When you first start reading about blockchain and cryptocurrency, a lot of words keep popping up over and over again. Revolutionary is one. The future is another. And then a whole lot of technical lingo, the main ones being de-centralized, distributed ledgers, and so on and so on.
And it all sounds good. But at some point, you start to wonder: That’s all fine and dandy but what does Bitcoin and all its crypto counterparts actually mean for me, my daily life and the people who actually matter to me?
What does all this decentralization, fungibility stuff boil down to in terms of actual, real life impact?
Here are a couple things everyone – yes, everyone – should know about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
You Can Buy Less Than 1 Bitcoin
One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding Bitcoin is that you need to buy a whole Bitcoin or nothing at all. Given that one Bitcoin is currently at around $6,500 – the full price tag alone is enough to turn a lot of would-be Bitcoin buyers off.
Luckily, a Bitcoin is very divisible – up to 8 decimal points, in fact. That means you can buy 0.5 bitcoins. Or 0.08 Bitcoins. Or 0.003 Bitcoins. Or even 0.00000001 Bitcoin, which is called the Satoshi and is the smallest amount of Bitcoin available.
What Can I Do With Bitcoin?
Oh, so many things. And it all depends on why you bought Bitcoin in the first place. Let’s look at your many options!
- Buy things. More stores and vendors are accepting Bitcoin today than ever before. Even major retailers like Expedia, Overstock and Microsoft take Bitcoin as a method of payment and more are added to the list everyday. Using gift card services, like eGifter, that accept Bitcoin also lets you shop pretty much anywhere with Bitcoin.
- Donate. You can even use your Bitcoin to donate anonymously to non-profit charities like Save the Children and The Water Project.
- Trade it. There are new altcoins entering the cryptocurrency space every day but many of the exchanges where you can buy these altcoins don’t deal in fiat currency. You can, however, use your Bitcoin to buy altcoins, allowing you to build a cryptocurrency portfolio.
- Keep it as a store of value. Live in a country experiencing financial turmoil and want to protect your hard-earned money? Bitcoin provides an alternative to the local, national banking system so you don’t have to worry about things like bank runs or the government imposing taxes on bank deposits.
- Go for quick profits. Bitcoin is volatile, which turns some people off but draws others in like flies since its volatility means there’s money to be made. If you want to try your hand at buy-low, sell-high trading, you can very well use your Bitcoin for that, buying during a dip and selling when it’s peaking. Just make sure you don’t invest more than you can afford to lose if you go with this strategy.
- HODL. Agree with a wide-ranging array of experts that Bitcoin is not only here to stay but will become the money of the future?
The list goes on and on. The number of mainstream vendors accepting Bitcoin increases everyday and so do enterprising startups that allow Bitcoin users to buy pretty much anything they want. The result is that if you’re willing to search a little, you can already do pretty much anything you want with Bitcoin.
And that includes a lot, such as paying for plane tickets with Bitcoin, buying coffee from around the world, traveling to space with Virgin Galactic, giving your fiancee a one-of-a-kind Bitcoin engagement ring, or even upgrading your OkCupid account if you’re still single.
Altcoins vs Bitcoin
You hear a lot of altcoins…but what exactly are they? If you’re curious about altcoins but not entirely sure what they are – no worries, you’re not alone. After all, Bitcoin is the oldest of the cryptocurrencies and it only came into existence in 2009. And how many people can claim to really, truly understand Bitcoin? Altcoins are an even more recent phenomenon, with the first one having popped up in
The one cryptocurrency everyone has heard of by now is Bitcoin. But with Bitcoin prices skyrocketing
It’s the constant media coverage of Bitcoin’s soaring prices that draw investors to cryptocurrencies like moths to a flame and down the rabbit hole they go…and eventually wind up at altcoins and ICOs,
Altcoins are simply alternative coins, basically any cryptocurrencies that aren’t Bitcoin. So, everything from Ether to Monero.
Cryptocurrency Uses = Infinity
Cryptocurrency isn’t just about making loads of cash by buying into some hitherto unknown coin. The potential application of cryptocurrency are where the real value is at.
Prior to blockchain and Bitcoin our hands were tied and we had no choice but to surrender to paying these fees automatically imposed on us by banks and other financial institutions.
Result? We can save our hard-earned cash, by avoiding commission fees imposed on us in a traditionally, centralized system. It gives us the opportunity to take full control of our money.
What if you could walk into a grocery store, scan the QR code on a package of beef and find out exactly where the meat came from, the history of the cow and how it was raised?
And this is just the tip of the iceberg in ways cryptocurrency can be used to better our lives.
You Can Get Paid in Bitcoin
You get paid. Then you deposit your fiat into a cryptocurrency exchange. After waiting for your funds to clear, you’re finally able to buy some Bitcoin. And then of course, you have to send it to your Bitcoin wallet.
So much work. So little time.
Okay, let’s be honest – once you’ve registered for the best cryptocurrency exchanges and set up your private wallet – it’s not that much work. But wouldn’t it be nice to just cut out all those repetitive tasks and just get paid in Bitcoin?
Well, you can. You might not be able to convince your boss to start sending your salary in Bitcoin, but there are a number of ways to get paid directly in Bitcoin.
The More, The Better
When it comes to cryptocurrency exchanges – more is better. That doesn’t mean you need to sign up for all of them, but at least a handful is advised.
Why? Simply because most exchanges have a bad habit of not doing what you need when you most need it. And in a highly volatile market like cryptocurrency, it’s really going to hurt when can’t buy or sell quickly because the one cryptocurrency exchange you have access to decides to go wonky.
For example, even the major exchanges have been accused of doing the following:
- Taking days, weeks, sometimes even months to verify your identity. That means you’re still sitting on the sidelines while all the excitement happens.
- Freezing your deposits. Maybe you wired a large enough sum to trigger alarm bells at your bank or maybe the exchange you signed up for is
- Deposit and withdrawal issues. Users have had their accounts frozen – and this isn’t just a few exchanges, it’s happened across the lot of them.
- Unresponsive customer service.
As you can see, there are many things that can potentially go wrong. And if any of the above happens to you, you’ll thank your lucky stars that you’re able to simply switch over to another exchange to buy, sell and trade until matters are cleared up with the one that’s misbehaving.
Plus, signing up for 3 (or 5) exchanges is pretty much just as easy as signing up for one. You have your ID and proof of verification in hand anyway so might as well get it all taken care of now. You’ll thank us one day.
Don’t Get Forked Over
There’s been a lot of chatter about forks in recent years. Bitcoin had one. Ether had one. Bitcoin had another. And so on and so on.
The thing is that some exchanges support forks and some do not. Make sure you know which side of the fork fence your exchange is on, especially if you’re holding your coins there. Which brings us to the next point…
It’s Not Really Yours…
…until you’ve moved your coins.
The people who are taking the extra – yes, annoying – steps to secure a private wallet aren’t doing so because they like hassle and headache. They’re doing this because it’s really the only way to make sure that your precious coins are yours and yours only.
Which is good in one sense but can also be risky. See next point.
You ARE the Bank Security
It’s 2017 and we are used to certain things. Like, security. This general notion that what we own is secure and protected is something we often take for granted. And why shouldn’t we? After all, that’s the way it usually goes. For example, if your car gets stolen, car insurance will cover it.
If someone breaks into your home and runs off with your valuables, either homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance will take care of the losses. If someone steals your credit card information and runs up charges, your bank will let you know and reverse the fraud.
Hell, recently some ding-dong in the Ukraine tried to hack into my pretty much worthless Pinterest account and I was notified immediately via email.
This sense of being insured applies to pretty much everything in our lives. Baggage went missing during a transcontinental flight? Travel insurance or even your handy MasterCard has got your covered. Same if your phone gets stolen – your credit card company may pay for a new one.
And of course, our bank accounts are insured, up to $250,000 per depositor, per FDIC-insured bank in the U.S., up to £85,000 in the UK, up to €100,000 in EU countries, and in varying amounts across the world.
All this protection is great – except for the simple fact that it’s lulled us into a state of complacency, which can be a very big mistake especially when it comes to cryptocurrency.
Think about it for a moment but when’s the last time something of yours has been outright taken from you? Not often, right. And if and when it happens, you usually have ways to seek recourse.
Well, sadly, that’s not the case when it comes to Bitcoin. Once it’s in your wallet, it’s solely in YOUR hands to keep it safe.
Scams MUST Be Avoided
Bitcoin is fast. It’s international. And it’s irreversible.
Bitcoin scammers are the new Nigerian princes of the Internet. But unlike the Nigerian prince, these scammers are a lot more savvy.
The record is the transaction. There’s no provision for reversing it, no charge-backs. If a scoundrel cheats you of your money, it’s gone for good unless you can identify them, locate them, sue them and recover from them at your own expense. Think cash in this regard. If you lose $1000 in notes, there’s no point in asking the Reserve Bank to cancel those serials and issue you fresh notes.