Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos can afford to laugh. Paying taxes on bitcoin isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds is your Data Sheet newsletter for Friday, July 27, 2018.
This is your Data Sheet newsletter for Thursday, July 26, 2018. It warned that increasing privacy efforts would hit its growth rate further in the second half of this year. Sign Up for Our Newsletters Sign up now to receive FORTUNE’s best content, special offers, and much more. Fortune may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.
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P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions. Frequently Asked Questions Find answers to recurring questions and myths about Bitcoin. Is Bitcoin really used by people? How difficult is it to make a Bitcoin payment? What are the advantages of Bitcoin? What are the disadvantages of Bitcoin?
Can I make money with Bitcoin? Is Bitcoin fully virtual and immaterial? What happens when bitcoins are lost? Can Bitcoin scale to become a major payment network? Is Bitcoin useful for illegal activities? What about Bitcoin and consumer protection?
Doesn’t Bitcoin unfairly benefit early adopters? Won’t the finite amount of bitcoins be a limitation? Won’t Bitcoin fall in a deflationary spiral? Isn’t speculation and volatility a problem for Bitcoin? What if someone bought up all the existing bitcoins? What if someone creates a better digital currency?
How much will the transaction fee be? What if I receive a bitcoin when my computer is powered off? Isn’t Bitcoin mining a waste of energy? How does mining help secure Bitcoin?
What do I need to start mining? Hasn’t Bitcoin been hacked in the past? Is Bitcoin vulnerable to quantum computing? Bitcoin is a consensus network that enables a new payment system and a completely digital money. It is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen. From a user perspective, Bitcoin is pretty much like cash for the Internet. Bitcoin is the first implementation of a concept called “cryptocurrency”, which was first described in 1998 by Wei Dai on the cypherpunks mailing list, suggesting the idea of a new form of money that uses cryptography to control its creation and transactions, rather than a central authority.
The first Bitcoin specification and proof of concept was published in 2009 in a cryptography mailing list by Satoshi Nakamoto. Satoshi’s anonymity often raised unjustified concerns, many of which are linked to misunderstanding of the open-source nature of Bitcoin. The Bitcoin protocol and software are published openly and any developer around the world can review the code or make their own modified version of the Bitcoin software. Just like current developers, Satoshi’s influence was limited to the changes he made being adopted by others and therefore he did not control Bitcoin.
Nobody owns the Bitcoin network much like no one owns the technology behind email. Bitcoin is controlled by all Bitcoin users around the world. While developers are improving the software, they can’t force a change in the Bitcoin protocol because all users are free to choose what software and version they use. From a user perspective, Bitcoin is nothing more than a mobile app or computer program that provides a personal Bitcoin wallet and allows a user to send and receive bitcoins with them.
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This is how Bitcoin works for most users. Behind the scenes, the Bitcoin network is sharing a public ledger called the “block chain”. This ledger contains every transaction ever processed, allowing a user’s computer to verify the validity of each transaction. The authenticity of each transaction is protected by digital signatures corresponding to the sending addresses, allowing all users to have full control over sending bitcoins from their own Bitcoin addresses. There are a growing number of businesses and individuals using Bitcoin.
This includes brick-and-mortar businesses like restaurants, apartments, and law firms, as well as popular online services such as Namecheap, Overstock. While Bitcoin remains a relatively new phenomenon, it is growing fast. As payment for goods or services. Purchase bitcoins at a Bitcoin exchange.
Exchange bitcoins with someone near you. This is commonly referred to as a chargeback. Bitcoin payments are easier to make than debit or credit card purchases, and can be received without a merchant account. Payments are made from a wallet application, either on your computer or smartphone, by entering the recipient’s address, the payment amount, and pressing send. Payment freedom – It is possible to send and receive bitcoins anywhere in the world at any time.
Bitcoin allows its users to be in full control of their money. Choose your own fees – There is no fee to receive bitcoins, and many wallets let you control how large a fee to pay when spending. Higher fees can encourage faster confirmation of your transactions. Fees are unrelated to the amount transferred, so it’s possible to send 100,000 bitcoins for the same fee it costs to send 1 bitcoin. Fewer risks for merchants – Bitcoin transactions are secure, irreversible, and do not contain customers’ sensitive or personal information. This protects merchants from losses caused by fraud or fraudulent chargebacks, and there is no need for PCI compliance. Merchants can easily expand to new markets where either credit cards are not available or fraud rates are unacceptably high.
The net results are lower fees, larger markets, and fewer administrative costs. Bitcoin payments can be made without personal information tied to the transaction. This offers strong protection against identity theft. Bitcoin users can also protect their money with backup and encryption.
Transparent and neutral – All information concerning the Bitcoin money supply itself is readily available on the block chain for anybody to verify and use in real-time. No individual or organization can control or manipulate the Bitcoin protocol because it is cryptographically secure. This allows the core of Bitcoin to be trusted for being completely neutral, transparent and predictable. Degree of acceptance – Many people are still unaware of Bitcoin. Every day, more businesses accept bitcoins because they want the advantages of doing so, but the list remains small and still needs to grow in order to benefit from network effects. Volatility – The total value of bitcoins in circulation and the number of businesses using Bitcoin are still very small compared to what they could be. Therefore, relatively small events, trades, or business activities can significantly affect the price.
In theory, this volatility will decrease as Bitcoin markets and the technology matures. Ongoing development – Bitcoin software is still in beta with many incomplete features in active development. New tools, features, and services are being developed to make Bitcoin more secure and accessible to the masses. Some of these are still not ready for everyone. Most Bitcoin businesses are new and still offer no insurance.
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In general, Bitcoin is still in the process of maturing. Much of the trust in Bitcoin comes from the fact that it requires no trust at all. Bitcoin is fully open-source and decentralized. This means that anyone has access to the entire source code at any time. Any developer in the world can therefore verify exactly how Bitcoin works. All transactions and bitcoins issued into existence can be transparently consulted in real-time by anyone. You should never expect to get rich with Bitcoin or any emerging technology.
It is always important to be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true or disobeys basic economic rules. Bitcoin is a growing space of innovation and there are business opportunities that also include risks. There is no guarantee that Bitcoin will continue to grow even though it has developed at a very fast rate so far. Investing time and resources on anything related to Bitcoin requires entrepreneurship.
There are various ways to make money with Bitcoin such as mining, speculation or running new businesses. All of these methods are competitive and there is no guarantee of profit. Bitcoin is as virtual as the credit cards and online banking networks people use everyday. Bitcoin can be used to pay online and in physical stores just like any other form of money. Bitcoins can also be exchanged in physical form such as the Denarium coins, but paying with a mobile phone usually remains more convenient. Bitcoin is designed to allow its users to send and receive payments with an acceptable level of privacy as well as any other form of money.
However, Bitcoin is not anonymous and cannot offer the same level of privacy as cash. The use of Bitcoin leaves extensive public records. Various mechanisms exist to protect users’ privacy, and more are in development. Some concerns have been raised that private transactions could be used for illegal purposes with Bitcoin. However, it is worth noting that Bitcoin will undoubtedly be subjected to similar regulations that are already in place inside existing financial systems. Bitcoin cannot be more anonymous than cash and it is not likely to prevent criminal investigations from being conducted. Additionally, Bitcoin is also designed to prevent a large range of financial crimes.
When a user loses his wallet, it has the effect of removing money out of circulation. Lost bitcoins still remain in the block chain just like any other bitcoins. The Bitcoin network can already process a much higher number of transactions per second than it does today. It is, however, not entirely ready to scale to the level of major credit card networks. Work is underway to lift current limitations, and future requirements are well known. To the best of our knowledge, Bitcoin has not been made illegal by legislation in most jurisdictions. Regulators from various jurisdictions are taking steps to provide individuals and businesses with rules on how to integrate this new technology with the formal, regulated financial system.
United States Treasury Department, issued non-binding guidance on how it characterizes certain activities involving virtual currencies. Bitcoin is money, and money has always been used both for legal and illegal purposes. Cash, credit cards and current banking systems widely surpass Bitcoin in terms of their use to finance crime. Bitcoin can bring significant innovation in payment systems and the benefits of such innovation are often considered to be far beyond their potential drawbacks.
Bitcoin is designed to be a huge step forward in making money more secure and could also act as a significant protection against many forms of financial crime. For instance, bitcoins are completely impossible to counterfeit. Users are in full control of their payments and cannot receive unapproved charges such as with credit card fraud. Bitcoin transactions are irreversible and immune to fraudulent chargebacks. Some concerns have been raised that Bitcoin could be more attractive to criminals because it can be used to make private and irreversible payments. However, these features already exist with cash and wire transfer, which are widely used and well-established. The use of Bitcoin will undoubtedly be subjected to similar regulations that are already in place inside existing financial systems, and Bitcoin is not likely to prevent criminal investigations from being conducted.
The Bitcoin protocol itself cannot be modified without the cooperation of nearly all its users, who choose what software they use. Attempting to assign special rights to a local authority in the rules of the global Bitcoin network is not a practical possibility. It is however possible to regulate the use of Bitcoin in a similar way to any other instrument. Just like the dollar, Bitcoin can be used for a wide variety of purposes, some of which can be considered legitimate or not as per each jurisdiction’s laws.
In this regard, Bitcoin is no different than any other tool or resource and can be subjected to different regulations in each country. Bitcoin is not a fiat currency with legal tender status in any jurisdiction, but often tax liability accrues regardless of the medium used. There is a wide variety of legislation in many different jurisdictions which could cause income, sales, payroll, capital gains, or some other form of tax liability to arise with Bitcoin. Bitcoin is freeing people to transact on their own terms. Each user can send and receive payments in a similar way to cash but they can also take part in more complex contracts. Multiple signatures allow a transaction to be accepted by the network only if a certain number of a defined group of persons agree to sign the transaction.
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It is also worth noting that while merchants usually depend on their public reputation to remain in business and pay their employees, they don’t have access to the same level of information when dealing with new consumers. The way Bitcoin works allows both individuals and businesses to be protected against fraudulent chargebacks while giving the choice to the consumer to ask for more protection when they are not willing to trust a particular merchant. New bitcoins are generated by a competitive and decentralized process called “mining”. This process involves that individuals are rewarded by the network for their services.
Bitcoin miners are processing transactions and securing the network using specialized hardware and are collecting new bitcoins in exchange. The Bitcoin protocol is designed in such a way that new bitcoins are created at a fixed rate. This makes Bitcoin mining a very competitive business. When more miners join the network, it becomes increasingly difficult to make a profit and miners must seek efficiency to cut their operating costs. No central authority or developer has any power to control or manipulate the system to increase their profits. Bitcoins are created at a decreasing and predictable rate. The number of new bitcoins created each year is automatically halved over time until bitcoin issuance halts completely with a total of 21 million bitcoins in existence.
At this point, Bitcoin miners will probably be supported exclusively by numerous small transaction fees. Bitcoins have value because they are useful as a form of money. In short, Bitcoin is backed by mathematics. The price of a bitcoin is determined by supply and demand. When demand for bitcoins increases, the price increases, and when demand falls, the price falls.
There is only a limited number of bitcoins in circulation and new bitcoins are created at a predictable and decreasing rate, which means that demand must follow this level of inflation to keep the price stable. History is littered with currencies that failed and are no longer used, such as the German Mark during the Weimar Republic and, more recently, the Zimbabwean dollar. A fast rise in price does not constitute a bubble. An artificial over-valuation that will lead to a sudden downward correction constitutes a bubble. Choices based on individual human action by hundreds of thousands of market participants is the cause for bitcoin’s price to fluctuate as the market seeks price discovery. A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to its investors from their own money, or the money paid by subsequent investors, instead of from profit earned by the individuals running the business. Ponzi schemes are designed to collapse at the expense of the last investors when there is not enough new participants.