of bitcoins on your computer, mobile, or server for everyday uses, and keep the remaining part of your funds in a safer environment.
- Backup your wallet on a regular basis and encrypt your wallet or smartphone with a strong password to protect it from thieves (although, unfortunately, not against keylogging hardware or software).
- Store some of your bitcoins in an offline wallet disconnected from your network for added security. Think of this as a bank, while you, generally, keep only some of your money in your wallet.
- Update your software. For added protection, use Bitcoins’ multi-signature feature that allows a transaction to require multiple independent approvals to be spent.
Spending some time on these steps can save your money.
The Future of Bitcoins?
With both sides of the argument presented to you above, we move on to look at the potential future of Bitcoins in our current economy.
Would it be a viable investment tool for investors? Would it really be able to become the currency of the future? And, how else can investors manage Bitcoins in their portfolio?
Bitcoin As An Investment Tool
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency have gained traction this year. We’ve seen them scaling new heights as investors were bullish on its development.
As an investment, Bitcoin may not be as ‘undervalued’ as it was back in 2016.
As a currency, it is still unstable due to its extreme volatility.
As a trading tool, it seem to have just picked up interest amongst traders.
Trading platforms like IG and Thinkorswim have started to allow traders to trade Bitcoins through CFDs and Options too.
As with any investment, you will need to understand the vehicle that you are investing in, and know the risks that you are taking.
We Are just a guy who’s interested in Bitcoins the same as you are. My advice isn’t based on any academic knowledge and it’s my own uneducated opinion. Any decisions you make about whether or not to buy, invest, sell or promote Bitcoin are your own responsibility.