How to Spot a Cryptocurrency Scam

Whenever you see red flags, it’s best to stay away and not get involved. How do you detect so-called red flags? Most often than not, it’s a gut feeling that something is not right or something is off. That’s all great, you might say, but what if you don’t have very good intuition. If that’s the case we’ve put together a list of signs you can watch out for. 

Exaggerated claims or guaranteed payouts. Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a “guaranteed” payout in most kinds of investments. There’s always the risk of losing. In fact, out of every 10 trades, only one or two of them turn out to be winners. Some investors do get lucky, but they account for less than 1% of the population. To put into perspective, if someone assures you of winning the lottery, you’re pretty sure the game is rigged or the person is a scammer.

Nonexistent businesses or fake photos of their premises. Investment scams are easily caught when doing a fact-check on their base of operations and business offices – you won’t find any. That alone tells you they don’t want to be found by people asking for their money when the scam blows up.

A lot of unverified facts and/or shady past:. Doing a fact-check on these people behind the scams can also raise a red flag. It’s either they don’t exist or they have a previous history of scamming other people and being involved in one of their elaborate displays of opulence and extravaganzas. Remember their names and steer clear from anything that has to do with them.

You see a lot of complaints when you Google search. Scammers are cleverer these days, using the word “scam” as one of their SEO keywords to trick people into clicking these links to know if they really are. Instead, they end up going to one of their landing pages or paid reviews and articles promoting their company or explaining why they are not a scam. This might not always be true with all companies and cryptocurrencies that has the word “scam” in search suggestions, but suffice to say, scammers are using this tactic to get people involved.

Tech-savvy investors can turn the tables on these scammers by using the same tool they trick people with – the Internet. Research and cryptocurrency education are your best allies to thrive in today’s technology-driven world.

That said, we’ll end this blog post with a cryptocurrency investment “hall of shame.” These are companies that have unfortunately scammed people of their money and disappear with the profits.

The Hall of Shame

Gladiacoin – founded in November 26, 2016, this ponzi scheme promised to double Bitcoin in 90 days, which include 2.2% payout dividend. It folded on June 2017 with investors losing millions of dollars. Gladiacoin can no longer be reached in their now-defunct website https://www.gladiacoin.com/. Their coin was never listed in Coinmarketcap.

Onecoin a ponzi scheme which promoted a cryptocurrency with a “private blockchain” and run by people who have been previously involved in these shady investment scams. Authorities began shutting down Onecoin’s offshore offices in 2017 and have people arrested and filed appropriate charges to perpetrators, including the CEO.

Bitconnect generally regarded as a pump-and-dump and ponzi scheme for its high-yield investment program. It reached an all-time high when it was listed as one of the top 20 cryptocurrencies in Coinmarketcap at $460 apiece, and folded in January 2018 at only $5.92. Thousands have lost their savings, retirements, and are now in huge debts for buying cryptocurrencies which is now a little more (or less) than a dollar. It is now ranked 554 in Coinmarketcap at $0.9 apiece.

How You Should Look At Cryptocurrencies When It Comes To Your Financial Goals

Cryptocurrency can have a lot of potential as an investment if you have an informed and disciplined approach. You could invest in the long term, or as a one-time goal. Whatever the reason for investing in cryptocurrency, you should always have the reason why you’re investment top of mind. Maybe it’s a holiday tour in Europe, a luxury cruise in the Caribbean, or perhaps that amazing sports car, or home theatre system you’ve always wanted.

Perhaps you want to start out your own business when you retire, or create multiple streams of income with your cryptocurrency investments. Whatever your reason why is, cryptocurrency seems to be a very promising investment proposition. Your “why” will help you stay focused and committed to the task at hand. If you stay connected to your goals, you’re less likely sell because of panic or over-extend yourself.

The Internet has no shortage of success stories about Bitcoin, from the legendary pizza shop in UK selling two boxes of pizza for 10,000 BTC, the college dropout from Brooklyn who made the first dedicated ASIC miner, the teenage-school-boy-turned-Bitcoin investor from Idaho, to the Bitcoin millionaires and entrepreneurs the likes of Jered Kenna, and the Winklevoss Twins. But don’t pay attention to the hype. You’re not likely to become an overnight success story. You’ll have to do your homework and make smart decisions, otherwise you’ll run the risk of losing out big.

 

It’s Never Too Late

When talking about investing in cryptocurrencies at this point in time, people often speak of “missing the boat.”

“Bitcoin went insanely high in 2017, and I missed the boat.”

“If only I have bought Bitcoin and Ethereum back when they’re still pretty cheap. Now, it’s too late.”

Truth is, cryptocurrency is a relatively young industry. It entered the scene in 2009 and it’s continuously growing and improving for the last nine years. Sir Richard Branson is only one among many influencers who believe there might be currencies in the future that would match or even surpass Bitcoin as a digital asset and as a medium of exchange.

Just think back to the beginnings of Myspace. A lot of investors thought it was too late to invest in or create a new social media because Myspace was dominating the internet. Now Facebook is dominating and looks to rain supreme in the foreseeable future.

Vitalik Buterin proved cryptocurrency can be more than just a medium of exchange when he created the first platform and currency with a programmable blockchain – Ethereum.

Soon, Bitcoin will be more accessible to millions of everyday users, commercial establishments, and businesses worldwide through a second layer, known as the Lightning Network, which could render transaction speeds ten times or even a hundred times faster.

These are cryptocurrency’s first wobbly steps in creating a better way to transact and store value in a completely decentralized financial system.

In comparison, many of our industries today are decades-old and have already produced some of the world’s technological breakthroughs; things we often take for granted like the cars we drive at work, the phones we take our pictures with, or the Internet we use every single day.

These industries just keep getting better with each passing year. The automotive industry didn’t stop with Ford’s “Model T” or Mercedes-Benz’s “Motorwagen”; today we have hybrid, electronic and self-driving prototypes by Tesla and Google.

The Internet didn’t stop with email, TCP/IP and packet-switching; now, there’s Worldwide Web, HTTPS, cloud computing, streaming media, free Internet calls, video conferencing, mobile apps, and a host of other features people thought were not possible with the Internet (back then, it took several hours to upload/download a single jpeg image).

And let’s not forget our mobile phones which started out as clunky, metal-and-plastic bricks with large keypads and small monochrome backlit screens. Today, we have Apple and Android Phones which crosses between mobiles phones and mini-computers with HD cameras, internet and browsing capability.

People still invest in these technologies despite some of them being half a centuries-old. Cryptocurrency isn’t even half as old as many of our industries. Much of our cryptocurrency and blockchain space is uncharted territory, waiting to be explored, and harnessed to its full potential.

So, is it too late to invest in cryptocurrencies? Of course, not. In fact, we’re just getting started.

 

Knowing Your Investment Goal

Generally, we want to invest our discretionary income (disposable income minus living expenses) into something we want to enjoy much later. It’s the kind of money we can part with or set aside, and won’t have any hard feelings if everything goes south.

We don’t want to use money we pay our bills and mortgages, or buy groceries with. Or, heaven forbid, owe huge sums of money from banks at interest just to buy cryptocurrencies and ICOs. More often than not, this attitude of chasing the hype and FOMO will get people crushed.

People often invest in cryptocurrencies as a retirement option. This is not a good idea. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile and should not be relied upon to retire with.  A safe and conservative approach is to set a small amount of discretionary income, say fifty to a hundred dollars a month, (depending on your income) to buy Bitcoin and other large-cap currencies – also known as dollar-cost averaging. Investors stick with that amount regardless of how often or how much the markets turn. It’s like a savings account, in a way, but in cryptocurrency.

Some people don’t wait for retirement and want to get out as soon as they have the opportunity. They want to store up some money as an employee so they can start out on their own. Maybe a small business, an S-corp, or an LLC. And what better way to grow capital than to invest?

Cryptocurrency exchanges are a good place to start when studying markets that would potentially grow in value. You can take short courses in financial literacy on how to invest in stocks and apply those concepts in cryptocurrencies such as asset allocation and portfolio management. Or, you can take it to the next level by learning some codes and understanding how cryptocurrencies work under the hood.

Some investors become full-time cryptocurrency traders and investors over time. These are usually angel investors, and venture capitalists – people who make risky financial decisions in order to make a lot of money. Returns can vary widely from zero to ten times the initial capital. Investment options include ICOs and new or emerging cryptocurrencies. The goal is to maximize returns while minimizing risk exposure.

Other reasons for investing in cryptocurrencies is simply to gain first-hand experience. Few people were lucky enough to have hit the jackpot, or bought in just before the big breakout out of sheer luck. However, these are just rare occurrences, and we need to be aware of “survivor bias” when it comes to personal stories and testimonials about people who got rich trading or investing in cryptocurrencies. Most people hear about 1% of the population who actually made it, but forget the 99% who failed.

 

A Smart Way to Invest

Your investment capital will depend on your age, income, priorities, and investment goals. Tax laws can also impact your ROI. You can check the legal status of cryptocurrency in your country from Coin.dance’s site (https://coin.dance/poli), or seek competent legal advice about the possible implications of investing in cryptocurrencies.

That said, here’s a sample of how you might want to structure your cryptocurrency investment. Let’s look at it from the perspective of a middle-class employee earning a net income of $3,500 a month.

The first step is to subtract the living expenses from the net income. What you’re left with is your discretionary income which you can freely use to plan for your future or hedge against financial losses. (Note: Do not invest all of your discretionary income. You should put it aside for entertainment, holidays, emergencies, and donations to good causes.)

 

$ 3,500.00               net/disposable income (after-tax)

2,500.00                    living expenses


= $ 1,000.00               discretionary income

 

Another option is to have multiple income streams, or side jobs aside from your typical 9-5. From here we’ll set up an account and possibly allocate our resources, thus:

20% emergency account
40% freedom/savings account
30% capital investment
10% trading/speculating

 

Here is a good way to look at our income. The first two (emergency and freedom/savings) are considered a necessity because of the fact that life is unpredictable. Anything can happen, so it’s always best to prepare for the unexpected. Remember Murphy’s Law: “If something can go wrong, it probably will.”

Your emergency and freedom account act as your “safety net” against life’s unpleasant surprises. An emergency account is used to cover your expenses like medical bills, repairs, etc. Others may spend them on health, car, and home insurances, which is also a viable option.

Freedom/savings account will cover your living expenses for six to twelve months in case you get laid off or choose to leave the company (some companies may offer a severance package, but not always).

The last two (capital investment and trading/speculating) is where you make crucial financial decisions that could potentially change your life or move yourself upward in today’s economy. You can have a choice between entrepreneurship and becoming a full-time trader/investor.

Being an entrepreneur gives you greater control over your finances. In the context of a cryptocurrency or blockchain-based business, you could run a cloud mining rental service, pool mining website, or cryptocurrency exchange. Once your company gains traction, you can start growing your business by raising capital through crowd-sales (check the legal status of ICOs in your country). Some start-ups may go with crowd-sales straightaway.

You can become a full-time cryptocurrency trader and invest heavily in cryptocurrencies where you’re constantly on the lookout for trading and investing opportunities, such as breakouts, funding blockchain start-ups, and ICOs. Beginners are often discouraged from getting involved in cryptocurrency trading and investing particularly those with very little or no background in dealing with financial markets. We don’t recommend this option unless you have an entire backup plan. Full-time cryptocurrency traders should have millions of dollars in fiat currency just in case they lose everything.

Some look at investing as the polar opposite of entrepreneurship, requiring a different strategy and mental disposition. For one thing, investing is market-dependent and may not necessarily have a steady cash flow, whereas in an entrepreneurship, cash flow is the difference between growth and going out of business.

Finally, the last 10% of your investment might be used for trading in a speculative market, particularly new, or small to medium cap currencies, tokens, and altcoins. Bitcoin and Ethereum are worth less than a dollar at launch; today, they’re valued by the hundreds and thousands. Although we can’t compare them with new, emerging currencies, we can’t discount the possibility of such a currency taking the same path in the near future (think EOS, Monero, and Dash)

Should I Invest In Initial Coin Offerings?

Blockchain projects and start-ups open up a new world of opportunities for many cryptocurrency investors and venture capitalists. Initial coin offering allows investors to gain a decisive edge as pioneers and early adopters of new cryptocurrencies, and the latest applications and innovations in blockchain technology.

There’s a lot of success in recent Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) of 2017, raising more than 3 billion USD in capital investments and token sales. (More about this later.) It became the latest buzz since Ethereum, and today we have more than 600 tokens created through these events – and counting.

However, ICOs recently came under fire and had been thoroughly scrutinized, or banned outright in some countries, due to their mostly unregulated status and reports of unsuspecting investors losing thousands, or even millions of dollars in ICO scams. In fact according to a report by the Wall Street Journal, around $300 million was money raised by coin offerings has gone to fraud or scams.

In this chapter, we’ll look at ICOs from a well-founded, and unbiased point of view, considering both pros and cons to help us come up with our own financial decisions whether or not to invest in them.

 

What are Initial Coin Offerings?

An initial coin offering is the stage or period in the development of a blockchain project where start-up companies or a group of people generate funds through crowdselling – a form of crowdfunding that issues tokens to contributors. Upon completion, creators and organizers of an ICO would launch the project (cryptocurrency, blockchain app, platform, etc.) and distribute tokens to all its participants. Some ICOs have their tokens already listed and traded in exchanges before the network launch to stimulate hype and move its value up through market price actions (e.g., EOS).

Some investors and regulators compare ICOs to initial public offerings (IPOs) because they’re both used to generate funds by issuing financial instruments tradable in a public exchange. However, such reference is made irrespective of the time of their execution.

Unlike IPOS, most ICOs are done when start-up companies have yet to prove themselves, and there’s nothing to back their claims except for several pages of whitepaper outlining their business model or concept. Participants usually buy indirectly through the ICO’s website and receive their tokens at a specified distribution date.

IPOs, on the other hand, are done on a public exchange, after companies have long been established and have already proven their worth. The main goal of an IPO is to raise capital to support its operations and to grow the company on a massive scale.

The financial instruments issued by ICOs and IPOs may also be classified as securities, but they may not exactly be of the same type. Tokens sold prior to, or within an ICO period are considered IOUs or (loosely) bonds with a set face value. After a successful launch, tokens are issued to all the participants, at which point, they may no longer be considered IOUs or bonds, but more like shares in an IPO where their value is determined by the market. But the main purpose of ICOs and IPOs from an investor’s point of view is essentially the same.

Currently, there are no fixed regulations about ICOs. However, there are a few who perform KYC on their contributors. It’s the mostly unregulated status of ICOs that make investing in these blockchain-based ventures extremely high-risk. But on a positive note, they can also be extremely profitable by as much as tenfold compared to other markets. In contrast, IPOs are highly regulated and closely monitored by authorities to protect the rights of investors. Certified investors in an IPO must also meet certain qualifications before they can be allowed to invest on a stock.

ICOs typically last for several weeks and may consist of token sale “rounds.” Prices of tokens increase in value with every round. Some ICOs run for months and had their tokens already listed on exchanges before the project launches. There’s also a pre-sale or pre-ICO where tokens are sold at wholesale prices to institutional investors and some small investors to jumpstart the project. Some pre-ICOs offer perks and exclusive bonuses to early adopters.

ICOs can be a great way to raise funds, and not just for companies looking to create a new cryptocurrency. Anybody from traditional companies, tech companies, and even Venezuela is getting in on the act. However, the United States is trying to block American citizens from purchasing the digital currency issued by Venezuela which, according to President Nicolas Maduro, raised $5 Billion.

In fact, ICOs have become a new mode of crowdfunding, blending investment returns with the possibility of an actual physical product.  Indiegogo, the crowdfunding platform is testing out a new product where you can invest in ICOs and blockchain. The first ICO they helped sell tokens for was called The Fan-Controlled Football League, a fantasy-style league which lets the football audience decide everything in real time. They are selling up to $5 million worth of tokens.

Stock Exchanges Vs. Cryptocurrency Exchanges: What’s the Difference?

In the traditional sense, exchanges are marketplaces where securities, commodities, and financial instruments are traded. Stocks and foreign exchange markets are traded in exchanges such as NYSE, or in the case of Forex, international banks and dealers working with exchange rates.

Cryptocurrency exchanges borrowed the idea from traditional exchanges. But instead of securities like stocks and bonds, traders deal with fiat and virtual currencies over the Internet. To have a better understanding of how cryptocurrency exchanges work, we will give some examples from real-world exchanges.

Exchanges are an essential part of the whole cryptocurrency ecosystem. They provide easy access to anyone who wants to trade digital assets apart from cryptocurrency mining. You’ve probably came across some of them, the most popular ones being GDAX (via Coinbase), Bittrex, and Poloniex.

At the moment, there are more than a hundred exchanges operating in many countries across the world today. We will take a closer look at how cryptocurrency exchanges work, and some basic information on how to use them.

 

How Exchanges Have Evolved

Savvy business owners and investors are always looking at markets for opportunities to further their business and financial goals. To a business owner, they can be used to raise capital by issuing bonds and shares to investors. Think of publically traded companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft. An investor sees exchanges as opportunities to make more money by purchasing stocks that would eventually grow in value.

However, there’s a certain limit to the number of shares a company could issue based on its total market value, and companies may choose to hold some of them for future use. Once it goes public, these stocks are traded in exchanges and investors can start buying and selling them through brokerages. (Chapter 3 explains how ICOs work in many ways like IPOs)

The first stock to trade on the NYSE was The Bank of New York in 1792 and still operates in Manhattan under the name Bank of New York Mellon.

For decades, trading floors were the center of activity for many traders and investors. Over time, traditional exchanges have evolved and most trading floors are now replaced by online trading platforms and automated trading software. The NASDAQ Exchange, which started out as an electronic price quoting service, was the first to implement automation to an exchange without the need for physical trading floors.

This transition provided the right environment for cryptocurrency exchanges to thrive in the outer reaches of the cyberspace. Cryptocurrency exchanges don’t have physical trading floors like NASDAQ or NYSE, but they provide greater access to millions of people across the world to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies at a much cheaper cost.

Cryptocurrency exchanges also don’t require a sizeable amount of money to start trading, and fees are way much lower compared to traditional exchanges. In traditional exchanges, you usually need at least $1,000 to open and maintain a brokerage account, and you’ll have to pay commissions on each trade, maintenance fees, and low-balance penalties.

In contrast, cryptocurrency exchanges can be accessed directly on a person’s PC or smartphone without going through these brokerages. Anyone with access to the Internet can set up their own cryptocurrency exchange account at no cost and with no minimum deposit.

However, you need to familiarize yourself with exchanges since you’re basically doing all the research and hands-on trading all by yourself. Moreover, cryptocurrency exchanges don’t have the same level of government regulation as do traditional exchanges, and thus involve some risk.

There’s also a limit to certain privileges on most regulated exchanges depending on your account verification level. Typically, the longer you stay or trade on your exchange account, and the more information you give about yourself, the better your chances are at getting verified and increase your trading limits and withdrawals.

 

Familiarizing Yourself with Exchanges

Cryptocurrency exchanges borrowed many terminologies from traditional exchanges. Experienced traders know these terms by heart, but for those who are just learning the ropes, some words and phrases are a bit baffling. We’ll explain them here in layman’s term and provide some examples as needed.

Order Book – A list of all the buy and sell orders of traders in a market. It specifies the total number of bids and asks on a trading pair (e.g. BTC/USD), their quantity (size) and price, and presents them in graphical form. Order books play an important role in “price discovery” where the majority of traders agree on a certain price, thereby filling those orders and setting the current price of a given asset. Order books are now fully automated, capable of handling millions of buy and sell orders instantaneously. The process can be observed in real time in exchanges like GDAX, Bittrex, and Poloniex.

 

Trading Pair – Two different currencies traded on a market. With ETH/BTC trading pair, people are either buying Ethereum with Bitcoin, or selling them for Bitcoin. Traders set the bid and ask price of the currency they want to trade with using another currency. To put into perspective, in an ETH/BTC trading pair, ETH is the “commodity” being bought and sold, and BTC is the “currency” used to pay for them. Although, not an exact analogy, people who are new to cryptocurrencies and trading might be able to understand better using a more simplistic approach (both ETH and BTC are digital assets, and thus, barter transaction would be more appropriate). In a BTC/USD pair, it’s a lot easier to grasp since we’re talking here of a digital asset and a real-world currency (fiat). Also, in a trading pair, a currency can increase or decrease in value relative to its pair – much like Forex in a sense. In an ETH/BTC pair, if more ETH orders are being filled and greater quantities are sold at a higher price, it will be valued higher in BTC, and vice versa. In the grand scheme of things, a currency’s value is summed up based on how it performed across all online exchanges where it’s listed. (See https://coinmarketcap.com/ for a list of all exchanges.)

 

Bid/Ask  – Bids specifies the price traders are willing to pay on a trading pair for a given quantity of cryptocurrency. Asks, on the other hand, specifies the price traders are willing to sell their cryptocurrencies for. Bids and asks are usually shown in graphical form in order books as the “bid and ask wall” juxtaposed against each other, often resembling a valley – also called “market depth.” The lowest point is where traders agree on a certain price. Orders placed somewhere near the current price (“market orders”) are often filled almost immediately, while those placed further away (“limit orders”) may take some time. Traders may cancel their orders and move them elsewhere if it takes them too long, or if they want to take advantage of a major price action days or weeks ahead.

 

Bid-Ask Spread – A gap formed when both sides of the market don’t agree on a common price and no orders are being filled. It is the difference between the lowest bid and ask price on a trading pair. For instance, a trader wants 0.1 BTC for $1000, and another wants to sell his at $1,010. We have a price spread of $10. The bigger the difference, the wider the bid-ask spread. Too wide of a bid-ask spread will have an impact to a market’s liquidity.

 

Trading Volume – The total amount of cryptocurrency traded in the market at any given time. For instance, in a BTC/USD trading pair, the trading volume for an hour of trading could be $35,000,000, closing at $10,000 per BTC. They’re usually shown as multi-coloured or monochrome bars at the base of a price chart. In a multi-coloured price chart, green-coloured bars meant the closing price is higher than the previous one; for red-coloured bars, it’s the other way around. A dark-coloured bar meant the closing price is equal to the previous one. In most cryptocurrency exchanges, viewers can change the duration from a 1-minute, 5-minute, 30 mintue, 1-hour trading volume, and so on. Markets with high trading volumes are considered to have high levels of liquidity.

 

Price Chart – A graphical representation of the price actions with respect to time. Price charts reveal whether a currency’s value is on an uptrend (“bullish”), downtrend (“bearish”), or has undergone periods of stagnation, high volatility, parabolic moves (market bubble), and sell-offs. They can be shown in candlestick or line format. Candlestick charts also have a colour scheme (green for “bullish” and red for “bearish”) that matches the trading volume. Sometimes bearish candles will close at a higher position relative to the previous one resulting in colours which are opposite to the trading volume. In a line format, each point represent the closing prices. Viewers can also change the duration from a 1-minute, 5-minute, 30-minute, 1-hour price chart, and so on.

 

Circulating supply – The best approximation of the number of coins circulating in the market and in the general public’s hands (https://coinmarketcap.com/faq). In traditional exchanges, these are the total number of publicly traded stocks as opposed to locked-in stocks withheld by the company or shareholders. Circulating supply helps determine the total market value (market capitalization) of a cryptocurrency.

 

Maximum Supply – the total supply of cryptocurrency that will ever be produced. Most cryptocurrencies are deflationary in nature, i.e., they have a fixed supply. Bitcoin is set at 21 million BTC, while some premined coins such as Ripple has a maximum supply of 100 billion XRP, 55% of which is being held in escrow by the company.

 

Market Capitalization – The total market value of a cryptocurrency, determined by multiplying the circulating supply with the current market price of each coin or token. It’s the equivalent of a company’s total market value in a public exchange, which is also determined by multiplying the total number of outstanding shares with the market price of each share.

The Taxman Is Catching Up On Cryptocurrency

Revenue agencies around the world are scrambling to figure out a way to tax cryptocurrency as governments are beginning to realize they are losing out on a vast source of revenue.

We’re now seeing how cryptocurrency would fit into our economy, and more people from institutions and the mainstream society starting to acknowledge them as a store of value and as a medium of exchange. Consequently, this would also mean tax obligations for miners, buyers, traders, merchants, and everyday users.

Here are things we need to know to prepare ourselves for the tax season. We’ll cover some important issues, fundamentals of taxation and how they would apply to our cryptocurrencies. But before we start, here at CryptMin and CryptEdu, we encourage you to always pay your taxes and report your capital gains to the government. It’s never fun having the taxman after you.

 

Tax Laws Are after It

Despite what people tell us in social media and cryptocurrency websites about privacy and anonymity, dealing with cryptocurrencies can leave behind footprints for the CRA or the IRS. Blockchain transactions are public records – everybody sees it, including your taxman.

The truth is blockchain transactions are more transparent than our traditional banking system. The key difference is the use of public keys instead of real names, which makes every transaction pseudonymous. However, since no two public keys are alike, once it gets tied to a real person’s name or company, authorities can easily track every transaction that was ever made with that public key. (Note: some “underground” cryptocurrencies encrypt their true addresses on the blockchain ledgers like Monero and Zcash, and thus more difficult to track.)

Some places where the CRA or the IRS can get a hold of your identity are cryptocurrency exchanges, online wallets, cloud mining sites, mining pools, and the social media. Although gateways are largely unregulated these days, it’s only a matter of time before governments and regulators will require each one of them to disclose information they have about their customers upon request.

Coinbase, for instance, are required to conduct KYC on their customers before they can start buying, selling, or trading on GDAX. Same is true with cloud mining sites when accepting payments from customers using their credit card or bank account. Genesis Mining does so whenever customers buy their mining contracts. They’ll have their customers’ public keys as well for payouts.

From the governments’ perspective, these are all treasure troves when looking for information about people who owes them money. Depending on the exchange, cloud mining company or the country they’re in, government agencies can have access to these customer data.

They could also set their sights on social media, particularly content creators in YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter who display their public keys for accepting donations, or even online stores who take cryptocurrency as payment for goods and services. And while customers and everyday users might get away with it by putting them in cold storage (mobile, hardware, or paper wallet), sooner or later, regulators will find a way to catch up on them as well.

 

Conflicting Views on Cryptocurrency

The IRA and CRA treats cryptocurrencies just like any asset. Their value may fluctuate from time to time, but until they go out and are sold in exchanges for fiat, holding these currencies is not a taxable event. A Capital gain tax will apply when selling cryptocurrencies in exchanges. However, determining the exact price on the date of acquisition is necessary to properly assess how much capital gain the seller is obliged to pay taxes for during the re-sell.

As you might expect, getting the numbers right on a person’s capital gain is going to take a lot of work and making sure every transaction in cryptocurrency exchanges are properly documented. It’s possible, for instance, that Coinbase would be asked to disclose their records for taxing purposes on each buy and sell and the dollar valuation on each individual transaction to see how much capital gain a customer has.

When using it to buy goods and services, or trading them with other cryptocurrencies, bartering laws will apply. This is where it gets a little tricky when you consider capital gains on your cryptocurrency for every purchase. For instance, you bought a thousand dollars’ worth of Bitcoin and decided to buy furniture with it when the value goes up by 50%.  The next month, you buy your furniture with Bitcoin which is currently priced at 1,500 USD. According to law, you’ll also have to pay for the gain tax as it is with bartering goods. In essence, you’re paying tax twice for buying furniture with Bitcoin – gain tax on Bitcoin and GST/HST on the furniture. And since you’re exchanging your digital asset on a short-term gain, it will be taxed just like a regular income which is the highest for capital gain tax.

Businesses will have to deal with the same problem when accepting cryptocurrency payments. If clients chose to pay with Bitcoin, which by definition is property/digital asset, they’ll have to report it as income (see the confusion?). This carries a lot of risk for business owners due to the volatility of cryptocurrencies. They might end up paying taxes on the sale despite the fact that the value of cryptocurrencies have already gone down.

 

Tax Implications for Miners, Traders, and Buyers

Regulators are catching up on cryptocurrencies fast. There will probably come a time when every cloud mining company, exchange, and wallet service in every country will be required to keep records about their customers in order to run their business. In this case, we need to prepare ourselves to avoid getting burned when the tax bill arrives.

Cloud mining companies can take advantage of tax deductions by writing off electrical and maintenance expenses in running their cloud mining facilities. This is a lot better than dodging regulations and taking a lot of risk of being caught and paying huge penalties or even losing the whole business. Technically speaking, cloud mining companies don’t pay out their customers – it’s a rental service. Whatever payout their customer receives depends on the mining pools they choose to join in and the currencies they want to mine with the hash power they bought from the cloud mining service. They might also take a cut from the mining rewards as a service charge on top of the rental fee or contract price (all depends on the cloud mining company). This is considered a taxable event, and laws regarding cryptocurrency transactions will apply.

Mining pools also take their share of the mining rewards as their service fee, usually around 1-4%, and hence, it is a taxable event according to laws on bartering, i.e. cryptocurrency for mining service. Exchanges and traders will be hit the hardest, especially day traders and swing traders. Under existing tax laws, short-term capital gains (assets acquired below one year) will be taxed as regular income. This applies, not only when cashing out and locking in their profits with fiat, but when buying other cryptocurrencies with it, e.g. buying Bitcoin with Ethereum.

Everyday users might also have to deal with this when buying or using cryptocurrencies for everyday transactions. Some complications may arise for buyers and business owners as mentioned earlier in this article.

Tax laws regarding cryptocurrencies still needs a lot of refinement; implementing it at its current state can be problematic and cause a lot of confusion. Sooner or later, our governments might come up with better tax laws regarding cryptocurrencies and begin the process of pursuing anyone who gets their hands on them. When the time arrives, we would have already prepared for such eventuality.

Interested in mining? Learn the basics of cryptocurrency mining at CryptEdu.com or start  hassle-free cloud mining at Cryptmin.com today.

What’s Next? Pushing the Boundaries of Blockchain Technology

Cryptocurrency could be running on a “different” blockchain, far better than its predecessors. Ethereum, became the first to have a “programmable” blockchain which made the currency in a class of its own. Today, we are entering into a new era of blockchain technology which promises scalability, interoperability, and sustainability with a first-of-its-kind third generation decentralized currency, Cardano.

We’ll explore the possibilities as well as the challenges in this new development in blockchain technology – what can it do to solve the prevailing issue of scalability and how far can it push the boundaries.

 

Blockchain Scaling and Its Challenges

Blockchain redefined the meaning of currency as a “trust-less” and “decentralized” medium of exchange allowing people to exchange value on a peer-to-peer network without a third party. It also solved the problem of double spending and fraud when dealing with digital assets in a virtual space with the combined strength of cryptographic functions and distributed consensus. But having such a high level of security also comes at the expense of speed and computing power.

Blockchain is difficult to scale because the exponential growth of the ever-increasing size, the necessary bandwidth to update all the ledgers across the network, and the proof of work algorithm which is self-limiting in terms of the number of transactions it can accommodate at a given time.

Some of the proposed solutions are, to take mining out of the picture, and use an alternative method of confirmation such as proof of stake and consensus protocol. Unfortunately, any attempt to improve scalability which takes mining and proof of work out of the way also tends to become convoluted and unsecure. There seems there is no way to create a blockchain that is both scalable, secure, and decentralized without losing some of its properties, one way or the other, or, writing a blockchain protocol from the ground up using an entirely different programming language.

Tinkering with the block size could only worsen the situation as bigger blocks would increase the blockchain size exponentially, thus consuming more bandwith and slowing down the network even more. The Bitcoin Cash hard fork of August 2017 attempts to solve Bitcoin’s scalability problem by following this route. However, it is doubtful that such measure could sustain the impact of mass adoption.

Some developers are now taking a different approach in their efforts to make a scalable, interoperable (communicates with other blockchains), and sustainable blockchain.

 

Making Blockchain a Lot “Smarter”

The simplicity of Bitcoin’s algorithm proved to be its greatest strength in terms of security. It is less prone to have errors and is more secure compared to other complex systems. Consequently, this would also mean less room for innovation within the blockchain itself (scripting used in Bitcoin is not “Turing-complete”). Moreover, developers couldn’t make drastic changes to the code without causing a fork in the blockchain. In such a case, the best scalability solution is to have a second layer for micro-transactions which “clears” each time these bundled transactions are broadcasted as one to the first layer, i.e. the blockchain. This is the idea behind Lightning Network.

However, to make this work, it should remain “trust-less,” secure, and shouldn’t involve a third party by adding a set of rules on top of the Bitcoin network to ensure that every transaction between two parties is settled upon meeting the conditions, or they can be rolled back if one of them refused to cooperate. Some of these rules include opening and pre-funding off-chain payment channels (or side-chains), “time-locks,” and having a “refund addresses” in case it fails to execute the agreement.

Ethereum accomplished the task with the idea of a “smart contract” between two or more people. After mining, the contract comes into force and becomes an immutable part of the blockchain. It uses a proprietary programming language (Solidity) which is more flexible than the script used by Bitcoin, and is primarily used for ICOs to fund projects and issue tokens to contributors. Some developers can make some interesting use of smart contracts such as the popular online blockchain game, Cryptokitties, where people can buy, sell, or breed virtual kittens on the Ethereum blockchain for profit.

Ethereum is regarded by developers as the second generation of blockchain technology for making such remarkable achievement. Blockchain technology is no longer just a method of making secure payments and storing value like Bitcoin, but also a more secure way of creating immutable, automated contracts without requiring a mediator in a physical sense. This opens up a world of possibilities for blockchain as a versatile platform for business and everyday use.

 

 

The Third Generation of Blockchain Technology

Cardano is considered by some as the third generation of blockchain technology for several reasons. First of all, it has a blockchain built with scalability in mind and uses a programming language known only to a few developers (Haskell and Plutus). Unlike the programming languages used in second generation blockchain which goes through a number loops and procedures one string at a time, it deals with the process of creating smart contracts and verification using a functional language which is more efficient. In other words, instead of commands, it uses mathematical formulas, i.e. functions.

An Ethereum smart contract, for instance, can go through a hundred iterations and procedures before coming up with a single output. This results in higher computational cost and could easily overload the network without some sort of regulatory mechanism that limits the number of loops or strings on a given contract. Ethereum came up with the idea of “gas”, which is the equivalent of mining fees for Bitcoin. This way, users cannot arbitrarily overload the network with excessive number of iterations. However, like Bitcoin, it also brings up the issue of scalability, computational cost, and sustainability

Cardano seeks to address this problem by revising the way blockchains should work. However, nothing is set in stone as of the moment and we couldn’t know for certain whether such proposal will have enough support from developers and the cryptocurrency community. Haskell and Plutus programming language is not so popular but can be extremely useful when applied to blockchains because it offers more flexibility.

There’s also a learning curve, should developers choose to support Cardano’s vision of a scalable blockchain, and it would have to compete with the developers’ attention who are fully engrossed in perfecting Lightning Network for Bitcoin, and the proof of stake scalability solution for Ethereum. One possible scenario is that all three of them will come to fruition about the same time, and by then we would have three or more fully scalable currencies which use different methods in achieving the same goal. Or, we may come up with just one solution that would annihilate other currencies and become the gold standard of future blockchain-based currencies. Could it be Cardano, Ethereum’s updated proof of stake version, or Bitcoin running on Lightning Network? The world watches as the story continues to unfold.

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Solving the Cryptocurrency Puzzle

Cryptocurrency gives people a glimpse of what our financial system could look like in the next five to ten years. From its infancy, we’ve already seen the potential of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum to revolutionize traditional banking through a system of payment which doesn’t require intermediaries.

This method is proving itself as a fast, reliable, and cost-effective means of communicating value, touted by enthusiasts as the Internet of money, far better than our centuries-old banking system with its painfully slow and costly transactions. However, in recent years, we’re starting to see some of its growing pains as it goes through the slow process of mass adoption.

Developers are now looking into these problems with a renewed sense of urgency as cryptocurrencies gear towards mainstream integration. It is expected for the next couple of years to be the most turbulent in all of cryptocurrency history, and one which will decide the fate of our status quo.

 

In Search of the Missing Piece

Blockchain protocols lend to the blockchain’s immutability and varying degrees of decentralization. Like any software, they are far from being perfect. There are over a thousand cryptocurrencies in circulation today, and all of them will have to somehow deal with their own issues one way or the other.

Bitcoin has had a number of BIPs to solve this lingering problem of slow confirmations. By mid-2017, they managed to increase the block’s capacity by almost double without causing compatibility issues with old, existing wallets. With the adoption of Segwit, Bitcoin accomplished two things at once: fixed a software glitch (transaction malleability), and reduced confirmation times.

However, such measure won’t guarantee a long-term, let alone permanent solution, to Bitcoin’s transaction woes. At the time of writing, there are over **50,000 pending transactions in Bitcoin’s blockchain mempool, waiting to be confirmed, and they’re constantly piling up at a rate of 2-3 unconfirmed transactions per second. Developers have been working round the clock testing and finalizing Lightning Network for Bitcoin, the success of which will enable Bitcoin to break the sound barrier and bring this whole debate of scalability into a close.

(**That number went down to <2,000 unconfirmed transactions, probably due to increased Segwit adoption by wallet users and providers, or to some early adopters of the Lightning Network.)

Ethereum has had its own share of problems and fixes, most notably the Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) attack of June 2016 and the hard fork that ensued to prevent further loss of funds. Smart contracts is one of Ethereum’s major selling point which enabled contracting parties to make an agreement that executes after satisfying certain conditions, or rolls back if it hasn’t.

Ethereum’s biggest hurdle is the ominous “difficulty bomb” built into the system which makes it nearly impossible to mine without incurring losses to miners after a certain point in time. Hence, the only solution is to migrate from a “proof of work” to a “proof of stake” method of confirming transactions. With the release of the Casper update for Ethereum, they hope to achieve exponential rate of confirmations and scalability in preparation for worldwide adoption.

 

The Proof of Work Concept

Proof of work had its roots in the early 90s to deter users from launching denial of service (DoS) attacks performed by spamming websites and establishments with superfluous requests. Interestingly, proof of work was also coined from the standpoint of giving value to a currency like the shell money used by inhabitants of the Solomon Islands.

Proof of work underpins major currencies such as Bitcoin, Etherium, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin in confirming transactions on a blockchain, which can only be achieved through mining. Proof of work helps create a system which is resistant to fraud and hacking since there are no viable means to circumvent the process except by brute-forcing through an inordinate number of trial-and-error.

In proof of work, only truth matters, in this case, the correct nonce and the corresponding hash which would allow transactions to be confirmed. In return, miners are rewarded for their efforts and new units of currencies are created and added into their accounts (hence the idea of mining).

Such method opens up the possibility of individuals with the most powerful mining hardware taking control, and in effect centralizing all the hash power to an elite few. Thus, a self-regulating mechanism was put in place to assure that only a specific number of confirmations can be done at a given time (difficulty increases/decreases with the network’s hashing capability).

Bitcoin also has several BIPs to increase network efficiency, such as the inclusion of mining fees. With this, they hope to alleviate congestion by putting a premium on higher transaction fees and eliminating the possibility of saboteurs spamming the network with high volumes of worthless micro-transactions.

As it turns out, some solutions can also have unforeseen consequences down the line, namely, difficulties with scaling. The first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was not really intended for everyday use but only as an alternative means of exchanging value outside the realm of government regulations. Scaling would not have been an issue back then. However, much has changed, and more countries and businesses are looking towards cryptocurrency as the way forward to their old and antiquated monetary system.

 

Proof of Stake and Its Potential Risks

Proof of stake adds another twist to the way transactions are confirmed. Similar to mining, participants validate and confirm transactions which are added on top of the blockchain. However, instead of using hash power, they would stake their currencies and lock them up for each round of staking. It also requires continuous uptime in order to be chosen by the algorithm, and, by being chosen, confirm transactions, and receive their rewards.

There are many nuances on how proof of stake are implemented in various cryptocurrencies based on how they try to mitigate the risks associated with staking, e.g. monopolozing, inflation rates, and network stability. Most prominent among cryptocurrencies which use proof of stake includes Peercoin, Blackcoin, Nextcoin, Bitcoin Plus, Cardano (premined) and soon to be Ethereum Casper update.

Staking is touted by several crypto-enthusiasts as the only road to scalability and worldwide adoption because it solves a lot of issues with associated with mining which uses proof of work such as power consumption and confirmation times. Although plausible with proof of stake being cost-effective and faster than proof of work, it could quickly turn into a can of worms if not implemented correctly.

Proof of stake tend to favour “stakers” (the equivalent of “miners” using proof of work) with huge quantities of currencies in reserve as they could handily beat small-time stakers with the increasing level of difficulty. Stakers can do the same thing as did every miner, creating a pool of stakers or the so-called master nodes to consolidate all their assets and have a fighting (or “winning”) chance of being randomly selected by the algorithm to confirm transactions.

Some proof of stake implementation prevents monopoly by capping the amount of currency that could be staked, “coin age,” and ticket waiting times. Putting a limit to staked currencies is intended to level the playing field for everybody and encourage more people to participate in staking. On the other hand, coin age and ticket waiting times regulate the frequency participants can stake, Peercoin, for instance, is set to a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 90 days.

Inflation and network stability are some of the common issues with a proof of stake protocol. Developers are careful enough not to overdo one aspect over the other and seal off potential gaps and loopholes that can cause instability or discourage people from participating. Most proof of stake protocols and algorithms are still in the process of development and rigorous testing. The much anticipated Casper update for Ethereum could be released anytime this year, effectively moving to proof of stake through a hard fork.

 

Ripple and the Consensus Protocol

Consensus seems to be the antithesis of a decentralized method of confirming transactions which rely on proof of work or proof of stake. At its core, it is a trust-based method whereby transactions or any form of agreement between two parties are validated and confirmed by way of consensus. The result is almost instantaneous confirmations, averaging at a rate of 1500 transactions per second.

Ripple breaks the mould by being the first to implement the cryptocurrency version of the “hawala” system, allowing it to deliver lightning fast transactions outputs consistently at only fractions of a penny. However, there is an obvious downside with this kind of method. Despite having the trappings of decentralization as one of the cryptocurrencies listed in exchanges, it is, by all accounts, a centralized currency backed by tech giants and financial institutions.

Unlike mining and staking, there are no incentives as a “validator,” except that fact you earn more trust and contribute to the stability of the whole network. Validators are usually large entities like banks and commercial establishments which might benefit from it through cross-border transactions. However, since all the currencies that will ever exist are already pre-mined, the currency’s value and every asset tied to it are at the mercy of whoever holds the majority of it (hint: 55% is held in escrow by Ripple).

 

The Lightning Network and the New Bitcoin

The proposed Lightning Network solution for Bitcoin, Ethereum’s plan on moving to proof of stake, and Ripple’s meteoric rise towards the end of 2017 sends a strong signal to the cryptocurrency community and to the world that a major change in the current financial system is forthcoming.

Lightning Network, if successful, will usher the golden age of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general. In so doing, we might also have a slightly different view about the new Bitcoin, particularly with its strong stance for decentralization. We might have to welcome the possibility of having off-chain payment channels and smart contracts to communicate with the blockchain instead of having every wallet users transmit countless numbers of micro-transactions to the blockchain every single time. The result would be a dramatic increase in transaction outputs, and the ability to scale with a fast-growing number of users.

Lightning Network could be the missing piece of the puzzle, the final solution to Bitcoin’s scalability issues, and the last hurdle towards worldwide adoption. But it is, by no means, the only way. If, for some reason, Lightning Network failed to materialize, it would not be the end of the road for Bitcoin. It would just be the beginning of a long journey towards perfection and worldwide adoption.

 

Interested in mining? Learn the basics of cryptocurrency mining at CryptEdu.com or start  hassle-free cloud mining at Cryptmin.com today.

The End of Currency as We Know It?

The growing optimism of financial institutions with blockchain technology has spurred a lot of interest within the cryptocurrency community. They’re now exploring the possibility of using cryptocurrency as a global currency, much like its real-world counterpart, but without the need for governmental intermediaries.

This, however, requires nothing short of a compromise since the technology used in cryptocurrencies, which were meant to cut off intermediaries, will now be used in the interest of banks and financial institutions they initially sought to eliminate.

 

Financial Institutions on the Use Blockchain Technology

The challenge with decentralized currency is the way which central banks create money. Cryptocurrency protocols which gave birth to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin uses “proof of work”, hashpower/electricity to mine currencies until they reach a fixed limit. And, unlike central banks, anyone with adequate resource and hashpower can participate in the process of increasing money supply.

But not all cryptocurrencies follow this convention. Some currencies are neither mineable nor obtainable by any other means except through exchanges. Ripple (XRP), for instance, is one of those few currencies with such peculiar characteristics.

First, it has no need of miners to keep the system stable and secure, and does the exact opposite each time transactions are made: a specific unit of XRP is “destroyed” (around 0.00001 XRP or 10 “drops”) per transaction. Accordingly, this would discourage people from spamming the system. Maximum supply is programmed at 100 billion XRP, 55% of which is held in escrow.

Although “decentralized,” Ripple is backed by big institutions primarily Google (Google Ventures), and other venture capitalists such as Standard Chartered, Siam Commercial (SCB Digital Ventures), Japan’s SBI Holdings, CME Group, Seagate Technology, and Venture 51. The focus of blockchain adoption was not so much on creating a global decentralized currency envisioned by Bitcoin, but in making transactions “frictionless” and resistant to hacking.

Banks and financial institutions loved the concept and saw in Ripple the potential of using blockchain technology to make money transfers many times faster, a lot cheaper, and more secure than conventional banking and money service business. In fact, Ripple protocol is already supported by hundreds of banks and financial businesses across the globe, including American Express and SBI Holdings.

 

Use Cases of Blockchain Technology in Business

 

Banking & Money Service

Blockchain technology is the key to solving the age-old “Byzantine General’s Problem” when it comes to trust-based peer-to-peer transactions, one of which is the problem of “double spending.” In a traditional banking system, transactions between accounts and different banks have to be cleared to preclude the possibility of fraudulent transactions going through, especially now that most transactions involve digital cash and electronic money transfers over the Internet.

Although quite secure, they’re not essentially 100% hack-proof. The Bangladesh Bank Heist of February 2016 proves the vulnerability of a centralized method of transaction over the Internet (hackers employed the Dridex malware to send instructions to the Bangladesh Bank at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York through the SWIFT network.)

Banks and financial institutions are now looking to adopt a decentralized, consensual way of confirming transactions – one of the defining features of cryptocurrencies and distributed ledgers – to make cross-border, bank-to-bank transactions that are virtually hack-proof. To address the issue of congestion due to slow rate of confirmations, they’ve opted for cryptocurrency protocols which take mining out of the equation, i.e. pre-mined currencies.

 

Payment methods

The fact that tech giants, like Google, have invested in blockchain technology could be a strong indication that we are, indeed, looking into the future of cashless transactions. IBM also works with a pre-mined cryptocurrency, Stellar (XLM), to make cross-border payments more efficient and secure. Using this platform, they hope to eliminate the “costly, laborious, and error-prone process of making global payments.”

Microsoft retracted in their previous decision to stop accepting Bitcoin payments. Volatility and high transaction fees during peak hours can make Bitcoin payments troublesome for most businesses. But because of its high-yield potential for long-term investment, some businesses prefer Bitcoin over much stable but dormant pre-mined cryptocurrencies like Ripple and Stellar.

Several countries in North America, Europe, and Asia have brick-and-mortar businesses that accept Bitcoin payments with the same goal in mind. Since Bitcoin is regarded as a rare, highly-prized commodity, accepting them as payments is a viable way to make long-term cryptocurrency investments.

Some people went as far as using Bitcoin to acquire properties like one of Malaysia’s top entrepreneur who bought a piece of land for half a Bitcoin, and a property developer in the UK who sold two luxury homes for Bitcoin.

 

Internet Sites & Social Media

Blockchain technology can also have a positive impact on Internet sites and social media because of the massive traffic they generate. Having a cryptocurrency for users and subscribers seems to be the way forward. Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg recognized the potential of having a cryptocurrency for its 2 billion users and subscribers.

Online stores and online services would also benefit from cryptocurrency payments for the very same reason banks and money service business are using it with the Ripple currency/protocol.

 

Implications of Institutionalizing Cryptocurrencies – Two Sides of the Story

Based on these observations, two possible scenarios are starting to emerge. Blockchain technology is undoubtedly the next generation of secure, peer-to-peer transactions. But as to the control of money supply and the ability of users to store value outside the realm of government regulation, the issue of decentralization could reach a stalemate between institutionalized cryptocurrency like Ripple, and a truly decentralized cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.

In such a case, we might be seeing two types of cryptocurrencies serving two different purposes – one as a fast and secure method of payment and money transfer (akin to fiat currency), and another as a store of value. Ripple has its merits as a payment method because of its liquidity, stability, and abundant supply. Bitcoin could also be used for the same purpose, but until it creates a permanent solution to scalability issues, transaction fees, and slow transactions, it might be best to keep it as a store of value or as an investment option.

Another possibility would be one of them prevails over the other. In the case of Ripple taking the lead as the dominant cryptocurrency, we might see a resurgence of centralized money in the form of a peer-to-peer currency based on trust. If Bitcoin, however, stays on top and manages to solve the issue, the other type of cryptocurrency could weaken or fall into disuse.

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Should Governments Regulate Cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies exploded on the scene in 2010 and ever since then people haven’t known what quite to make of this new way of exchanging goods and services – one that, in the future, may take over fiat currency. Governments are having an even tougher time trying to regulate cryptocurrencies to ensure they don’t get abused by criminal organizations.

But probably more important to most central governments is their own financial interests in having a strong fiat currency. In fact, the greatest fear among regulators is not whether cryptocurrencies can be used for making secure transactions or if it has real value, but on people putting their wealth in places where governments have no access or control over. If this happens, fiat currencies will lose value or utility over time as more and more people trade cash for cryptocurrencies, thereby removing its grip on the economy and on people’s lives.

 

Gateways for Cryptocurrencies 

Cryptocurrencies and decentralized blockchain ledgers have very little need for regulations by themselves. Nor do they need any government regulation or human intervention to function properly and securely. Decentralized blockchain ledgers are, in fact, in many ways more secure than any centralized bank or financial institution.

The main purpose of regulations, as viewed by the governments, seems to gravitate on the government’s role as custodians of fiat currencies, making sure nothing gets past online wallets, brokers, and exchanges without proper authorization and identification, which is in keeping with statutory laws preventing unlawful use of fiat currency (FinCEN, AML, CFT, KYC etc.).

Some countries implement even more stringent rules against cryptocurrencies, from banning the creation of new currencies through ICOs, to the outright prohibition of cryptocurrency mining. However, many of these restrictions and prohibitions achieved nothing except encourage more people to dodge regulations by going deeper underground.

These factors make legislation for cryptocurrencies a tough balancing act, since it has to serve its purpose of protecting the people against the unlawful use of money without making it too prohibitive as to encourage clandestine exchanges, creation, and distribution of cryptocurrencies.

 

Gateway #1: Online Wallets and Exchanges

Governments, banks, and financial institutions came in to “regulate” this seemingly uncontrollable trading activity which involved using government-backed fiat currencies. In order for exchanges to operate unimpeded, they need to implement strict identification and verification procedures before granting certain privileges to subscribers such as increasing buying and trading limits and the ability to link their bank and/or credit card accounts to their wallet accounts.

Coinbase, Kraken, and Poloniex are well-known examples of online wallets and exchanges that implement KYC and other client verification procedures.

 

Gateway#2: Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)

Investors and venture capitalists (VCs) saw the high stakes of creating tokens using blockchain technology. All that stands between them and making a fortune is finding and rallying the support from people and tech communities through the sale of equities in exchange for privileges as pioneers and early adopters of their newly created coin. In a span of nine years, there are over a thousand altcoins that have been created – and counting. Ethereum project is one of the few Initial Coin Offering (basically the same as a IPO) whose altcoin turned out to be a strong currency in the market.

ICOs has been a controversial topic in the cryptocurrency sphere. From the viewpoint of regulators, they saw the need to impose regulations for such investments because they place a lot of risk on people, especially with cryptocurrency’s volatility, unpredictability, and ICO’s susceptibility to scams. China and South Korea went as far as banning ICOs altogether, and other countries threatened to follow suit if the benefits fail to justify the risks, or if scams involving ICOs spins out of control. Of course, banning them outright is foolhardy, but these countries do need a better system of regulating them just like any other IPO.

 

Gateway #3: Cryptocurrency Mining

Miners are one of the strong pillars that upholds the integrity and security of cryptocurrency networks.

There are some mining regulations in most countries, while in a few places mining is explicitly prohibited. Regulations can be beneficial for several reasons. Some mining pools don’t generate enough profit to be considered sustainable for business while shady cloud mining services exist as actually Ponzi schemes. In some countries, the high cost of electricity is prohibitive enough to discourage people from mining.

For cloud mining companies, most of the burden comes from excessive regulations pertaining Money Service Business (MSB) or Money Transmitter Business (MTB) which must be complied with to legally receive payments via credit cards or bank transfers, and send payouts to their subscribers. Often the best recourse for these cloud mining companies is to move their businesses in countries which are more receptive to mining.

 

Limits of Government Regulations

There are plenty of ways violators can dodge restrictions, and fixing all the loopholes meant shutting down the entire network (or the Internet) or reverting to a centralized form of currency.

Whether or not these regulations could prevent unlawful use of cryptocurrencies is beside the point since many countries are still inconclusive about the effectiveness of anti-money laundering laws in preventing organized crimes, terrorism, and corruption.

Instead, governments should be focusing more on enforcing laws and tracking down wrongdoers without putting undue restrictions on every citizen whose lives depend on their ability to use fiat or cryptocurrencies.

People now have a choice. Whether or not cryptocurrencies will coexist as a better alternative to fiat currency or replace it altogether is something which people will have to decide for themselves.

 

Interested in mining? Learn the basics of cryptocurrency mining at CryptEdu.com or start  hassle-free cloud mining at Cryptmin.com today.

From Fiat to Cryptocurrency – How Close Are We?

The word’s first cryptocurrency came about in January of 2009 to address a common problem considered to be one of the underlying causes of the Great Recession: the lack of restraint in money creation. The economic crisis of 2007-2009, brought the reliability of financial institutions into question, and had people asking why and how it all happened.

Most often, the answers to these questions will have one common denominator – money, or more specifically, fiat currency. Did the unknown person who first created cryptocurrency in 2009 did so to replace fiat currency altogether? Or only as means to curb the effects of inflation and provide an alternative means of exchange?

 

Why We Use Money

Money is very much a part of our everyday lives that we often take for granted why we have to use money in the first place. Obviously, we’re using it to pay for goods, services, and debts. But have you ever asked yourself how much it’s really worth? For instance, is a dollar bill really worth a hundred dollars just because it says it is?

The straightforward answer is ‘no’, it doesn’t have intrinsic value. It’s only a piece of paper, much like your paycheck, sanctioned by the government to pay for goods, services, and debts within the country. Governments use fiat currency as a store of value. This value changes over time due to inflation and deflation. Although it doesn’t have a fixed or real value like gold and silver, it makes up for its shortcomings by making transactions a lot easier for us.

Hence, fiat currency has value only because it is backed by a central authority and because it serves its purpose – to establish a financial system that allows people to transact and conduct their businesses using a standard currency. In other words, we use money because we trust the government who issued it that it’s worth something, and because it makes buying, selling, pricing, and storing wealth more convenient.

 

Who Makes Our Money?

Strictly speaking, governments don’t make our money; only central banks do. However, governments can make certain things like small pieces of printed bills to have value with the words, ‘let it be done’, which translates into Latin as ‘fiat.’ This is how we get the term ‘fiat currency.’

Governments cannot sanction the indiscriminate creation of money without adversely affecting the economy. The hyperinflation of Zimbabwe perfectly illustrates how a government can ruin the entire economy by permitting the creation of untold stacks of money. This resulted in prices of goods and services going astronomical. For instance, 100 trillion Zimbabwean dollars could only buy you a candy bar. Eventually, the Zimbabwean dollar went out of circulation and the country started using foreign currencies.

If creating too much money causes prices to catch up resulting in inflation, why do countries still increase their money supply? The answer to this question is complicated. But suffice to say, our governments and financial institutions have a hand in all of this, and we, as users of fiat currency, have no control over it – until a new kind of currency came along.

 

Bitcoin, and the Birth of Cryptocurrency Mining

The appearance of the world’s first cryptocurrency sparked very little interest. Nobody understood why people should even spend time and money on something which doesn’t exist in physical form. But as more people started using cashless transactions without having the physical form of money, it dawned on them that fiat and cryptocurrencies share a common feature: they now exist and are being used electronically, and they are both used as a store of value.

However, there’s one BIG difference: the first one is backed by a central authority, while the other is not. In the world of cryptocurrency, everyone can create more currency by way of mining rewards in which they will have to solve,  or to more precisely, find the right hash required by the network to confirm blocks of transactions which are added on top of the blockchain. To avert inflation, only a specific number of blocks could be mined at a given time and it will have a fixed supply. In the case of Bitcoin, the code was set to 21 million BTC.

Another key difference, which is also a byproduct of not having a central authority, is decentralization. In a decentralized banking system, everyone can have a copy of a distributed ledger, known as a blockchain ledger. In Bitcoin, such ledgers are stored partially or in full on nodes, i.e, computers linked to the network which miners have access to. These nodes also need consensus before transactions can get through. As a result, fraudulent or invalid transactions are easily caught and rejected by the network.

Bitcoin introduced a Utopian view of how an idealized banking system would look like. But is it going to deliver on that promise, or are we headed for the worst bubble ever seen in the history of mankind? To answer this question, we need to turn on how things are going in the cryptocurrency mining business.

 

Mining Profitability and the Current Price Bubble

Profitability for cryptocurrency mining is very promising indeed. Recent data from https://bitinfocharts.com/ shows how much you’ll earn at 1 TH/s mining crytpocurrencies. At this rate, you’ll earn 3.5887 USD/day for Bitcoin, 1.9947 USD/day for Bitcoin Cash, 0.108 USD/day (1 MH/s) for Ethereum, and a staggering 3.4973 USD/day (1 KH/s) for Monero.

Profitability calculators such as https://www.coinwarz.com/ is a lot more conservative when it comes to the calculations, weighing in several factors in addition to the hash rate such as power consumption (watts per hour), power cost, pool fees, bitcoin difficulty, block reward, Bitcoin to USD exchange rate, and hardware cost.

For instance, you just bought an AntMiner S9 that comes with a PSU for 3000 USD. Using the the Bitcoin mining calculator, we can see that 14 TH/s, using 1.375 kWh at 10 cents per kW, and a pool fee of 1%, yields 1134.61 USD per month. Scale it down to 1 TH/s and you’ll get 81.0436 USD per month. In 30-days of mining, you’ll get 2.70 USD per day, which is slightly lower to the estimated daily profit from https://bitinfocharts.com/ at 3.5887 USD/day.

Genesis Mining offers a mining package of 1TH/s for 2 years at 830 USD. Assuming that Bitcoin to USD rate stays the same for 2 years straight (which is very unlikely), using bitinfochart’s estimated daily profit would yield 2583.864 USD by the time the contract expires. Subtracting the cloud mining fee gives you a net profit of 1,753.864 or 2.4025 USD per day.

You might consider this profit too small; but that’s the reality of mining as far as the number goes. Compare this to how much you’d earn in two years, putting that same amount of money in the bank and you’ll quickly notice just how great the differences are. This brings us to the all-important question of how our financial system will turn out given the numbers and the current situation our banks are now facing.

 

Cryptocurrency as a Store of Value

There’s no question when it comes to mining profitability nowadays with the current uptrend of Bitcoin and other major currencies. However, as of date, we don’t see a lot of countries using cryptocurrencies to pay for goods and services. But this will probably change as more people turn from mere speculators to users, miners, and investors. Countries like Zimbabwe will probably use cryptocurrencies to curb their inflation, stabilization the economy, taking the power away from the government and the central banks and putting it where it belongs – in the hands of the people.

We might not have exact numbers as to how many people are now into cryptocurrencies, but their presence can be felt with the unprecedented rise in their prices. What we’re seeing right now could be the first signs of mass adoption where every people in the world will have cryptocurrency wallets in their mobile phones and laptops. Consequently, this would mean a more stable currency like fiat, and hence be able to function much like it.

There’s much to be seen as to the long-term effects of replacing fiat with cryptocurrency in the global economy. Some speculate this shift could result in mass disruption as fiat currencies lose their value over cryptocurrencies. But as we can see, banks are now looking into the possibility of adapting to this new wave of digital banking to avoid being wiped out by the tides of change.  More likely we’ll see a slow transition as cryptocurrencies become increasingly common.

Interested in mining? Learn the basics of cryptocurrency mining at CryptEdu.com or start  hassle-free cloud mining at Cryptmin.com today.