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Top 9 Crypto Blogs to Follow in 2018

The blockchain technology is constantly evolving, and so are cryptocurrencies. If you have ever been interested in the news and changes in the crypto market, a specialized blog with regular uploads should keep you informed at all times.

Every day, the prices of cryptocurrencies oscillate, the protocols change, hacker attacks happen, and new technologies are implemented in every field of the cryptocurrency niche. To follow up to all of the facts and causes, you can check some of the blogs listed below.

Cointelegraph 

The blog was created about 5 years ago, and the feed is supplied by many blockchain enthusiasts and journalists, who have been active in the crypto community for a long time. You can find the latest news about diverse events in the cryptocurrency niche. The articles also contain opinionated explanations from many crypto experts.

Bitcoin News

On Bitcoin News, you’ll find much more than just articles about daily occurrences in the crypto world. Besides that, the site teaches you how to secure a Bitcoin wallet, find a good exchange, and not get scammed when trading cryptocurrencies. The site was initiated by Roger Ver, who is one of Bitcoin’s earliest enthusiasts, and is behind multiple startup companies in Silicon Valley.

CryptoJunction

This site focuses more on the educational content than on the actual news. You can find the exact exchange rate of several cryptocurrencies at the top of the front page. Besides that, there is a video section with interesting courses that cover a big number of crypto-related topics.

 ETH News

If you are looking for a website to expand your knowledge about Ethereum, Ethnews is the right place. The blog focuses on Ethereum’s technology and the news about it. There are also other sections on ETH News where you can find educational content, such as guides on how to correctly invest  in Ethereum. The blog also runs mobile apps, that are available for Android and iOS.

Bitcoin Magazine

Bitcoin Magazine is similar to ETH News, in the way that it focuses predominantly only one cryptocurrency, and in this case, it’s Bitcoin. This is a good place if you need any information about Bitcoin, as having it all on one website will save you a lot of time. The blog has a huge community, and despite that there are some ads, the website was designed to make it easy for people to understand the main and most relevant principles of the blockchain technology.

NEWSBTC

NEWSBTC brings you the latest news about cryptocurrencies. A lot of their articles focus on the analysis of crypto trade and its development in the near future. If you want to make an investment, but you might be in doubt considering the hardly predictable price oscillations, the blog could give you some advice about the further fate of the cryptocurrencies.

On their page, you can also find educational content, as well as reviews about diverse businesses involved in the crypto industry.

99 Bitcoins 

If you need a blog with less focus on news, and more educational content, 99 Bitcoins might be your best choice. They have reviews about ICO’s, diverse cryptocurrencies, exchanges, and wallets. They publish a lot of videos, so you can also scroll through and find a quick, and easy comprehensible tutorial about a topic in the cryptocurrency sphere.

CoinDesk 

CoinDesk is a neat blog that contains a lot of technical content related to cryptocurrencies. If you are new to the topic, it would be better to start off somewhere else, however, if you want to get a little more geeky about it, CoinDesk is a nice place for that.

Crypto Insider

Here, you can find articles that focus on the most relevant stories in the crypto world. The writers of this blog are very selective with their content, which is a plus if you are in need of trustworthy information related to cryptocurrencies.

Naturally, you can also stop by Cryptocomparison for the latest news in the cryptocurrency world. Our news section covers the latest prices, protocol changes, and breaking news you should be aware of as a cryptocurrency investor.

Where to Buy Cryptocurrencies?

Since the rise of Bitcoin’s popularity, many people started investing in it and other cryptocurrencies. There are many reasons to why people prefer cryptocurrencies over fiat currencies. The most important one is probably the fact that cryptocurrencies run on the blockchain system, which focuses on decentralized networking and doesn’t involve third parties, such as central banks or governmental institutions. This minimizes the fees and transaction processing times, which is what most people are looking for in a payment system. While people are keen to invest in cryptocurrencies as soon as possible, it is important to consider the best methods and the most trustworthy businesses to deal with before putting your money down.

 Exchanges

The easiest way to invest in cryptocurrencies is to find a suitable centralized exchange. A centralized exchange is a business that allows clients to trade different currencies. When choosing one, you should do your research on their policies, accepted payment methods and countries, how are their fees calculated, and, of course, the history of the exchange. In our times, crypto exchanges are still pretty hard to trust, especially if they aren’t licensed, so it would be best to gather as much information as possible in order to get some basic guarantee that your actions are secured.

Bitfinex, Poloinex and Cex.io are exchanges that are known for good reputation and liability on the market. After your registration on one of them, and your first transaction, don’t forget to store your cryptocurrencies on a crypto wallet, as any of exchanges themselves are a dangerous place for that, due to possible external hacks.

Trading Platforms

Another easy way to invest is trading platforms. Here, you can make other investments with your cryptocurrencies, which is a safe way to avoid fees, or the intervention of third parties. A couple of them are WhaleClub and Cryptopia. If you want to expand your cryptocurrency investments, it is a good idea to start with these two and explore the possibilities they offer.

Cloud Mining

This might be a more complex, but also an effective way of getting your hands on cryptocurrencies. Cloud mining is executed through powerful hardware that decodes hashes, earning you crypto coins as rewards. Not every currency can be mined, but there are still plenty of them that can, including the most popular ones, Bitcoin and Ethereum. You don’t necessarily need your own hardware to mine. There are companies that sell their own computing power for a fee, and this is what is known as cloud mining. You can check out Hashflare and Genesis Mining for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and a few other cloud mining contracts.

Before making an investment, do as much research as you can about the method you choose, and the services of the business you’re planning to buy or mine through. Even if something appears to be trustworthy at the first glance, don’t forget that idiosyncrasies aren’t uncommon in the crypto world. For example, in the case of the fall of one of the biggest exchanges, Bitconnect, there weren’t many people who saw it coming. Before making an investment, be well prepared and never forget to not invest more than you can afford to lose. At the end of the day, it’s those who planned everything efficiently who can make it big in the cryptocurrency world.

What is Ethereum? All You Need To Know

Bitcoin is no longer the only cryptocurrency under the spotlight. Ethereum is now the second most popular cryptocurrency in the world, and it’s a pretty tough competitor for Bitcoin. But what exactly is Ethereum, how is it different from Bitcoin, and why do so many people support it? In this article, we’re going to give answers to all of these questions.

Who created Ethereum?

The first and most important thing that sets Ethereum apart from Bitcoin is that it has a real team of developers behind it. Ethereum was developed by Vitalik Buterin, a young programming prodigy from Toronto. Bitcoin, on the other hand, was developed by a certain Satoshi Nakamoto, whose real identity is unknown to this day. Bitcoin has multiple teams that work on improving and maintaining the network throughout the world, but there’s no real connection the actual developers – which makes people wonder what exactly was the purpose of creating it in the first place. Ethereum appeared as a reaction to Bitcoin, or rather, as an attempt to cover the blind spots in the Bitcoin technology. Vitalik Buterin worked on several Bitcoin projects before coming up with Ethereum as an improved version of Bitcoin.

How is Ethereum different from Bitcoin?

While the Bitcoin blockchain is just a P2P payment processing system, Ethereum is a decentralized platform that allows developers to build independent applications upon it. Many people like the analogy of Ether being a ‘world computer,’ or a global and decentralized platform for executing peer-to-peer contracts. This means that the Ethereum blockchain allows you to trade more than just money – but also property, stock, goods, or services, using a feature called smart contracts. Smart contracts are also the reason why it is so popular with corporations, as many big and small businesses have started running their apps on the Ethereum blockchain.

What are smart contracts?

Some like to think of them as vending machine protocols – you feed the machine a dollar, you enter an input to indicate the drink you want to get, and the machine will run through a set of operations to bring it to you. The same principle applies to Ethereum smart contracts, but instead, you have to fuel the transaction using Ether, Ethereum’s own crypto token.

Ether is one of the highest ranking cryptocurrencies right now, due to many developers building decentralized apps based on the Ethereum blockchain. These decentralized apps, or Dapps, for short, can be anything from payment networks like Bitcoin to voting systems, bank loans and more. Any system that is currently centralized can be decentralized by creating a Dapp on the Ethereum blockchain – meaning so many middleman fees and processing times would be cut out of the picture.

Why is Ethereum so popular?

These are the main reasons why Ether is gaining more and more popularity as a cryptocurrency. The other ones are pretty obvious if you look at a growth report. Ether has been growing at breakneck speed, way faster than Bitcoin and most other altcoins. In December 2017, the price of Ether has grown from $400 to $700, and it has already hit the $1000 landmark at the time of writing, in early January 2018. It’s still very volatile, and it can easily drop down as much as 25% in just a few hours, but that doesn’t discourage firm believers from investing and keeping their Ether.

How can you mine Ethereum?

Ether can also be mined using regular GPUs, which makes it an attractive niche for beginner miners that don’t have the money for an ASIC processor for mining Bitcoins. As long as you have enough RAM memory to support the Ethash mining process, you should be able to mine Ether on a regular desktop. However, Ethash will shift from a Proof of Work (POW) mining protocol to a Proof of Stake (POS) one in 2018, so it might be better to keep in touch with the news for now and start testing the waters after the change.

This is everything you should know about Ethereum as a beginner investor. To sum it up, Ethereum is an open-source and decentralized platform that allows developers to build apps upon it. It also allows people to trade more than just money using the smart contracts feature. Lastly, it can be either purchased or mined, but the mining protocol will shift from POW to POS in 2018.

What is Dash? All You Need To Know

Dash is one of the most popular digital currencies in the world right now. As opposed to Bitcoin, which is leading the popularity (and price) rankings, Dash is a more convenient currency, especially when it comes to daily use. In this article, we take a look at Dash – from who developed it, its advantages and disadvantages, and what is the best way to get your hands on some.

Who created Dash?

Dash was developed by a certain Evan Duffield, and currently has a team of over 50 developers and engineers working to improve the system. It was formerly known as DarkCoin or Xcoin, but what not many people know is that Dash actually evolved from a Litecoin hard fork, namely litecoin v0.8.6.2, which was, in its turn, a hard fork of Bitcoin. Dash and Bitcoin share the same DNA, and while they are not based on the same algorithm, both aimed to make cryptocurrencies more accessible to the public. However, the high market price and steady growth of Bitcoin over the last year caused it to become more of a long-term investment vehicle, rather than a usable currency. Dash, on the other hand, has a lower market price, as well as several features that make it easier to use for day-to-day needs. Some people like to refer to Dash as the ultimate digital currency, while Bitcoin is more of a ‘digital gold’ or an investment vehicle. Even the name of the currency is an acronym of the words ‘digital’ and ‘cash’.

But how exactly is Dash different from Bitcoin?

For once, Dash can be used to send instant and private transactions to both online and offline businesses, on a platform supported by millions of users. Bitcoin’s slow transaction times are infamous in the cryptocurrency community, and that tends to turn a lot of people away from using Bitcoin for daily transactions. However, Dash has a unique feature called the Instant Send, which empowers people to send money in a matter of seconds. Another drawback of the Bitcoin network is the relative lack of privacy. Bitcoin started off as a more or less anonymous currency – as in people using it were not required to give their real name and address in order to purchase or transfer Bitcoin. However, in the last year, mining pools are able to trace back to the people behind Bitcoin transactions pretty easily. On the other hand, Dash’s Private end features breaks down a single transaction into several different ones and mixes it with other transactions so that it’s hard to tell where the money came from.

The Private Send and Instant Send features are what makes Dash different and somewhat better than Bitcoin. Both of these are possible grace to some protocol differences between the two currencies. Much like Bitcoin, Dash can be mined using proof of work. However, unlike Bitcoin, Dash also uses proof-of-stake mining to enable features like the Private Send and Insta Send. They achieved this by implementing masternodes – computers that take on the heavy network duties such as these two features. One has to pay 1000 Dash to run a masternode, but are also generously rewarded – 45% of each mined block reward. Grace to the existence of masternodes, people using Dash can access these ‘Premium’ features, protect their privacy, and cut on waiting times.

How can you obtain Dash?

As you might have guessed already, you can get your hands on some Dash by either mining or purchasing it. Dash is based on an algorithm called X11, which is said to be ASIC-resistant and relies on large amounts of RAM memory. This makes it easy to mine Dash from home, especially if you have enough RAM and a strong enough GPU to support the process. You can also get Dash cloud mining contracts from websites like Hashflare, especially if you’re not fond of the idea of opening up your computer. Lastly, you can purchase Dash from an exchange. It’s much easier to buy it using Bitcoin, but you can also come across exchanges that sell Dash and take traditional payment methods. BitPanda is one good example, and so is CEX.io.

To sum up, all you need to know about Dash is: it aims to be the ultimate digital form of cash, offers convenient features like Private Send and Instant Send, and can be both mined and purchased from an exchange. All in all, Dash is a great coin to add to your cryptocurrency portfolio, as its growth trends show that it might become one of the Top 5 cryptocurrencies in terms of price in 2018.

What is ZCash? All You Need to Know

ZCash is a decentralized digital currency that emphasizes on transaction privacy. In this day and age when altcoins are fiercely battling each other in hope to top off Bitcoin, ZCash is definitely one of the most promising candidates. ZCash aims to increase transaction privacy, which is a current issue of the Bitcoin protocol. Whereas Bitcoin transactions are not linked to real names and addresses, they can be traced back to the location and the person they originate from. This is not the case with ZCash, as the developers implemented a unique feature called zero-knowledge cryptography. Grace to this, transactions can be approved and added to the blockchain in their encrypted format, so that no one can trace back to where the money came from.

What is ZCash?

ZCash is a fairly recent currency. Although the project started off in 2014, under the name Zerocoin, the branded ZCash project was launched in 2016. ZCash has a fairly impressive list of names behind it, including big corporations and famous Bitcoin developers. The protocol is based on a Bitcoin hard fork, namely Bitcoin Core, so you can think of ZCash as a distant relative of Bitcoin. ZCash also has a limited supply of 21 million units, and about 1/10 of that number is currently in circulation. Much like all the other big altcoins, ZCash’s purpose is of creating solutions and alternatives to Bitcoin’s problems. Their main contribution is the implementing of zero knowledge cryptography, which allows people to send fully anonymous transactions.

What is unique about ZCash?

Let’s take a look at this whole zero-knowledge cryptography protocol. When a ZCash transaction is made, it is encrypted based on a certain algorithm. Normally, miners would have to decrypt the information in order to confirm it and add it to the blockchain. However, the team behind ZCash has developed an innovative cryptographic method known as zk-SNARK, which can validate transactions without disclosing the information on the blockchain. In other words, zk-SNARK confirms that the transaction can take place, meaning the sender has enough ZEC to fund it, but without it linking back to previous transactions. This is a function called fungibility, in which every existing coin has to be linked to a previous array of transactions so as to confirm its origin and existence. Bitcoin uses fungibility to demonstrate the ownership of the coins, but ZCash doesn’t – ZEC is completely unlinked from its history, and no one in the network can trace back to how the sender got their hands on the coin.

 

ZCash offers both private and public sending options. If you opt for public sending, from a transparent address to another transparent address, everybody in the network will know where the money came from, and who received it. Naturally, the public transactions are much faster than private ones. However, if you need the privacy more than immediate confirmation, you can opt for private sending.

How to obtain ZCash?

So much for ZCash’s history and features – it’s time to find out how you can get your hands on some ZEC. ZCash can be obtained via mining or buying from an exchange. As far as mining is concerned, ZCash is based on an algorithm called Equihash, which is another advantage compared to Bitcoin. Equihash relies on high RAM requirements, which makes it ASIC-resistant – meaning the ZCash mining niche will not be controlled by ASIC computer manufacturers anytime soon. Instead, you can mine ZCash using regular CPUs and GPUs, but you might have to invest in a generous amount of RAM. If you’re not that fond of the idea of mining ZCash from home, you can also get an Equihash cloud mining contract. Companies like Hashflare have very reasonable prices and will let you mine ZEC without the side effects of having a miner rig in your house.

Another option is buying the coins from an exchange. Naturally, ZCash is not as widely supported as Bitcoin or Ethereum, so it will be harder to find an exchange that lets you purchase ZEC with fiat money. It’s easier to purchase Bitcoin first and convert them to ZEC, as most exchanges allow you to do that. However, there are also a few exchanges that let you purchase ZCash directly – including Poloniex and Bittrex.

As far as storage goes, ZCash is supported by software, paper, and even hardware wallets. Yes, even hardware wallets like Ledger and Trezor have special ZCash apps that allow you to store your ZEC on them. This is definitely an advantage compared to most altcoins, that can be hard to store safely.

In conclusion, ZCash is a promising altcoin that aims to solve some of the problems in the current Bitcoin protocol. With the implementation of zero knowledge cryptography, ZCash ensures that their transactions are completely anonymous, and the coins are unlinked from their past history. Lastly, ZCash can be mined and purchased rather easily and is even compatible with popular hardware wallets. This makes it one of the most accessible coins to add to your cryptocurrency portfolio in the year to come.

What is Dogecoin? All You Need to Know

Dogecoin is probably one of the most famous cryptocurrencies in the world – and it’s not because of its spectacular growth or ingenious underlying technology. It’s because Dogecoin is the only cryptocurrency that started of as a joke and even bears the name of a popular Internet meme – a funny Shiba Inu dog face known as Doge. The developer himself poked fun at the cryptocurrency industry and tweeted ‘Investing in Dogecoin, pretty sure it’s the next big thing’ on his social media. He was immediately contacted by a software developer that suggested they make Dogecoin into an actual cryptocurrency. One month later, Dogecoin was actually brought into existence. But what makes Dogecoin one of the most popular and talked about cryptocurrencies in the world? We’re here to paint the full picture for you.

What is Dogecoin and who developed it?

Dogecoin is basically a clone of Litecoin – it’s based on the same algorithm (Scrypt), and all changes made to the Litecoin system will apply to Dogecoin as well. However, Dogecoin has its own team of developers that are supposed to work on the technology behind it, but the Internet hasn’t seen a single Dogecoin update in more than 2 years.

The original creator, Jackson Palmer, which is also the person behind the infamous Dogecoin tweet, is still skeptical about the future of the currency. Palmer has repeatedly stated that he is disappointed with the current trends in the cryptocurrency niche, particularly the fact that a currency with a meme on it and no updates in 2 years could reach a one-billion-dollar market cap. However, the community is still very positive about the coin, and it did grow a whole lot in the past year. Dogecoin only valued $0.001 when it was first released, and has recently hit an all-time high of $0.17.

It’s worth mentioning that Dogecoin never intended to become a serious cryptocurrency in the first place, so the developers are not particularly interested in attracting huge investments. That, and the fact that Dogecoin started off as a token for rewarding people on the Internet. Grace to the coin’s low price, people would usually use it to tip other Reddit or Twitter users who offered them useful answers or contributed to a discussion. If the coin were to grow at breakneck speed, like Bitcoin or Ether, the community will not be able to use it as easily. Think about it – it’s much easier to tip a person 5 DOGE than 0.000001 BTC, right? That is one of the reasons why we probably won’t live to see Dogecoin hit spectacular prices anytime soon.

Where can you use Dogecoin?

In fact, Dogecoin is also the most popular cryptocurrency for charity and crowdfunding projects. The Dogecoin community has gathered money for bringing the Jamaican bobsled team to the Sochi Olympics (something the team couldn’t afford), and for building a well in a remote region of Kenya. As people who often got DOGE from tips on forums had a lot of them lying around, the community managed to fully fund all the projects they started. The best way to use Dogecoin is to get involved in the community, which is active on Reddit and other forums.

You’re probably wondering if there’s any other way of getting your hands on some DOGE except for becoming popular on the subreddit. You can also purchase it from an exchange, or mine it. The easiest way to buy it from an exchange is to get some Litecoin and convert them into DOGE, but you can also find websites that trade Dogecoin, such as Litebit. You can also mine the coins using a powerful CPU. As the Scrypt algorithm relies on large amounts of memory as opposed to hashing power, you can very well mine them from a home desktop. If you’re not very fond of purchasing and building your own rig, you can also find Dogecoin cloud mining contracts on websites like Hashflare – but most of them pay out in LTC or BTC instead of DOGE. As for storing Dogecoin, you will need a compatible wallet, such as the original Dogecoin client or Coinomi.

As a conclusion to all above said, Dogecoin is definitely not the currency you want to invest in if you’re looking for a competitive environment and significant growth. However, it’s a great coin for cryptocurrency beginners, especially if you’re willing to join the Dogecoin community and learn more about it. DOGE’s future is still vague, but one thing is certain – with such a supportive community, it is definitely here to stay.

What is Litecoin? All You Need to Know

To put it simply, Litecoin is the silver to Bitcoin’s gold. Much like Ethereum is commonly called the ‘world computer’, and Dash is considered the cash to Bitcoin’s gold, Litecoin has its own purpose in the world of cryptocurrencies. It is also one of oldest crypto coins in existence, dating back to 2011. Litecoin is the top five most famous cryptocurrencies in the world right now, competing with Ethereum for the runner-up position after Bitcoin. But what is the secret behind Litecoin’s spectacular growth and success? We’re here to paint the full picture for you.

What is Litecoin?

Litecoin is one of the oldest cryptocurrencies in existence. It was created in 2011, based on a hard fork of the Bitcoin Core client. The person who developed it is Charlie Lee, former Google and Coinbase employee. His idea was of creating a more user-friendly version of Bitcoin, which drove to improvements like faster transaction times, lower fees, and a higher supply of units.

What are the advantages of Litecoin?

The feature that made Litecoin as popular as it is now is definitely the fast transaction times. Whereas a Bitcoin transaction can take up to 15 minutes to be approved, Litecoin ones are generally validated in under a couple of minutes. This makes Litecoin perfect for day-to-day use when you can’t really afford to wait over 10 minutes for the network to validate your transaction.

Another advantage of Litecoins is the low transaction fee. Bitcoin has significantly higher transaction fees, which can be overlooked when transferring big amounts of money but can add up really fast if you’re just using BTC to shop for groceries or whatnot. Litecoin has low transaction fees, which makes it possible for the people in the network to use them easily – even for something as trivial as getting a coffee.

The Litecoin network can also handle a larger volume of transactions than Bitcoin. The blocks are generated more frequently, and their difficulty is lower than that of Bitcoin blocks, which makes for faster confirmation times.

Let’s go back to the analogy of Litecoin being the silver to Bitcoin’s gold for a second here. As you can see, Litecoin is far easier to use, much like silver coins are compared to gold bullion. Silver coins were regularly used as day-to-day currency for ages, and that’s because the price of silver is much smaller than that of gold. This is another huge reason why many people, especially cryptocurrency beginners, choose to start off with Litecoin instead of Bitcoin. The market price of LTC as of January 2018 is a bit over $230 – not extremely cheap, but also not there in the tens of thousands just yet. However, Litecoin’s price has recently hit an all-time high of $360, and that’s pretty impressive, especially since it was barely worth $10 in April 2017. This being said, Litecoin is definitely a great investment vehicle, but still much more affordable than Bitcoin, which is why many experts recommend it as a beginner-friendly cryptocurrency.

How to get your hands on Litecoin?

Getting your hands on some Litecoin is also fairly easy. For one, most exchanges sell Litecoin for fiat money – meaning you won’t have to go through the process of buying Bitcoin first, and then converting it. Finding safe storage for your Litecoin is also a piece of cake, as all the big software and hardware wallets out there are compatible with it. Lastly, you can get your hands on some LTC by mining it. Litecoin is based on an algorithm called Scrypt, which is said to be ASIC-resistant and can be mined using regular CPU/ GPU rigs. It is a very RAM-heavy algorithm though, and it also requires more energy to keep going, which can make it rather pricey for beginners. Luckily, you can also find Litecoin cloud mining contracts if you don’t want to bother with the side effects of mining from home.

Bottom line is that Litecoin is definitely here to stay. As one of the oldest cryptocurrencies in existence and Bitcoin’s younger sibling, Litecoin has certainly made a name for itself over the years. Its purpose is to be an accessible cryptocurrency for daily use, but considering the latest price growth trends, it might as well become the next big investment vehicle of the cryptocurrency world.

Buying vs. Mining Bitcoin: What Is More Profitable in 2018?

Bitcoin has never been as popular as it is now. The media, news outlets, financial experts, and investors are all concerned about Bitcoin’s fate in the year to come. In case you haven’t been keeping up with the news, Bitcoin’s price has hit an all-time high of $20k in December 2017, and dropped down to roughly $11k by the end of the same month. Such impressive growth in a short period of time has attracted lots of people into the niche. More people than ever are now trading and buying Bitcoins – but what is the more profitable way of getting your hands on it in 2018?

There are two ways of obtaining Bitcoins – either buying from an exchange or another person or mining them using your computer. As the market price of Bitcoin is still pretty high, few people can afford to buy it, especially if they don’t have a lot of money to spare (remember never to invest more than you can afford to lose.) On the other hand, mining Bitcoins is not as easy as it used to be. While before, you could literally put your home computer to work and earn some Bitcoins, now you need specialized hardware that can set you back a few thousand dollars.

What is Bitcoin mining?

Mining refers to the process of decrypting and verifying Bitcoin transactions and transforming them into blocks of information that are then added to the blockchain. The first to decipher a block of information is rewarded with a number of Bitcoins – 12.5 BTC at the moment of writing. That is how all Bitcoins have been brought into the world – as rewards for the proof of work provided by the computers in the Bitcoin network.

Bitcoin is based off an algorithm called SHA-256, which generates 256-bit signatures that can be decrypted using computers. Here’s where the problem starts. Whereas before, you could mine Bitcoin using GPUs, the nature of algorithm makes it possible to create Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) computers that specialize in decrypting SHA-256 functions. Nowadays, the Bitcoin mining niche is 100% controlled by the production of ASIC processors, which has turned many people away from it. Not only has Bitcoin mining become a more centralized process because of ASICs, but it has also become extremely competitive. The price of a brand new ASIC is well into the thousands of dollars, and the pre-order lists are filled out for months in advance. Moreover, the difficulty level of each block is increased after every 2016 blocks found by miners, which means that a processor considered powerful today might become just as worthless as a GPU a couple months later.

Besides that, other expenses will add up – mainly the energy consumption you need to keep the miner running 24/7. You will also have to deal with quite a bit of heat and noise from your rig, and might even need to keep it in the basement or garage so as to not bother others. Lastly, there’s the issue of joining a pool.

A pool is a group of miners who agree to join their forces in order to increase the chances of finding a block. The reward is then split among the members according to the pool’s policy. The competitiveness has made it impossible for a person to mine Bitcoin on their own, as the chances of finding a block (even with the most powerful of rigs) are close to 0. However, with pools, you will have to consider even more extra fees – the registration fee, the payout fee, and the withdrawal fee, to name just a few.

The bottom line on Bitcoin mining is: don’t put your hopes up too high if you don’t have $5k+ to spend on an ASIC. Even if you have the money, the chances to break even and make some profits in one year are pretty low. But if you’re on a budget and still want to try mining Bitcoins? You could try cloud mining for a couple months – you will still have to pay some fees, but it will definitely not come to the price of an ASIC rig. A trusty company like Hashflare could help you with that.

How to buy Bitcoin?

The other option is buying Bitcoins. You can either purchase them from an exchange that owns a certain amount, or from another person on a P2P exchange. Here are a few things you should consider before buying:

Although the current market price of Bitcoin is very high, it’s much easier and quicker just to buy an amount you can afford than to mine it. If you’re buying from an exchange, you’ll have to consider their fees, which can be a flat fee or a proportional one based on the number of Bitcoins you’re buying. You should also consider the payment method fees, which will be charged according to your bank or credit card issuer’s policy. You can also purchase Bitcoins from a P2P exchange, and sometimes you can even find better deals on these websites. However, beware of scammers, as these P2P exchanges will usually not disclose any of the personal info of whoever you’re dealing with, so you can never trust someone 100%.

Another thing you need to consider when buying Bitcoins is getting a secure wallet, especially if you plan on putting them on ice. Keeping the coins you bought on the temporary exchange wallet makes you an easy target for hackers that might infiltrate into the website’s database. Hardware wallets are considered the safest, but you can also start with a free software one if you’re just testing the waters.

As a conclusion to all above said, buying Bitcoins seems the easiest way to get your hands on the currency in 2018. Even with all the fees plus the price of a hardware wallet if you’re really serious about it, it will not add up to the money you’ll have to put down before you even start mining. Whichever of these methods you end up going for, make sure you’re only investing a reasonable amount that you can afford to lose.

5 Cryptocurrency Scams: Red Flags and How To Avoid Them

Cryptocurrencies are an attractive field for both beginner and seasoned investors. However, as a beginner, you’re much more vulnerable to all sorts of scams – which are fairly common in the cryptocurrency niche. The emphasis on anonymity and privacy made crypto a true breeding ground for massive Ponzi schemes, face ICOs, and just individual scammers lurking around on P2P exchanges. That’s why beginner investors should be very careful about who they are dealing with and spend as much time researching the company or project they plan to give their money to.

Today, we look at the top 5 most common scams you’ll encounter in the cryptocurrency business. By no means should this information turn you away from investing in cryptocurrencies – we’re just here to raise awareness and minimize the risk of you losing money. Without further ado, let’s take a look at them:

1. Common exchange scams

You can’t go too far as a crypto investor without having to deal with exchanges. Exchanges sell, buy, and sometimes allow users to trade cryptocurrency among each other. However, due to the increased popularity of the niche in the past year, more and more new exchange websites have been popping up on the web. Very few of them can be trusted 100% – in fact, no one in the financial world can.

There’s been this one episode in Bitcoin history called the Mt. Gox scandal, in which an exchange that dealt with 70% of the Bitcoins in circulation suspended all trades in one night. Later, it was found out that the people behind the exchange stole over 800.000 Bitcoins, of which only 200.000 have been returned to their owners.

The moral is to be very careful with any exchange you are dealing with. Generally, it’s better to opt for a bigger and more reputable exchange, even if their fees are higher, and their verification process is a nightmare. The most trusty exchanges right now include Coinbase, Bittrex, and Cryptopia.

You can also come across P2P exchanges, which are nothing but computers programmed to connect traders from all over the world. Although the P2P exchange itself cannot be held guilty of anything that happens to your money, there are a lot of scammer accounts lurking on these websites. As the identity verification is next to none, you don’t know anything about the person you’re dealing with, so it’s better to keep substantial transactions on a more trusty platform.

2. Shady software wallets

When you start investing in cryptocurrencies, you will need a place to store them. You can choose between software wallets, hardware ones, and paper ones. Software wallets are the quickest and easiest to use – and they’re usually free as well. Sounds good, right? It can be a bit too good to be true sometimes.

Many software wallet companies actually keep a database of all the private keys of the people that use the wallet. In other words, they can either take a look at that data themselves, or fall prey to a malicious third party that would steal all the Bitcoins from their website. What can you do? Simple – opt for a desktop client software wallet instead. It will put more pressure on your computer, but at least you will be the only person to have access to the private keys. If you’re serious about cryptocurrencies though, it’s probably best to opt for a hardware wallet, such as Trezor or Ledger Nano S.

3. Fake ICOs

ICOs, or Initial Coin Offerings, are the Kickstarters of the cryptocurrency world. They’re basically someone announcing a new cryptocurrency and giving away initial coin offerings for the backers. However, most often than not, these ICOs are nothing but fraud schemes trying to sell you hot air in a pretty package. There are, of course, some projects that turn out to be successful, but you should never treat ICOs as more than a gamble.

There’s a couple things you can do to ensure that the ICO you’re thinking of investing in is not a scam. First, you should research the developer/team behind it. If any of them has a background that traces back to cryptocurrencies, that’s a good start. If you’re knowledgeable about the blockchain technology, you could also check if the project makes sense by going through the white print. Lastly, beware of ICOs that are very aggressively advertised in the media – a good project doesn’t require nasty pop-ups and directed email campaigns to attract backers.

4. Ponzi schemes/Financial Pyramids

Ponzi schemes or Financial Pyramids are companies that try to sell their first clients imaginary fast profits based on the investments made by later clients. As opposed to other niches, cryptocurrencies are still very vulnerable to such schemes, as there is a significant lack of information, especially among new investors. Ponzi schemes are very common among cloud mining companies, so you should always do rigorous research before signing such a contract. Oh, and never fall for a company that claims it can mine Ripple – they’re just exploiting the lack of knowledge of beginner investors.

5. Social media/Email scams

Getting into cryptocurrencies means you’ll have to sign up for a whole lot of new services. Forums, news and media outlets, exchanges, wallets, and more – which means you should be extra careful with whatever ends up in your inbox. Some of these websites might give your email address to more or less authorized third parties, and you might end up getting some potentially dangerous mail. One good example of this are the fake myEtherWallet emails, that try to convince people to give away their private keys by saying that a hard fork is approaching. You can also come across fake social media profiles that try to impersonate popular exchanges or wallets, that can send out similar messages. Beware!

These are the top 5 most common scams cryptocurrency investors have to avoid. Again, no one in this business can be trusted 100%, and you should know that going in. However, you can significantly minimize the risk of being scammed by backing up your choices with lots of research.

How to Choose a Cryptocurrency Exchange

A suitable exchange for your cryptocurrencies is an essential step if you want to save yourself some trouble in the future. The coin values are oscillating every day in major amounts, so a trustworthy exchange must execute your requests without causing trouble. There are diverse exchanges located around the world, and the best one for each depends on such factors as currencies you want to trade, your current location, and your preferred payment method.

Trading currencies

Let’s look at the currencies you might want to trade. At first, there isn’t much to think about, as you would first need one or more of the big currencies to be able to dive deeper. Some of them are Bitcoin, Ether, Dash, and Litecoin. If you have already decided to invest in a specific currency, you will have to make a research where does it trade best and if you can exchange it at all with your specific currency. For example, on poloniex.com you can exchange Ripple for Bitcoin, but no other currencies. In most exchanges you might not be able to get or sell your currencies for the one you want, so choosing a suitable exchange must match your requirements.

Not only that but also regarding the amounts you would like to trade, certain exchanges will have different fees for selling and buying. If you want to buy your currencies quickly, you would need an exchange with a 24-hour trade volume.

Some of the most popular exchanges that have more currencies to choose from are:

Kraken – offers a wide variety of currencies with a more complex user interface.

Poloniex – exchange is possible between cryptocurrencies having its main market split by Bitcoin, Ether, Monero, and Tether.

Bitfinex – the largest exchange by volume, but if you are from the US, trading is not supported.

Bittrex – one of the biggest exchanges, being secured by former Amazon engineers.

Location

Another important moment is your current location. With the major growth of Bitcoin, the governments became more aware of the impact of cryptocurrencies and started implementing new regulations. This led to many of the exchanges that have been around for longer not being anymore available in some countries, as for example Bitfinex in the US. Most of the pages will let you know immediately if you can trade there, during the sign-up process. Below are some examples of exchanges accepted in some regions:

CEX.IO – supporting US traders, a site with a good reputation that has been around for longer time.

GDAX – is a branch of Coinbase, that offers insurance for your US dollars. However, that’s about it, and if there is a fork and your currencies are lost, there is no compensation for this kind of loss.

BitPanda – based in Austria, it is the most popular exchange in Europe offering several payment methods.

Cryptopia – is not only an exchange but also a kind of an item marketplace. It specializes in less known currencies and anybody is able to trade there. Based in New Zeeland, the only fiat currency that it accepts is the New Zeeland dollar.

Payment methods

Before buying and selling any currencies, you will need to get accustomed to different incurring payment methods and fees. Usually, it’s so that the easier is the payment process and less amount should be traded, then more fees will incur. If you will buy with a credit or debit card, it is common that you would pay more for the ease of use. There are different fees incurring in different regions and based on your payment method, but here some of the most common ones:

Conversion Fees:

These vary from about 0.25% to 5% and are calculated based on your payment method. A percentage of your total amount is calculated and withdrawn as a fee. The trading method, either through cryptocurrencies, debit cards, bank accounts or other alternatives influences the percentage of the conversion fee.

Maker and Taker Fees:

These fees are calculated based on the percentage of buy and sell in the last 30 days and it varies from 0.0% to 0.5%. Larger fees are extracted from takers, whose orders are immediately associated with other users. This process sinks the liquidity of the market, and this is when the higher fees incur. However, the makers are those whose orders aren’t associated immediately, which adds up to the market’s liquidity ensuring that they pay lower fees.

Miner fees:

The miner fees are extracted for your convenience, as it ensures that the transaction is sped up. The exchanges set up the process automatically and it usually costs about 0.00001 BTC.

Now, you can do your own research and narrow down the alternatives for the exchange that fits you best. It is better to invest more time and be well prepared than advance with an inaccurate plan. Even in the volatile world of cryptocurrencies, you can do just fine if you’ve made your homework.