What is Bitcoin?

What is Bitcoin? BTC, short for Bitcoin, is a decentralized virtual currency that was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto. The anonymous inventor or group published a white paper in 2008 as a proof of concept, then released it as open-source prototype software in 2009. Bitcoin uses peer-to-peer technology to operate without a central authority or banking institution; managing transactions and issuing new BTC, also known as mining, is carried out collectively by the network. Bitcoin has many unique characteristics compared to traditional credit cards such as international payments, low transaction fees, irreversible transactions for merchants, and security through encryption. 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’. 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. 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. Who controls the Bitcoin network? No organization or individual wields total control of theentire network. The Bitcoin network has no dependence on a central authority nor single administrator. Managing transactions and issuing new bitcoins are carried out collectively on the above mentioned blockchain. The Bitcoin protocol itself cannot be modified without the cooperation of nearly all its users to aggregately run updated software. What are the Characteristics that make bitcoin different to conventional money? Bitcoin has several features that it different than government backed currencies: The very Decentralized nature of Bitcoin sets it above from conventional money that is issued by a central bank or federal agency. It is very easy to setup Bitcoin Software and Take Payments- Unlike a conventional bank account, you can set up a bitcoin address in seconds without any fees or documentation. The anonymous nature of Bitcoin sets it apart from conventional money. A bank account has links to your real name and other personally identifying information. Transparency on the blockchain makes it different to conventional money. All bitcoin transactions and newly issued bitcoins are recorded in public view and can be seen in real-time. Ease of transferring money- you can send and receive money anywhere in the world within minutes, as soon you broadcast the transaction, it gets confirmed and spread to the other peers within the network. You can choose your own fees while spending your bitcoin. Paying high transaction fees can encourage very fast conformation on the bitcoin network. However, Fees are unrelated to the amount transferred, so it’s possible to send 10,000 BTC with no fee, and just wait a bit longer for them to be confirmed (Up to three days.) Bitcoin transactions are secure, irreversible, and do not contain customers’ sensitive or personal information. This offers strong protection against identity theft compared to checks or credit cards. What is bitcoin mining? What is bitcoin mining?
What is bitcoin mining? ​​How to mine bitcoin? Mining bitcoins is a relatively straightforward process. If you don’t wish to delve into the details or learn how to optimally configure your bitcoin mining hardware, you can easily just download bitcoin mining software, start it up on your computer, and you’re already mining bitcoin. You could even start mining a few Satoshi before finishing this read. Where do bitcoins come from? Before starting your mining operation, you might want to learn a little bit about where bitcoins come from. The full answer to this question is a little abstract, so let’s break it down. Every time a transaction is made between two bitcoin addresses, it is broadcast throughout the network. Bitcoin mining computers running specialized software see these transactions and collectively add them to the current ‘block’ of transactions, while also collecting a miner’s fee contained in each transaction. This is the first incentive for bitcoin miners. The second incentive comes from mining the blocks. For every block of bitcoin transactions generated, miners compete to solve a very ‘difficult’ math problem. The winner of this competition is awarded some newly minted bitcoins. About every 4 years, the number of bitcoinsgenerated in this way is halved.As you can see in the chart below, the total number of bitcoins approaches about 21 million bitcoins and will never exceed that number. In addition, the difficulty of solving each block increases over time which place a significant constraint on the supply of bitcoin. In this design, inflation is kept at bay while miners continually are incentivized to run their machines on the network. And with all that said, we can safely move on the details of how to mine your own bitcoins. A few concerns for bitcoin miners The main concerns for bitcoin miners are energy consumption and hash rate, where both play a crucial role in the profitability of bitcoin mining. If you are able to balance the two such that your ramping energy costs don’t overtake the bitcoins you earn through mining then your operation will be successful. The hardware that miners use has evolved over the years from using small form factor PCs with certain model graphics cards, to specially engineered bitcoin mining rigs touted for their hash rates and energy efficiency. The later are optimally configured and easy to setup for bitcoin mining. However, for the novice bitcoin miner, it was profitable for many years to simply run one or a small cluster of bitcoin mining machines out of your home but those days have come to end for the most part. As the difficulty of computing the hashes for mining has increased and the rewards for mining have diminished, it has become much less profitable and in most cases unprofitable to run mining hardware from your home. Energy costs cripple novice miners, while those in countries with heavily subsidized electricity can enjoy sustained profits and successfully run large scale bitcoin mining operations. Be sure to take these costs into account when deciding if you want to start mining bitcoin. Bitcoin mining hardware Odds are your PC already has the necessary hardware to run as a bitcoin miner and to setup your PC for bitcoin mining should ultimately be a snap, albeit not with any speed when compared with modern purpose built bitcoin miners. Just as Intel and AMD are making faster processers each year, bitcoin miners have evolved from their humble days as just running using the power of your graphics card to current day Application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) miners which boast up to a few terahashes per second. If you are just trying bitcoin mining out of curiosity, then there is no need to buy any additional hardware. If you are serious about it, however, then there will be some significant initial investment to be made to get your operation started. ASIC miners range from $200 to $1000 or more per unit, and to reach a hashrate that is profitable you will need to invest in many machines. A single ASIC miner is more of a curiosity than anything as the return per month can range from 0.2 bitcoins on the low end and 0.4 bitcoins or more on the high end. This calculates to a range of about $35 per month to $100 per month, before accounting for energy costs. So, just from some initial calculation you can see that the limiting factor on making a profit from mining is definitely your energy bill. The ideal setup for bitcoin mining will ultimately be such that you are able to pay off your initial investment in hardware and monthly energy bill in a reasonable amount of time. No one wants to wait years for an investment to pay off if it even will, so taking these costs into consideration is a must. Popular hardware for bitcoin mining is primarily focused in a handful of brands. BITMAIN makes the very popular AntMiner, which is a very efficient ASIC miner and usually sells out of units quickly. Top of the line AntMiner machines can churn out more than 12 terahashes per second put come at a cost of more than $1,500 brand new. Avalon is also another popular miner, but comes at higher price on average.If you are sourcing hardware while on the cheap it may be worth your while to buy used hardware. As mentioned earlier, profitability has diminished and along with that the hardware that was once top of the line has come down in price as it is surpassed by newer units and is less profitable due to the rising difficulty of mining. Bitcoin mining pools and cloud mining ​ One sure-fire way to get a consistent return on mining, and one strategy for mining that has grown in popularity to be how the majority of bitcoins are mined, is bitcoin mining pools. Just as with a lottery, pooling together resources ensures that should one ticket in the pool win, everyone will win, and the winnings can be distributed accordingly. Some popular mining pools are the likes of BTCC, Slush Pool, Antpool, F2Pool, whose combined hash rate is a whopping 77% of the total hash rate of the network. If you wish to join a mining pool, make sure you do sufficient research and compare mining pools, as there are a variety of payout methods which will ultimately determine how much profit you can make.To setup your bitcoin miner for a mining pool, follow the instructions given on your chosen mining pool’s website. The same process goes for configuring your bitcoin miner if it is an ASIC miner. Another route for prospective bitcoin miners might be to try cloud mining. These services allow users to buy contracts at a price per gigahash rate. In essence what these services offer is renting out of bitcoin miners to users without users ever having to touch any hardware. There is some skepticism around cloud mining, and some practices have been shown to operate like a Ponzi scheme, so anyone looking to invest in cloud mining should be wary and do research before investing. Bitcoinmining software For starters, make sure that your computer is fully up to date with the latest state of the bitcoin network. The easiest way to do this is to download Bitcoin Core and let it complete its discovery of the full blockchain. This will ensure your computer is in agreement with the current state of the bitcoin network and avoid any conflicts. If you are using an ASIC miner, then this job is fully contained within the hardware and you will only need to connect to your miner over your network to configure your bitcoin miner for operation. A few good options out there for PC users are cgminer and bfgminer, which are both free to use.To configure your bitcoin miner for using the software, depending on if you are running a cluster or solo miner, you should only have to set some initial setting and then click the start button and the rest will be taken care of within the software. How to buy bitcoin How to buy bitcoin How to buy bitcoin ​As bitcoin continues to gain popularity, there still remains one of biggest hurdles for adoption from the early days – Buying your first bitcoins. Since becoming more mainstream, services have popped up all over the place giving the average Joe more and more of a reason to try out bitcoin, even if it is just to satisfy one’s own curiosity. In the next few sections we will cover how to choose a bitcoin wallet, how to buy bitcoin online, and how to buy bitcoin locally. But, first however we should cover a few important things about bitcoin. The bitcoin foundation, at bitcoin.org, lists the first step for those curious as inform yourself. This part is in fact one of the most important, because bitcoin does not act like PayPal or a traditional credit card, you can’t just call your bank and tell them your bitcoin wallet has been stolen or you sent your bitcoin to the wrong address. Step One: Inform Yourself One of the big appeals for bitcoin as a currency is that it is anonymous. The identity of the person sending or receiving a transaction is only their bitcoin address, a seemingly random string of around 34 characters. Once you send or receive bitcoin, that transaction is sent to the blockchain to be verified and recorded on a ledger which is distributed throughout the bitcoin network.To provide incentive to the computers doing the ‘mining’, or processing the constant stream of transactions, miners charge a small fee for each ‘block’ that they record to the blockchain. The miner’s fee is usually stepped over by most and users typically resort to the default miner’s fee, however, increasing the miner’s fee will ensure your transaction is prioritized over others’ transactions. Buying bitcoin online can be anonymous as well so almost anyone can have access to this digital currency. Step Two: Choosing Your Wallet Bitcoin walletWith these points in mind, you should move on toStep 2: choosing your wallet. Where you choose to buy your bitcoin online or locally you will need to have a bitcoin wallet. The choices are plentiful, you can easily search the Apple Store or Google Play and choose from a variety of wallets that reside on your smartphone. If you would like a wallet that you can access from anywhere on the web, try out an online wallet. A few sources, such as Coinbase and Circle, offer a place to both buy and store your bitcoins wrapped into one convenient service. The Bitcoin Core software, which you can also find over at bitcoin.org, has a straight forward desktop based bitcoin wallet built-in if you prefer to have access to your bitcoins just a few clicks away, even when offline. Step Three: Buying Your First Bitcoin ​ Once you have picked out a wallet, it’s time to move on to Step 3: Buying Bitcoins. In the US, Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti- Money Laundering (AML) laws, recently extended to the purchase of bitcoins, requires that you submit identification and for your identity to be verified before making your first transaction. If you reside outside of the US, you may or may not be subject to similar laws, so do your own research on the laws in your jurisdiction. The process of getting vetted on Coinbase and Circle, two large venture-funded bitcoin operations in the US, is relatively fast (only a few days at most) and as such have become popular options to buy bitcoin online. Coinbase and Circle both support buying with your debit card or bank account, and recently Coinbase has added paying with Visa and MasterCard Credit Cards, although to limit fraudulent activity these have lower daily and weekly limits. In addition to Circle and Coinbase you may want to check out Localbitcoins. Local bitcoins offers a sort of craigslist marketplace where buyers and sellers can meet to sell or buy bitcoin locally. There are options to meet a seller locally, or several options for buying by wire transfer, cash deposit, or similar (which don’t typically require a face-to-face). Exchange rates usually favor the seller, but Local bitcoins is a popular option for those who want to purchase bitcoins the same day without needing to go through an identity verification process. A recent addition to the bitcoin buying market are bitcoin ATMs. These offer a physical location for you to buy bitcoin locally at your convenience.You can simply walk up, scan your driver’s license, insert cash, and walk away with your desired amount of bitcoins available or transferred to your bitcoin wallet. The process varies slightly from ATM to ATM, but detailed instructions are available at the ATM should you decide to use this method. In many major cities you can usually find one or two ATM locations which offer a convenient way to buy bitcoin locally. What to buy with your bitcoin? ​ So, now that you have your bitcoin, what are you going to use them for?You might first check your favorite websites if they accept bitcoin. Many websites are accepting bitcoin as a payment method and the number grows each day.In short, however, there are many places you can use bitcoin to make purchases. You can buy a new computer from Newegg.com, book a plane ticket on CheapAir.com, or just take a look at coinmap.org’s handy map of physical locations which accept bitcoin and find something near you. A much more comprehensive list of goods and services that businesses offer for bitcoin purchase can be found at user bitcoins.info. Also, for any of the specific services listed throughout, there should be plenty of information available on their website. However, a good starting place for further research is Who is Satoshi Nakamoto Who is Satoshi Nakamoto Who is Satoshi Nakamoto ​​Satoshi Nakamoto is the pseudonym used by a people or group of people who invented Bitcoin. Satoshi developed the original protocol and the blockchain technology that underlies bitcoin, Satoshi’s real identity is unknown. Who is Satoshi? Satoshi Nakamoto is actually a pseudonym for either one person or a group of people, the identity is currently unknown. This entity was the creator of Bitcoin and the bitcoin whitepaper. On his P2P foundation account, he professed to be a 37-year-old Japanese native, but due to his perfect use of English and the Bitcoin software not being labelled or translated at the time into Japanese, this is called into question. Occasional use of British English in the code and comments lead to speculation that Satoshi may be of common wealth origin. People have deduced that due to the fact Satoshi’s posting times were silent between 5 – 11AM British time, if Satoshi had a normal sleeping pattern then he would reside in the GMT -5 to GMT -6 region. People suspected of being Satoshi Nakamoto There have been many high profile cases of people claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto in recent years or people the media suspected of being Satoshi Nakamoto. All of these have been debunked. One way of proving a person is Satoshi is to sign a message with the keys from the first ever blocks of Bitcoins which Satoshi mined, or the genesis block addresses. None of these could do it (or denied that they could) and some denied even being Satoshi. Nick Szabo Nick Szabo designed ‘bit gold’ which was a precursor to Bitcoin. He was interested in digital currency and also liked to use pseudonyms. He was suspected by many people and media outlets of being Satoshi Nakamoto, a claim he denies. The evidence he was Satoshi was only circumstantial. Dorian Nakamoto In march 2014 an article in the Newsweek magazine, a journalist named Leah McGrath Goodman attempted to identify a Japanese American man from California as Satoshi, as his birth name was Satoshi Nakamoto. The person in question was also a systems engineer and financial information services. The publication of this article lead to a lot of media interest, with reporters waiting near the home of Dorian Nakamoto and following him in their cars to try and get an interview. He denied making Bitcoin and even denied knowing what it was. Satoshi posted from his P2P foundation account stating he was not Dorian Nakamoto. Hal Finney Hal Finney was a cryptographic engineer in the pre-bitcoin era who was also the first person to use the Bitcoin software after Satoshi Nakamoto, and to file bug reports. He also helped make improvements to the Bitcoin client. He also received the first Bitcoin transaction. He also lived not too far from the home of Dorian Nakamoto. His writing style came close to that of Satoshi Nakamoto. After people saw that he had emailed Satoshi many times, and the fact that Satoshi had sent him the first Bitcoin transaction, and the fact that Hal denied being Satoshi, he was concluded not to be Satoshi. Craig Steven Wright Craig Wright was an Australian citizen who attempted to say he was Satoshi Nakamoto. He claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto and when police raided his house on a separate issue, the media suspected that he was Satoshi further. He posted in his blogs claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto. BBC Journalists attempted to say they saw Wright signing a message using the private keys associated with the first Bitcoin transactions. When one of the bitcoin developers looked at Wrights blog posts to check the poof, it did not contain any. He made a post stating he would publish further proof, but then deleted his post and stated he could not stand being in the spotlight. Having never really signed a message from the private keys of the earliest Bitcoin transactions, he was deemed not to be Satoshi Nakamoto, but potentially a skilled hoaxer. Summary These are the 4 main people who were suspected of being Satoshi Nakamoto and was since debunked. There have been many others, but these are the main ones that bought widespread media attention. The founder of Bitcoin still remains Anonymous to this day. Why did Satoshi Nakamoto hide his identity? There are many speculated reasons as to why Satoshi Nakamoto hid his identity. The main reason is due to the high profile nature of Bitcoin; he did not want the attention. Satoshi handed the Bitcoin project over not long after Gavin Andersen who is a Bitcoin developer gave a talk on bitcoin to the CIA. There is speculation that this concerned Satoshi, but there is little more than speculation at this point. A well-known spiritual conspiracy theorist, who does back up a lot of his stories with hard science, stated that he had heard that Bitcoin was created by an international alliance to have a currency that could be used in the event that the cabal attempted to crash the current banking system which they control. David Wilcock has little knowledge about Bitcoin itself however, and he did not realize that Satoshi Nakamoto embedded a message in the Genesis block, which is block 0. It mentioned the bank bailouts of 2009, implying that the corruption in the banking system is one of the reasons why he created a currency like Bitcoin. Due to the potential risk to life developing something like this and the risk of being a public celebrity, it is likely he chose to hide his identity for his own protection, especially when Bitcoin was associated in the media as being the currency of criminals, when it actually has many legitimate uses. Will we ever find out who Satoshi Nakamoto is? There is speculation, but currently only speculation. Members of the Bitcoin community have refused to believe anyone claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto, unless they sign a message with the private keys from Satoshi’s known coins or the Genesis block. Due to the disappearance of Satoshi Nakamoto, some have said that after a few years his massive coin stash (1 million plus coins) should be disabled as they are supposedly a ‘security’ risk. This was met with backlash by the community and the Bitcoin developers did not implement this. Even if they did, it would require network consensus to achieve. There have been some who were happy that Satoshi left the project, many see him as a potential idol, judging by forum posts on bitcointalk. His sudden disappearance leads many people to continuously wonder who he is and people are still trying to find him to this day. If he hid his identity properly, this is a very difficult, if not impossible task unless he comes forward. Blockchain analysis shows that almost none of his coins have even been spent and have remained untouched for several years. Summary This article has discussed who Satoshi Nakamoto was, and has gone over a few people suspected of being Satoshi Nakamoto. None of their identities were found to be that of Satoshi Nakamoto. It is likely that Satoshi was either a person or a group of people, and could potentially fear the CIA. It is a potential that he helped develop Bitcoin as an alternative to the traditional financial system, in the hands of the people, this was evidenced by the genesis block. People still speculate to this day, but still there is no hard concrete proof of who is Satoshi Nakamoto. Satoshi cannot cause harm to the Bitcoin network, the way he designed it meant it was out of his hands once other nodes started coming online. Conclusion He may come forward one day, but no one knows when or if he will come forward, and none of his coins have been spent, even though the value of his holdings tops $600 million, so profit was not his motive. He could have cashed these coins out at any time, but chose not to. It is likely he will remain just the Satoshi Nakamoto pseudonym for the time being, but this could change in the future. The creation of Satoshi Nakamoto still runs and is maintained by the current developers. Legality of Bitcoin & cryptocurrency Legality of Bitcoin & cryptocurrency Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency is a new technological innovation that has not yet been fully implemented into the legal framework of many countries across the globe. There are many legal aspects of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general to consider. The laws that apply to Bitcoin typically apply to other cryptocurrency, the umbrella term Virtual Currency is often used. The following will be discussed: Legality of cryptocurrency in different countries, taxation, money laundering, other legal issues, and legal status by country. Legality of cryptocurrency in different countries Bitcoin and cryptocurrency has various legal aspects to consider depending on the country. Some countries class Bitcoin and other virtual currency as money and legal, some class it as an asset and legal, some class it as neither illegal nor legal, with no legal frameworks in place. In Russia, Ecuador and Bangladesh, Bitcoin is Banned outright, in other countries such as China, Bitcoin is illegal for commercial use but legal for private individuals to hold, trade, mine, buy and sell. Some countries Bitcoin is banned due to already existing laws, such as Iceland. In the United Kingdom however like many countries, Bitcoin is unregulated with no legal framework in place. However, a recent ruling in the EU court system meant Bitcoin was exempt from VAT taxes in any EU member state. The countries where most or all use of Bitcoin and other virtual currency is illegal are: Bangladesh Ecuador Iceland (Excluding Mining) Thailand China (legal only for private individuals) Russia Kyrgyzstan The next section will discuss taxation and taxation issues on Bitcoin. Taxation The subject of taxation is one of the main issues to come up. Due to Bitcoin’s pseudo anonymity if used correctly, usage of Bitcoin to hide assets and help reduce taxation is not too difficult provided the person follows precautions doing so. Bitcoin is often classed as an asset in many countries for tax purposes, such as in the United States. While bringing large amounts of foreign currency into a country can cause tax issues, bringing in or storing a Bitcoin private key online makes it much easier to bring money past border checkpoints, where you can cash it out when in the country, effectively bypassing taxes of this kind. For legitimate taxpayers, Bitcoin income can be declared at the current exchange rate in most places, although good record keeping of Bitcoin to fait transactions and vice versa is recommended, depending on the tax laws in your jurisdiction which should be researched. In countries where it is illegal, taxation has typically not been considered in the law as it is supposed to be banned. It is typically illegal to avoid taxes, although some countries have legal loopholes. Ensure that you are paying the correct taxes on any Bitcoin income by researching the tax laws under your jurisdiction, some countries may class Bitcoin and crypto currency as an asset not a currency so the tax situation may differ. Money Laundering Money laundering is typically considered for designing legal framework when Bitcoin is discussed. Bangladesh bans Bitcoin outright under existing Money Laundering statutes. Money Laundering is a key legal problem with Bitcoin due to the ease of moving money between countries, in seconds with no monitoring. While it can trace Bitcoins bought through banks, when cash or other hard to trace methods are used to obtain the coins, they can then be moved. Using it to launder money on a large scale is risky, due to the publicity of the blockchain ledger. More advanced police forces are learning how to analyse the public Bitcoin ledger to work out where funds went. Money laundering is typically illegal in virtually all jurisdictions, regardless of how it is done, although some have loopholes. Countries such as South Korea have given legal advice that they would not outlaw Bitcoin, but that any illegal activities of this kind involving Bitcoin will be prosecuted. Other Legal Issues Other key legal issues of recent times include the following: Large thefts of Bitcoins prompting industry action. EU court hearings on weather VAT applies to Bitcoin, the courts ruled Bitcoin is VAT free. Banning of Bitcoin in certain countries. Bitcoin taxation in the US, eventually declared Bitcoin as an asset. Loss of Bitcoin private keys hard to prove. Online drugs marketplaces. Chargeback ability and scams. Hiding assets. Lack of legal protections. Large thefts of Bitcoins such as the exchange Mt. Gox resulted in pressure for regulators to regulate Bitcoin, the deregulated nature of Bitcoin can make this very difficult during large thefts. There was a recent court ruling in the EU, allowing Bitcoins to be transacted without VAT being applied, in a manner similar to gold. Bitcoin has been banned in certain countries, the list is above. Bitcoin taxation was a widely discussed issue in the U.S. While the U.S classes Bitcoin as a virtual currency, it classes Bitcoin as an asset for tax purposes. If someone has held large quantities of Bitcoin, if they somehow lose their private keys, this is hard to prove and a tax jurisdiction may treat you as still owning those coins as it is difficult to prove otherwise, although over time none of the coins moving on the blockchain would prove the person has not used them, either because they won’t or cannot. Recently the online drugs marketplace silk road was closed down. The marketplace was able to transact without being traced due to the use of Bitcoin, although the sites design caused it to give away the server’s real IP address and eventually after years of investigation resulted in the capture of those running it. They had not properly secured their wallets either, resulting in the FBI being able to seize the coins and auction them. Some corrupt FBI agents tried to steal some of the coins but were caught partially due to the publicity of the blockchain. Due to the one-way nature of Bitcoin transactions, there is little protection from scams with no ability to chargeback if needed, but this can also work the other way, preventing fraudulent chargebacks. This is one area of legal framework which is being considered in some jurisdictions. Bitcoin can be used to legally or illegally hide assets, for example in divorce cases etc. This is very easy to do and if done correctly difficult to prove. It is a legal loophole in some places, illegal in others. Check your local laws if in doubt. Lack of legal protections can be a problem, especially if you are scammed when using Bitcoin due to the deregulated nature of bitcoin. This should be taken into account when using Bitcoin. These are some of the key recent legal issues that have come to light concerning Bitcoin. The next section will discuss legal status by country. Legal status by country This section will discuss the legal status of Bitcoin by country. It will discuss unregulated, regulated, restricted, and banned countries. This is the current list as of September 2016 and may not include all countries. Unregulated Unregulated is where no legal framework is yet in place, or the use of Bitcoin has been deregulated and is free to use in any capacity with no or very few legal restrictions. United Kingdom Australia Belgium Brazil Columbia Chile Croatia Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Estonia Greece Hong Kong India (Although many Indian banks do not allow transactions pertaining to them) Indonesia Ireland Israel Italy Lithuania Malaysia Malta New Zealand The Netherlands Nicaragua Pakistan Philippines Poland Portugal Romania Singapore Slovakia Slovenia South Africa Turkey Vietnam Nepal North Korea (tourists have used Bitcoin on the tourist internet services with no problems, most North Korea citizens have no access to the public internet) Papua New Guinea Antigua Barbados Iran Iraq Somalia Afghanistan Egypt Saudi Arabia Oman Qatar Regulated Countries where Bitcoin use is legal but specifically regulated for tax or other purposes, and in some cases classed as money are: Finland France Germany Japan South Korea Jordan Lebanon Luxembourg Spain Sweden Switzerland Canada Mexico Restricted Countries where Bitcoin use is restricted but legal in some circumstances are: China (Private Individuals may transact, corporations and banks cannot, mining is legal). Iceland (illegal to buy/sell, but mining is legal) Taiwan (legal to buy/sell, transact and trade, but ATMs for Bitcoins are not legal) Banned Countries where Bitcoin use is banned outright are: Russia (banned outright) Bangladesh Thailand Kyrgyzstan Ecuador Summary Most Bitcoin use around the world is legal and unregulated at present. Some countries have incorporated it into their financial system, but very few have outright banned it. Bitcoin has therefore got a great potential to become a global currency. Even in countries where it is banned, it is very difficult to regulate the use fully without internet censorship. It shows there is a great potential for growth and incorporation into legal frameworks and to the existing financial system. The key legal issues surrounding Bitcoin have been discussed and these are the main issues nation states consider when considering legislation for Bitcoin. If Bitcoin popularity increases further, more countries may regulate it, although it does not seem like many are considering banning it. Conclusion There are likely to be more legal precedents set in the next few years surrounding digital currencies. This document has discussed the key legal issues surrounding Bitcoin, and the current legality of Bitcoin in 2016 in many countries. Further legal developments over the next several years are likely to occur, for both good and ill of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency. How to store your bitcoins? How to store your bitcoins? How to store your bitcoins? This article is going to discuss the many ways of storing your bitcoin. There are many ways of bitcoin storage and many different types of wallet software. Storing bitcoins does not involve storage of actual bitcoins per se, but involves the safe storage of the private key to the wallet addresses. Bitcoin works based on public/private key pairs, the public key being the public address for receiving payments, the private key is used to sign the transaction to send coins from that address. Storage of the private key is stored in a ‘wallet’ and there are many different ways in which to do it, each with varying levels of security. The first wallet to be discussed is the bitcoin QT wallet which is also the reference wallet from the bitcoin core developers. Bitcoin QT Wallet bitcoin QT walletThe bitcoin QT wallet, or bitcoin core is the reference client. This wallet is the original wallet, created by the bitcoin core developers. This wallet is designed for use on desktop and laptop computers and stores the private keys in a file on your machine. It has many features, as well as being a wallet is acts as a node on the bitcoin network. As a result, it must store a full copy of the blockchain. It can send/receive coins, save lists of sending and receiving addresses that are known, and also offers wallet encryption. This scrambles the private keys with a password which must be used when you want to send coins. Loss of the password means the coins are forever lost unless you have a backup of the private keys. The next section will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the bitcoin QT wallet. Advantages Easy to use and intuitive. Supported by the bitcoin core developers. Reliable software. Disadvantages Must store a full copy of the blockchain. This is 60+GB in size as of August 2016. Risk of coin theft if computer is infected with malware. Even if the wallet is encrypted due to loading of private keys in system memory. Lacking Multi-Signature support. Must wait for blockchain to synchronize which can take hours or days before using the wallet. Summary The bitcoin QT wallet and other desktop wallets are good wallets for starters, but a good specification of machine is needed to use it and it must download the entire blockchain. For limited bandwidth internet connections and machines with a small hard drive this is not a good option. It should not be used to store large amounts of funds due to the security implications, and backups of the wallet file should be taken. Web Wallet Another way to store bitcoins is on a Web Wallet. This is a wallet which is hosted by an external provider who also stores the private keys and has a web front-end for you to send coins. An example of this is blockchain.info. They are designed for ease of use and convenience in mind. This section includes exchange wallets. Web wallets are easy to use and many allow import of your own private keys. This is handy for novice users and some also have mobile applications to allow mobile payments. There are security implications, some of which can be negated, but others are a serious risk. Theft of your login details through hacking can be negated by enabling 2FA or two-factor Authentication. This is where an SMS is sent to your mobile phone or similar, requiring the compromising of two devices. However, a good rule of thumb is to assume you are not in ownership of even your own coins if you do not exclusively control the private keys. The wallet provider could steal your coins, or be compromised which can result in coin theft as shown here. There is however an exception to this rule, which will be discussed in the next section. Advantages Easy to use, with plenty of choice of providers. Good for small amounts of coins and everyday transaction. Accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Secure partially against malware on the user’s system if 2FA is enabled. Disadvantages Security Implications and risk of coin theft. Lack of control with some providers. Lack of system transparency. Summary The web-based wallets are easy to use for beginners and are good for storing everyday amounts of coins. This also includes exchange wallets, which if a large amount is to be transferred / exchanged it should be done in smaller blocks and never stored in it long term, $1000s of coins can be stolen/vanished in an instant in the event of the wallet provider being hacked. It is therefore one of the least secure ways to store coins, along with desktop wallets. Coinbase Multi-Sig Online Wallet A multi signature online wallet is a type of online wallet that uses more than one private key. I will use the coinbase multi-signature vault as an example. These work by storing three keys typically. The design is one of the best balances between convenience and security, and protects you if the wallet provider is hacked/becomes insolvent in the case of coinbase. These wallets work by having three keys. One is held by coinbase themselves. A second is created on your machine, encrypted with a passphrase that is not sent to coinbase and then transmitted and stored on their system, this is the ‘shared’ key. The third key or ‘user’ key is held by you only and along with the encrypted shared key printed out by the user as a backup. This wallet works on a 2-of-3 system, to withdraw coins you log into your coinbase online account and it sends the encrypted key to you (behind the scenes) and you simply enter your passphrase to withdraw it. If coinbase becomes insolvent, you can recover your coins by your passphrase and the third ‘user’ key. If you forget your passphrase, you can supply coinbase with the user key and recover your coins that way. It allows for convenience and high levels of security, provided the wallet is set up on a non- compromised machine it is the safest online wallet present and is in a class of its own in terms of security for an online wallet. This is safe for long term coin storage. Advantages Reasonably easy to use. Convenient, yet highly secure. Funds can be transferred and moved without coinbase. Disadvantages The user must store the user key and / or remember their passphrase. Losing the user key and forgetting their passphrase would mean the funds are lost. Multiple copies should be stored safely. Requires trust that coinbase does not modify the front-end software to transmit the passphrase. Moving the funds without coinbase must be done on a secure machine. Summary This is the most secure online wallet on the internet for bitcoins and is recommended if you wish to store coins online with the convenience of an online wallet, yet with security close to hardware or paper wallets. It is immune to government seizure of coinbase, and hacks to coinbase, as even if the coinbase key is stolen, it is useless on its own, and the key held by both you and coinbase is encrypted and never decrypted on their servers. The next section is going to discuss hardware wallets. Hardware Wallets Hardware Wallets are a type of wallet which are an external piece of hardware to your computer. Some resemble a USB memory stick, others resemble a little device, but nearly all of them use USB. This section will discuss and compare two different brands of hardware wallets. Hardware wallets have a security advantage that transaction signing only occurs inside the machine, meaning malware cannot snatch the private keys from system memory. They are as secure as paper wallets in many ways. The two brands which will be compared are LEDGER and TREZOR. LEDGER Ledger is a brand of hardware wallet which resembles a USB stick. Ledger works through its own application which is a chrome browser plugin or online plugin. It works by sending the transaction to be signed inside the device which is secured with a PIN which after 3 incorrect attempts wipes the wallet. The device is like a smart card. It also sends a challenge with a visual indication of the address you are trying to send coins to, on an external device such as a mobile phone or uses a security card, to verify that malware has not changed the address you are sending coins to. The ledger much be set up on a secure machine as it displays it’s recover seed which can be used to rebuild the wallets private keys if the wallet is lost or damaged. This should be printed out, never saved on any machine that is connected to the internet and stored safely. The ledger is a high security solution and is many times more secure than generic online wallets and the bitcoin QT client and can be carried and used on a set of keys. The ledger wallet application does not need administrator privileges to install and can be used safely on an untrusted machine. The ledger can have multiple ledger wallets in a multi-signature configuration for further security. TREZOR A TREZOR Wallet is similar to LEDGER, but it is a bit larger and connects to the USB port via a cable. It works in a similar way but has a screen and two buttons on the device, the screen shows the wallet address you are sending coins to and you press the buttons to confirm/cancel the coins, this is a security measure to ensure you are sending the coins to the intended address. This is a high security option and the TREZOR can also use a longer password. The security of the TREZOR is possibly the highest of any hardware based wallet solution, and uses the same recovery seed method as the LEDGER. Advantages Very high degree of security, very hard to attack and in the case of using them in a multi signature configuration, almost impervious even to theft through the users themselves without all parties consenting. The most secure ways to store coins, even more secure than paper wallets as paper wallets are vulnerable to theft of the raw private keys when it is entered. Portable, the same private keys can be loaded onto multiple hardware wallets via the recovery seed. Disadvantages Upfront cost, ledger starts at £20 GBP, the TREZOR at £90 GBP. If used without multi signature, does not stop employee theft within a company, this can be negated. The physical device is needed to send/receive coins, although the seed can be imported into many desktop wallets such as electrum. No protection against forced sending of coins, for example at gunpoint. LEDGER is working on plausible deniability features by use of a second password which takes the user to a dummy wallet. Summary The hardware based wallet solutions are practically impervious to all methods of attack. There is a small vulnerability in LEDGER, where use of the ledger with the security card on an infected machines many times over can potentially get enough information to decipher what is on the security card. This can be negated by using the mobile device authentication. With this in mind, and especially when used in a multi-signature configuration hardware wallets are impervious to nearly all types of attack. Use of any hardware wallet other than these two should be researched as vulnerabilities in the random number generators used for the private key generation used in any type of wallet can be a risk if it is not truly random. They still must be set up on a secure machine, provided this is done they are the best method of storing coins long term and are impervious to attack from nearly all vectors. To avoid the risk of damage by fire/flood or other disaster the seed should be saved in multiple locations. There is an option on TREZOR to encrypt this seed with a passphrase. Provided these precautions are followed your risk of theft or loss is almost zero, minus being forced at gunpoint to send coins. This can be negated by splitting your holdings to multiple wallets, or use of multi-signature. The next wallet to be discussed is mobile wallets. Mobile Wallets Mobile Bitcoin Wallets Mobile wallets are bitcoin wallets stored on your mobile phone, tablet, iPod touch or another portable device. They can be used when out and about for shopping and paying for coffee, among other things if a merchant accepts bitcoin. They typically scan the receiving address as a QR code. These are typically protected with a PIN. They can be further secured by encryption of your phones device memory. Android can enable this feature. They are good for everyday amounts of coins, but backups of the wallet file should be taken. Due to their weak PIN that is often used they should be stored offline. They are reasonably secure, unless your device is rooted and at risk of malware, or your device is lost without a backup. Due to the weak PIN often used, encrypting your device with a password and ensuring the wallet is on the device or the SD card is also encrypted, but have a lower chance of infection than a Microsoft windows desktop wallet. There have been known instances of many mobile wallets being emptied due to a weakness in the random number generator, resulting in many private keys being cracked by an external hacker by testing every possible combination of a random number generator which was not truly random, article shown here. Advantages Portable, and most people have their phones with them at all times. Simple to use. Wallet can be moved to another device easily if need be. Can be used when out an about at merchants which accept bitcoin. Disadvantages If device encryption is not used, has security risks. Less secure than hardware or coinbase multi-signature wallets. Known weaknesses in android’s random number generator left many mobile wallets vulnerable, although this problem can occur with any type of wallet. Summary A mobile wallet is good for a small amount of coins. They have their advantages for sending and receiving small amounts, and with their QR code scanner they can easily be used to pay for coffee and the likes at merchants which accept bitcoin, for example. They have security implications but can be used for every day sending of coins in a reasonably secure way. They are no less secure than the average online wallet if a backup is taken and your phone is not rooted/jail broken and malware free. The final wallet to be discussed here is a paper wallet. Paper Wallet Paper Wallet​ A Paper Wallet is a secure way to store bitcoins offline. It involves printing out the private public key pairs in plain text and as a QR code for easy scanning later. They should never be generated online but instead generated on a secure machine using local software. The receiving address can safely be stored on your machine to top it up at any time but the private key should only be stored on paper. The paper wallet can be printed multiple times and should be stored in multiple locations in trusted places. A paper wallet has a very high security margin, and can be further secured against theft by storing the private keys encrypted with a passphrase on the paper. These wallets however can be at risk from theft if an insecure computer is used to import the private key when you want to use the funds, so care should be taken here. In the event of a plain text paper wallet, theft of the paper wallet can result in coins being stolen if you do not move them before the thief does. The wallet can be disguised as something else if need be. Advantages Secure, versatile and safe from most sorts of digital disasters, including EMP explosions which can damage any electronic devices in the vicinity. Easy to copy, store and distribute. Can be used as a gift of bitcoin. More secure than most wallets. In the event of death of the coin holder, plaintext wallets can be recovered by surviving family easily. Disadvantages Multiple copies should be stored, to secure against fire and flood. Not as secure as LEDGER and TREZOR wallets due to the risk of theft upon import on an insecure machine. Research on generation software should be done, flaws in the random number generator can render the wallet unsafe. The wallet should always be generated on an offline or secure machine. Can be more inconvenient to import. Summary Paper wallets are among the most secure forms of wallet, alongside hardware wallets. Their security is almost tied, but the hardware wallets are more secure after initial setup due to their ability to be used on even a compromised machine safely. Paper wallets could be set up in a multi signature configuration which would bring their security on par with hardware wallets. For long term storage of coins, they are a great option and one of the best on par with hardware wallets, but for large sums should be encrypted with an easy to remember passphrase or disguised. If the coin holder dies provider family members know where to find the wallet these can be the easiest to recover. They are the most reliable way of storing coins if multiple copies are saved, although hardware wallets can be recovered with their seed. Security tips Security tips when using any kind of bitcoin wallet are below: Use well-known audited software, and do your research. Never store large sums of coins on an exchange or online wallet, apart from the coinbase multi signature option. Large thefts and losses have occurred, as shown here. Store paper wallets safely. Backup wallet files and/or seeds. For long term storage of large sums of money, use only hardware or paper wallets. Exchange your funds in blocks rather than all at once. Store funds in multiple wallets if you have large holdings. Never store large amounts of funds in unencrypted wallets or store private keys on your desktop, for this reason. Remember, if you are not in exclusive possession of the private keys, you do not own your coins, even if they are your own coins. This is a good rule of thumb to remember. Conclusion There are many different ways to store bitcoins, each with its advantages and disadvantages. For people with small holdings, or who store small quantities at a time, mobile or desktop wallets such as bitcoin QT or electrum are good enough along with online wallets. For more serious users and users with large holdings, hardware wallets such as TREZOR or LEDGER or a Multi-Signature solution is advisable. For long term storage and infrequent access, paper wallets are ideal, or a well stored hardware wallet and storing its seed well. For gift purposes, a paper wallet is an ideal presentation. There is a wallet for every type of user, after doing your research choose the right wallet for you. how is the price of cryptocurrency defined? how is the price of cryptocurrency defined? Introduction ​Cryptocurrency is a new revolutionary type of currency. Like any other currency or unit of account, they only have value because people think it has value. Some currencies are backed by gold or other precious metals; others are backed by nothing but hot air although have value because people think it has value and use it as a unit of exchange. Cryptocurrencies were designed as a unit of exchange and as a place to store assets without relying on a central bank.This article will discuss the price of Cryptocurrency in general and what affects the price, it is not limited to Bitcoin but this will cover all cryptocurrency. What defines the price of a cryptocurrency? ​ The following features are the main driver of cryptocurrency price, but not limited to these. Limited Supply and supply/demand. Energy put in in the form of electricity to secure the blockchain. Blockchain difficulty level. The utility of the currency, and how easy it is to use and store. Perceptions on its value by the public. Price of Bitcoin. Media. Investors. Scams. Market dilution. Innovation. Confidence in traditional systems. Legal/Governmental issues. Supply/Demand Precious metals gain their value/perceived value due to their utility and limited supply, and price is often tied to supply/demand. Supply/Demand is a simple economic factor that affects the price of many things. In some countries Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is classed as an asset, in others as a currency. Bitcoin, for example has a maximum of 21 million whole units, divisible 100 million times. With over 7 billion people on the planet, if even 1 billion were to adopt Bitcoin, 21 million whole units would not spread very far without a significant price tag. The supply is also bought in at a constant rate and is unchangeable due to the coconscious rules. This creates a supply that is limited, and thus people will pay more to get the coins they think have value. Block reward halving’s, like the Bitcoin halving of 2016 caused the price to slowly increase as the halving approached, due to the reduced supply of new incoming coins imminent. This can affect the price of many cryptocurrencies, but in the case of Litecoin, did not even make a major dent in the price. Energy Usage The energy put into securing blockchains can be intensive. In the case of proof of work (POW) blockchains which are the most popular form, electricity usage can be intense. In the case of Bitcoin, the blockchain uses as much energy securing it at present as a small country uses. This has a factor on the price, as it takes a certain amount of energy on average to ‘mine’ one Bitcoin. This goes up with difficulty increases. Difficulty Level The more secure the blockchain and the higher the mining difficulty, the higher the perceived value and price and the harder the coins are to get through mining. This can have an impact on price and ties in with the energy usage above, in the case of proof of work blockchains such as Bitcoin and Litecoin. Utility A key factor in the price of any cryptocurrency is its utility. If you cannot use it for something, be it an investment or for payments, then it would have no or little perceived value. In the case of Bitcoin, it is usable for payments on a reasonably high and ever increasing scale, meaning that its utility is high. Its high difficulty and energy usage give it a reasonably high price and as such can be used for an investment. The changes to utility can cause price volatility. In the case of Ether, as it was designed a smart contract platform this is a practical utility, which increased the price of Ether over many other alternative cryptocurrencies. Public Perceptions ​ The public perception of a cryptocurrency has big bearing on the value of the currency. In the case of Bitcoin, a driving factor can be people reacting positively to the innovations and the fact it is a thorn in the side of the mostly corrupt banking sector and gives competition which cannot be tampered with in the traditional way, but can also receive negative reactions and associations with criminality. Hacks to major cryptocurrency exchanges such as Mt. Gox can also affect the reputation of Bitcoin and price in a negative way, yet innovations such as multi-signature security on wallets or innovations and payment gateways coming online can create a positive reaction. Many cryptocurrencies are not known in the public eye bar a few and the smaller ones typically have a cult following, so their prices are much lower than say Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ether. Many cryptocurrencies are reusing the Bitcoin code and just changing some of the specifications such as the coin supply, proof of work algorithm or adding other features. How much a currency has ripped off of Bitcoin with no innovation or potential utility over Bitcoin can affect its reputation. Price of Bitcoin Bitcoin is often seen as the ‘reserve currency’ of the cryptocurrency world. Rises and falls to the price of Bitcoin often has a knock on effect with other cryptocurrencies. Litecoin in particular often has price reactions proportional to the rise and fall of Bitcoin price, but without the difficulty increase that Bitcoin has in respect to the power used to secure both blockchains. As Bitcoin was the first mainstream cryptocurrency and is the most supported, the price of Bitcoin can often influence the other cryptocurrencies. Media The medias reporting on Bitcoin in either a positive, or negative way can have influence on the public perceptions of Bitcoin, and can influence the price. This can even be used as an avenue to potentially manipulate the price, as many media outlets are owned by a few individuals and it is a major vector for potential price manipulation, as well as reporting on positive and negative aspects of the currency which can cause the price to fluctuate. Investors ​With all cryptocurrencies, especially smaller less known ones, investors can manipulate / inadvertently affect price in the following ways: With a large amount of capital at their disposal, can buy a large percentage of the coin supply, then attempt to promote good stuff about the coin to ‘pump’ the price. An investor making a large investment in a small coin can cause inadvertent price increases and falls. People seeing investors have confidence in a cryptocurrency can encourage them to invest, and the more investors and the more demand for a currency, the higher the price. Scams Cryptocurrencies can sometimes be developed as a scam. This can often be associated with a coin that promises the latest and greatest technology, but is also ‘premined’ by the developers before release. This ensures they hold a good chunk of coin supply before coin release so when it is given value they dump their holdings, which crashes the value for other investors but can potentially earn the scammers a large sum of money and it is often difficult to prosecute such scams and in many jurisdictions impossible at present. Instamining is a variant where the ability of coins to be mined is higher at the beginning after release to achieve the same goal. Investment scams often cause people to invest in a cryptocurrency or even pay money towards the developers to develop the currency, where the only intention is to run off with the money of investors. Due to the public nature of a blockchain, premines and instamines can easily be spotted, and when discovered often cause the value of the coin to plummet, this can happen before or after the developers did their dump of coins. Market Dilution This does not so much apply to Bitcoin, Litecoin, Peercoin or Ether which all had a unique purpose at the time of development. There is many a new cryptocurrency released every day, many rips from the Bitcoin source. Due to the number of cryptocurrencies often with no practical utility* saturating the market, alternative cryptocurrencies can find it hard to gain any sort of ground in an already diluted market.Bitcoin stood out as the first with good development, Litecoin stood out as a ‘silver to Bitcoin gold’ coin, Peercoin used an innovative POW and POS (proof of stake) combination. Ether had a practical utility for being a smart contract token to allow distributed, secure execution of smart contracts, for the price of what the ether token is, which very few cryptocurrencies can do. Innovation With many cryptocurrenc

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