Bitcoin has been criticized for the amount of electricity consumed by mining. As of 2015, The Economist estimated that even if all miners used modern facilities, the combined electricity consumption would be 166.7 megawatts (1.46 terawatt-hours per year). At the end of 2017, the global bitcoin mining activity was estimated to consume between one and four gigawatts of electricity. Politico noted that the even high-end estimates of bitcoin's total consumption levels amount to only about 6% of the total power consumed by the global banking sector, and even if bitcoin's consumption levels increased 100 fold from today's levels, bitcoin's consumption would still only amount to about 2% of global power consumption.
One of the most important problems that any payment network has to solve is double-spending. It is a fraudulent technique of spending the same amount twice. The traditional solution was a trusted third party - a central server - that kept records of the balances and transactions. However, this method always entailed an authority basically in control of your funds and with all your personal details on hand.
Welcome to the Monthly Skeptics Discussion thread. The goal of this thread is to promote critical discussion and challenge commonly promoted narratives through rigorous debate. It will be posted and stickied every Sunday. Due to the 2 post sticky limit, this thread will not be permanently stickied like the Daily Discussion thread. It may often be taken down to make room for important announcements or news.
Though each bitcoin transaction is recorded in a public log, names of buyers and sellers are never revealed – only their wallet IDs. While that keeps bitcoin users’ transactions private, it also lets them buy or sell anything without easily tracing it back to them. That’s why it has become the currency of choice for people online buying drugs or other illicit activities.
Generally the biggest bitcoin exchanges to buy cryptocurrency will be toward the top of the above list. For example Bitfinex, GDAX, Bitstamp, Coinbase (also the best usd bitcoin exchange) all represent large volume proportions. Daily volume varies, and therefore the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange vary each day. Go to bitcoinity for a good list of all the best bitcoin exchange site to buy cryptocurrency and their proportional volumes. Some find this handy for arbitrage between markets.
In cryptocurrency networks, mining is a validation of transactions. For this effort, successful miners obtain new cryptocurrency as a reward. The reward decreases transaction fees by creating a complementary incentive to contribute to the processing power of the network. The rate of generating hashes, which validate any transaction, has been increased by the use of specialized machines such as FPGAs and ASICs running complex hashing algorithms like SHA-256 and Scrypt. This arms race for cheaper-yet-efficient machines has been on since the day the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was introduced in 2009. With more people venturing into the world of virtual currency, generating hashes for this validation has become far more complex over the years, with miners having to invest large sums of money on employing multiple high performance ASICs. Thus the value of the currency obtained for finding a hash often does not justify the amount of money spent on setting up the machines, the cooling facilities to overcome the enormous amount of heat they produce, and the electricity required to run them.
“There is very little derivative work around bitcoin, in contrast to the currency market where there are many over-the-counter (OTC) contracts,” Lord said. “It’s getting there. Some are allowing investors to purchase bitcoin on margin, or they are creating new contracts. But right now, trading is mainly speculation on the rise of the price of bitcoin.” Additional financial engineering is expected.
According to BitPay, a Bitcoin Payment Service Provider, as of November 2013 there are over 14,000 merchants currently accepting bitcoins. Two years ago this number stood at few hundred. The number of transactions facilitated by Bitpay increased tenfold in 2014 and crossed the 50,000 mark in November. The payment processor said that 6,296 bitcoin transactions occurred on Black Friday last year, up from only 99 transactions the year prior.
But Coinbase is ultimately tied to the future performance of cryptocurrencies. Coinbase claims it will use the $300 million it recently raised to expand global links between fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies, and to add more cryptocurrencies to its exchange. Coinbase is also working to attract more financial institutions to cryptocurrency trading.
The father of Bitcoin was able to not only code an exceptionally well built system, but also found clever ways to ensure his work was validated and not misunderstood for some sort of a scheme by others. For example, Nakamoto left a message inside this first manually altered code. When the first block of Bitcoin was mined, it read ‘The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.’ This quote is the headline for The Times newspaper which was published on January 3rd, 2009. The clever use of this simple message is overlooked by many, and it dictates that the first block was mined no earlier than January 3rd, 2009. This is extremely important because the whole Bitcoin system is designed to run and validate itself from the previously mined blocks, so giving a valid timestamp which can be authenticated by a simple headline title to the first block was genius. Afterwards, all blocks used the previous block for reference.
The idea behind the blockchain comes with two main principals. The first is easy to understand, make all the transactions public thus allowing complete transparency over all transactions and the ability to cross reference or double check each transaction if necessary. The second principal is somewhat more unique and isn’t realized by others. Recording each transaction in a public ledger also prevents this information from being duplicated. This way every transaction is unique in its own way, which successfully eliminates transaction fraud and other financial crimes. Oh, did we mention that verification of each transaction are done by other users on the Bitcoin network, and this can’t be compromised or corrupted by anything or anyone? Yep, it truly is that secure.
This suggestion is based on the assumption that with increasing use case scenario and more adoption, demand for Bitcoin and its associated technology will increase, thereby creating more demand for the cryptocurrency which will automatically cause an eventual increase in value. Glimpses of this have been observed with the surge in Bitcoin price which coincides with a boost in its market capitalization and volume of trade.
Bitcoin trading really is not much different to any other asset you can trade - maybe just a bit more volatile, but that is a good thing if you want to trade it! You will have to devide whether or not to trade the asset (bitcoin) itself or some derivative (financial “bet”). I recommend the latter as it allows you to participate in both bull and bear markets. If you simply buy the asset (Bitcoin) you can only participate in rising prices. The derivative also allows you to leverage your position. Having that said : LEVERAGE IS A DOUBLE SIDED SWORD! Whenever you trade with leverage make sure you are mentally ready to lose everything that is on your trading account (in other words: make sure not to put too much money on your trading account). Moreover, do not trade something you do not understand!
Transaction fees for cryptocurrency depend mainly on the supply of network capacity at the time, versus the demand from the currency holder for a faster transaction. The currency holder can choose a specific transaction fee, while network entities process transactions in order of highest offered fee to lowest. Cryptocurrency exchanges can simplify the process for currency holders by offering priority alternatives and thereby determine which fee will likely cause the transaction to be processed in the requested time.
In 2014, prices started at $770 and fell to $314 for the year. In February 2014 the Mt. Gox exchange, the largest bitcoin exchange at the time, said that 850,000 bitcoins had been stolen from its customers, amounting to almost $500 million. Bitcoin's price fell by almost half, from $867 to $439 (a 49% drop). Prices remained low until late 2016.