Wednesday, December 20, 2017

11 Festive Bitcoin-Friendly Gift Ideas for the 2017 Holiday Season

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Since our first Bitcoin Holiday Gift Guide, the digital currency has continued to transform the world of online payments and e-commerce. This year we’re excited to bring you a festive mix of gift ideas that will help you spread the joy of Bitcoin this holiday season.


1. Gift cards

For purchases big and small, gift cards are perfect as that something extra. Gift card e-tailer eGifter has been accepting bitcoin since 2014 for a wide range of gift cards including Target, Dunkin Donuts, and GameStop. If you’re in Canada, CoinCards.ca offers a similar service to Canadians.

2. Yaupon Tea

Tea drinkers rejoice, Lost Pines Yaupon Tea accepts bitcoin for their uniquely crafted (and decently caffeinated) light and dark roast yaupon teas.

3. LED Fairy Lights

A gift that will make any room look magical, Flowerglow makes luxury handmade LED string fairy lights and accepts Bitcoin, Ether, and Dash.

4. Koi Pond Tea Set

This unique and absolutely adorable tea set from the New Mexico Tea Company includes a teapot and a colorful mix of six tea cups that have a 3D painted koi at the bottom. While you’re there, you can browse their extensive collection of teas to bring even more holiday cheer to any tea lover.

5. Bitcoin Ugly Holiday Sweater

If you’re not the only Bitcoin (or Ethereum, or Litecoin) enthusiast in the family, these festive and fabulous holiday season sweaters are quite the gift (and conversation starter).

6. Xbox Games

If you’re an Xbox user, you may already also know Microsoft accepts bitcoin for games, movies, and apps in the Xbox and Windows stores.

7. Tanooki Peach Hat Pin

Etsy store Instant Pinner Designs put their heart and soul into designing pins featuring their own take on characters from Adventure Time, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Pokemon, and Super Mario Bros.

8. Lokai Bracelets

Lokai is a lifestyle brand that donates 10% of net profits to charity. With Lokai’s latest holiday bracelets, you can choose which nonprofit your portion will go to. And for Lokai diehards, there’s always The Lokai Pact Set. Lokais can be purchased with bitcoin at Reeds Jewelers’ locations online and in-store.

9. We are all Satoshi (except for Craig Wright) T-shirt

cryptograffiti is an artist inspired by bitcoin and blockchain technology. Aside from his merch store, he also transforms his passion for cryptocurrency into fine art.

10. Overstock.com

Accepting bitcoin since 2014, Overstock’s holiday season shopping guides make it easy to find the perfect gifts all in one place including gifts for him, her, top toys, and top electronic items.

11. Old School Comics

Comic book collector in the family? On Open Bazaar you can visit Crypto Collectibles and browse comics from Captain America to Swamp Thing. Get a peek at their inventory by following them on Twitter. Open Bazaar is a bitcoin-only online marketplace that allows you to browse a unique collection of toys, clothing, jewelry, games, and other items. Transactions are peer to peer, and there are no fees for sellers to list items, which means 100% of your payment goes directly to them when you make a purchase.
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Best Bitcoin App Wallet and Hardware - [Giveaway]

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Bitcoin is hot. What once cost 6 cents in 2010 hit highs above $7,400 in 2017. If you own the cryptocurrency, or are even thinking of buying some, you'll want to find the best bitcoin wallet you can. Wallets are where the currency lives.

Storing Bitcoin is just as important as buying it. With a wealth of options available, which is best?

Without a Bitcoin wallet, you can’t send or receive Bitcoin payments. So before you get bitcoins, you’ll need to buy, download, or create a bitcoin wallet.

Have you been using Bitcoin for a while and want to upgrade your security practices? Then keep reading!

Coinbase 

Coinbase allows its users to buy and sell three of the most popular cryptocurrencies; Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. They plan to add more cryptocurrencies in the future. Coinbase is a great place for newcomers to buy cryptocurrency. Newcomers will find Coinbase easier to use than an exchange, while being able to use more payment methods. However, we do recommend storing your cryptocurrency in a wallet you control, if holding large amounts.

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Blockchain.info Bitcoin wallet review

The most popular Bitcoin wallet today, Blockchain.info allows you to send/receive Bitcoins through your browser or mobile phone. This is what’s known as a hybrid wallet – meaning the company stores your wallet online but they do not have access to your private keys. However, since the wallet is loaded from their servers some trust in the company is still needed. Recommended for beginners who are trying out Bitcoin.

Ledger Bitcoin wallet review

Much like TREZOR, Ledger is a cold wallet designed for users who want increased security. The wallet is actually a physical device that connects to your computer and acts as another source of protection. Meaning, you can’t send Bitcoins from your wallet without owning the physical device. If you’re looking for a cold wallet (e.g Ledger or TREOZR) I’ve compared the two in this post.

Ledger offers a variaty of products such as Ledger Nano S, Ledger Unplugged (a contactless Bitcoin wallet), etc. The most popular model today is the Ledger Nano S.
Ledger Nano S - The secure hardware wallet

MyCelium Bitcoin wallet review

MyCelium is a popular mobile app wallet that features a wealth of advanced privacy and security features. Yes, the wallet can be a bit complicated for newbie users but it’s still one of the safest and fastest on the market. As an open source software program, MyCelium is constantly being upgraded. While MyCelium is primarily a hot wallet, there are some cold storage features for Bitcoin users looking to put their wealth on ice.

Pros: Advanced privacy features make this app great for people looking to stay anonymous, and advanced security features will help keep your Bitcoin wealth secure.

Copay 

Copay is a Bitcoin wallet by Bitpay and available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Linux, Max OS X, and Windows. Because Copay is available on multiple platforms, it’s easy to use the same wallet or accounts across multiple devices.

Copay’s simple, clean user interface makes it a good choice for new Bitcoin users. Copay is also a good option for businesses due to a shared account feature, which requires a certain number of users to sign each transaction. Two co-founders, for example, could create a 2 of 2 wallets where both will be required to sign each transaction.

Airbitz 

AirBitz is another Bitcoin wallet that’s great for everyday use. It’s integrated with Fold, meaning you can get 20% discounts at Starbucks from within the wallet.

Airbitz manages accounts with usernames and passwords but doesn’t have access to your funds. This type of account creation is easier for less technical users who may have trouble backing up or understanding HD seeds.

TREZOR 

The TREZOR differs from the Ledger Nano in that it’s a very tiny computer rather than a smart card. Private keys are still generated offline.

TREZOR also generates a 24-word seed upon setup. The TREZOR has its own built-in screen where the seed is displayed and copied down during backup. Since the TREZOR is an offline device it offers extra security since the seed isn’t displayed on an online computer.

An additional passphrase can be added to the 24-word seed. This provides extra protection, since anyone who finds someone else’s 24-word seed is free to access the funds. If the optional passphrase is added, an attacker still wouldn’t be able to access funds without both the seed AND the passphrase. If the passphrase is forgotten, it cannot be recovered.

Paper wallet 

Paper wallet or other cold storage. A paper wallet is simply a document that contains all the information you need to generate the bitcoin private keys you need. It often takes the form of a piece of paper with a QR code that can be scanned into a software wallet when you so desire. By storing your bitcoin offline, trusting nothing and no one but yourself, and you have all the information you need to control and access your bitcoin, you're using the strongest "cold storage" method out there.

"I recommend using a paper wallet so you have a physical backup of the private key," says Ryan Spanier, director of research at Kudelski Security.

"Be sure to generate it using a clean system, such as a Linux live CD. Store this in a safe place, such as a safe or safety deposit box," Spanier says.

The incremental complexity and technological know-how needed for this method are both downsides to the paper wallet approach. Cold storage solutions and hardware wallets are less nimble than other options, too; if bitcoin were crashing, for example, you might find yourself slower to the draw than if you merely kept your bitcoin on a site like Coinbase.

Sure, paper wallets may elicit images of a tin foil hat-wearing paranoid, but the truth is that a paper wallet is the best bitcoin wallet for 2018 and beyond because it's the safest, and in the crypto space the value of safety is – or at least should be – placed at a premium.

Now we will have another giveaway for our loyal readers where 2 random lucky winners will get $50 in Bitcoin or PayPal or in any Gift Cards of winner's choice. For any giveaway on our blog, winners will be drawn and announced on the giveaway page within 10 days of it's finished date.

$50 To Get Your PayPal/Bitcoin/Gift Card
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Congratulations Catteleya A. from Australia. 
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How to buy bitcoin, if you dare

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So you’ve finally decided to buy bitcoin — join the line.

As the price of the red-hot cryptocurrency continues to march inexorably higher, most of us are sitting around wishing we’d bought some a year or even a week ago.

The cryptocurrency is clearly volatile — over the weekend, it lost around one-fifth of its value in just 10 hours, while it surged from less than $16,000 to $19,500 in under an hour.

But according to CoinDesk, bitcoin’s value has now more than doubled in the past month alone to reach a total market capitalization of more than $300 billion.

Assuming the price isn’t about to crash — and that’s a big assumption — and the fear of missing out has finally gotten too much, what exactly do you do?

“The most popular way is to find an online exchange, where you would then need to register, create an account and upload 100 points of ID,” said Martin Davidson, co-founder of the Melbourne-based not-for-profit Blockchain Center.

“You then transfer money to your exchange account, and you’ll be able to buy bitcoin or any of the cryptocurrencies on that exchange.”

The most commonly recommended and largest exchange is CoinBase, based in San Francisco, but the site has been slammed by “unprecedented” traffic and new account sign-ups causing error messages, login problems and even a temporary outage on Friday.

Once you’ve signed up and taken the plunge, the exchange will then create a “crypto wallet,” the virtual address which exists on the blockchain and holds your bitcoin. Each wallet has a public address, like a bank account number, and unique private cryptographic key, sort of like your PIN.

If you lose your key, your bitcoin is gone forever.

While there are a lot of reputable exchanges out there, there is always the possibility they could be hacked — and they have no insurance — so it’s not a good idea to leave your crypto on an exchange platform.

Once you’ve bought your bitcoin — or more realistically, a fraction of a bitcoin — Davidson recommends moving it to a mobile wallet app like Airbitz, or for extra security using an offline “hardware” wallet like the Trezor.

Due to limitations of the network, transferring bitcoin between wallets is not instant — it can take anything between 10 minutes to an hour — but you can monitor all blockchain transactions in real-time by going to Blockchain.info and pasting in the address you’re sending to or from.

“Bitcoins can be divided into eight decimal places so you can have a 100-millionth of a bitcoin,” Davidson said. “One bitcoin can be made up of several smaller transactions, each having their own private key attached to the different wallets.”

Davidson said it was important to remember that despite the vast amounts of money pouring into bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, it was experimental technology and the future price was “in no way guaranteed.”

But he pointed out that it was “not just the crazies, crooks and drug dealers” who were backing the currency, with the likes of Richard Branson, the Winklevoss twins and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper — who bought $30 million worth of seized Silk Road bitcoin in a US government auction when the price was $500 — all seeing the long-term potential.

“It’s not like stocks where you determine the value based on annual sales,” he said. “The potential for cryptocurrencies’ future value is unbounded, because potentially every man, woman and child that has access to the internet can also use crypto.”

Meanwhile, another day brings another raft of dire bitcoin warnings.

In its latest “Outrageous Predictions” report, SaxoBank has tipped bitcoin to peak in 2018 above $60,000 with a market capitalisation of over $1 trillion, led by a “groundswell” of activity off the back of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) launching futures trading this month.

Bitcoin futures, which will allow investors to bet on the rise or fall of the currency, will add a layer of regulatory oversight and allow larger institutional investors to begin pouring money into the sector.

But in SaxoBank’s scenario, bitcoin before long “finds the rug torn out from under it” by Russia and China moving to “deftly sideline and even prohibit non-sanctioned cryptocurrencies domestically.”

“Russia officially enters the cryptocurrency mining space to influence protocol developments and shift the focus away from bitcoin in an effort to keep more Russian capital onshore,” SaxoBank analysts write.

“China makes a similar move, cracking down on cryptocurrencies by banning the mining of the most popular ones within China, citing energy waste and environmental concerns, but likewise fearing the risk of bitcoin as a vehicle for capital flight.

“Instead, China launches an officially backed cryptocurrency that entails less energy-intensive mining.”

“The smoother functioning of the state-run protocols for actual payments and price stability, as well as the heavy hand of state intervention, drives a decreasing interest in all cryptocurrencies and completely sidelines the bitcoin and crypto phenomenon from a price speculation angle even as the technological promise of the blockchain gallops on.”

The result? “After its spectacular peak in 2018, bitcoin crashes and limps into 2019 close to its fundamental ‘production cost’ of $1,000,” SaxoBank warns.

It came as Royal Bank of Scotland governor Sir Howard Davis joined the anti-bitcoin chorus. “Put up the sign from Dante’s Inferno — ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’ — I think that’s probably what’s needed,” he told Bloomberg TV.

He argued the Bank of England should coordinate with the US Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the European Central Bank to tackle the problem, arguing bitcoin futures were a bad idea.

“I’m not quite sure that [the exchanges] know enough about what [bitcoin] is,” he said, adding it would be “a very risky move in reputational terms”.
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Is Litecoin The Future of Cryptocurrency?

By With 1 comment:
Despite bitcoin’s relative youth at just under 10 years old, its fervent popularity has spawned a cryptocurrency revolution and several competitors. An influx of new money from both retail investors and institutional entities means that these alternative cryptocurrencies, or “altcoins”, are under new scrutiny as traders look to diversify away from bitcoin. One of the most prominent among them is Litecoin, in terms of mass appeal, market capitalization and potential for adoption.

Litecoin’s Origins

Litecoin was launched in the shadow of bitcoin, yet was inspired by the ‘King Coin’, particularly by its decentralized approach to currency. The founder of Litecoin, Charlie Lee, is a former Google employee and Director of Engineering at Coinbase, one of the largest exchanges and the first to list Litecoin alongside bitcoin and Ethereum. Though many see Litecoin as a bitcoin clone, it has technical differences that separate the two in the eyes of many. It is largely these differences that inform Litecoin’s price alongside the favorable image it maintains with traders and businesses alike.

Made in the image of bitcoin in its early days, Litecoin was one of the first to take its predecessor’s formula and tweak it. The first change relates to Litecoin’s blockchain, which uses the Scrypt protocol instead of SHA256. While this matters little to traders, miners who use hardware to run bitcoin’s network cannot switch over to Litecoin. This keeps bigger mining conglomerates away from Litecoin because they cannot easily optimize their profits by swapping to another coin, contributing to a more decentralized experience. Litecoin also has bigger blocks, and more coins in circulation, making it more affordable and swift when transacting. Naturally, Litecoin has enjoyed an increasing rate of adoption within cryptocurrency services and in the retail market as well that corresponds with its distinct advantages.

Litecoin Gains Momentum

The most prominent characteristic of Litecoin is also one that gives it the most potential for disruption and inspires much confidence within the cryptocurrency community. As soon as Segregated Witness was released as a proposed blockchain upgrade to allow speedier off-chain transactions, Litecoin threw its full weight behind the proposal and was the first to integrate it. SegWit will allow Litecoin and others who adopt it to use the Lightning Network, which is nearing completion, empowering participants to exchange cryptocurrencies at virtually no cost.

Developers are quickly making headway on the Lightning Network, and it has recently passed almost all the quality assurance tests required to be released to the public. In a recent dry run, an alpha version was used to purchase coffee in Starbucks with no fees: a result hard to obtain with any other payment solution.

Cryptocurrency enthusiasts with many coins to explore have increasingly highlighted Litecoin due to its speed. In tests where one user compared the speed of coins being transferred from an exchange to a hardware wallet like Trezor, Litecoin performed best, transferring 23 coins in under 10 seconds. Businesses paying attention to Litecoin’s fast advancements on the payment front are increasingly adopting it into their own ecosystems as well.

The ease of transacting with Litecoin makes eCommerce one of the most suitable environments for adoption, and stores like BTCTrip, Bitify, AllThingsLuxury, and Bitcoin.shop (as well as others) have joined in. Even popular retail ecommerce giant Overstock.com is accepting Litecoin as a form of payment.  People can easily pay for gifts, vacations, household appliances, and even precious metals and gems with their Litecoin. While retail adoption is encouraging, cryptocurrency, merchants, exchanges, wallets and other infrastructure are also integrating Litecoin in growing numbers.

How It’s Viewed by Participants

Ultimately, any cryptocurrency’s success is the function of its applicability and the problems it solves.  Even though traders may not fully understand the differences between Litecoin’s and bitcoin’s DNA, they are increasingly moving to Litecoin, regardless. All they see is how prices behave relative to other coins. Litecoin is just as accessible as bitcoin in this regard because it’s been a centerpiece in the market for almost as long, meaning that any service leaving Litecoin out of the equation is ultimately limiting their own audience and appeal.

Apart from the obvious advantages from a design perspective and trading appeal, participants themselves are benefiting from the ecosystem thanks to growing adoption in ecommerce.  As one of the major cryptocurrencies, Litecoin is quickly becoming a contender for the top three spots, even as a funding tool. Bankex, a unique platform designed to validate and tokenize more illiquid assets like real estate and venture capital portfolios, is accepting Litecoin alongside bitcoin and Ethereum during its token sale.

Platforms like Bankex almost unanimously accept Litecoin because many customers will exchange their other cryptocurrencies for Litecoin in anticipation of a transaction. Until the Lightning Network levels the playing field, investors who want to participate in Bankex’s plethora of autonomously evaluated Smart Assets may prefer to fund the ICO with Litecoin to save on fees.

Although Ethereum still takes the cake in the fundraising sphere due to ERC20, Litecoin likely makes it to one of the top three spots on the Bankex token sale list because of its rapidly broadening appeal and more affordable transfer costs. Between high demand as both an asset and as a currency, it behaves as a hybrid with much more potential longevity than its aging brother.

Litecoin’s drama-free community and even keel give it less volatility and a steady trend, making it great for arbitration, trading, spending, or even fundraising. Savvy cryptocurrency enthusiasts have compared bitcoin’s market capitalization to Litecoin and done the math based on its maximum number of coins and other traits and have almost unanimously declared that it is undervalued. Even so, with much progress being made on the Lightning Network, Litecoin may one day soon evolve into the truest form of cryptocurrency yet, and leave the others in the dust.
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