Offline Businesses That Accept Crypto

Acceptance, availability and widespread use of cryptocurrency have certainly changed the way financial transactions are conducted. With the help of blockchain technology, cryptocurrency has revolutionized the digital payment systems. Today there are plenty of cryptocurrencies that have become the primary mode of transactions between a seller and a buyer. 

The Dawn of Cryptocurrency 

Just like any other evolution in the financial world, cryptocurrency also had its share of ups and downs that it overcame. Basically, it is a digital asset that works as a medium of exchange that offers a secure and robust transaction facility. Blockchain is a distributed ledger that holds all the transactions happening with crypto.

During the evolution, Bitcoin has risen to become the most popular crypto in the industry due to its high yielding power. In the past two-three years, the value of Bitcoin shot from $1000 to $19,000. You can easily buy or sell cryptocurrencies using various crypto exchanges like Binance. 

Why is Cryptocurrency Being Used As A Common Mode of Payment?

There’s no doubt that cryptocurrency is a real head-turner when it comes to its features. Over the years, cryptocurrency has proven to be an accessible, safe, and efficient mode of payment for people worldwide. Here’s why cryptocurrency is so prominent:

  • Better Transparency: Crypto operates on blockchain technology. It stores information about the transaction, creating a sense of transparency for all. Blockchain does not have a centralized authority, so it is decentralized without any third-party involvement. 
  • More Investment Opportunities: As the prices of cryptocurrency are traded, the investment opportunities for people also increases with crypto. Many IT corporations are staking their money to make blockchain technology that can be used in the financial markets. 
  • No Human Factor: There are plenty of bottlenecks involved in transacting using fiat currency, and one of the major hindrances is the human factor. Blockchain established freedom of transaction in cryptocurrency. Smart contracts eliminate the need for human assistance. 
  • Hacks and Scams Prevention: Hacks and scams are highly prevalent in digital transactions. But cryptocurrency bypasses those threats using the blockchain technology that makes all the transactions easily traceable. With the accessible data on the blockchain and increased transparency, cryptocurrency becomes non-hackable. 
  • No Additional Charges: Remittance and fund transfers with fiat currency often require some additional charges that become a costly affair. There are no such issues with cryptocurrency. Sending money through cryptocurrency does not have any additional fees. You only have to submit transaction fees for the payment.
  • Fast and Safe Transactions: The major highlight of cryptocurrency that makes it highly accessible is its fast and secure transactions. The lightning-fast transaction speed increases the optimality of the transactions. Without the involvement of third parties, the transactions become faster and more reliable.
  • Widely Accepted Form of Payment: Due to its robust features and secured function, cryptocurrency is now accepted as a common form of payment. Retail and banking sectors are gradually adopting cryptocurrency as the mode of payment. Not only online, but even offline businesses are also taking crypto as digital payments. 

Offline Businesses That Accept Bitcoin or Other Cryptocurrency

Since its inception, cryptocurrencies have been used as a digital payment mode by many people. Earlier, people could only use cryptocurrency for their online services, but today, there are lots of offline businesses as well that accept cryptocurrency. Many offline service providers have started providing cryptocurrency payment option. 

If you are also trying to find ways to pay with cryptocurrency offline, here are a few offline businesses that you might be interested in. 

Food And Beverage Joints

One of the first businesses to accept offline crypto payments was definitely food and beverage chains. You can pay using your crypto funds at some of the popular food joints. They generally accept cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and altcoins from the customers. 

Pizzaforcoins has made buying pizza with Bitcoin easier than ever. It is a California based crypto payment mode that helps you to exercise it on famous pizza outlets like Dominos and Pizza Hut. Subway, McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, Burger King are some of the international food joints that accept offline crypto payments.

Additionally, many independent pubs, clubs, and bars are open to crypto payments. You can simply scan the QR code and make the payment using Bitcoin. 

Travel Agency

Many online travel agencies like Travala adopted crypto payments a long time ago. Some of the famous brands include airBaltic, CheapAir.com, Abitsky.com, and many others that have facilitated crypto payments.

Many local offline travel agencies have also welcomed crypto payments for customers who want to use their crypto investments the best way possible. You can book flights, buses, and even hotels with these travel agencies using Bitcoins and other popular cryptocurrencies. There are more and more travel agencies which accept crypto payments.

Those who don’t find online bookings their cup of tea can simply turn to offline bookings with crypto. Bitcoin Cash (supported by NOWPayments) has made it way easier for you to buy tickets both offline and online. It has seamlessly enhanced the customer experience for crypto users to book tickets offline. 

Taxi Services

It was not long ago that taxi services started to accept digital payments through e-wallets and credit cards and debit cards. In addition to all these payment methods, taxis services have also begun taking crypto payments. For instance, the largest taxi service company Cooperativa Radio Taxi 3570 in Italy, accepts Bitcoins from the passengers.

Countries like Hungary and Budapest have also introduced Bitcoin payments for their taxi services. Among all the digital payment options for taxi services, it can be asserted that cryptocurrency will emerge as the most popular one.

Not all taxi services worldwide have started accepting Bitcoin payment. Still, it can be reasonably asserted that cryptocurrency will become a prominent part of digital payment for taxi services in the coming years. 

Education Fees

With a wide range of benefits offered in each educational course, the fees of institutions and universities are sky-high every year. It often becomes challenging to make big payments with cash. Hence, digital payments were introduced to make payments more manageable.

Bitcoin was added as part of digital payment for education. It was the University of Nicosia that first accepted Bitcoin as the payment for its particular Digital Currency course. After that many mainstream universities in the world started accepting Bitcoin as their tuition fees. Students can now pay with Bitcoin for enrolling in a particular course.

The famous European School of Management and Technology in Berlin takes Bitcoin for all their management courses. In the coming years, the use of Bitcoin as tuition fees will only increase further, enhancing the reach of cryptocurrency as the ideal payment method. 

Retail Merchants

It can be summed up that all the businesses that were accepting digital money are gradually moving towards cryptocurrency. Many online retailers have already started using BTC payments for their goods and services. ECommerce stores like Amazon and tech giants like Microsoft have already contributed to the popularity of BTC payments. 

Egifters like Gyft remain a competition of Amazon when it comes to selling gift cards with Bitcoin as the payment method. The brick and mortar stores like departmental stores, drug stores, apparel showrooms, electronics stores, etc. have started accepting Bitcoin as the standard payment. In Japan alone, there are approximately 260,000 commercial facilities using BTC payments in exchange for their products and services. Just like Japan, many other countries across the globe have been accepting Bitcoin payments.

Generally, a QR code is used to make Bitcoin payments when buying in retail stores. It has brought a wave of technological evolution in digital transactions by eliminating the chances of fraud and increasing the ease of payments. Those who have stacked some Bitcoin can now use it in local stores. It will not take long for offline retail stores to start accepting cryptocurrencies for their products and services. 

Automobile Industries

When you are looking to buy a new automobile, your first instinct would be to think about arranging the finances. Today, automobile brands offer a wide range of payment methods for their customers that have eased their hassles. From cash to digital payments, there are plenty of payment modes. 

Cryptocurrencies have become the newest option when it comes to digital payment modes. Many popular automobile brands trust cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin as a medium of exchange. Tesla is a leading luxury car brand that was first to accept Bitcoin as the safest mode of the transaction as it does not have a dealership and facilitates the direct company-to-customer sale.

Another automobile brand that is popular for the use of Bitcoin is BMW, which offers its customers the choice of BTC payments. There are many Bitcoin ATMs as well where you can get the Bitcoin for further payments. Currently, only BMW in the United States uses Bitcoin as the medium of exchange. BMW dealerships in other countries are also thinking of bringing in Bitcoin in their dealings.  

The Bottom Line

Cryptocurrency has become a commonly used mode of payment in the financial world. The importance of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin is known to all. Since its inclusion in the financial world, the popularity of cryptocurrency has only skyrocketed. Every day it is emerging as a thriving technology that eliminates human involvement, increases transparency, and reduces the chances of hacks and scams. 

No doubts that it is being used as a primary mode of payment for many businesses. Even offline companies are also embracing the benefits of crypto payments. Not just online, now customers can also benefit from the offline crypto payments as well. 

The extensive use of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum simply implies that they have become an integral part of the financial markets, and it will not be long when the cryptocurrency completely dominates the digital payment across the industries. 

The above-mentioned were some of the popular offline businesses that have taken up crypto payments and increased customer experience.  

Can Your Crypto Wallet Be Hacked?

Today, cryptocurrencies have a great influence on financial investment and and the general area of finance. Digital currencies such as Bitcoin are quickly becoming the typical go-to method when looking to invest especially due to their blockchain-enabled decentralized system.  

However, despite the buzz around the security and immutability of these cryptocurrencies, malicious attackers are finding new ways to exploit crypto holders. That alluring anonymous nature makes it increasingly difficult to keep prying hands and eyes out of our investments. 

As such, digital wallets are made susceptible to theft and hacks. This article will explore some common ways crypto wallets could be hacked:

How Do Cryptocurrency Wallets Work?

Like the wallets you know, the material ones, cryptocurrency wallets represent a form of digital wallets for holding virtual funds or investments. Wallets function like a digital bank account that requires special keys to access. 

They involve the use of public and private keys which bear some sort of semblance to passwords and login.

For crypto wallets, the public keys function as the wallet address while the private keys represent the passwords for access to digital coins and transactions. These keys are derived from a cryptographic seed generated by the crypto system. 

The seed is basically the funds stored on the system, and it represents the digital coins in the wallet. However, when the seed is stolen, the user of the wallet loses his or her investments. 

Crypto wallets are categorized based on the storage form – cold, hot or exchange storages. The cold storage type includes hardware wallets like Ledger Nano S and paper wallets. Hot storage, on the other hand, involves online storage of funds. 

Hot wallets could be found on a crypto exchange such as Binance or accessed via software, websites or mobile apps. 

How Can Your Crypto Wallets be Hacked?

Phishing Emails

Today, emails are an integral part of our infotainment channel. Hackers understand this dynamics and use this to their advantage. These days, it is relatively easy to create a domain or an email address for fraud purposes.

 

Scammers could use this opportunity to send emails that could impersonate a wallet service’s official representative. These emails mostly make users give up their private and public keys – thus leading to the loss of their funds. 

This is why it is essential to note the major domain sending emails and report any suspicious activities. Your private keys should remain private. 

Fake Wallets

Technology today is so advanced that new programs and apps appear every day. These days, hackers take advantage of various weaknesses the technologies might have by creating fake wallets. This way, users fall directly into their hands , while they put little or no effort at all into their endeavours.

Most of the time, these fake wallets masquerade as real wallets in app stores thereby leaving people with no doubt about their legitimacy. An example is the recent crypto wallet service, Trezor and Google App Store fiasco. 

The study found that several apps were impersonating the wallet service by using the official name and well-written market markers to convince users they are legit, but they are fake, in fact. A helpful tip to avoid falling into a scam of this level is to download the app from the official website of the wallet service. 

Malware and Viruses

This is perhaps the most common form of cyber security attack. Due to the ease with which we navigate the internet, it is easy to have some malware or a virus entering our systems.  

Malicious attackers may inject Trojans into the system through various channels, which then  target anything that bears a semblance to your private keys or crypto coins. Trojans are especially dangerous because they literarily open the door for hackers to easily erase your address without even any notice. 

Although hardware wallets like Ledger Nano are considered to be the safest form of storage, they are also susceptible to malware attacks. In this case, studies have shown that the firmware of the wallets can be re-wired with a compromised version of a memory address.

This memory address is then made unwritable – which though can be corrected by the microcontroller in the wallet – can change the wallet addresses/ public keys of all outgoing transactions. 

It makes it look like the user is pouring water into a basket by redirecting all transactions to another location.

This is why you should make sure routine anti-virus and malware checks are done on your systems, installation of anti-viruses should done and insecure connections or sites should be avoided.

 By-passing Additional Security Measures 

Though wallet owners are advised to enable additional security measures as the two-factor authentication, it is sometimes also a victim to security compromise. The 2FA basically ensures the identity and authentication of users behind wallet transactions. 

In some cases, users are required to present special keys or figures sent to their emails or messaging apps for access to their wallets. However, while this has been proven to be an effective method to reduce fraudulent activities, hackers have found a way to bypass it. 

Email and text hacks are common these days. These attacks come in form of push notifications and alerts. Hence, a useful tip is to note the activities and notification you’d accept. 

Hardware Compromise

Like physical wallets, digital wallets can be easily stolen or lost. As mentioned above, your private keys, cryptographic seed and public keys make up your wallet. Your public keys are like your physical bank account number or details.

Private keys, on the other hand, are simply codes for access to the funds in wallet. Losing your private key, for instance, is equivalent to losing your credit cards alongside your pin codes. In the wrong hands, it is lethal.

In cases where the private keys are stored online either on a computer or a cryptocurrency exchange, hackers can easily find them once they gain access to the site of storage. 

For this reason, hardware wallets were considered to be the industry’s safer choice. And while using a piece of paper to store your keys may not be the best thing, it could be a lifesaver at some moments. 

A more practical method is the use of electronic-enabled wallets like Trezor and Nano ledger wallets. However, it is important to keep them safe and keep a watchful eye on the connections made with the wallet.

False Liquidity and Advertisements

With no central authority controlling the flow of cryptocurrencies, the market prices are subjected to several forces of demand and supply. Some of these forces include false liquidity, speculations and advertisements from exchanges and trade entities. 

Scammers take advantage of this sometimes to create an illusion of a honeypot for crypto enthusiasts. They would create false advertisements and massive sell-offs to get traders and buyers interested, and then use that opportunity to steal from them. 

A bright example is the leading trading platform, Mt Gox security breach that had the details of over 60,000 bitcoin wallet users stolen and over 745,000 Bitcoin missing. The hacker had initiated false liquidity from a compromised user account.

A point to note from this fiasco is to verify the legitimacy of the offers made before deciding to trade. It is also necessary to have various forms of storage.

Browser Extensions and Plug-ins

It is no news that browser extensions and plug-ins make things easier on several fronts. From your print screens, clipboards to grammar checkers, these have proven to be a life saver for various reasons. Plus, the fact that you barely notice their presence makes them that more helpful. 

However, this same invisibility could make them a potential threat to your crypto wallets. These extensions sometimes create a pathway for malicious attackers to gain access to the keys. 

They sometimes copy and monitor information for hackers to use when necessary. An additional problem with this is that they are not easily noticeable. This is why it is important to verify the developers and read all the necessary reviews before installing.

Apps on Google and Apple App Store

Most of the times, smartphones with Android OS and no 2FA enabled are victims of these attacks. Google App store has a more open OS that makes visitors and applications more susceptible to virus attacks. 

In this case, applications of this sort give hackers access to sensitive information that might aid their goal. While Apple App Store and iOS seem relatively safe, attacks here take on a different form. 

More often, users download apps with hidden miners – which slows down the phone’s operation. 

Can Your Crypto Wallet be Hacked?

The advancements of technology have been most productive. But they also resulted in the area of cyber threats rapidly evolving. Malicious threats are multiplying and moving fast to acquire new forms, and the anonymous, virtual nature of cryptocurrencies seems to be on the line. 

As a result, crypto funds face various risks, the most dangerous one being that they might end up in the wrong hands. Crypto wallets might break under the attacks we have previously described. 

This is why it is vital to note the aforementioned risks and protect one’s funds. Also, it is important to remember that private keys are meant to remain private and all the necessary precautionary measures need to be taken.

Decentralized Applications (Dapps): What’s the Deal?

The rise of the cryptocurrency sector can be viewed as a revolution. Bitcoin was the first to jump into the fray, and it has led to the creation of an expanding industry. One of the most prominent cryptocurrency inventions is the decentralized application, known as Dapp. These are the web-equivalent applications for the crypto space as they are hosted on blockchains instead of the worldwide web, like the regular apps. What makes dApps different from the regular web apps is that a central organization does not operate decentralized apps. Their processes are unique, which makes it tough for some people to understand how they work. This post will look into what they are, analyze their history, the current state of dApps, and what the future holds for them.

What are dApps?

DApps are digital applications or programs that operate on a blockchain network or P2P network of computers. The decentralized applications operate outside the purview and control of a single entity. 

To understand dApps, we have to draw comparisons with the regular web apps. Web apps like Uber or Facebook, run on a computer system that is owned and operated by a single organization; hence, giving the entity the full authority over the app and its proccesses. There are multiple users, but the backend is controlled by a single organization. 

Decentralized apps, on the other hand, as it has already been mentioned, run on blockchain networks or peer-to-peer networks. With dApps, there are multiple participants on all sides. Some participants are consuming content, while others are feeding the network the required one. Also, some people could be performing both functions simultaneously. 

In short, DApps are public, open-source, and decentralized apps that are free from the control and interference of a single authority. 

History of dApps

The blockchain revolution started with the launch of Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies operate on decentralized blockchains. The decentralized features of cryptocurrencies make them have some features, such as the avoidance of double-spending.  

Besides finance, some cryptocurrency projects recognized other applications for decentralization. These projects take advantage of the blockchain technology to eliminate the middlemen that dominate various industries. 

Ethereum has remained the leading and most popular framework for dApps. Several decentralized applications like CryptoKitties and more have become popular and are being used for various functions in the blockchain space. Also, an increasing number of these dApps are gaining usage in the real world as more people recognize the benefits of using decentralized and peer-to-peer applications. 

The current state of dApps

Over the past few years, the dApp sector has grown tremendously. There are various dApps hosted on blockchain networks such as Ethereum, Tron, EOS, and more. These apps continue to grow as the blockchain technology also evolves. Developers in the blockchain space are finding more decentralized alternatives to conduct their services. 

A popular dApp, CryptoKitties, congested the Ethereum network with its thousands of users and went on to raise $12 million in a funding wave. Although CryptoKitties is just a platform for users to trade and breed digital kittens, the collectibles on the platform sold for thousands of dollars in the past. It shows that cryptocollectibles have become a valuable use case for blockchain technology. With this dApp, the users directly control the worth of the kittens and also retain the ownership of their virtual pet. 

OpenBazaar is another popular dApp. It is a decentralized e-commerce solution akin to platforms like eBay. Users on most online trading platforms have to comply with the set rules and are often charge a fee for trading services. OpenBazaar isn’t controlled by anyone, not even by app developers. As such, the platform allows direct user-to-user trade to happen online. 

The increasing need to create services that escape intermediaries and allow users to interact in a peer-to-peer manner directly could prove to be one of the most promising aspects of the blockchain movement. 

Features of dApps

Open Source

Decentralized applications are open source, which means that anyone can apply changes to the network. The open-source of dApps is one of the reasons why a single entity doesn’t have authority over the network. This is unlike centralized closed-source applications that require the users to trust the app, and a single authority controls the network. 

Decentralized Consensus

Since a single entity does not control dApps, it means that decisions about the network have to be taken via a general consensus. With blockchain technology, the network nodes don’t have to depend on each other regarding the validity of data. This means that dApps are tamper-resistant and were designed to be highly secure. 

No Central Point of Failure

Decentralized apps can’t be shut down since there is no server to take down. Information in a dApp is decentralized across all the network nodes. Each node is independent, which means that if one fails, the others continue to run on the network. 

Future prospects for the sector

The dApp sector has grown tremendously over the past few years. At the moment, there are more than a thousand dApps currently in operation or under development. Most of the dApps are aiming at making the world a better place to do business – transparent and fair. The state of the cryptocurrency sector leads to believe that dApps will transform various industries, including politics, gambling, energy, accounting, and more. 

Energy

The power sector tends to be controlled by some large corporation that defines the rates for the consumers. Since centralized entities control the power sector, the people have no choice but to pay the set prices so they can have access to electricity.

Power Ledger is a blockchain company that is developing a dApp that would solve the real-world issue of overpriced electricity. The Power Ledger dApp would allow people to sell their extra electricity via a P2P marketplace. This would promote the usage of green energy like solar power and provide buyers with a fair and transparent price for the energy they consume. 

Politics

In a democratic world, voting is a fundamental human right. In the real world, governments in some parts of the world might try to manipulate voters through violence and threats. Various types of fraud are also possible. As such, politics is a sector that would benefit magnificently from decentralization.

The FollowMyVote dApp was created by a group of developers to enable people to vote using the Ethereum network. By using a dApp to verify the identities of voters, elections can be safer, more secure, and more transparent. With dApps, there would be no cheating in the voting system as every vote would be every vote is independently verified on the public blockchain and cannot be altered.

Other industries dApps could bring massive changes to include; 

  • Accounting
  • Banking
  • Gambling
  • Advertising
  • Real Estate
  • Insurance
  • Loans and Mortgages
  • Identity Verification
  • And more 

Conclusion

Although there is so much more to decentralized applications, this post gives you an overview of the budding and emerging sector in the crypto space. Decentralized applications are helping to revolutionize the way we conduct business in various aspects of our global economy. They hold the future and will gain usage in more sectors like politics, banking and finance, accounting, gambling, real estate, and more. As such, dApps are one sector of the crypto economy that would continue to experience massive improvements in the upcoming months and years. 

Is Mining Worth It in 2020?

Cryptocurrencies have entered the mainstream with a bang, with more and more people developing an interest in this strange yet new world of blockchain. Those who have followed cryptocurrency from the beginning know whether or not it is worth investing in. On the other hand, people who are new to the world of cryptocurrency are fascinated by the fact that they can actually mine digital currencies like Bitcoin. But is Bitcoin mining really worth it in 2020? The short answer is “YES” and the long answer… well, it’s complicated.  

In the early days, mining began as a well-paid hobby. For instance, early adopters of Bitcoin had the chance to make 50 BTC every 10 minutes using a CPU or GPU system from the comfort of their homes. Those who thrivingly mined just one Bitcoin block and have held onto it since 2010, have $450,000 worth of BTC in their wallet today, in 2020. 

This is enough to encourage any hobbyist or enthusiast to start with mining. But, it is easier said than done. The dynamics of mining changes with every Bitcoin halving, meaning it becomes more and more complicated. 

Today, mining is not something that can easily be performed from the comfort of your home. Dedicated miners have warehouses filled with computers and mining systems to get done with the process. 

So, in short, it is not that easy. To help you understand the dynamics of cryptocurrency mining and whether or not it is profitable, we have designed this post where we will cover all the possible aspects. 

Let’s get started. 

What is Mining?

Before you get to know crypto mining’s worth, you should first understand what mining actually is. To put it in simpler terms, cryptocurrency mining is the process of setting up machines and programming them to perform specific tasks to acquire a little bit of the digital currency. 

Your system, basically PC, will perform certain tasks that are required to obtain even the slightest bit of cryptocurrency. These systems run sophisticated algorithms to perform the tasks, also known as “Proof of Work” (PoW). The algorithm is designed to create a fair playing ground for all the individuals looking to mine cryptocurrency. 

Miners are a part of a mining pool where they task themselves with math equations. The more you want to mine, the tougher will be the math equations. While it brings balance to the mining pool, it also motivates the use of stronger and bigger machinery. 

Today, miners have set up state-of-the-art mining facilities in warehouses just to increase their chances of acquiring even the slightest amount of cryptocurrency. 

Although there are several factors included in the mining process, if your system or PC is able to contribute to the mining and discovery of cryptocurrency, the general idea is that you will get a share of the spoils. 

We think this is the simplest way to define crypto mining. 

How Mining Evolved?

Over the years, crypto mining has gone through some ups and downs. Not all mining is the same. In 2018, video card manufacturing giant Nvidia announced diminishing sales. It was after the company saw massive growth in its share price over the course of two years – at least 7 times. Then it dropped by over 5%, indicating that the demand for Nvidia GPU systems has drastically reduced. It was not that people put an end to mining, but it was all about miners trying out different methods, other than GPUs, for mining. This was considered a turning point for mining. 

Given that not all blockchains are equal and the dynamics of the miner population directly influence the returns of mining on every blockchain, some blockchains have withdrawn from the PoW consensus mechanism altogether.   

Nevertheless, mining the oldest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin network(BTC), has been a cause of doubt for DIY GPU miners. For the past couple of years, GPU hashing power has been overshadowed by the dedicated ASIC miners. This is especially because of the nature of BTC’s mining algorithm (halving). So, your ordinary computing system will face mining difficulty during the process. 

Ethereum, on the other hand, is somewhat different as its hashing algorithm relies on the memory look-up. And its hashing power is inherently restricted by memory bandwidth. GPUs come with excellent memory systems to meet the demand for sophisticated mining operations. Therefore, over the years, ETH has been served by GPU rigs, which are set up by mining farms or individuals. 

Last but not least, altcoin and litecoin present a different story. But they provide excellent opportunities for individual miners who buy video cards because of the lack of congestion. 

#1 Power Costs and Depressed Crypto Prices

The diminishing ROI caused by the suppression and drop of digital currencies, as well as electricity costs, are the primary influencers in how mining works today. Power consuming GPUs have low hash rates that put Bitcoin miners in the red zone. Essentially, as the cost of the currency reduces, the cost of power consumption dominates to lower the profit.  

#2 No Scope for DIY Mining Until Prices Rise Again 

For a 4 GPU mining configuration, you may have to spend around $3000. While mining farms are endowed with the time, have the resources, and an engineering team to make personalizations in their favor, hobbyists and enthusiasts lack all these.  

In addition to losing money with little to no chance of mining success, the odds of getting an ROI for DIY miners within a year are extremely low. Miners have realized that the set up cost outweighs the benefits they get from mining. 

#3 Mining Farms and Cloud 

2020 is the era of advancement for crypto mining. Those who set up mining farms have special contracts with the vendors. They purchase mining hardware at cheap rates in mass quantities. And with their knowledge and experience, they design their own low-power configurations. They don’t prefer buying video cards from retail stores. They have the economy of scale, know-how, and engineering teams build a sustainable mining infrastructure while keeping the costs down. In addition to all this, mining farms get cheap power from Canada’s hydroelectric dams or Iceland’s geothermal power sources. This gives the miners the ability to profit, even at a low price of Bitcoin. 

#4 FPGA Miners – latest advance 

Developers are constantly working on bringing innovation to the mining process. OptDyn, a pioneer of P2P Multi-Access Edge Clouds, is producing turnkey miners for memory-hard hashing algorithms. This will provide flexible turnkey solutions, like the GPUs, but they are less expensive. It will also have high performance with low power consumption. 

Mining in 2020

The Bitcoin hash rate is still struggling to reach its all-time high since March 2020. But, experts believe that it won’t be the same, and at some point, say summer 2020, the hash rate is expected to break the old records. This means mining could get a lot easier for mine farms and DIY miners. 

What is the future of Mining?

Crypto mining is evolving and not dying. To benefit from mining, experts suggest that you consider the latest evolving solutions, where the investment is offset through a cloud subscription model or through your telecommunication service provider. Mining is taking other forms. The decreasing demand for GPU miners doesn’t mean crypto mining is dead. You can mine Bitcoin with the right technology in use. 

What is 51% Attack?

A 51% attack, also known as a double-spend attack is a nightmare for all crypto coins. Luckily, such an attack hasn’t materialised yet and is still a hypothetical scenario in the case of Bitcoin. It refers to a situation when a group of miners controls 50% or more of the mining hash rate in a particular blockchain network. A 51% attack is a direct attack on the blockchain network. It is a scenario that most commonly includes Bitcoin as the target. 

Are you wondering why this is a bad scenario for the blockchain or bitcoin blockchain? The first of many problems is that the group of miners with 50%+ of mining hash rate power will be able to stop payment from going to users. In fact, such control over mining hash power would enable the miners to reverse transactions that are already complete. Hence, the miners can double-spend bitcoins. 

There are a few things that the miners with majority control over the blockchain mining power won’t be able to do. For starters, they won’t be able to create new coins on their own. Nor would they be able to make changes in the old blocks. The malicious actor with 51% control over the mining hash rate won’t be able to destroy any of the digital currencies based on blockchain. But such an attack will prove to be highly damaging for a bitcoin network and the blockchain. 

51% Attack – How Does it Work?

Bitcoin Transactions

To understand the 51% attack, we will have to start with how bitcoin transactions work. As soon as the Bitcoin owner signs a transaction, it enters the mining pool of transactions which are unconfirmed. From this pool, miners select some of the unconfirmed transactions to create a block. 

The miners have to work through some of the very tough mathematical problems to add their blocks to the blockchain. They leverage computation power, also known as hashing power to solve these mathematical problems. Hence, a miner with high hashing power or computational power will find the solution to the mathematical problems faster than other miners. 

The information about the solution and the block will be broadcasted to other miners after a miner finds a solution for a mathematical equation. Now, other miners will verify all the transactions that are within the block. They will verify all these transactions to check if they are valid as per the blockchain’s current transaction record. 

How Would a Malicious Actor Impact Bitcoin Transactions?

Miners with 51% or more share of mining hash power would be able to reverse the current bitcoin transactions. We know that the mathematical solution along with the block is broadcasted to all miners as soon as the solution is found. This is the part where a malicious miner or a group of miners decide to not broadcast the solution. It leads to the creation of two blockchain versions. 

Now, the first version is followed by the miners with no malicious intent. The second one is followed by miners with malicious intent. The malicious miners do not allow the mathematical solutions to be broadcasted to the rest of the mining network. Hence, this chain gets left behind and doesn’t get picked up by other miners. 

Now, the malicious miners can use all their bitcoins in the honest version of the bitcoin blockchain network. That is where all the miners with no malicious intent are working on solving bitcoin transactions. 

Suppose, if the malicious miners spend their bitcoins to purchase a piece of real estate. In this case, the blockchain with all honest miners will show that all the bitcoins are spent. But, the malicious miners do include the bitcoin transactions on the offshoot blockchain version. In this newly created blockchain version, the malicious miner still owns his bitcoins. 

The malicious miners are still continuing to pick up blocks of unverified transactions. They verify all of these transactions by themselves on their offshoot blockchain network. And that is when the real trouble begins. 

Blockchain’s core governance model is kind of a democracy. It adheres to the “Follow the Majority” model. The chains that are longest win in the blockchain. Hence, a race begins where the miners with most of the hash power will add the blocks of unconfirmed transactions to their chain faster. 

The Race to Reverse the Transactions 

The malicious miners are competing against honest miners. They are trying to get the blocks to add to the offshoot blockchain. Their aim is to do it faster than all other miners who are trying to add the blocks to the true version of blockchain. 

As the malicious miners create a longer chain, they broadcast it to the other miners. Now, the rest of the network realizes that the malicious blockchain is longer than theirs. Hence, the blockchain protocol makes them shift to the malicious chain. Now, the offshoot version of blockchain becomes the true blockchain. Hence, all transactions not part of this particular chain are immediately reversed. 

The malicious miners have already spent their bitcoins to purchase a piece of real estate. Yet, these transactions are not part of the offshoot blockchain that has become the true blockchain now. Hence, the malicious miners are again under the control of the bitcoins that they supposedly spent. They can spend them again if they wish to. This is what is commonly known as the 51% attack or double-spend attack. 

Is any Cryptocurrency More Susceptible to 51% Attack than the Others?

If one examines the mining protocol known as the Proof of Work, they will find that the crypto coins with comparatively more hashing power have more security against a double-spend attack. 

Smaller altcoins operating on the mining algorithm are more likely to face such an attack. Hence, smaller altcoins such as Bitcoin Gold are more susceptible to 51% attacks. On the other hand, the bitcoin blockchain has not seen any such attacks so far. 

Fears Around Mining Hardware Manufacturers 

The concerns about manufacturers of mining hardware such as ASICS harnessing too much power are growing. Many of the crypto enthusiasts believe that such concerns are valid. They think that mining hardware manufacturers are empowering the people with financial clout with more mining rigs.

A situation described above may result in a power imbalance as a small group of people with more mining rigs will hold more computing power than the rest. Such a scenario gives rise to the 51% attack. Monero, too, believes in these concerns. Hence, they blocked ASIC mining on the Monero network. Monero made it happen by updating its protocol. 

What are the Chances of 51% Attack on Bitcoin Happening in Reality?

The chances of a 51% attack on the bitcoin network are close to zero. It is because a Miner or group of miners will need an astounding amount of computing power to make this real. They will have to outcompete millions of bitcoin miners from around the world. A miner will require billions of dollars worth of equipment to wield such a huge amount of hash power. 

What if a miner plans to use the most powerful computers in existence today? Good luck to that as even such powerful computers won’t be able to outcompete millions of computers that are currently working to mine bitcoins. Hence, carrying out a 51% attack on the bitcoin network is extremely difficult. We haven’t yet accounted for the electricity costs here.

The additional burden of electricity costs will make such a plan unrealistic for the best of the best miners. But it does not mean that there’s no way for malicious actors to initiate a double-spend attack. 

A malicious miner could use a bug as a back door entry to the blockchain network. It would enable them to produce new blocks at a rate which is far more than the normal. Thus, they would be able to carry out a double-spend attack. 

Five Most Private Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies have come a long way since 2009. They have gained tremendous popularity because of varying factors. The most significant reasons among them are their privacy and anonymity features. These features allow crypto users to keep their identities and transaction data hidden.

Why Are Privacy-Focused Cryptocurrencies Needed?

Today’s digital age has given rise to concerns about data privacy. The crypto community is not immune to these concerns either. Thus, it has led to the creation of privacy-focused cryptocurrencies. The first use case of Bitcoin was a payment method that was private as well as decentralized. But there were problems with the private nature of Bitcoin payments later on.

Each financial transaction on the Bitcoin net leaves two types of traces. One of them is left on the blockchain and the other ones are not. The traces left on the blockchain can be used to connect the transactions. Some entities use these inefficiencies to figure out how the user spends their bitcoin funds. They can also find out how much bitcoin a user has and whom they are sending or receiving bitcoin from.

Many crypto users do not like the open-access feature of the public blockchain. Realizing the need for privacy-focused coins, developers came up with privacy coins. These cryptocurrencies use a different algorithm to add transactions to the blockchain.

The Coins Leading the Privacy-Focused Coins

There are many privacy-focused coins in existence today. Hence, it makes choosing the most private coins harder. All privacy coins have some innovative features going for it. Is it ZEC with its shielded addresses, or XMR with its ring signatures? Perhaps, TELE with its masternode capabilities? All privacy coins have “Privacy” at its core. They all ensure user privacy and anonymity. Their aim is to achieve long term survival and success of the crypto industry.

#1. Monero

Monero is the most popular privacy-coin currently. It ensures that a Monero user’s transaction data remains untraceable. 

Technology 

Monero’s technology is known as CryptoNight Proof-of-Work Protocol. It obfuscates the ledger of transactions through ring signatures. This process also makes it impossible to know the amount of XMR held in a particular node.

Infamous Achievements

The privacy feature of Monero has made it a perfect choice for dubious uses. One of the well-known examples of this is WannaCry hackers. They converted their ransomware stash into Monero. They did this to stay off the radar and escape the prying eyes of global authorities.

Monero acted as the de facto cryptocurrency on AlphaBay. Do you believe it as promising news? It is not as AlphaBay is not your average e-commerce website. AlphaBay is a Darknet website. It is the largest marketplace in the Darknet. The authorities shut AlphaBay. Yet, they weren’t able to estimate the total transacted amount on AlphaBay.

Monero is very popular among the dark web users and hackers. But, we cannot downplay the achievements of Monero. However, a team of researchers did some studies on Monero. They found that it is possible to extract information from the Monero network.

Future of Monero

Monero has a strong development team and a following that is loyal to the boot. It has established itself as a hegemon of the privacy coin space. Hence, it will be very challenging to dethrone Monero from its position as a Go-To privacy coin.

The governments and tax authorities are increasing pressure on public blockchains. Hence, we believe that Monero will grow further.

#2. Verge

Verge is one of the top five privacy coins by market cap. Privacy is not a default option with Verge. It is offered as a choice to the Verge users. Verge’s Wraith Protocol allows users to choose from the public and private ledgers.

Both of these choices described above are available on the same blockchain. This option to choose will benefit the users that value transparency and privacy. Merchants, for instance, will like Verge. It is because they would be able to use the record-keeping feature of blockchain.  A user can also send funds using the private ledger option in the Wraith Protocol if they wish to do so.

Technology

Verges uses anonymity-centric networks when a user opts for a private transaction. These networks are TOR, also known as The Onion Router and the Invisible Internet Project (I2P). Verge uses these networks to blur the IP addresses of the parties involved in a transaction. Thus, it results in an untraceable transaction.

Future of Verge

Verge is one of the many privacy coins available in the market today. Yet, the Verge team is working tirelessly to offer value to the Verge users. It will be interesting to see how Verge fares against Monero in the long run.

#3. DASH

Previously, Dash used to be known as Xcoin. In January 2014, it was relaunched as Darkcoin. In March 2015, the Dash developers renamed it again. This time it was renamed as Dash. It is the short form of “Digital Cash.”

Dash aims to solve two of the biggest problems associated with bitcoin. These are the lack of privacy and speed of bitcoin transactions.

Anonymity

There is a widespread misconception about Bitcoin. Many crypto users believe that bitcoin transactions are anonymous. But, it is quite easy to identify a wallet address based on bitcoin transactions. Anyone can trace the transactions through the blockchain network.

Technology

Dash developers say that a user can do anonymous transactions with cryptocurrencies. They can use the PrivateSend feature of a cryptocurrency for it. The PrivateSend feature bundles your transactions with other anonymous payments. Hence, it becomes difficult to identify where did the transactions originate from and where is it going.

Future of Dash

Dash is aiming to become a top choice for daily transactions. It has currently expanded to other countries to make its goal a reality. Dash has a bright future in economically distressed countries like Venezuela. Dash will do quite well in the future as well.

#4. Zcash

Zcash has its roots in Zerocoin. It was a project that aimed to improve anonymity for the bitcoin community. 

Technology

It leverages a specialized form of zero-knowledge cryptography. Thus, making it possible for the network’s consensus protocol to validate fully encrypted transactions.

Zcash is not anonymous by default. Yet, a user can use Zcash as a privacy enhancement tool. It means that the shielding of transaction data is an optional feature in Zcash. 

The Zcash Company

There is a company behind Zcash, unlike some other crypto coins. Zook Wilcox is the CEO of the Zcash company. 10% of all mined Zcash within four initial years are set aside for the Zcash team as the “Founders Reward.”

Future of Zcash

Zcash technology offers a secure and confidential transfer of crypto assets across accounts. It is likely to hold an important position in the crypto space in the future. Zcash may also be in use across a variety of industries. It is possible once crypto usage becomes widespread.

#5. Komodo (KMD)

KMD is a cryptocurrency that is used within the ecosystem developed by Komodo. A user must have the KMD coins to use the features available on the Komodo platform. It can also be used for digital payments of private nature. 

Technology

Komodo began its journey as a fork of Zcash. Hence, Komodo inherits many of the privacy features of Zcash. Like Zcash, Komodo uses the Zero-Knowledge proof protocol. This protocol helps preserve the privacy of the user.

The most important part of Komodo is its atomic swap DEX protocol. It powers AtomicDEX, a P2P exchange. A user can exchange their digital assets without any centralized control through atomic swaps. Komodo’s main intention was to bring a reduction in the security issues associated with crypto exchanges. Yet, atomic swaps also improve privacy.

Future of Komodo

Komodo will continue rising. It is because the Komodo team is refining and strengthening their marketing efforts. An increase in adoption will lead to an increase in the prices of Komodo. The best is yet to come for the Komodo community. With more development and mass adoption, the Komodo community is in for the long ride.

Conclusion

Privacy coins will continue to hold a special place among the crypto community. Privacy coins will become even more popular in the future. The reason being that the governments around the world are strengthening the local rules. The tax authorities too have complicated the situation. And in a way it hurts people privacy.

On the other hand, the privacy coins will continue to grow even if some of the crypto exchanges ban them. It is because the future of crypto trade belongs to decentralized exchanges.

E-commerce in Latin America

The e-commerce market in Latin America is rarely covered by the media in comparison to those of North America, Europe, and Asia. However, the Latin American E-Commerce market is not small by any means being the second-fastest-growing e-commerce market in the world. 

There is a huge potential in Latin America as its economy expanded by almost $500 billion in 2019. The Latin American region is also seeing massive growth in terms of digitization and hence, it is one of the most promising e-commerce markets today. In 2018, e-commerce sales in Latin America generated more than $100 billion.

Increasing digitization in segments like travel, retail, digital goods, and many others are contributing to the growth of the Latin American e-commerce market, which is forecasted to grow at a rate of 25% until 2021. It is significantly higher than the E-commerce markets of Europe, the United States, and East Asia. 

Brazil and Mexico lead the e-commerce market in Latin America as they attract e-commerce entrepreneurs the most. However, Colombia and Argentina are not far behind, as they too, along with other Latin American countries, are seeing an uptick in economic growth and the number of connected customers. This benefits e-commerce entrepreneurs even further because of the low competition in the LATAM region. 

Key Players 

Mercado Libre, Piexe Urbano, Amazon, B2W Digital, Alibaba, eBay, CNova, Apple, Walmart, Google Shopping, and Buscape are the leading e-commerce players in the Latin American region.

Mercado Libre leads the Latin American e-commerce market with 320.8 million users as per 2019. It has grown almost four times since 2012, as there were just 81.5 million Mercado Libre users in 2012. The next three major e-commerce players have got one third  Latin American visitors when compared to Mercado Libre. 

OLX is currently operating a marketplace in Latin America and they too are a major player in the Latin American market. They are currently expanding aggressively in the LATAM market through acquisitions

Leading Countries in the LATAM E-Commerce Market

There are 20+ countries in the LATAM region. Yet, only a few of them have a strong e-commerce market with a considerable amount of transactions. The top six e-commerce markets in the LATAM region are Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. 

As per an Americas Market Intelligence Analysis Report, the Brazilian E-commerce market was worth $36 billion in 2018, followed by Mexico with $29 billion, Colombia with $10 billion, Argentina with $9 billion, Chile with $8 billion, and Peru with $3 billion in 2018. The report also mentioned that the Brazilian E-commerce market will grow at a rate of 80% till 2022, Mexico at 99%, Colombia at 150%, Argentina at 59%, Chile at 140%, and Peru by 319% by 2022. 

E-Commerce Trends in the Latin American Region 

#1. Convenience is the Key

Consumers in the LATAM region are attracted to e-commerce apps of Mercado Libre and its peers for convenience. Companies such as Mercado Libre have played an instrumental role in shaping the current e-commerce landscape of Latin America. 

Companies such as Glovo and Rappi are not far behind as they too are developing a “Super-App” ecosystem where local customers would be able to access multiple online services and payment options, all in one place. 

#2. Shifting Attitudes 

Latin American consumers want premium products and are ready to pay for such products. However, they are price-sensitive – 79% of them say that they want to save money on their purchase, and hence, they are changing their shopping behavior. 

The consumers in the LATAM region are far more open to purchasing physical goods through an online route compared to buying digital goods and services online. 40% of consumers in a survey vouched that they are willing to buy beauty, toys, and food-takeaways through their smartphone. 

#3. Lack of Quality Retail Outlets 

Many experts have forecasted that the regional E-Commerce market will grow at 19% for the next five years, regardless of the numerous challenges they face. 

There is a lack of high-standard brick and mortar retail outlets in the LATAM region. This is benefiting the e-commerce players in the region as it allows them to gain customers outside major cities of the LATAM countries and the customers can find many products in these e-commerce platforms, which otherwise, they wouldn’t have been able to purchase. 

#4. Smartphones – The Driver of Growth for E-Commerce Industry in Latin America 

GlobalData, a market research company, concluded that the increasing penetration of mobile devices globally is acting as a main growth driver for the global e-commerce market. This trend is particularly noticeable in emerging markets like Latin America. The consumers in the LATAM region and other emerging markets use smartphones as their main online tool for accessing the internet. 

The smartphone penetration rate in the Latin American population was 63% at the end of 2018. It is expected to surpass to 79% in 2023. This growth will support the trend of an increase in mobile-based e-commerce in the LATAM region for the coming years. 

Conclusion 

The Latin American E-commerce market has largely untapped potential with only a handful of major players. An e-commerce company will find it very attractive as it is the second-fastest growing e-commerce market in the world. However, it has a fair share of challenges that an e-commerce company must factor in before deciding to enter the LATAM market. 

15 Best Bitcoin and Altcoins Exchanges in 2020

What makes a cryptocurrency exchange good and reliable? Well, that mostly depends on your aims as a crypto trader. If you want to trade between digital currencies, you can use a safe non-custodial service that doesn’t require you to share your personal data. However, in case you need to exchange crypto for fiat currencies, you most certainly will need to share your bank details, which means more attention to a platform’s security, encryption and storage methods is needed.

This article includes a list of best cryptocurrency exchanges for a variety of needs. Do your research according to your crypto needs and be sure that there are some outstanding crypto trading platforms out there you can opt for.

1. Binance

Binance is the largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume. Although it is not the oldest crypto service out there (it was founded in 2017), it is a rapidly growing and a very popular platform with millions of users worldwide. This crypto exchange lets you sell and buy more than 150 cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and other altcoins.

Binance also has its own coin – BNB – and allows you to trade it with a lower fee. The trading fees on this crypto exchange platform are quite reasonable overall. Binance also has two different interfaces for beginners and professional traders. Users can easily switch between Lite and Pro versions according to their crypto trading needs.

2. ChangeNOW

ChangeNOW is an instant crypto exchange service that lets you trade more than 200 cryptocoins, from BTC to niche altcoins. You don’t have to create an account or sign up to exchange, which makes your trades much faster. As a non-custodial service, it grants extra security to your transactions since it doesn’t store your funds and you don’t leave any personal data to be hacked.

ChangeNOW mobile app has a user-friendly and intuitively clear interface. It’s a good option for crypto beginners, with customer support ready to help 24/7. There is no limit for the amount of operations, which is also very convenient for active traders. The commission is included in the expected rates, so you don’t have to pay any hidden fees.

3. Kraken

Kraken is one of the oldest and best cryptocurrency exchanges out there, operating from 2011. Kraken offers you to buy and sell more than 30 cryptocurrencies with really low fees. You can even trade between crypto coins and fiat currencies such as euros, US dollar, yen, and pounds.

Kraken holds most of its digital assets in cold storage, so you can be sure about your security. The crypto exchange also offers extended customer support regardless of your country, which is also a good thing. While having a user-friendly interface, Kraken provides advanced trading tools, which makes it a good service for crypto professionals.

4. Coinbase

Coinbase is a great cryptocurrency trading service. It allows you to buy and sell bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, and other altcoins. You can exchange digital currency for cash, linking your bank account to your Coinbase profile. You shouldn’t be worried about your security since the exchange service encrypts all your sensitive data on a serious level. Coinbase keeps 99% of its crypto assets in offline cold storage, which makes them impossible to hack as they can’t be accessed.

It’s an amazing service for crypto beginners, as this platform encourages you to learn more about digital currencies, cryptocurrency trading, and blockchain with its educational section. Coinbase even offers some free coins as a reward for your learning progress.

5. Bitstamp

Bitstamp is the global crypto exchange which is used by 4 million traders worldwide. It allows you to trade BTC and other popular cryptocurrencies, exchange them to fiat currencies such as dollars and euros, and supports different payment methods. That means you can buy crypto instantly with your credit card.

Bitstamp also lets you keep in touch with all the recent trading news and crypto market trends with its Tradeview chart. You can also store your coins and manage your portfolio and crypto assets with the help of this service.

6. CEX.IO

With CEX.IO, one of the first fiat-to crypto trading platforms, you can instantly buy cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, ripple, and other crypto assets, using different payment methods. CEX.IO allows you to purchase cryptocoins with your credit card or a transfer from your bank account and trade them for dollars, euros, pounds, and rubles with low fees.

CEX.IO also supports niche altcoins and constantly aims to work with new digital currencies. This service and its mobile app work as a crypto wallet and allows you to be aware of the latest crypto market changes and trading statistics.

7. Xcoins

Xcoins is a crypto exchange that lets you buy more than 40 digital currencies including BTC, ETH, LTC, XRP, and many others, using your credit card or any other payment method recognised by PayPal. It’s an instant service which guarantees to send you coins within 15 minutes after the purchase, and if it’s not received under this time, your next transaction will be free of any fees.

Xcoins supports more than 167 countries. The exchange states that it provides its users with 24/7 ‘world-class’ live support, low fees, and easy and secure registration process.

8. ShapeShift

ShapeShift is a non-custodial exchange which doesn’t hold your deposits, so that crypto traders might be sure their crypto assets won’t be hacked. You don’t have to pay any additional fees as they are included in the expected rate which is updated live. The price you see is final.

ShapeShift allows you to quickly and seamlessly trade between bitcoin and altcoins. Unfortunately, the service doesn’t support credit cards and any fiat currencies. The crypto exchange operates since 2014 and is trusted by many crypto enthusiasts worldwide.

9. Coinmama

With Coinmama instant cryptocurrency exchange, you can purchase some crypto with fiat currencies (dollars and euros) using a variety of payment methods such as a credit card, cash via MoneyGram, or linking to your bank account. Once you have confirmed your payment and wallet address, the service will send you cryptocoins straightaway. The verification process is very fast and easy, which makes Coinmama a great option for those who are in a hurry to buy some digital currencies. You can also sell BTC for fiat currencies with the help of this exchange.

Coinmama is one of the pioneer and best crypto exchanges that support credit cards, founded in 2013. It is a trusted and user-friendly exchange that is available in 188 countries.

10. Gemini

Gemini is an easy-to-use exchange that allows you to build your crypto portfolio. With Gemini, you can buy, sell, and store a variety of digital currencies. It is a great service both for crypto beginners and professional traders, providing you with all the analytical tools you need to exchange and be aware of the market’s changes.

With Gemini, you can be more than sure about your security. It is a licensed crypto exchange platform with a bank level standards of regulations. It also has the largest insurance coverage compared to other crypto custodians. Majority of its crypto assets are held in cold storage.

11. Bitpanda

Bitpanda lets you trade more than 30 digital coins with several payment options, including such methods as Amazon and your credit card. It allows you to buy cryptocurrencies within minutes once you have your account verified. With Bitpanda, you can transfer coins to other service users free of charge.

To grant you maximum security, this crypto exchange stores funds in safe offline wallets and uses the latest encryption technologies.

12. TradeStation

TradeStation is an amazing platform for professional crypto traders which provides you with advanced trading tools, stats, and brokerage services. With TradeStation, you are able to monitor recent changes on the market and adjust your own approach to trading, test your strategies, and learn even more about digital assets, futures, and blockchain.

TradeStation lets you see the best exchange rates and prices. It has a different approach to commissions, making them more competitive. Your fees are based on the size of your account balance and not the amount of operations.

13. Huobi Global

Huobi Global is a reliable cryptocurrency service operating from 2013. It’s one of the biggest crypto exchanges based on daily trading volume. You can use Huobi Global to buy, sell, and store 237 digital assets at the moment.

Huobi keeps its funds in offline cold wallets and has a 24/7 security monitoring. With Huobi Global, you can trade cryptocurrencies for fiat using your credit card.

14. eToro

eToro is a powerful cryptocurrency platform that might be of use both for beginning and experienced traders. It provides you with advanced trading tools and a user-friendly service.

With eToro, you can buy and sell a variety of leading and alternative cryptocurrencies, build your portfolio, keep up with the latest crypto news, and research. You can also connect with other investors to discuss trading strategies and join the trading community of 10 million users from around the world. This cryptocurrency exchange service lets you buy digital coins with quite a few payment options, including credit cards or PayPal.

15. Bitfinex

Bitfinex is one of the oldest and most trusted cryptocurrency exchanges out there, founded in 2012. It allows you to buy and sell bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, ripple, and other crypto coins with their payment cards. With this service, you can also trade and withdraw fiat currencies.

Bitfinex provides investors with advanced trading services and tools, including trading charts, crypto news, reports, and updates.

An afterthought

You can divide all crypto exchange platforms into several categories based on the services they provide. While some of them allow fiat-to-crypto trades, others don’t support many payment and withdrawal methods.

If your main concern is 100% security, you should pay your attention to instant non-custodial exchanges (for example, ChangeNOW) as they don’t require any personal information that might be taken. Sometimes widely-recognized exchanges do have a chance to be hacked.

Central Bank Digital Currencies

Cryptocurrencies have taken the center stage of mainstream attention since the last few years. Facebook’s announcement about launching Libra, a digital currency, even made some of the leading central banks around the globe think about launching a digital twin of their national currency. So what exactly is Central Bank Digital Currency? Let’s find out. 

Central bank digital currency, also known as CBDC in abbreviated form, is a virtual twin of the national currency and it is established/backed by the national government through its central bank. Just like cryptocurrencies, the central bank digital currency is a blockchain-based token and its records are stored across multiple locations through distributed ledger technology. 

Origins of Central Bank Digital Currencies 

The first country to come out with a form of a central bank digital currency was Finland. The central bank of Finland launched Avant in 1993, albeit through Toimihara, a company that was owned by them. However, it never really took up and was kind of unpopular among the Finnish citizens. It was discontinued in 2006. 

Many of the Finnish citizens considered Avant to be annoying and pretty expensive. They believed that the normal debit cards were far better. Avant was not an online CBDC like the ones that are under proposal today. It was a card that contained electronic money that was considered to be legal by the central bank of Finland. The electronic money was held in the chip of the Avant card. 

Benefits of Central Bank Digital Currencies 

A CBDC would be beneficial for a wide range of applications. However, it would be the most useful in the area of digital payments. It will change the way of how a common citizen transacts. A central bank digital currency will be used by citizens for mainly retail trade purposes. 

The increasing usage of central bank digital currency will lead to further growth of digital retail channels including that of the eCommerce segment. Today, an increasing number of people is comfortable doing transactions online and the volume of online transactions is also rising rapidly. These signs prove that CBDC will be adopted fast by the masses. 

Current Status of Central Bank Digital Currencies Globally 

The Bank of International Settlements conducted a survey in 2019 and their motivation behind this survey was to know which central banks are currently working on digital currency and which ones are planning to start soon. A total of 66 central banks replied to the BIS survey. There were 21 advanced economies and 45 emerging economies that took part in the survey. It covered 90% of the global economic output and 75% of the world population.

The survey results concluded that 70% of central banks are engaged in some sort of work in the realm of central bank digital currencies with 50% of the central banks researching its usage in both wholesale and general context. 

40% of the surveyed central banks said that they moved ahead of the research stage, with 10% of the respondent banks saying that they have created a pilot project. The interesting thing about this is that almost all the central banks that launched pilot projects are from emerging economies. 

Why do Central Banks Want to Launch a CBDC?

Many crypto enthusiasts believe that the “fear of cryptocurrencies” are a major driver for the central banks to work on a national digital currency. There may be some truth in it but it didn’t find a mention in a recent survey conducted by Bank of International Settlements and hence, there are no facts which back this sentiment. 

Central banks classify their motivations behind launching a CBDC into two categories and these are General and Wholesale. 

#1. General Purpose CBDC

There is a difference in motivations behind planning to launch a general purpose CBDC. It has been found that the emerging economies have far stronger motivations behind their plans to launch a general purpose CBDC when compared to the advanced economies. 

The top-most reasons that impel the central banks of emerging economies to launch general-purpose CBDC are payment safety, domestic payment efficiency, and financial inclusion. On the other hand, the advanced economies consider “payment safety” as the most important motivation behind their plans of launching a general purpose CBDC. 

#2. Wholesale Purpose CBDC

Wholesale purpose CBDC is not the major focus of the central banks. However, the emerging economies take a lead over the advanced economies in terms of the motivation behind launching a wholesale purpose CBDC. 

Three of the most important motivations of the emerging economies for working on wholesale purpose CBDC are payment safety, domestic payment efficiency, and financial inclusion. The key motivation for advanced economies to work on wholesale purpose CBDC is to increase the efficiency of cross-border payments. 

What Countries Lead in Central Bank Digital Currencies?

#1. China

The People’s Republic of China announced in 2019 that its central bank will launch a digital currency, nicknamed as the “digital yuan.” Some media outlets also claim that the People’s Bank of China is pushing for the release of its Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DCEP) out of fear of Facebook’s Libra. 

#2. Sweden

The Riksbank, Sweden’s central bank was the early tester of CBDC. It has been monitoring its “e-krona” for some time now. There has been a rapid decline in the usage of paper currencies in Sweden and therefore, the Swedish government is now focused on launching a new platform for its e-krona. 

#3. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates 

The two wealthy Middle Eastern nations, Saudi Arabia and UAE announced in late 2019 that they will launch a CBDC named “Aber.” However, it may be tested extensively before launch at a select few banks. They did not disclose the dates though. 

#4. France

France’s Central Bank announced in 2020 that they will begin a pilot project for a CBDC, the first-ever digital euro project to be announced. There are some media reports that mention that the Bank of France announced the CBDC pilot project in response to the news about Facebook’s Libra. 

The Future 

Many central banks around the world are concerned about a handful of companies dominating the payments system in their countries and some of these large companies are foreign. The central banks believe that the emergence of CBDC as a payment mechanism may make their country’s payment system more resilient. 

There are also multiple reports on how CBDC will impact banking channels. The common theme across all these reports is that the private banks will be at the receiving end after the launch of CBDC. 

There are claims that CBDC will rise as an alternative payment mechanism and impact the profitability of the banks. CBDC will have an adverse impact on clearinghouses, ATM operators, settlement institutions, and last but not the least, the banks. However, the customers will emerge as the winner here. 

Overall, there is a positive sentiment with CBDC as experts believe that it will improve the financial stability of the global economy. We also believe that CBDC will lead to a decrease in the usage of cash in emerging economies and thus will digitize businesses everywhere. The new-age businesses like eCommerce, eSports, etc will specifically benefit from increased usage of CBDC in the emerging economies. 

Conclusion

There’s no doubt that CBDC will impact businesses and individuals around the world. Some businesses will benefit from it and some will have to adjust to it to remain afloat. However, we believe that the consumer will be truly benefited if central banks around the world come up with a central bank digital currency. It has the potential to be a revolutionary change and will help make the finance industry better and more accessible. 

We at NOWPayments, a non-custodial crypto payment processing service, are prepared for it as we are leading the true decentralization movement with our innovative solutions. Wanna join the bandwagon by integrating crypto payments on your website? Reach out to us now

Best Crypto-Friendly Freelancing Boards

The freelancing market is huge. This is something that is common knowledge. What is not common knowledge is just how big the global and the U.S. freelancing markets are. They exceed even the GDP of some of the biggest economies in the world which is bigger than the economies of Switzerland and Saudi Arabia. 

Upwork and Freelancers Union joined hands to create a market report on the U.S. freelancing economy of today. They found that the U.S. freelancing revenue even exceeds a gross domestic product of some of the leading economies of the world. It is worth nearly $1 trillion and that amounts to 5% of the GDP of the United States. On the other hand, the global freelancing market is worth almost $1.5 trillion

Why Freelancing is on the Rise Again?

In the past, workers used to continue working for their employers out of perceived loyalty and because of the strong worker unions. Today, these factors are not as strong as they used to be. As per a recent survey about freelancing in America, 56% of respondents said that employers are less loyal now. 38% of respondents also said that today’s employers are less trustworthy to their employees compared to that of ten years ago. 

The highly performing employees of today are turning freelancers because of the indifference shown towards them by the employers. As more and more professionals have taken up freelancing as a career, the stigma that was attached to freelancing in the past has diminished. Freelancing is not viewed as a last resort anymore. 

Many highly-skilled individuals are starting on their own with a belief that they can do better as a freelancer rather than an employee. Technology has also made it easier for the professionals of today to get into the lucrative world of freelancing. 

Applications like Slack, Zoom, and many more have made it possible to stay connected and organized regardless of one’s location. An individual only needs a laptop and Wifi to start freelancing. Additionally, the availability of freelancing platforms has made it easier for freelancers to get in touch with companies who need their services. 

Let’s explore some of the top freelancing platforms for the crypto community now. 

#1. Blocklancer

Blocklancer is one of the most innovative crypto freelancing platforms. It allows freelancers to get paid in cryptocurrency for the work they do for the clients registered on their platform. The key benefit of this platform is that all of the freelancer’s work is recorded in the blockchain. There are three core components of the Blocklancer ecosystem and these are Token holders, Clients, and Freelancers. 

The token holders receive 100% of the fees charged from the freelancer’s total earnings on the Blocklancer platform. Currently, the freelancers are charged 3% of their earned cryptocurrencies after completing the contractual work that they got from the Blocklancer platform.

They have become a dependable platform for many freelancers that are registered on Blocklancer. Freelancers are benefited from guaranteed crypto payment, no censorship, unrivaled low fees, and fair dispute settlement when they claim work from the Blocklancer platform. Blocklancer has proved that a decentralized freelance platform is a better option for freelancers. 

The clients who hire freelancers from the Blocklancer platform are charged no fees as the 3% fee that Blocklancer deducts is targeted at the freelancers registered on their platform and not the clients. This is unlike what happens on major platforms like UpWork and Freelancer. The clients registered on these sites are charged 2.75% and 3% of the total amount of the contract.

#2. Ethlance

As the name suggests, Ethlance directly runs on the Ethereum blockchain. It is a freelancer platform where freelancers can register and complete the work for clients that matches their skills and qualifications. The freelancers are paid in ETH for the work they do for the clients registered on Ethlance. Ethereum is the only payment option available on Ethlance. 

Ethlance ensures that contractual obligations are met through smart contracts and facilitates escrow between freelancers and clients through it. Thus, both freelancers and clients are at ease as they don’t have to rely on any third party. 

#3. CryptoGrind

The freelancers look towards CryptoGrind when they want to work and get paid in Bitcoin. CryptoGrind is one of the most well-known freelancing platforms which allow freelancers to get paid in cryptocurrencies. The freelancers can use their platform to search across a variety of available jobs using both words and keyword tags. 

CryptoGrind allows freelancers to create a profile on their platform. They can add their basic information in their profile and also add a resume with it. A freelancer can also include the type of services that they provide in their profile. One of the key features of CryptoGrind is that the freelancers are free to dictate the pricing of their services. 

The platform holds BTC payment in an escrow account until the agreement is fulfilled as per the satisfaction of the clients. Once the employer is content with the service rendered by the freelancer, they can approve the work with just a click of a button. 

Conclusion

The crypto-based payment options will grow further with the rise of freelancing as a career option globally and the ease of payments that cryptocurrencies offer. However, the payment experience may be inconvenient for the freelancers when opting for getting paid in cryptocurrencies through the blockchain-based freelance platform of today. 

NOWPayments have come to the rescue of freelancers here as we offer an easy and simple process to create crypto invoices. We support than 40 cryptocurrencies, provide a custody-free solution and the best ever user experience.

What are you waiting for? Go ahead and check out our invoicing service