Aug 112020
 

This is a guest post from Anupam Varshney

It is no surprise that the crypto industry has garnered tremendous attention in Asia, especially in countries like Singapore, Japan, and South Korea. Many of the world’s largest exchanges are based in Asia, and the growing individual wealth in Asia, mainly in China and South Korea, has been a driving force for the crypto market. Alternative investment opportunities have managed to attract many individual investors through higher returns than those available on the traditional market.

The blockchain market is growing rapidly worldwide, and it is predicted that global market size will reach $39.7 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of 67.3% between 2020 and 2025. Almost 20% of cryptocurrency’s market volume comes from countries in Asia, including both big institutional investors as well as average citizens. It is clear that Asian nations are betting big on crypto.

  • Singapore

The reception of blockchain technology and the broader crypto market in Singapore has been striking. The country has welcomed the emerging technology with open arms and continues to build new policies that allow further innovation. 

The Singaporean government has also reinforced its outlook by showing a willingness to experiment to find inventive solutions. For example, The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been exploring the use of blockchain technology to clear and settle payments and securities for the past few years.

Through a collective effort with other government agencies in Singapore, the country has also developed OpenCerts, a platform that uses Ethereum smart contracts for issuing and validating digital certificates for graduates of local universities. 

As far as regulatory efforts are concerned, the country has adopted a proactive approach to the crypto market by rolling out the Payment Services Act 2019 (PRS Act) which aims to regulate the intermediaries dealing with various cryptocurrencies, including a special focus on anti-money laundering and consumer protection. The Singaporean government and the global crypto industry have managed to find a middle ground to make the most of blockchain technology.

  • Dubai

Apart from a few regions, the middle east has been quite progressive with regard to cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology and receives a warm welcome in the UAE. However, there are some mixed sentiments on the regulatory front.

Last year, the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) in UAE drafted a resolution on the regulation of cryptocurrencies, clarifying certain issues related to crypto projects in the middle-east. 

The Dubai Chamber of Commerce also announced a partnership with Emirates NBD last year, one of the biggest state-owned banks in the UAE. The deal aims to assist the Dubai 10X initiative, which is working towards the digitization of trade processes. The project is called the “Digital Silk Road”, developed in partnership with Dubai Customs and the cargo handling service, DP World-UAE.

The UAE government understands the potential of blockchain technology and aims to use it for digital transactions by providing each customer with a unique identification number that redirects to their information on a secure chain. The UAE government is also pushing forward in an effort to build its own cryptocurrency. In October 2018, Dubai announced emCash, an encrypted digital currency that could be used as a mode of payment for government services and school fees.

  • Hong Kong

Hong Kong has created its own Blockchain Ecosystem which acts as a bridge between blockchain startups and leading financial institutions in the region. However, cases of misappropriated assets and market manipulation have resulted in technical problems for many exchanges, forcing regulators from the Securities and Futures Commission to step in and curb the potential for fraud. By implementing regulatory actions, Hong Kong is striving to gain a reputation as a notable international blockchain hub.

The Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks (HKSTP) and Cyberport are the key contributors to the thriving cryptocurrency industry in Hong Kong. They provide support and assistance to various crypto and blockchain startups, helping the community grow and reach new heights. For example, in October 2018, HKSTP announced several new initiatives, better programs, and support services to strengthen and boost the growth of technology startups.

  • South Korea

South Korea is one of the hottest regions for crypto and blockchain activities. Recently, the South Korean National Assembly unanimously passed the amendment to regulate cryptocurrencies. The new legislation gives a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies and other related service providers. South Korea is also one of the top crypto trade exchange markets, making it one of the biggest hubs for crypto exchanges in recent years.

Large crypto companies like Kakao are working towards making their own cryptocurrencies along with some of the banks in the country. Two South Korean crypto exchanges, Upbit and Bithumb, are among the top exchanges worldwide, having a combined trading volume of over $200 million. Korean conglomerates like Samsung and LG have also invested heavily in blockchain technology. The country’s reshaped stance on cryptocurrencies has resulted in new investment opportunities and the rise of many new startups.

  • India

For the past few years, the crypto industry has struggled in India due to its central bank’s (Reserve Bank of India) recommendation to ban trading cryptocurrencies. However, this ban was struck by the Indian Supreme Court this year, and there has been an upsurge in the Indian crypto market since. Further, many crypto startups that had been forced to move their base of operations out of the country have returned.

The crypto market in India continues to attract investors from all around the world. Binance recently announced a $50 million fund to invest in crypto and blockchain startups in India. Earlier this year, India’s largest crypto exchange, CoinDCX, managed to raise $2.5 million from Polychain Capital and Coinbase Ventures, the investment arm of American crypto exchange, Coinbase. With startups in the country getting an official green light from the authorities, the future of cryptocurrency in India looks bright.

Applications of blockchain in Asia

New applications of blockchain technology have already started to emerge as the crypto industry continues to expand across the world. One interesting example, an Indonesian coffee chain, Blue Korintji Coffee, allows paying customers to identify the farmer who grew their coffee just by scanning a barcode. The company has mastered its coffee, supply chain, and logistics through blockchain-based solutions, which it has used to distinguish itself in a highly competitive market.

This kind of approach helps build trust amongst an otherwise disconnected group. The initiative was a product of a Singaporean startup, Emurgo, that partnered with Blue Korintji to make a premium product that increases returns to farmers.

Asian consumers can affect the global blockchain economy

Though the popularity of cryptocurrencies has been rising the world over, statistical data shows cryptocurrency trading platforms are becoming much more popular in Asia as opposed to the rest of the world.

Asia has a population of about 4 billion people, making it the most densely populated continent in the world. From a business perspective, this means more speculative investors are ready to take risks. According to a recent study, the average consumer in the Asia-Pacific region spends roughly around $10,000 to $100,000 per $1000 spent by people in the US. As various crypto exchanges continue to outgrow traditional stock exchanges, government officials believe cryptocurrencies could replace fiat in the future.

Crypto, a revolution to watch out for 

Asia is set to become the global leader by adopting proper regulations along with better education and awareness regarding the subject. However, there are still many hurdles on the path to mass adoption of cryptocurrencies. Blockchain technology provides a great opportunity for people and institutions alike to engage with groundbreaking technologies, and potentially change the way we live and interact with the economy. However, caution and diligence should not be ignored while attempting to make the most of it.

Jun 252020
 

This is a guest post from Kieran Smith

Bitcoin critics suggest the cryptocurrency has become a dinosaur, left behind by technologically superior altcoins.

But while the protocol is mostly unchanged since Segregated Witness (SegWit) was activated in August 2017,there are several upgrades in the pipeline promising to bring fresh innovation to the leading cryptocurrency.

CoinPool

A new second-layer privacy protocol proposal—CoinPool—was shared on the bitcoin dev mailing list by Antoine Riard and Gleb Naumenko earlier this month. The protocol promises to upgrade bitcoin privacy and scalability, guarding against block chain surveillance by allowing several users to trustlessly share a single UTXO.

As it relies on Taproot, the protocol is not tipped for implementation anytime soon, but it could represent a significant step forward for Bitcoin. 

AltNet

AltNet is another proposal put forward in May by Bitcoin Core contributor Antoine Riard that aims to make the P2P layer of Bitcoin more robust. This would enable full nodes to communicate with alternative data transports across the network, making it easier for nodes to receive data from other data transport methods like bluetooth, orbital satellites, or the lightning network.

Dandelion

The Dandelion protocol was originally proposed in 2017 to help improve privacy by concealing the IP address behind a transaction. The protocol breaks transactions in two parts—the “stem” and the “fluff”—to obfuscate its origins.

After some feedback and subsequent adjustments, an improved version of the Dandelion Protocol was proposed in May this year called Dandelion++. And it now looks ready to be included in an upcoming Bitcoin Core release.

Simplicity

Simplicity is a proposal from 2017 for Bitcoin itself to upgrade its scripting capabilities and become more versatile and attractive to developers.

The original Bitcoin script was somewhat limited by Nakamoto for security purposes, and Simplicity attempts to preserve this original ethos but allow for more complex applications like smart contracts.

Merkelized Abstract Syntax Trees (MAST)

First proposed by Dr Johnson Lau in 2016, MAST is a combination of Merkle trees and Abstract Syntax Trees (AST).

The protocol would allow more complex data sets to be added transactions, and also use Merkle Proofs to reduce transaction size. This would increase scalability and privacy on bitcoin and make it possible to implement complex smart contracts.

At present there are several different proposals containing MAST, and the technology looks set to eventually make it on to the network.

Drivechains

The idea of Drivechains was conceived by Paul Sztorc in a November 2015 blog post as a way to implement his peer-to-peer oracle protocol known as Bitcoin Hivemind.

The protocol seeks to “peg” additional sidechains to Bitcoin, with each having their own qualities. For example, one sidechain might have privacy functionality, and another might be built specifically for running smart contracts. Unlike other sidechain projects like Liquid and Rootstock, drivechains would be secured by Bitcoin miners. 

Schnorr/Taproot

The Schnorr/Taproot upgrades encompass several different technologies that also promise greater scalability and privacy for Bitcoin.

Schnorr signatures have been tipped for implementation on Bitcoin since 2014. These signatures replace Bitcoins’ signature digital algorithm, ECDSA, and would create efficiency benefits by allowing the aggregation of signatures to minimize network load and improve scalability.

Several bitcoin devs are working on a Schnorr signature proposal that would include another proposal called Taproot in a single protocol upgrade. While Schnorr lets signatures aggregate, thus allowing bitcoin multi-signature transactions to appear as if they were standard transactions, Taproot allows an even broader set of transaction types to be condensed—offering even more significant privacy benefits.

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As this selection of proposals from the past few years show, bitcoin is constantly subject to change, and has innovative upgrades in store.

With that said, one should remember that as an asset with the potential to become a global reserve, the Bitcoin network benefits from stability because individuals must be able to have confidence that the key aspects of the network—including the hardcoded supply cap and the block size—will remain unchanged.

About the Author

Kieran Smith provides content strategy and copywriting services for cryptocurrency companies at Bitcopy.

Photo Credit: Davidstankiewicz

Mar 012020
 

This is a guest post from We Accept Cryptocurrency

Most people see cryptocurrency as an investment; a hedge against the inflationary fiat monetary system. But that was not the original intention of the Bitcoin founders. They saw Bitcoin as “electronic cash,” a radical alternative to fiat money. They envisioned people spending Bitcoin on everyday items. They envisioned people sending Bitcoin to friends and family as a gift, and using it to pay contractors for their work. Anything money can do, cryptocurrency can do better.

We Accept Cryptocurrency is a newly launched website with a mission to increase real-world cryptocurrency use and adoption. The website is a resource of online merchants and services (as well as charities) that accept cryptocurrencies as a method of payment. Bitcoin has the largest directory, but the site also lists the following cryptocurrencies: ETH, BCH, LTC, DASH, NANO, XMR, EOS, XRP.

There is a strong need for such a resource, because currently the information on real-world crypto adoption is scattered. There are many coin-specific resources (a website listing merchants accepting Litecoin for example), and several geography-specific resources (a website listing places to spend crypto in NYC for example), but a global Internet resource is needed. We Accept Cryptocurrency remains geography-agnostic by listing online merchants only. 

Many people today are privileged to be able to consider cryptocurrency exclusively in investment terms. In countries with stable monetary policy, that makes sense. However there are countries like Venezuela where cryptocurrency adoption is growing rapidly as a matter of necessity due to hyperinflation. 

For users in countries like Venezuela, the mission of We Accept Cryptocurrency is even more crucial, because finding merchants that accept cryptocurrency when fiat is no longer a viable option takes on another level of importance. If We Accept Cryptocurrency continues to expand its directory it may become an asset to those who really need cryptocurrency the most. 

The way We Accept Cryptocurrency vets a merchant before its inclusion into the website is as follows: the We Accept Cryptocurrency team first reaches out directly to the merchant asking them to confirm that they do currently accept cryptocurrency. They ask the merchant for the page on their website where their crypto policy (and discounts) is listed, and link to that page directly. This methodology leads to significantly fewer broken or outdated listings when compared with various coin-specific directories.

Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

Oct 112019
 
IRS tax guidelines crypto bitcoin

This is a guest post from Andrea Pretorian

For the first time since 2014, the IRS released two new pieces of guidance—Revenue Ruling 2019-24 and frequently asked questions (FAQs)—on October 9, 2019, indicating how taxpayers should proceed when it comes to reporting and paying taxes on virtual currency.

Fundamentally decentralized, cryptocurrency has no single official body directly responsible for regulating it—and so frequently it ends up standing at the intersection between fiat money and assets. In the United States, the IRS is the single biggest establishment player that “touches” crypto with rules, since failure to comply can lead to penalties or even incarceration. 

Releases like this one from the IRS can have a significant impact on the decisions that cryptocurrency holders will make in handling their property. This week’s release has generated a lot of buzz.

What was new in this release?

The IRS primarily addressed the case of hard forks, where a new branch appears in the blockchain protocol and does not recognize old blocks and transactions. Hard forks most commonly arise when a new spin-off cryptocurrency comes about (e.g. Bitcoin Cash from Bitcoin), or when Ethereum created a hard fork to reverse the DAO hack. 

The release indicates that once the new fork appears, the taxpayer has a new tax obligation tied to the new fork. The taxpayer has to have “dominion and control” over the currency, meaning they have to be able to transact with it, which is technically true regardless of whether the taxpayer stores this cryptocurrency in an exchange or in a private wallet.

This release also addressed airdrops, and specifically noted that not all hard forks should be considered as airdrops. Essentially, it is only when a hard fork results in new currency that this should be reported as gross income; and per the IRS’ release, this can occur via airdrop and result in a new tax liability.

The new IRS release generates a new set of questions.

One-size-fits-all rules are a challenge within the widely varied world of crypto. This release by the IRS has generated even more questions about how to handle various situations that may arise, even within the context of a hard fork. The biggest questions center around how to treat the “old” currency:

  • How do you determine value of the old and new coins?
  • What if the coin is in a private wallet?

If the coin is in an exchange and not a wallet, the exchange will declare the new and old coins and note whether new assets—and therefore new tax obligations, as clarified under this release—were created. 

But if the coin is held in a private wallet, demonstrating this can get tricky. While Q27 of the release tries to answer the question of how individuals can determine a cryptocurrency’s fair market value if there is no published one, this can get tricky since cryptocurrency doesn’t carry intrinsic value.

People frequently turn to wallets with private keys for increased security, and so they will not welcome added layers of complication to wallet ownership.

While public buzz notes that the IRS recognizes actions taken in good-faith, this does not necessarily assuage the fears of a public seeking clarity and security that they will not be penalized, particularly if any further changes arise in the future.

How has the release been received?

The release’s reception could perhaps best be summarized by the CCN headline, “IRS Tries, Fails to Explain Your Crypto Tax Liabilities After a Hard Fork.”  Twitter was set ablaze with reactions to this ruling from everyone in the cryptocurrency and blockchain community, who were overall disappointed with the release.

One recurring sticking point has to do with the way the release handles airdrops, and how value is taxed even before the value is truly recognized—such as by a sale. ConsenSys’ legal expert Matt Corva likened it to oil: “If I discover oil is on my property, I don’t recognize income (thereby forcing me to set up a mining operation to extract it to offset my tax burden).” Instead, he recommends the same for both oil and crypto airdrops: “no tax until manipulated.”

Another contention with this release has to do with how this tax guidance could be used as a weapon by one exchange against another. If an exchange were to hard fork a cryptocurrency and then use a bit of capital to inflate the “fair market value,” this would create a new, unforeseen tax liability for those holding the original cryptocurrency—including other exchanges.

According to Cointelegraph and Blockonomi, this particular release came as a result of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus’ request for clarity on how to report cryptocurrencies for tax purposes. It will be interesting to see what further clarifications, if any, will be requested over time. 

The IRS is maintaining high visibility in their attempts to educate the public, having even sent out letters to taxpayers who may have filed incorrectly. As a result, the IRS might have a stronger case for the prosecution of noncompliant taxpayers.

Author Bio: Andrea Pretorian is Content Manager over at BitIRA, leaders in digital IRA set-up and management

May 182019
 

This is a guest post from Dimitris Tsapis. The views expressed are his own and do not reflect the opinions of the editors of other writers of BTC Geek. This is not investment advice. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile and could lose money. Never invest more than you can afford to lose

Editors Note: We do not agree with some of the picks, like XRP. However, we strongly believe in having diverse opinions on this blog, and include writers whose views we don’t fully agree with.

In the last few years, the cryptocurrency market has seen many new coins enter the space. With more than 1600 cryptocurrencies to invest in 2019, choosing the best coins becomes a complicated task.

Most of these new coins promise high returns for early investors and try to revolutionize the market, one way or another.

But do they have the potential? Will they perform as they claim?

Sure enough, many of these coins have made their investors very rich, since their price appreciated more than 100-fold over a relatively short timeframe.

But let’s not forget the older coins as well. Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin created many “overnight millionaires” back in the early days of crypto.

So how can we estimate which coins have the best opportunity to increase in value over the next bull-run?

How can we find true gems when practically everyone can create a new cryptocurrency? This question is especially relevant to invest in cryptocurrencies in 2019 as opposed to say 2017 when we had a massive bull run. In 2019, things have settled down and we’re more in the accumulation phase as opposed to a massive bull market.

In this article, we will analyze the factors that determine the best cryptocurrencies to invest in. We will also make a somewhat risky guess for our top contenders. Let’s get started.

A Closer Look at Cryptocurrency Investing

Investments of all kinds should be made after performing in-depth research and patient market observation. This is especially true with cryptocurrencies since they tend to follow historical patterns.

Therefore, before you invest in a cryptocurrency, make sure you train yourself to become emotionally detached from “trendy” coins and other external influences.

After all, the investment decision is yours only, as are the profits and losses that come with it.

Start by focusing your attention on what matters most. And by that, I don’t mean YouTube videos from self-proclaimed experts. Nor do I mean sponsored posts with heavy promotion.

Your goal should be to get information from reliable resources and form an opinion based on a coin’s future potential and technological development.

This step is very important. In-depth research will help you put emotions on the side and create a strategy to achieve your investment objectives.

Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is the amount I want to invest?
  • Am I in it for the long term potential or short term gains?
  • What is my goal profit? At which price am I going to sell?
  • How strong is my emotional intelligence and patience?
  • How easily am I influenced by others?

Cryptocurrency investing is pretty similar to other investment markets. Some people will buy and sell their assets often, while others implement a more “long-term” approach, hoping to make more profits.

While the first option is often preferred in bear markets, it is the latter option that has proven to give investors the most optimal returns over time.

Take a look at the top cryptocurrencies for instance. Bitcoin and Ethereum didn’t reach their peak price overnight. It took a lot of patience and belief from investors not to sell throughout all this time.

On the other hand, exponential profits can also occur in the short term. Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are a great example. Most of them saw immediate growth after their release into the market.

But, as with everything that seems too good to be true, so with ICOs, one needs to do his due diligence before buying unknown coins. Very often, coins like that have nothing to offer to the space and are simply created to generate profit for the founders.

When looking for a coin that has the potential of performing great, what we look for is:

  • Relative price stability during the latest bear market
  • Big upside potential in case of a new bull market

That being said, let’s look at the best cryptocurrencies to invest in for 2019.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin (BTC)

The term “Bitcoin is king” has not been given to the cryptocurrency without a reason.

Not only is it the first and only decentralized cryptocurrency, it is also the most popular one, having reached a peak price of $19750 during the latest bull run of 2017.

Here is why we think Bitcoin is one of the best cryptocurrencies to invest in:

  • Rich historical data for its price fluctuations
  • It has the highest market cap of all coins
  • It is the most popular cryptocurrency and the only truly decentralized one
  • Most merchants that accept cryptocurrencies, opt for Bitcoin
  • Due to its market dominance, it determines the direction of the market

Bitcoin presents a really good investment opportunity, especially for those who are looking to make a long term investment.

The future of Blockchain technology has yet to come, and the price of Bitcoin will likely follow.

Ripple

Ripple (XRP)

XRP is currently the third large cryptocurrency by market cap. Created in 2012 by Ripple Labs, the token has seen some impressive gains starting from $0.006$ in March 2017 to its all-time high of $3.65 in January 2018.

Even though the recent market conditions were not favorable, XRP should not be overlooked. And here is why:

  • The team invests a lot of money and time in marketing and PR
  • Has a large fan base
  • Currently placed third by market cap
  • XRP is not only a store of value but also a reliable payment method

To add the last point, this means that transactions can be confirmed instantly when other coins are struggling with scalability issues.

As a result, many financial institutions have already started making transactions with XRP. Banks like JP Morgan, Saudi Arabia Central Bank, American Express, and China LianLian International are already using the system, increasing investors’ confidence and trust in the token’s future.

Ethereum

Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum is the first smart contract platform to have ever been created, enabling decentralized applications to become a reality. In its 2 years of existence, it managed to lead the ICO movement that saw many new coins enter the market.

Ethereum is one of the cryptocurrencies that has been around longer than its competitors.

The coin is currently sitting in the second position by market capitalization, with a total market cap of $17 Billion.

With generally good market sentiment and consistent transparency from its founder, Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum has managed to improve its community trust during the latest bear market.

So why is it a good cryptocurrency to invest it?

  • More than 2000 dApps are created on the Ethereum platform.
  • The coin is placed as the second most valuable cryptocurrency by market cap ($17B)
  • ETH has an advantage when it comes to user adoption due to its smart contract platform
  • 2% of ETH supply is “locked” due to open finance markets (crypto loans)

And these are just to name a few. If you dig deeper, you will come to realize that many financial institutions are starting to implement smart contracts, which in turn makes ETH a very useful token.

Adding to that, we believe that the best cryptocurrencies will be those who help improve the space. And Ethereum is doing just that. Its ecosystem helps anyone create decentralized apps and new cryptocurrencies, hoping to improve the blockchain industry as a whole.

Litecoin

Litecoin (LTC)

Using Bitcoin’s source-code, it is a fork of Bitcoin with some technical changes to the code, making it one of the fastest cryptocurrencies. Its mission is also to be a global, peer to peer currency.

Litecoin is known for its strong fan base and the numerous acronyms it has received as being the silver to Bitcoin’s gold.

Created in 2011, Litecoin is one of the oldest and most popular cryptocurrencies in 2019. It’s creator, Charlie Lee, is a well-known computer scientist who also happens to work as the Director of Engineering in Coinbase.

And while he publicly stated that he sold all of Litecoin close to the peak of the latest bull market, Charlie is still heavily supporting and promoting Litecoin to the public.

So what makes it a great investment?

  • Litecoin is a top 5 coin by market capitalization, currently sitting at a $4.5 Billion market cap.
  • It has a high trading volume as it is listed on the world’s biggest exchanges.
  • It has high community trust and a rather high media interest.
  • It follows the same “halving” protocol as Bitcoin, currently rewarding miners 25 Litecoin per block.

Binance Coin

Binance Coin (BNB)

Unlike Bitcoin and Litecoin which aim to be used as currencies, the Binance coin is a utility token. Which means its value comes from how useful it is (and how much demand there is for its utility) within the Binance ecosystem.

Binance has proven to be very strong in the current market conditions. In fact, if you had invested in BNB at the beginning of the latest bear market, you would have made the biggest returns to date.

Let’s see why BNB is a great investment choice:

  • BNB is the token of the most popular cryptocurrency exchange worldwide, Binance.
  • The coin’s price has appreciated 3x (in BTC value) since the peak of the latest bull market.
  • Changpen Zhao (Binance CEO) has achieved positive publicity through Twitter.
  • Even with the 7000 BTC hack that Binance suffered, the coin’s price remained stable.
  • Binance is leading mainstream adoption by investing in numerous Blockchain projects.
  • Binance is launching a decentralized exchange, Binance DEX, which is estimated to increase the utility of BNB.

Apart from the above, the coin has large liquidity, due to its utility on Binance exchange.

Therefore, if you are looking to diversify your portfolio, we strongly suggest Binance coin as one of your top options.

A final word

Investing, in all its forms, always comes with a certain amount of risk. The options above are simply an educated guess based on our experience in the space and the information we have available.

To sum up, here are the cryptocurrencies we strongly believe in:

– Bitcoin (BTC)

– Ripple (XRP)

– Ethereum (ETH)

– Litecoin (LTC)

– Binance coin (BNB)

When looking for the best cryptocurrency to invest in, it is important to gain a lot of different perspectives and conduct thorough research on the fundamentals of your coins’ options.

The best way to get started is by checking your current portfolio and start reading upon the coins you are currently holding. How experienced is their team? What are the key characteristics that will help this coin grow?

Good luck with your future investments and remember to only invest what you can afford to lose. We are not financial advisors and can only give you our personal opinion when it comes to the cryptocurrency market.

Dimitris Tsapis is writing content for Paybis, one of Europe’s top cryptocurrency exchanges, where you can buy bitcoin and other digital currencies fast and easy.

May 112019
 

This is a guest post by Precious Onyegbu

Bitcoin and its processes are like a coin with two sides to it.  If you have some knowledge about bitcoin, you’ll agree that it is the best and excellent way to make anonymous transactions like donations, purchases, etc without incurring a loss of money or been affected by unstable prices, that’s one side of the coin. 

The other side, however, is the fact that any transaction made is not totally anonymous as any activity or activities carried out are recorded and made available to the public through Blockchain (a compendious database responsible for keeping all records of bitcoin transactions). In fact, this is more apparent when bitcoin is used to pay for goods and services because there is always a need to provide salient information like name, address, phone number and sometimes email, what this implies is that a third party has access to your ID and can trace or track you and your transaction as well. 

To this effect, bitcoin mixing (also known and referred to as tumbler or bitcoin laundering) has been offered as the best solution to the seeming challenge of privacy and anonymity in the bitcoin system. Bitcoin mixing offers an opportunity to ‘swap’ your bitcoins for different ones that can’t be traced to its original source. In essence, it mixes one’s bitcoin with other people’s bitcoin in order to make trailing to the original owner a herculean task. To better understand the concept, it operates the same concept with moving of funds around, through banks located in countries with strict bank secrecy laws such as the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, etc. Basically, one sends one’s bitcoin to a bitcoin’s mixing company and gets an equivalent amount of other people’s ‘tainted’ bitcoin sent to the new address. It’s like getting someone to pay for your goods and services, of course, this comes with a little mixing fee in order to avoid advanced analysis, also, such transaction will be delayed a while to prevent tracking.  

How Does a Bitcoin Mixer Work?

The easy steps of the process of mixing bitcoins are as follows;

  1. The individual sends their bitcoins to the chosen bitcoin tumbler;
  2. The coins along with other people’s bitcoins are deposited in a secure common pool and mixed;
  3. After mixing, the individual receives coins which are made up of other people’s coins or sometimes coins from the reserve system of the chosen bitcoin tumbler. 

After these steps have been carried out, the link between the old and new wallet addresses is broken thereby giving such an individual an anonymous, new start on the blockchain. 

Why is Bitcoin Mixing Necessary?

Many don’t see the need to remain totally anonymous, many don’t even care about their transaction information been displayed to anyone who cares to see it, against the mindset that those involved in shady dealings are those who need or make use of bitcoin mixing, it is a necessary tool for all bitcoin users especially for those who actively use bitcoins for transactions. As said earlier, cryptocurrencies operates using blockchains, therefore, every singular transaction is recorded and made public which in turn means that the third party has knowledge of an individual’s wallet address, also able to view all financial history of such user including the balance in the wallet, not only that, the third party will also be able to monitor future transactions and can share the individual’s wallet address with others especially with cybercriminals which the internet is full of. 

Therefore, in order to avoid sad stories and to keep one’s personal anonymity including all information concerning one’s cryptocurrency funds, it is best to make use of bitcoin mixing. 

How Safe is Bitcoin Mixing?

Many of the bitcoin mixer companies operated online use .IO and do not request for any form of user registration, e-mail or personal information at all. Also, most of them are legal as they have been reviewed on bitcoins platforms, e.g.  bitcointalk.org and are being recommended to other bitcoin users.

 However, one has to be very careful and make necessary research when choosing a bitcoin mixer company as there are so many cybercriminals on the net who are out to exploit people. One wants to be sure that one doesn’t become a victim of the very thing one is trying to avoid. 

One of the methods employed by a trusted mixer is the availability of a Letter of Guarantee where the obligations of such company are confirmed to the user by a cryptographic key, in most cases, the Letter of Guarantee can’t be falsified. If any of the obligations are not met, the user can file, submit and publish a complaint in the official thread of the company on the BitcoinTalk forum. 

How long does it take to mix Bitcoins?

This all depends on the company chosen and the terms and conditions that apply; some companies send new set of coins immediately originating from unrelated/unconnected wallets to the individual once the initial coins appear in their pool and the first miner confirmations are accepted, some delay delivery in order to completely throw ‘hounds’ off their track, others also come to terms of agreement with the individual on delivery time settings. 

CHARACTERISTICS OF A GOOD BITCOIN MIXER

  • It must be able to guarantee 100 per cent anonymity such that it is untraceable and defiant to complex or advanced methods of blockchain analysis.
  • It must be safe, non-complex, dependable and service fees must be logical/rational and made visible to the user/customer.
  • It should provide detailed guidance on the use of the service, educational articles and useful materials in order to make the experience smooth.
  • It should be able to protect against the return of old coins in ensuing mixing.
  • It should be able to automatically and permanently destroy the history of successful transactions maximum after 24 hours.
  • It must not ask for any identifying and traceable information for any use.
  • Privacy and security policies must be created and enforced to preserve and uphold anonymity. 
  • Must be Tor-friendly and SSL secured
  • Must charge logical or rational fees.

Best Bitcoin Mixing Services

Mentioned earlier is the fact that not all bitcoin mixers online are dependable, however, some have been reviewed and recommended over the years, some of them are;

  1. BESTMIXER.IO: it has been rated especially on the BitcoinTalk forum as the leading bitcoin mixer on Clearnet. It separates new from old addresses by sending coins to other people and delivering theirs to the client ensuring anonymous transactions. BestMixer works with a range of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin cash, its speed depends on the delivery time setting chosen by the user. It is Tor-friendly and secured with an SSL certificate, it boasts of servers protected from any form of influence from locations in numerous dependable data centres, it also follows strict security and privacy policies assuring clients of complete anonymity. To this effect, it operates a 24-hour stint for histories and then totally remove them. It also has a great interface which is device-friendly, making it easy to use for everyone, even with a mobile phone. It operates a minimum transfer of 0.005 BTC, BCH, or LTC. It offers automatic and free membership and generates a code unique to each user, the more the transactions, the more the discount it offers its users. 
  1. BITCOIN LAUNDRY: this mixer cuts ties off all old and new addresses, thereby ensuring that history of the chain of transactions fades and the identity of such user becomes imperceptible, it also promises a friendly user interface, low charges and advanced security in the mixing system. Bitcoin Laundry charges a fee of 1% plus 0.00008 BTC per payout address and backs up transactions from .0005 to 38 BTC. It also provides an opportunity for users to send their coins to about 5 payout addresses to guarantee extra anonymity. It also offers users the ability to choose a preset or random delay for their payout for each address which makes it a herculean task for third parties to trace the transactions. It keeps history logs for one week and automatically delete them once the week elapses, to this effect, users are also provided with the opportunity to delete their history logs at any point. The platform can be accessed via clearnet at bitcoin-laundry.com, or TOR at btcdryi67te57itq.onion.
  1. BIT BLENDER: launched in 2014 by an anonymous crypto-enthusiast and software developer, BitBlender is considered one of the oldest and easy-to-use bitcoin mixer, which is popular among the darkweb.net. it offers a randomized fee of 1 to 3% and operates as much as ten different addresses to ensure maximum privacy. It offers options of either opening/registering an account (in order to use the full range of tools) or to quickly mix their bitcoins without registering an account. It ensures that a user doesn’t get the same bitcoins sent in a previous transaction. It boasts of two additional tools scarce in other bitcoin mixers which are Auto-Withdrawal and Quick-Withdraw;
  • The Auto -Withdrawal tool affords the user the opportunity to set addresses to which the website will automatically mix the coins to once confirmations are received. This tool will make multiple and regular mixers’ users find it easy to mix.
  • The Quick Mix tool is enormously beneficial for those who desire to make it fast and simple. This feature also works for the frequent client that has no wish to create an account.

In conclusion, bitcoin mixing is a very essential tool for all bitcoin users and potential clients; it guarantees maximum anonymity and protects one from cyber-crime. 

Author’s Bio: Precious Onyegbu is the founder of NGexchanger, a bitcoin provider in Nigeria

Jan 112019
 

This is a guest post from TaxAct

Taxes are an inevitable fact of life for everyone no matter what one thinks about it. As Benjamin Franklin famously and aptly puts it, it is the only certain thing in the world aside from death. Cryptocurrency miners are not exempt from paying taxes. In fact, the IRS is quick to remind people and businesses who earn from virtual currency transactions to report their earnings in their income tax return yearly as seen in this year’s IR-2018-71. But what exactly do you need to remember when paying cryptocurrency taxes for your 2019 return? Here are some crucial things to keep in mind when dealing with the taxman about your virtual earnings.

What Virtual Currencies are Taxed?

According to IRS Notice 2014-21, cryptocurrencies that can be exchanged for real currency (such as Bitcoin) are the ones that are taxable. However, these virtual currencies are not treated as currency but as business, investment or personal property. This means that the same principles of issuing and declaring taxable properties apply to your virtual money, according to the government agency.

How Your Taxes are Classified

The IRS tax virtual currencies depending on what entity you are (individual or business) or how you acquired it. Payments for goods and services are considered as part of your business or individual gross income in your tax return. Meanwhile, withholding and payroll tax applies if you work as an employee and get wages in crypto money. If you are a cryptocurrency mining hobbyist, successful transactions or activities are covered under your gross income as well. Your earnings are subject to self-employment tax if you do mining as an independent contractor or business.

Track Your Virtual Earnings

Since cryptocurrencies are treated as property and not as money, filing it as part of next year’s income tax returns can be quite tricky or confusing especially for miners. The fair market value of your mining transactions can also change dramatically. Therefore, it is important to keep tracking all of your transactions within the year to avoid slip-ups in your tax return. Keep all the related information about these transactions as well, as you might need it for your return.

The Issue of Losses

Another somewhat complex factor to deal with when it comes to filing your cryptocurrency mining transactions in your return are losses. The IRS determines gains and losses from these transactions depending on whether it is considered a capital asset on your part. If you have losses on a cryptocurrency transaction that you own for personal or investment purposes, then you might be eligible for a tax deduction. If you’re unsure, it’s best to consult an accountant or tax professional about it.

Summing It Up

Cryptocurrency taxes are fairly new and a bit tricky to handle as compared to other types of taxes. However, it can eventually be easier to understand and file on your tax return in time. As long as you stay updated and continue to keep a record of all your transactions using effective tools, filing next year’s return will be a cinch.

Myrtle is a freelance content writer who specializes in creating unique, high quality content. She usually write articles under taxes including filing tips, planning, and reform; financial health, investments, and healthcare, that aims to educate and provide useful information to her readers. Aside from writing, Myrtle is also fond of traveling and baking.