Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer virtual currency. This means that in order for a transaction to occur, no middle men or central authority is needed. You can send any amount of bitcoins to anyone living anywhere in the world, completely eliminating the need for traditional third parties like banks or money transmitters. The cryptocurrency also allows the bypassing of capital and AML restrictions.
If you decide to invest in cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin is obviously still the dominant one. However, in 2017 its share in the crypto-market has quite dramatically fallen from 90 percent to just 40 percent. There are many options currently available, with some coins being privacy-focused, others being less open and decentralized than Bitcoin and some just outright copying it.
On 25 March 2014, the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled that bitcoin will be treated as property for tax purposes. This means bitcoin will be subject to capital gains tax. In a paper published by researchers from Oxford and Warwick, it was shown that bitcoin has some characteristics more like the precious metals market than traditional currencies, hence in agreement with the IRS decision even if based on different reasons.
“In 2 years from now, I believe cryptocurrencies will be gaining legitimacy as a protocol for business transactions, micropayments, and overtaking Western Union as the preferred remittance tool. Regarding business transactions – you’ll see two paths: There will be financial businesses which use it for it’s no fee, nearly-instant ability to move any amount of money around, and there will be those that utilize it for its blockchain technology. Blockchain technology provides the largest benefit with trustless auditing, single source of truth, smart contracts, and color coins.”
Bitfinex’s high volume is key for traders as it ensures a low spread. More than 5.77 million bitcoins traded through it from April 2017 to October 2017 alone, which is double the volume of Kraken (3.6M BTC) and Coinbase (3.06M BTC). For newcomers, the complicated interface makes costly mistakes more probable while the lack of fiat funding options makes it impossible to use regular money to buy cryptocurrencies. However, experienced crypto traders will find everything they need at Bitfinex.
It should also be noted that the timestamps on the subsequent blocks indicate that Nakamoto did not mine the first blocks in an attempt to keep them for himself and make profit this way. Yes, Nakamoto was awarded Bitcoins as he was the first and a sole miner for some time, but this continued only for about 10 days after the launch of the Bitcoin network. The only thing that Nakamoto used his Bitcoins for was a few test transactions. Starting from around mid-January of 2009, those Bitcoins were left unspent. Anyone can check the public log of Nakamoto’s Bitcoin address, which shows roughly 1 million Bitcoins. This amount of Bitcoins is roughly equal to about $2.8 billion USD. Needless to say, Nakamoto’s invention was a success.
The idea of not needing a third-party exchange can admittedly be a tempting one, especially if you're worried about how secure they are. But direct trades come with plenty of risks, too. By putting you directly in contact with the buyer, they leave the method of trading up to you, including potential in-person exchanges, which are incredibly risky to do with a stranger. Some of these methods can also be annoying, frustrating and more time-consuming than preferred, and if a buyer is unreliable, it can take even longer should you end up successfully selling them at all.
Transactions that occur through the use and exchange of these altcoins are independent from formal banking systems, and therefore can make tax evasion simpler for individuals. Since charting taxable income is based upon what a recipient reports to the revenue service, it becomes extremely difficult to account for transactions made using existing cryptocurrencies, a mode of exchange that is complex and difficult to track.
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.