Bitcoin is gearing up for what could be the biggest (and least understood) change to its software to date.
Often called simply a “digital currency,” bitcoin is best viewed as a protocol (a set of code) that delivers data (in this case bitcoins) in defined quantities (called blocks) that are then stored in a sequence (called a blockchain) on a distributed set of global computers. Bitcoin is decentralized – in that many people help make the network function, and in choosing to run its software, users all agree to abide by the same rules to keep it operational.
It’s these qualities that make the proposed change particularly divisive.
Called Segwit2x, the plan calls for a very specific fork (or a change to bitcoin’s rules), one that would make certain rules valid that weren’t valid before. Specifically, Segwit2x would change the size of the blocks passed regularly around the network and stored in the blockchain from 1 MB to 2 MB.
Some users think this is a good idea, others don’t.
But to begin, it’s important to note how this fork differs from others. Coming on the heels of the bitcoin cash and bitcoin gold forks, bitcoin users might be accustomed to certain outcomes – ones that might not be guaranteed in the case of Segwit2x.
With bitcoin cash and bitcoin gold, for example, bitcoin users could have paid little to no attention and it wouldn’t have impacted their transactions. If you held bitcoin on certain exchanges (or your own wallet), you received new cryptocurrency.
This smooth outcome, however, isn’t guaranteed with Segwit2x. Complicating matters is that in many ways, Segwit2x sounds (and is) similar to other bitcoin forks.
The hard fork part of the New York Agreement is scheduled to take place within about two weeks.
This incompatible protocol rule change is set to increase Bitcoin’s block weight limit, to allow for more transactions on the network — if everyone adopts the change. Otherwise, it will create a new blockchain and currency that may or may not be considered to be “Bitcoin.”
The list of signatories of this agreement includes several of the largest Bitcoin startups and mining pools that, together, claim to represent a majority of users and hash power. Yet, it is far from clear that this 2x part of SegWit2x proposal really has much support outside of these signatories. Most of Bitcoin’s development community, a significant number of other companies, some mining pools, user polls as well as futures markets suggest otherwise.
And now, a growing list of international Bitcoin communities is putting out public statements against the SegWit2x hard fork as well.
Despite its steadily increasing price, not to mention a growing acknowledgment from the financial mainstream, the technical roadmap for the cryptocurrency has never been so hotly contested.
After years of debate on the best path forward, a new code proposal called Segwit2x is set to put the cryptocurrency – the world’s largest by value – to the test. And while it boasts significant support from miners and businesses, it remains unclear whether the new code will change bitcoins’ rules, or if another new cryptocurrency will be created (one already being branded bitcoin2x by some).
Quite simply, there’s never been a larger change to the platform, nor one that has been the subject of such criticism and scrutiny.
And it might not be all free money. As developers are keen to note, this is bleeding-edge science; in short, we’re in uncharted territory, and if past forks are any indication, decisions could lead to consequences – for users, investors and the market at large.
Bitcoin has been touted as the currency for the people as its decentralized platform allows for its users to be free of the banking monopoly with their exorbitant fees and charges.
Crippling debt cycles and unbreakable lending policies which are not conducive to economic empowerment have long dogged society forcing the new generation to seek alternative; this is where Bitcoin has come in.
Now, a man in Townsville, Australia, has become a proof of concept for the economic freedom Bitcoin can provide by paying off his mortgage and is funding the development of a new home through profits generated through investing in Bitcoin.
Bitcoin for business
Michael Sloggett first began trading in Bitcoin as a means to pay for overseas acquisitions of supplements for his Townsville supplements store.
But in January this year, he decided to make investments in the currency and the strategy has paid off with the value of the currency soaring from about $900 to $6,000 during that time.
“We paid off the mortgage and bought a block of land at Townsville out of the profits. We are now building a new home,” Sloggett said.
Here’s a quick guide to how to get started with Bitcoin. You’ve heard about it, you like the sound of it, and you want to get your first Bitcoin or part of one.
If you just want to buy and own Bitcoin you just have to do the first two steps below. If you want to take it off the Internet and store it on your own computer and have full control over it, then also do the last two steps:
Bitcoin soared to another milestone Friday, as the digital currency breached $6,000 for the first time to put its gain in 2017 to more than 500 percent.
As bitcoin continues climbing, Twitter users are speculating that the rise could be driven by everything from a cash shortage in Zimbabwe to an increase in margin trading. If one thing is for sure, it’s that speculation has a part to play in the top digital token’s latest surge.
The push higher comes just three days after bitcoin suffered its biggest one-day drop in a month on rising concern that regulators are increasingly targeting digital currencies. It’s added almost $500 in value in the past two days alone while reaching a record high.
This is an introduction to buying Bitcoin for those new to cryptocurrencies in general and to Bitcoin in particular. The first step is to open a ‘wallet’ – a software app or website – to hold your cryptocurrency.
Here I’ll show you how to do this in Coinbase. This claims to be “the world’s most popular Bitcoin wallet” and is certainly very well known. As well as being popular it is also very easy to use. It is not the cheapest nor the most fully featured wallet and so we’ll look at other wallets later for those more experienced with cryptocurrencies. It is, however, perfect for newcomers.
Note this is an referral link – this means you’ll get about £7 ($10) of free bitcoin when you buy your first bitcoin and so will I. Your first purchase needs to be worth at least $100 (about £75) so I suggest you buy £80-£100 to be sure you get the free money.
When you follow that link you’ll see a webpage like the following:
Complete the form (First Name, Last Name, Email and Password), the Captcha, and agree to the Ts & Cs. Click Sign Up. A good place to get a password is PasswordsGenerator – choose a length of 16 characters and include symbols, numbers and upper and lowercase characters. Make sure at this point that you have record the password somewhere, e.g. a new document. You will need a lot of passwords when dealing with cryptocurrency and the general rule is that if you lose the password you can lose the money! Get into careful organisation now.
A Coinbase account will be created for you and you’ll see a screen that says ‘Verify Your Email: We sent a verification email to <your email address>. Click the link in the email to get started!’
Go to your email inbox, find the Coinbase email and click on the Verify Email Address button/link. Return to Coinbase and you’ll see a new Coinbase screen with a popup message that says ‘Your email has now been verified. Thank you!‘ Close the old Coinbase screen.
The new Coinbase screen will say ‘Welcome <first name> – Let’s get started > Complete the following steps to get your first bitcoin or ethereum!‘ Select the Individual button unless you’re working on behalf of a business. Press Next.
On the next screen choose your country (if it’s not already set) and enter your mobile phone number. The number is required for security – Coinbase will text you a ‘2 Step Verification’ security code to login with. Press Next.
Enter the code Coinbase sent to your phone on the form on the next page. Press Verify Phone Number.
Once that’s passed you come to a payment method screen. You can return to this later – for now Press Skip, I’ll do this later. You’re now into Coinbase.
You’ll see the main Dashboard, as show below.
This shows a chart and statistics of the current Bitcoin status (price, change since last month in £, change since last month in %). You can change the timescale to 1 hour, day, week, month, year, or All time. There are also tabs to see the same data for the Ethereum and Litecoin currencies instead of Bitcoin.
Below left you’ll see your account status. Below right you’ll see the value of coins in Your Portfolio (zero at this point).
Before you’re ready to buy your first Bitcoin you need to Verify your identity. To move to this step you can click on ‘Complete your account‘ bottom left, or just attempt to Buy (on the top menu) or add a payment method.
The screen will show ‘Select ID type‘, choose whatever you want (e.g. Driver’s License).
You will need to take a live photo of your ID so you are asked to choose to do this with either your mobile phone’s camera or your PC’s webcam, it’s up to you. I found it easiest to use the phone – once you select this you get messages on your phone to take you through the process.
I chose to photograph my driver’s licence – I did this with care in good lighting on a plain surface (white paper on a kitchen worktop) otherwise it can fail. Once you’ve taken front and back pictures on your phone control goes back to the PC. You get a message confirming that the ID is being verified:
Once it’s complete you’re back at the Coinbase Dashboard and ready to buy your first Bitcoin.
Bitcoin’s price surge following China is thanks in large part to Japan
It took less than a month for bitcoin investors to shake off China’s cryptocurrency crack down and Wall Street naysayers. On Friday, the price of bitcoin jumped within striking distance of $6,000 as optimism surrounding the cryptocurrency reignited thanks in part to traders using the Japanese yen.
That comes after the price of bitcoin shot as low as about $3,000 in mid-September, after Chinese authorities shuttered local cryptocurrency exchanges, while J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon dubbed bitcoin a “fraud.”
But it was neither the U.S. nor China, which have dominated the cryptocurrency markets since its inception, that apparently led to the price of bitcoin to come back up. Until recently, China has represented the majority of bitcoin trading since about late 2013. In 2016 alone, the Chinese yuan represented 96% of all trading with bitcoin, according to data from CryptoCompare, helping the price more than double that year. In fact, trading in China has been so heavy that since 2010, the vast majority of trades has still largely been dominated by the yuan.
Rising price of the cryptocurrency, now worth four times as much as an ounce of gold, has led to warnings of a bubble
The price of bitcoin has smashed through $5,000 to an all-time high.
The cryptocurrency rose by more than 8% to $5,243 having started the year at $966. Bitcoin has soared by more than 750% in the past year and is worth four times as much as an ounce of gold.
But the price has been volatile. The digital currency plunged below $3,000 in mid-September after the Chinese authorities announced a crackdown. Beijing ordered cryptocurrency exchanges to stop trading and block new registrations, due to fears that increasing numbers of consumers piling into the bitcoin market could prompt wider financial problems.
A man upped sticks, sold everything he had for Bitcoin and moved his family to a campsite after claiming that he is waiting for the next “boom” in cryptocurrencies.
Didi Taihuttu, 39, moved his family to a campsite outside of Venlo in the Netherlands, after putting his house on the market along with other possessions including his car, motorbike, children’s toys and other family consumables.
Bitcoin and Blockchain, the technology behind the currency, eliminates the need for a third party such as a bank or building society to approve payments, as a network of computers keeps a record of all transactions.
The Dutchman believes that the technology is transforming the role of banks in society – and that there is more to be made from the emerging currency.