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Now that the dust is starting to settle regarding the recent Bitcoin buzz and some interesting bystanders have lashed on to the story as it’s unfolding, where do you stand? Do you want to trade, or are you a newcomer who wants to buy-in for the first time? Maybe it’s a pastime hobby of yours or you’re seeking to invest.
For the first time buyers
First off, you’ll need to download a Bitcoin client on your PC. This client will act as an e-wallet where you can personally store your Bitcoin moola. This is what makes it decentralized. Then before getting your coins, you should make sure that your e-wallet is secure. This is what makes it concerning. If not already, from here on you’ll need to do some risk-assessment. This is what makes it exciting.
You can choose to buy Bitcoins similar to buying shares. A notable example would be a Bitcoin exchange website, such as MtGox but you can also get them on eBay. Note that although this seems to be the easiest way, it’s probably the most expensive in terms of returns on your investment. There are other options as well that requires more dedication.
Generally, you have three options. First, you can mine your own coins using your PC as long as you have a graphics card. In this case, you’ll probably need to join a pool where many miners work together. The reason for this is that your PC probably isn’t powerful enough to efficiently mine you your coins. In a pool easier algorithms are spread throughout the group who mine together and in the end splits profit.
Another option is to order yourself a piece of hardware engineered to mine Bitcoins. Wired recently got its hands on a 5-Gigahash per second Bitcoin Miner built by Butterfly Labs. A gigahash per second refers to the amount of equations solved per second. The more you mine, the more difficult the equations become, and the process will inevitably become slower.
The best bet and most rational option seems to be doing both: Get your hands on specialized hardware, namely a Bitcoin Mine, and then join a pool where you can share your spoils.
Business or pleasure?
So where would you want to use these coins? The answer might depend on which of two schools of thought you subscribe to. Either you’re trying to opt out in an attempt at protesting the monetary system or government authority in general. Or maybe you are seeking an exciting investment opportunity. Seeing the fuss lately surrounding these coins, many geeks and money-grubbers alike want in on this exciting “new venture” buying and reselling their e-coins like gold or stocks. Most interesting though is probably becoming an active participant in this apparent underground economy. You’ll be surprised in knowing how many places worldwide accept and trade in Bitcoin.
“I believe in honest money, gold, silver and Bitcoin” is written behind a Bitcoin-friendly bar in Berlin’s Kreuzberg area, Germany. The e-currency has been making headway by migrating off the web and taking material form in being the common exchange at a handful of shops, bars and cafes in Kreuzberg, Berlin. As shown by The Guardian, though Kreuzberg Berlin is known for its punk rock subculture scene, it doesn’t mean the currency is necessarily part of an anti-establishment movement per se.
Kreuzberg is just one example of many. From stopping over at a B&B in Portugal to going on a tourist trip in North Korea— you can do them all using your precious Bitcoins. You’ll find that although this currency has been making headlines for the past few months, the industry where you directly pay for a product or service seems to be still a bit too raw but nonetheless ripening.
Coming to a market near you
Enthusiasts of this open-ended currency have announced the rollout of Bitcoin ATMs across the globe. After the Cyprus financial crunch many people lost confidence in their government-regulated currencies. In an interview by HumanIPO, CEO of BitcoinATM Jeff Birwick claims that he has been approached by more than 200 companies and about 30 countries who are interested in making these machines a reality in their settings. Among these countries are Egypt, Angola, Ghana, Libya and South Africa.
This commercial form of trading “currency without borders” would pull at the pockets of certain bankers most likely. For people like you or me, it could mean traveling to different countries without having to go through the hassle of exchanging currencies. You can just use a Bitcoin ATM or pay using a QR exchange process.
The fad might be dying down but it’s followed by more enthusiasts eager to engage and experiment with it. Where do you stand with e-currencies? Is it an exciting potential philosophical or business venture you wish to engage with?