A cryptocurrency is a currency the same as any you know, such as the dollar, or euro; the difference is cryptocurrencies are digital and designed to be secure and anonymous. Transfers have minimal processing fees, avoiding steep wire transfer fees charged by banks.
The first cryptocurrency to be created was Bitcoin back in 2009. Nowadays, there are lots of other cryptocurrencies, often referred to as Altcoins.
Bitcoin is the first worldwide decentralized cryptocurrency, invented in 2009. The inventor is an unknown programmer, possibly a group of programmers, under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto.
Transactions take place between users directly, so there is no need for a bank or financial institution to intervene. These transactions are recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Bitcoin can be exchanged for other currencies, such as dollar, euro, pounds etc.
Bitcoin is starting to be accepted as an everyday currency in over 100,000 shops, businesses and online services, such as Amazon. The name 'bitcoin' comes directly from the words, bit, as in a binary digit and coin, obviously from the monetary term.
All bitcoin transactions have to be logged in a ledger to keep them from duplicated or fraudulently traded. The blockchain is a public ledger of all bitcoin transactions that have ever been executed. Each block contains a link to a previous block, a timestamp and transaction data.
The value of a bitcoin fluctuates daily, with highs and lows like any other currency. As of December 13th, 2019, a bitcoin is worth 7,227.31 USD.
For the most accurate value of a bitcoin, check out our bitcoin charts page.
The value of Ethereum, as with bitcoin and other currencies like USD and EUR, changes every day. As of December 13th, 2019, an Ethereum is worth 144.36 USD.
For the most accurate value of Ethereum, check out our ethereum charts page.
A cryptocurrency can become inactive for several reasons:
- It is removed from any and/or all exchanges that list it
- The price drops to zero
- Links and any social sites are all inactive
- The domain has not been renewed by the owner/developer
- The coin announces it is closed / closing
- The blockchain explorer is broken
- There has been no Github activity
- There is no activity on Twitter or Bitcoin Talk
- The coin had a vulnerability and was exploited
We offer price predictions on cryptocurrencies based on various factors about the coin. This is by no means fact or a sure thing, this is simply our prediction of what the price could be. Of course, the market is volatile and cryptocurrencies could surge or drop at any time, therefore nothing is certain. Trade at your own risk.
You do not need your own mining hardware to begin mining for bitcoin and other digital currencies. There are other options available to you, such as cloud mining.
Cloud Mining is the process of mining for cryptocurrencies (such as bitcoin and ethereum) using a remote data center with shared hashing (or processing) power. This allows you to mine for cryptocurrencies without needing your own hardware, paying to maintain the hardware or pay for the electricity supply.
This question depends on many factors; how powerful your mining rig is, the current difficulty level of bitcoin, if you're solo mining or pool mining, the cost of your rig and electricity fees or your mining contract, the list goes on.
For this reason, this question doesn't have a straight forward answer, but put simply, you will never mine a whole bitcoin on a typical laptop. The power costs alone to keep the laptop running would outweigh how much you mine. Even if you come up with a magic way of mining with low outgoings, the difficulty is increasing every day, so it will only get harder.
The profitability of mining for cryptocurrencies depending on many factors, such as the difficulty level of the currency and the current price against the dollar. Therefore the profitability changes from day to day. You can use the cryptocurrency calculators we've built to work out your profit margins per day, week, month and year, using up to date, real time figures. Here's some of the most popular mining calculators:
In short, no, profit is not a guarantee. Cryptocurrencies are the same as any other currency, the exchange rate and value fluctuates daily, and as such, can affect your profit. It's a good idea to keep your eye on the way currencies are moving in order to make an informed decision about how much to invest, when to invest, and when to draw down your currency. We've made a page of charts for each currency, here are some of the more popular ones for your reference:
Cloud mining services are very secure. They offer two step authentication on your log in and keep your personal information safe. Each has an area to input your cryptocurrency wallet ID and this is where your currency can be paid to. The wallet is up to you to keep secure.
If you carry around cash and lose your wallet, your cash is gone. If you give your cash to someone else, it's gone. This is the same with bitcoin or cryptocurrency wallets. If you lose your wallet ID, or give it to someone else, it's no longer yours. It's secure as long as you treat it as such. Never post your wallet ID online; you wouldn't leave cash laying on the floor and expect it to still be sitting there a few days later.
Cryptocurrency Wallet Questions
A paper key, also known as a mnemonic recovery phrase, is a combination of twelve, automatically generated, random words. These are provided to you when you open a new wallet. It is very important and should be written down with pen and paper and then stored in a safe place. Taking a photo or screenshot on your phone, writing it on a note on your laptop or simply trying to remember it are all very bad ideas. Do not type it into any website, treat it like you would a big stack of cash.
If you lose access to your account, your hard drive becomes corrupt, you wish to move your funds to a new wallet or you lose the phone or laptop that the wallet is stored on, you will need to know this paper key in order to regain access.
The order of these words is paramount, so trying to be smart and jumble them up when you write them down is also a very bad idea. An example of a paper key is:
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Put simply, hot wallets are connected to the internet, cold wallets are not connected to the internet. Hot wallets are like the checking, or current, account if your bank. You don't keep too much in there and your day to day spending draws from this balance. Cold wallets are the savings account of your bank. This is where to bulk of your money is kept and is rarely accessed. Each has its benefits and drawbacks, most people use a combination of both, to give them the benefits of each.
- Hot wallets are much more readily accessible than cold wallets. Balance checks are easy, using it in a store is simple and it can be used at any time, making it great for people wishing to trade often.
- These wallets are mostly free, making them accessible to everyone. Cold wallets can range from $100 to $400, which can be off-putting if you are new to the world of cryptocurrencies.
- It is vulnerable to theft, since they are connected to the internet. Keeping a small amount of money in your hot wallet makes it less appealing to hackers. It is probably not worth their time stealing a small amount of bitcoin.
- If your hot wallet provider is also an exchange, such as Coinbase, you are reliant upon their security. If their site was to get hacked and funds were to be stolen, you stand a good chance of also losing your money.
- If you use a software hot wallet, this is only as secure as your PC is. If it was to get hacked, your money is sitting there up for grabs.
- They are totally immune to hackers, since they are not connected to the internet.
- Hardware wallets, such as Trezor or Ledger Nano S, can be plugged in when needed.
- Not quick to use as hot wallets. They usually needs plugging in, powering on, specific software, etc.
- Since hardware wallets are usually quite small, they can be lost easily, so be sure to keep them in a safe place!
A multisignature wallet requires signatures of more than one person to authorize a transaction. This is popular with big business that trade in bitcoin and do not want to entrust one employee with all of the bitcoin transactions. It would require several employees to accept the transaction in order to be completed.
A standard cryptocurrency wallet is used to store your cryptocoins. It has a public address which you can give out to others in order to send or receive funds. You are also provided with a private key that you can use to spend your cryptocurrency.
A hierarchically deterministic wallet, also known as a HD wallet, allows to create many public address. A new address is generated after each transaction is completed. The old ones will still work, but for anonymity and security reasons, it is good practice to use a new address each time.
A wallet offering fee control means that you can choose how much you wish to pay, in fees, when making a bitcoin transaction. Choosing a higher fee will encourage a faster transaction and confirmation time. Also, it's worth noting that fees are not based on the transaction amount, so you could pay the same fee to send 1 bitcoin as you would 1,000.
A wallet offering full control means that you are in full control of your own transactions. Put simply, it is impossible for merchants to post unwanted charges, or add fees you might not notice. Payments can be made without any personal information linked to the transaction, meaning you have very strong protection against identity theft.
VPN stand for 'virtual private network'. Simply put, a VPN is a secure tunnel between two devices. It will make your internet connection safer and more secure, will help you stay anonymous online and allow you to get around blocked and censored sites. An example of this, being able to watch Netflix while you are traveling abroad, where it might otherwise be region blocked. A VPN works by taking the IP address of your device and hiding it, by routing your traffic through a temporary IP address, allowing you to stay private.
An IP address is a unique string of numbers separated by periods. It is an address that identifies a device on the Internet. Your laptop has a different one to your phone, or to anything else that is connected to the internet. Just like your street address for your home, each one is entirely unique.
There are several reasons why you would want to use a VPN service.
- Privacy. Your internet service provider (ISP) cannot see which websites you are visiting, what you are downloading and what data you are uploading, so long as you are using a VPN service. This works the other way too, websites you visit will not know anything about you either.
- Region Locked Content. If you want to watch region based content, such as a show that is only available on the US Netflix, you could use a VPN to get around the region lock and watch it from anywhere in the world.
- Censorship. If you are somewhere that blocks websites, like at work or college and you cannot visit sites like Facebook and YouTube, a VPN would allow you you to get around the block.
- Torrenting. This is probably the number one question about VPN services. Yes, some VPN services do allow you to use file sharing services. The VPN will protect your identity from other users downloading the same file, as well as from your ISP.
- Public Wifi Protection. This is another hude benefit of a VPN service. Whenever you join a public wifi network, you do not really know who is watching what you are doing. A VPN can protect you here.
A kill switch keeps you safe in the event that the VPN service drops out. A VPN could drop out for several reasons, so it is important to know that you will still be safe if this does happen. A kill switch works by stopping your internet connection or making sure that no internet connections are possible, when the VPN software detects a drop out.
Two-factor authentication, also known as two step or 2FA, is an extra layer of security on top of your username and password. This type of security is called "multi factor authentication". It requires an extra piece of information to be entered after the username and password and is something only the user knows, or has on them physically, such as a hardware token.
The most common method of multi factor authentication is an app on your phone, browser, or tablet, which will give you a randomly generated code to input. The code changes frequently, so even if someone knows your password, they would still need your phone or security key to access your account, which can only be used once and is too long to be guessed.
A good example of a two step app is Google's Authenticator App, for Android, iPhone, or BlackBerry. It can generate verification codes, and even works when your device has no phone or data connectivity. You can read more about it here.