Bitcoin companies form first UK trade body as regulators circle

Seven of the largest crypto companies are forming a UK cryptocurrency trade body, bringing in the first self-regulation for the wild west sector worth £290 billion.

CryptoUK, whose members include the popular Coinbase exchange and trading platforms eToro and CryptoCompare, said it had produced the first code of conduct for the industry to abide by.

The companies said they hoped the regulations would form the first part of broader UK rules around volatile cryptocurrency trading.

Cryptocurrency Art Gallery: Litecoin, Ether, Ripple, Bitcoin and Namecoin (Image: Namecoin/Flickr)
Cryptocurrency Art Gallery: Litecoin, Ether, Ripple, Bitcoin and Namecoin (Image: Namecoin/Flickr)

Bitcoin’s rise last year has made it a popular phenomenon, with its value increasing to as much as $20,000 (£14,400) in December, before falling below $7,000 last week. While Bitcoin has made made some millionaires it has left many amateur investors out of pocket, while others have fallen victim of cryptocurrency scams.

CryptoUK chair Iqbal Gandham said there was a risk of “rogue operators”, but the new body had been established “to promote best practice and to work with government and regulators”.

Read more: Telegraph

Bitcoin Mining Costs More Electricity Than Houses, But it’s a Non-Issue

Analysts are concerned that Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining centers are spending too much electricity, and that the process of verifying cryptocurrency transactions could worsen the global environment.

Justification of mining in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies

In December 2017, several analysts criticized the electricity consumption of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining centers, calling the mining process an “environmental disaster.” Earlier Cointelegraph reported that cryptocurrency mining will likely exceed electricity consumption of households in 2018.

Cryptocurrency Mining Farm (Image: M. Krohn/Wikimedia)
Cryptocurrency Mining Farm (Image: M. Krohn/Wikimedia)

Smari McCarthy of Iceland’s Pirate Party stated that excessive consumption for Bitcoin mining is not practical because the main use case of Bitcoin is for “financial speculation.”

“We are spending tens or maybe hundreds of megawatts on producing something that has no tangible existence and no real use for humans outside the realm of financial speculation. That can’t be good.”

If environmentalists and analysts perceive the main use case of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to be financial speculation, the consumption of a massive amount of electricity could be considered impractical. However, the main application of Bitcoin is not financial speculation. In countries wherein the underbanked struggle to gain access to financial services, Bitcoin operates as an efficient currency.

In Venezuela, for instance, local residents are using Bitcoin to order food, basic goods and medicine from outside of the country because the Venezuelan bolivar, the country’s national currency, has lost almost all of its value, and has become virtually worthless.

Read more: CoinTelegraph

Experiments in Crypto Mining 5: How to Use Nicehash on a Home PC

My recent attempts to mine cryptocurrency using CCMiner and MinerGate were disappointing dead-ends – I had really been sidetracked by accounts I’d read of people making these approaches profitable, even though they were not mainstream.

This time I’ve decided to cut to the chase and just use NiceHash, probably the most popular mining pool and supposedly the world’s ‘largest crypto-mining markeplace’. If I can’t make a profit there then I should probably just give up.

NiceHash Mining Marketplace Home Page (Image: BIUK)
NiceHash Mining Marketplace Home Page (Image: BIUK)

The process is straightforward; there’s a good background article here: How Much Money Can You Make Mining With Your Gaming PC?

Go to NiceHash.com and click on For sellers (with NiceHash you’re not directly mining, rather selling your mining power to other users to mine with). For a PC click on ‘I want to earn with my CPU or GPU‘. Download and install the NiceHash Miner software, choosing the version that’s appropriate for your graphics card.

When the software runs, accept the License Agreement and Risk Acknowledgement. It will then start setting itself up – note your virus scanner may give a warning (and even quarantine some files) so be ready for that; you may need to restart the installation if it appears to hang.

NiceHash Miner setting up (Image: BIUK)
NiceHash Miner setting up (Image: BIUK)

The miner launches a command window when it’s ready to run. It should show that it has found the graphics card and ‘initialized’.

NiceHash Miner command window (Image: BIUK)
NiceHash Miner command window (Image: BIUK)

Once it is happy it will show its main screen ready to start:

NiceHash Miner ready screen (Image: BIUK)
NiceHash Miner ready screen (Image: BIUK)

Click on the link at the bottom to ‘Set your wallet‘. If you don’t already have an account at NiceHash you will need to create one. Registering for a new account is straightforward, you just click on the Create New Account to go to NiceHash, there you enter your email address and a password. Then you will need to setup the account (language, currency, create wallet, etc.).

Once done, enter the email address for the account into the NiceHash miner and click Save. The previous link will have changed to ‘Benchmark your devices‘; click on it, then the Benchmark All button and the Standard button.

The miner will benchmark and optimise for your system; this took just over 10 minutes on my PC. When it’s done click back to the main screen and click on the Start button. The status will change to Active – Running and mining is underway. The amount earned so far will show as Balance and the amount you are predicted to earn per day is shown as Daily Estimated Earnings (about £1 for this system).

Clicking on View Stats Online will take you to your account on NiceHash.com to show you more details, including your total earnings so far (the current Balance on the app is reset each time you start it). The overview there is particularly useful if you have more than one PC mining at the same time.

I’ve just set the system running and will check in an hour to see the result. What’s impressive is how quiet it is running – there must be scope to overclock it significantly. To get a better idea of what’s going on I’ve run up MSI Afterburner as recommended before.

Here I can see that the GPU is running at a temperature of just 65 degrees C – hardly working at all though it’s at 100% usage – and the CPU is likewise at about 60 degrees. Again this implies lots of opportunities for overclocking.

It’s now been running for an hour and it has earned 0.000004 BTC, worth about 3.2p. Energy usage by the PC has been 0.2 kWh, costing about 2.8p so it’s made a profit of 0.4p in an hour. That’s equivalent to about 10p per day.

It’s not a great deal of money – but at least it’s a profit!

Experiments in Crypto Mining 4: Cryptocurrency Mining with an Upgraded Home PC

Having upgraded my PC with a new graphics card, but getting disappointing results mining Bitcore with Suprnova software, next I repeated my test of mining Monero (XMR) using the MinerGate software.

This time the benchmark score was 1998 with a message “You can make an extra 100 USD per year with only this computer” – both values being roughly double what they had been before the upgrade.

MinerGate's benchmark on a GTX 1050 system (Image: BIUK)
MinerGate’s benchmark on a GTX 1050 system (Image: BIUK)

For the best outcome I set the mining to use both the CPU and the GPU (graphics card). This produced about 3 times as much hashing power as before.

Mining XMR using the MinerGate app and a GXT 1050 card (Image: BIUK)
Mining XMR using the MinerGate app and a GXT 1050 card (Image: BIUK)

However, given the poor results from last time (about 15p of Monero/XMR mined for 50p in costs) it’s clear that even at 3 times the mining power it would still not be very profitable. This is therefore another dead end.

Experiments in Crypto Mining 3: Mid-range Graphics Card

The graphics card in my home PC died recently, probably related to me leaving the PC overnight which I don’t usually do (I guess it overheated). I woke to find that Windows had seen an error on it and uninstalled the driver, running it as a basic VGA card. I couldn’t fix it.

Anyway, I took the opportunity to buy a new mid-range graphics card, an Nvidia GTX 1050, to do some more experimenting with crypto mining. I didn’t want to go for a high-end (i.e. expensive) card since I have no plans to leave my PC running most of the time, or even to be mining while I was working at the PC, so a high-end card would likely never make its cost back.

A mid-range card, though, seemed like a good compromise – I needed a new card anyway, I could do some crypto experimenting, and I would get a benefit whenever I played 3D games. I settled on an EVGA card from Scan Computers as it was the cheapest version of the 1050 available – just £120 for a pretty powerful card.

Most impressive was that it didn’t need any additional power connectors to run, just making do with the power available from the motherboard slot. That implied it would use very little power – whereas the old (and relatively speaking slow) card it replaced had been using two additional power connections.

As an initial experiment I have rerun the test I did back last November using the GPU to mine for Bitcore. The procedure was much as described before (particularly following the embedded video) but with a couple of changes. Firstly, the mining app is no longer available on the Bitcore website so I downloaded it directly from the CCMiner code site. Secondly the batch file format has changed – however the download included a new Bitcore batch file so I used that, edited to include my Suprnova details as per the original post.

When CCMiner ran up the results were encouraging, showing a hash rate (mining power) of  8600 kH/s (8.6 MH/s), compared to about 1500 for the previous card.

CCMIner starting up on a GTX 1050 GPU (Image: BIUK)
CCMIner starting up on a GTX 1050 GPU (Image: BIUK)

Running CCMiner for two hours produced 0.0018 BTX, according to my Suprnova dashboard, worth currently about 4p (the equivalent of about 50p per day). The PC was using about 150W with the card running and 85W without, so the card was drawing 65W – or 0.13kWh for the two hours. At my evening rate of 14p/kWh that means the mining cost me about 2p.

Suprnova Dashboard while running a GTX 1050 (Image: BIUK)
Suprnova Dashboard while running a GTX 1050 (Image: BIUK)

So – unlike last time – mining with this card is actually profitable, though only at the rate of about 1p per hour. What was more impressive, however, was how it did it.

Firstly, the energy use by the card was much less than the old card even though it was much more powerful, and it was very quiet. Secondly, it appeared to be truly mining ‘in the background’ with no apparent slowness caused to the PC while using it for other things. So it could make a profit, with little downside to having it running in the background virtually all the time. Taken together, it would seem that there’s plenty of scope to overclock the card to improve the performance.

Nonetheless, the bottom line is that this approach is not going to make a great deal of money, so I’m moving on to try other mining methods.

Experiments in Crypto Mining 4: Cryptocurrency Mining with an Upgraded Home PC

$10K Again for Bitcoin, But Other Cryptos Outperform

The crypto markets continued to mount a recovery this week, brushing aside fears of a possible lull ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday.

At the close of the seven-day session, the total value of all cryptocurrencies is being reported at $471 billion by data source CoinMarketCap, up 22.65 percent from $384 billion seen last Friday. During this period, the market capitalization was up 39 percent from the Feb. 6 low of $276 billion.

But while headlines may be dominated by bitcoin’s move above $10,000 again, the world’s first cryptocurrency isn’t actually the biggest gainer of the week.

Bitcoin Price Chart (Image: NikonD300/MaxPixel)
Bitcoin Price Chart (Image: NikonD300/MaxPixel)

Despite its 13.54 percent rise in prices, other large-cap cryptocurrencies (defined as those with over $1 billion in market cap), are perhaps most contributing to what could end up being a recovery from the market’s weak January performance.

Read more: CoinDesk

Coinbase Introduces PayPal-like Commerce Button That Could Change the Game

Have you ever gone to purchase something on an e-commerce website like eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY) and found the option to pay via the PayPal (NASDAQ:PYPL) commerce button? Well now, Coinbase has rolled out a commerce platform that might be extremely appealing to merchants. This allows merchants to seamlessly integrate cryptocurrency payments into their current platforms. Currently, Coinbase offers payments for Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Litecoin (LTC).

Coinbase Dashboard (Image: Bitcoin Investors UK)
Coinbase Dashboard (Image: Bitcoin Investors UK)

Making it more convenient for cryptocurrency holders to make everyday purchases is a smart move by Coinbase. For now, this new service is not open to new signups by companies. However, on the website it states that major companies are already signed up and have used this new feature. It’s unclear if they have just tested a Beta phase of this product, but the companies listed include Overstock (NASDAQ:OSTK), Expedia (NASDAQ:EXPE), and Digital River. On Coinbase’s website it says that currently, 48,000 businesses trust the platform to integrate Bitcoin payments. It remains unknown if these other companies such as Dish, USAA, Reddit, and 1800 Flowers, are testing this commerce button as well.

Read more: CryptocurrencyNews

Buy the Bitcoin Dip

Everyone following cryptocurrency knows we’ve had a big correction of late – some would say crash, but those of us who’ve been in crypto for a while know that it’s par for the course. Cryptos are volatile, get over it!

Earlier today I saw signs for a bottom in the market when the price dropped to £4300 and then hung there for a while. Following it for a few hours this evening I saw it gradually come back up and, although it dipped a few times, it never went down so low again. I think that was the lowest point, the dip.

Bitcoin price chart (Image: geralt/Pixabay)
Bitcoin price chart (Image: geralt/Pixabay)

They say ‘buy the dip’ so I put my money where my mouth is and bought from Coinbase – in fact by the time I had become sure things were going up it had already reached £5500 so that’s what I paid. As I write this it’s at £5600 but still jumping up and down. It’ll be interesting to see where it is tomorrow morning. I’m confident it will be the right side of £4300.

Meanwhile for a bit of light relief – one can spend too long looking at charts and agonising over price changes – here’s the Coin Bros with “Buy the F*#!ing Dip”. Enjoy!

Banks in Britain and U.S. ban Bitcoin buying with credit cards

(Reuters) – Banks in Britain and the United States have banned the use of credit cards to buy Bitcoin and other “cryptocurrencies”, fearing a plunge in their value will leave customers unable to repay their debts.

Lloyds Banking Group Plc (LLOY.L), Britain’s biggest lender, said on Sunday it would ban its credit card customers from buying cryptocurrencies, following the lead of U.S. banking giants JP Morgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and Citigroup (C.N).

Bitcoin (Image: Pixabay)
Bitcoin (Image: Pixabay)

The move is aimed at protecting customers from running up huge debts from buying virtual currencies on credit, if their values were to plummet, a Lloyds spokeswoman said.

Concerns have arisen among credit card providers because their customers have increasingly been using credit cards to fund accounts on online exchanges, which are then used to purchase the digital currencies.

However, other banks said on Monday they will continue to allow credit card customers to buy cryptocurrencies.

“We constantly review our protections for customers as a responsible bank and lender, and are keeping this matter under close review,” a spokeswoman for Barclays said.

“At present UK customers can use both their Barclays debit card and Barclaycard credit card to purchase cryptocurrency legitimately,” she said.

Read more: Reuters

Cryptocurrency Mining course

Following on the heels of January’s very sociable Milton Keynes Cryptocurrency Meetup, those who attended were invited to a Cryptocurrency Mining Course last weekend in Witney.

System & Solutions Cryptocurrency Mining Course (Image: BIUK)
System & Solutions Cryptocurrency Mining Course (Image: BIUK)

It was kindly put on, for free, by Kevin Ackland, owner of Systems & Solutions. He and Richard Owen, IT Manager, gave a broad and very interesting presentation covering cryptocurrency and Bitcoin in general, and mining on PC hardware in particular.

System & Solutions Cryptocurrency Mining Rig (Image: BIUK)
System & Solutions Cryptocurrency Mining Rig (Image: BIUK)

This was followed by a wide ranging discussion on cryptocurrency and mining. I found this particularly interesting as I am new to mining, having just dabbled in a little GPU and CPU mining. Some of the attendees have extensive experience so I learned a lot.

System & Solutions Cryptocurrency Mining Rig (Image: BIUK)
System & Solutions Cryptocurrency Mining Rig (Image: BIUK)

We then had a look at a mining rig in operation, including going through the processes of starting it up and operating it. This included monitoring the operation, and power usage, via smartphone apps. I was surprised, and impressed, at how quiet it ran (having seen YouTube videos of very noise dedicated Bitcoin miners).

System & Solutions Cryptocurrency Mining Rig (Image: BIUK)
System & Solutions Cryptocurrency Mining Rig (Image: BIUK)

My thanks go to Kevin and Richard for putting on the course and for being such good hosts. If you’re considering getting a mining rig, and you’d like one made to your specification, do consider Systems & Solutions.

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