So you’re thinking about investing in bitcoin? Don’t

Your ads will be inserted here by

Easy Plugin for AdSense.

Please go to the plugin admin page to
Paste your ad code OR
Suppress this ad slot.

A collective insanity has sprouted around the new field of cryptocurrencies, causing an irrational gold rush. I know youre tempted, but dont be a fool

So you’re thinking about investing in bitcoin? Don’t

So you’re thinking about investing in bitcoin? Don’t

A collective insanity has sprouted around the new field of cryptocurrencies, causing an irrational gold rush. I know youre tempted, but dont be a fool

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jan/15/should-i-invest-bitcoin-dont-mr-money-moustache

This Sums Up Your Friend Who Just Bought Their First Bitcoin

Your ads will be inserted here by

Easy Plugin for AdSense.

Please go to the plugin admin page to
Paste your ad code OR
Suppress this ad slot.

Buys Bitcoin once. @Corporate.bro nails it.

Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/videos/your-friend-who-just-bought-their-first-bitcoin/

Everything you wanted to know about bitcoin but were afraid to ask

The value of cryptocurrencies is rising fast. But is it sustainable? And how does it work, anyway? These questions, and many more, answered

The money has become too much to ignore and so bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are back in the news. You may have heard about Ethereum, a cryptocurrency that has risen in value by more than 2,500% over the course of 2017. Or maybe youve heard about one ofthe many smaller cryptocurrenciesthat raised hundreds of millions of dollars in the first few days they were on sale, during their initial coin offering. Or youve just spotted that bitcoin, which made headlines in 2013 for hitting a high of $200, is now worth nearly $7,000 (5,250), making a lot of people very rich in the process.

Are these cryptocurrencies simply speculative bubbles or will they actually transform our financial system? Its time to answer afew common questions about this new technology and assess whether a lot of people have just pulled off the investment of their lifetime or made a hugemistake.

What actually is bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, the first and still the biggest example of its type. At its core, its a new form of digital asset, created through a cannycombination of encryption (the same technology that protects WhatsApp from eavesdropping) and peer-to-peernetworking (which allowed music piracy to blossom in the 00s through services such asKazaa).

If you own a bitcoin, what you actually control is a secret digital key you can use to prove to anyone on the network that a certain amount of bitcoin is yours.

If you spend that bitcoin, you tell the entire network that you have transferred ownership of it and use the same key to prove that you are really you. In that respect, your key is similar to a password that allows you access to your money, except with no possibility of resetting your key if you lose it. Anyone else who manages to discover your key would gain total, irreversible control over your cash. The history of all the transactions made is a lasting record of who ownswhich bitcoin: that record is called theblockchain.

What are its advantages over money created by central banks?

Bitcoin advocates will point to a number of possible advantages, from the ability to use the blockchain to track things other than simple money to the built-in support for smart contracts, which execute automatically when certain conditions are met.

But the biggest advantage, and the only one everybody agrees on, is that bitcoin is decentralised and so extremely resistant to censorship.

Although its possible to observe a bitcoin payment in process, its not practicably possible to stop it. That makes it radically different from conventional banking, where banks can, and do, intervene to freeze accounts, vet payments for money laundering or enforce regulations. That has made it a haven for activities from cybercrime and drug trading to enabling international payments to closed economies and supporting radically off-grid living.

Bitcoin
Bitcoin ATMs in a shop in Kazan, Russia. Photograph: Yegor Aleyev/TASS

So will I need to start taking bitcoin to Tesco for my weekly shop?

Unlikely. Bitcoin has one major hurdle to being used at scale for physical transactions: payments are only confirmed once every 10 minutes (and thats when everythings working well; in practice, it can take days for confirmation to occur). This means theoretically that its possible to spend a bitcoin, then walk next door and spend exactly the same bitcoin at a second establishment. Only one of those transactions will ultimately be confirmed, leaving the other place out of pocket.

More generally, bitcoin has limited advantages for payments between big companies and normal consumers. Its no easier or quicker than any other mobile payment, it introduces considerable volatility to your daily holdings (or a sizable hedging cost to guard against swings in the value of the currency) and remains a pain to integrate with the conventional banking system.

That hasnt stopped some large companies experimenting. Microsoft accepts bitcoin for payments on its online store and PayPal offers integration for merchants to offer the cryptocurrency as a payment option.

Is it really the new gold?

Probably not, but the comparison isnt completely spurious. One of the interesting quirks of bitcoin is that there will never be more than 21m of them in existence. That figure is written into the currency at its source code and is a function of how the network rewards those people who provide the computing power (called miners because of that gold analogy) that keeps it ticking over.

Every 10 minutes, one of the miners is rewarded with a sum of bitcoin. That reward doesnt come from anyone: it is created out of thin air and added to the bitcoin wallet of the miner. Initially, that reward was 50 bitcoin, but it gets halved every four years, until, midway through the 22nd century, the last bitcoin ever will beproduced.

For a certain type of economist, that hard limit is an extremely good thing. If you believe that the key problem with the financial system over the past 100 years has been that central banks print money, creating inflation in the process, then bitcoin provides an alternative ecosystem where inflation is capped forever.

Does it really create more carbon dioxide than Ecuador?

Yup. And then some. Citibank estimates that the bitcoin network will eventually consume roughly the same amount of electricity as Japan. The problem is that the mining process is incredibly wasteful and deliberately so. Those miners are all competing to be the first to solve an arbitrarily difficult computing problem, one that takes enormous amounts of processor cycles to do and still comes down mostly to luck. The computer that does solve it first, every 10 minutes, gets a sizable reward currently in the region of 65,000 in bitcoin but every computer, not just the winner, has had to spend that processing time to do the maths.

The reason for the mining requirement, which is essentially asking a computer to continue rolling a dice until it rolls a few thousand sixes in a row, is that it ensures that no single person can dictate what happens on the network. The proof that the miner has solved the problem is what it uses to claim its reward, but it also becomes the seal that it uses to verify the last 10 minutes of transactions.

I, miner number 2357398, have solved this problem, and the answer is [extremely long string of digits]. By the authority vested in me by the network, I declare that the following list of transactions to be confirmed: and then they list every transaction that they have heard about in the last ten minutes.

From that point on, every machine on the network begins solving a new problem, set by the last miner. But, crucially, they only do so if they agree with the miners list of transactions. That means that even if you do win the race, its not enough to simply insert your own lies in the block, and declare that everyone sent you all their money, because everyone else will simply ignore you and listen to the next miner in the chain.

(The reward itself isnt really necessary to Bitcoin, but its there to ensure that miners have some reason to throw their electricity at the network. In the long-run, the hope is that voluntary transaction fees for quicker confirmations will take over that role.)Because the problem is so processor-intensive and so randomly rewarded, its prohibitively expensive in electricity and computing power to attempt to fake it. But its also a vast use of electricity, worldwide, used to do little other than satisfy an arbitrary requirement for spending money.

Is bitcoin the only cryptocurrency?

Not at all, although its still the most valuable. After bitcoins creation in 2009, a number of other cryptocurrencies sought to replicate its success by taking its free, public code and tweaking it for different purposes.

Some had a very defined goal. Filecoin aims to produce a sort of decentralised Dropbox; as well as simply telling the network that you have some Filecoins, you can tell it to store some encrypted data and pay Filecoins to whoever stores it on their computer.Why would you want that? Well, it again comes back to censorship resistance. If you store something on your Dropbox that the company doesnt like, it can just delete the data and ban you. With Filecoin, its impossible to tell whats being stored, and impossible to force the network to block any given user anyway.

Others are more nebulous. Ethereum, now the second biggest name after bitcoin, is essentially a cryptocurrency for making cryptocurrencies. Users can write smart contracts, effectively programs that can be run on the computer of any user of the network if theyre paid enough Ether tokens.Think, for instance, of offering a small sum every time someone responds to a particular signal with todays headlines: youve built a decentralised news website, then. Or you could write a small program and reward someone every time its run: that way, youve created a decentralised cloud computer.

As a category, these new cryptocurrencies are increasingly referred to as decentralised apps, or dapps, with the focus being not on the specific currency used to make the system work, but on its overall goal.It might even be best not to think of the coins that lie at their heart as currency at all: when the token could represent a services contract, a land registry record, or the right to five minutes of computing time, the analogy to pounds and dollars has rather broken down.

Mike
Mike Tyson, who launched a bitcoin wallet app in 2016. Photograph: David Becker/Getty Images

What is driving the price rise?

Thats the billion-dollar question. A few different explanations have beenoffered.

Some fans will say that the price rise is simply a correction to the natural rate of growth for bitcoin. Sure, they argue, the technology has had its booms and its busts, but if it is to become a worldwide digital currency, its value will definitely be higher than it is today. In that narrative, the price rise is simply a reflection of the growing acceptance of bitcoin.

Other fans point to the growth in novel cryptocurrencies. Because of bitcoins maturity, and its focus on finance, if you want to buy some Ether, some Filecoins or any other cryptocurrency, its usually easiest to buy bitcoin with your conventional currency and then trade bitcoin for the cryptocurrency of your choice. Naturally, then, booms in those currencies are leading to booms in bitcoin itself, as more and more people attempt to buy into the whole system.

Then theres the bubble argument. There, people argue that the majority of the price rise is due simply to people buying bitcoin in the hope that they can sell it later for a profit. A classic speculative bubble, some people will make a lot of money while others will lose everything.

So is it a bubble?

Few would argue that there isnt a lotof speculation in the cryptocurrency market. There are adverts on the London underground, and all over Instagram and Facebook, encouraging viewers to invest in cryptocurrencies and, judging by the amount of money flowing in to the ecosystem, a lot of people are taking up the offer.

At some point, those people will get flighty and try to cash out their gains. If enough do at once, the price of bitcoin will take such a tumble that it will prompt a run and well see the classic crash.

But the real question is not whether this will happen, but when and how big the crash is. Three times now, bitcoin has had boom-and-bust cycles that have seen vast amounts of value destroyed, but have still left the currency valued higher than it was before the previous boom began. (Personally, I first called bitcoin a bubble in print when one coin was worth $30. After the crash that followed, one coin was worth $120.) Its not a smooth ride up, but that doesnt mean its a total bubble.

What is a hard fork?

As the bitcoin network has grown, its hit problems. For dull, technical reasons, the network as it was initially designed struggles to deal with the amount of traffic that flows through it these days, leaving huge delays in the amount of time it takes for a transaction to be confirmed.

In a normal, centralised, business, that wouldnt be a problem: simply update the software and move on. But a bitcoin update requires convincing every single miner to accept the new software otherwise, the miners who carry on running the old version are effectively running a completely different currency from those who have updated.

This is known as a hard fork, and for the first six years of bitcoins life, it was the nightmare every developer tried to avoid. But recently, divisions among the community have become so fractious that multiple hard forks have occurred, all around how to deal with this traffic slowdown.

With names like Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Unlimited, and Bitcoin Gold, each claims that it is the true heir to the original vision but with each fork, the playing field becomes more crowded.

Nothing is destroyed with each fork: if you had 100 bitcoin before Bitcoin Cash split off, after the split you still had 100 bitcoin and you had 100 Bitcoin Cash. But with each fork, the playing field becomes more crowded, more confusing for newcomers, and the overall reputation for (relative) stability becomes more eroded. Another fork, SegWit2x, was due to happen in late November, but its backers decided at the last minute it didnt have enough support and called it off.

Whats the banking establishments viewof bitcoin?

It varies greatly. Some, such as JP Morgan Chase head, Jamie Dimon, are extremely dismissive of the wholething, arguing that the very properties of bitcoin that make it so appealing as a form of digital gold are why its doomed to remain a niche prospect. For Dimon and co, the volatility of its exchange rate, lack of any economic oversight to control monetary policy and absence of support from major nation states mean bitcoin cant ever truly replacepounds and dollars and is therefore a failure.

Few disagree with that conclusion, but some bankers point to other advantages of the technology. The blockchain concept, they say, might be useful in conventional banking too. Forget bitcoin itself and focus instead on the value of a distributed ledger. What if all the major banks replaced their normal book-keeping with one shared, but still closed, database? Might that help cut down on fraud and ensure a more level playing field?

And then, of course, there are the advantages of bitcoin that conventional banking cant hope to compete with – and doesnt want to. Can a shadow currency exist purely on the back of drug dealing and cybercrime? Quite possibly: both are big businesses, and neither shows any sign of going away.

Craig
Craig Wright, who claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the elusive bitcoin inventor. Photograph: Mark Harrison/PA

Whats the latest on the identity of Satoshi Nakamoto?

Hes still a mystery. The pseudonymous founder of bitcoin, Nakamoto appeared out of nowhere in 2008 when he published the white paper that described how his proposed digital currency would work. While he was active in the online community around bitcoin for the first couple of years of the currencys life, he posted less and less, making his last ever post on 12 December 2010.

Since then, a lot of people have been accused by others of being the real identity behind Nakamoto. Some of those accusations have been farcical Newsweek fingered a Japanese-American man named Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto as the inventor, leading to a slow-motion car chase around LA before the man had a sushi dinner with one hand-picked reporter, during which he repeatedly referred to bitcom and begged to be left alone.

Others have been based on the background discussion around cryptocurrencies at the time: leading thinkers such as Hal Finney and NickSzabo were named, on the basis of similar areas of research. Both mendenied being Nakamoto and pointed out that they were active under their own names at the time bitcoin was launched, with Finney (who died in2014) being the currencys secondever user.

Only one person has credibly claimed to be Nakamoto himself: Australian computer scientist Craig Wright. In 2016, Wright went public and gave a number of long interviews to the BBC, GQ, the Economist and London Review of Books, in which he claimed that he would provide evidence proving he is Nakamoto. When the evidence was released, however, it was flawed, proving nothing and leading some to accuse him of scammery.

Since then, there have been no other major names linked to Nakamotos identity and no action on the bitcoin holdings linked to his account, currently worth around $7bn. It is possible the world may never know who invented bitcoin. For many in the field, thats how it should be.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/11/everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about-bitcoin-but-were-to-afraid-to-ask-cryptocurrencies

Dont dismiss bankers’ predictions of a bitcoin bubble they should know

The virtual currencys success shows the continuing absence of rely on conventional banking following the credit crunch

W hen in charge of Wall Street’s most significant bank calls a bubble, the world undoubtedly stays up and listens, albeit with a sense of traditionally weighted paradox: obviously a financial investment bank employer would identify catastrophe after his market commanded the last one. Jamie Dimon, the president of JP Morgan, stated recently that the ascendancy of the virtual currency bitcoin — which has actually increased in cost from simply over $2 in 2011 to more than $4,000 at points this year– advised him of tulip fever in 17th-century Holland . “It is even worse than tulip bulbs,” he stated. “It might be at $20,000 prior to this occurs, however it will ultimately explode. I am simply stunned that anybody cannot see it for exactly what it is.”

Dimon’s remarks are an open invite for derision from those who, appropriately, explain that although JP Morgan might be leading of the Wall Street stack, that load is far from being the ethical high ground. Under Dimon’s management, it has actually concurred a $13bn settlement with United States regulators over offering dodgy home mortgage securities– the instruments behind the credit crunch– and its altercations with guard dogs consist of a $264m fine in 2015 for employing the kids of Chinese authorities in order to win rewarding company in return.

But it does not make him incorrect. Even one of the most standard description of bitcoin– an intellectual test on a par with explaining a collateralised debt commitment– generates psychological images of a digital back-alley shell video game. A bitcoin is a cryptographic option to an intricate formula. It is not as recognisable to you or me as a system of worth as, state, a dollar costs or a reward conker. There is no main authority verifying the development of bitcoins– rather, they are tape-recorded on a public electronic journal called a blockchain. If you relate to the Bank of England as an all-powerful insurance provider for the pound, there is no such organization behind bitcoin.

This absence of a main authority is among the reasons that Dimon cavilled in such strong terms recently. In the interstices of uncontrolled financing prowl ne’er-do-wells.

“If you were a drug dealership, a killer, things like that, you are much better off doing it in bitcoin than United States dollars,” he stated. “So there might be a market for that, however it would be a minimal market.”

Hyperbole aside– killers do not always require a digital wallet to satisfy their aspirations– Dimon is referencing a well-trailed link in between bitcoin and narcotics . The currency is likewise susceptible to hackers. Without a backstop reserve bank, break-in victims stand to lose whatever, similar to the collapse of the MtGox bitcoin exchange in 2014 . Securing a home loan denominated in bitcoins is not a good idea and, fortunately for those dumb sufficient to attempt it, you will not discover a high street bank going to finance it.

But a few of the viewed defects behind bitcoin that alarm Dimon– no main authority, a public journal of deals– indicate the structures of a brand-new monetary facility. In his jargon-busting lexicon of financing How to Speak Money, the author John Lanchester explained how the high priests of ancient Egypt managed farming– and by extension the economy– through a carefully secured flood measurement system called a nilometer that was concealed behind a load of gibberish. Dimon, a contemporary high priest, deals with a competing worth system in bitcoin. It has no temple, no main authority and utilizes a rubric over which he has no control. To puts it simply, it is an alternative monetary facility, whose appeal is inextricably related to the ebbing of rely on the international system that was set off by the credit crunch.

If bitcoin stops working, or is challenged, another system will increase to take its location, without the imprimatur of Dimon or his peers around the altar.

First-time purchasers are careful: this rate increase might simply be the start

House owners, and potential home owners, beware. Modification is coming. The bulk on the Bank of England’s financial policy committee versus raising rate of interest appears substantial, verified at 7-2 recently. The language is tightening up around the country’s financial resources.

Spare capability in the economy– unfilled tasks and unspent cash– is being whittled away quicker than formerly believed and inflation is still most likely to overshoot its 2% target over the next 3 years. Yes, wage development is running listed below an inflation rate that has actually now struck 2.9%, however all indications now indicate that 7-2 split turning the other method come November.

As the Bank stated, “some withdrawal of financial stimulus is most likely to be proper over the coming months”. This was firmed up the following day by Gertjan Vlieghe, formerly the most anti-rise MPC member, when he stated the bank was “approaching the minute” for a boost.

Market punters now believe there is a 42% opportunity of an increase in November, and more than 50% in December. The present split on the MPC masks the weighing of compromises– in between financial development and inflation, post-referendum stability and suppressing customer financial obligation– which is close and ever fragile to a tipping point.

A rate increase from 0.25% at present to 0.5% will be no catastrophe and would simply represent a go back to the previous record low, which had actually lasted from 2009 to the EU vote. Exactly what ought to hone debtors’ minds is the idea of additional boosts– as hinted by Vlieghe. Inflation stays stubbornly high; something will need to be done to temper a customer loaning rise growing at 10% a year.

Households may deal with a relocate to 0.5%, however if a rate boost augurs a continual relocation versus inexpensive loaning and consistent inflation, then a broader rethink of aspirations, from getting even more up the real estate ladder to purchasing a brand-new cars and truck, will be required. And for those not on the real estate ladder, hopes of an action up might be snuffed out completely.

Disney hopes its Star Wars option will utilize the force sensibly

Disney’s option of imaginative skill over the last few years has actually been impressive, having actually handed the Avengers franchise to Joss Whedon and used Lin-Manuel Miranda to co-write the music for Moana. Its choices over the Star Wars universe have actually deciphered of late.

The director of Rogue One, Gareth Edwards, was sidelined throughout reshoots, while the directing duo behind the brand-new Han Solo movie, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, were fired completely quickly prior to shooting ended up. Most just recently, Jurassic World helmer Colin Trevorrow was tugged off the last Star Wars instalment prior to recording started.

Last week, Disney revealed it was handing the last movie in the current Star Wars trilogy to JJ Abrams, the developer of Lost and director of The Force Awakens, the movie that introduced this Jedi triptych. Abrams is a conservative option, by Disney’s current requirements. Exactly what the studio requires right now is a safe set of hands on the lightsaber.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/sep/17/jamie-dimon-bitcoin-bubble-he-would-know-banking