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On Buy Bitcoin With Card in South Africa have become a very well known and popular question over time. OK, so what’s Bitcoin?

It’s not an actual coin, it’s “cryptocurrency,” a digital form of payment that is produced (“mined”) by lots of people worldwide. It allows peer-to-peer transactions instantly, worldwide, for free or at very low cost.

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Bitcoin was invented after decades of research into cryptography by software developer, Satoshi Nakamoto (believed to be a pseudonym), who designed the algorithm and introduced it in 2009. His true identity remains a mystery.

This currency is not backed by a tangible commodity (such as gold or silver); bitcoins are traded online which makes them a commodity in themselves.

Bitcoin is an open-source product, accessible by anyone who is a user. All you need is an email address, Internet access, and money to get started.

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Bitcoin is mined on a distributed computer network of users running specialized software; the network solves certain mathematical proofs, and searches for a particular data sequence (“block”) that produces a particular pattern when the BTC trading is applied to it. A match produces a bitcoin. It’s complex and time- and energy-consuming.

Only 21 million bitcoins are ever to be mined (about 11 million are currently in circulation). The math problems the network computers solve get progressively more difficult to keep the mining operations and supply in check.

This network also validates all the transactions through cryptography.

How Does Bitcoins work?

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Internet users transfer digital assets (bits) to each other on a network. There is no online bank; rather, Bitcoin has been described as an Internet-wide distributed ledger. Users buy Bitcoin with cash or by selling a product or service for Bitcoins. Bitcoin wallets store and use this digital currency. Users may sell out of this virtual ledger by trading their Bitcoin to someone else who wants in. Anyone can do this, anywhere in the world.

There are smartphone apps for conducting mobile Bitcoin transactions and Bitcoins exchanges are populating the Internet.

How is Bitcoin valued?

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Bitcoin is not held or controlled by a financial institution; it is completely decentralized. Unlike real-world money it cannot be devalued by governments or banks.

These cashless transactions are fast and the processor can convert bitcoins into currency and make a daily direct deposit into the establishment’s bank account. It was announced in January 2014 that two Las Vegas hotel-casinos will accept Bitcoin payments at the front desk, in their restaurants, and in the gift shop.

It sounds good – so what’s the catch?

Business owners should consider issues of participation, security and cost.

• A relatively small number of ordinary consumers and merchants currently use or understand Bitcoin. However, adoption is increasing globally and tools and technologies are being developed to make participation easier.

• It’s the Internet, so hackers are threats to the exchanges. The Economist reported that a Bitcoin exchange was hacked in September 2013 and $250,000 in bitcoins was stolen from users’ online vaults. Bitcoins can be stolen like other currency, so vigilant network, server and database security is paramount.

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• Users must carefully safeguard their bitcoin wallets which contain their private keys. Secure backups or printouts are crucial.

• Bitcoin is not regulated or insured by the US government so there is no insurance for your account if the exchange goes out of business or is robbed by hackers.

• Bitcoins are relatively expensive. Current rates and selling prices are available on the online exchanges.

The virtual currency is not yet universal but it is gaining market awareness and acceptance. A business may decide to try Bitcoin to save on credit card and bank fees, as a customer convenience, or to see if it helps or hinders sales and profitability.

Are you thinking about accepting Bitcoin? Do you already use it? Share your thoughts and experiences with us.

Looking for a Bitcoin Buying Guide? Wondering where to start? People have a lot of misconceptions about bitcoin – the very first widely known and accepted cryptocurrency worldwide.

A lot of people think for example that only hackers and shady people use it. However bitcoin is actually going mainstream with everyone from TigerDirect to Expedia.com to Dell and even Subway accepting payments in bitcoin now.

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Well, bitcoin has a lot of benefits over other currencies. For example, you can send bitcoins to someone as payment without having to go through the bank middleman (and get hit with extra fees). It’s also much faster than sending money via a bank wire or transfer. You can send bitcoins to someone and have them receiving the coins in seconds.

With all of this, it’s no surprise that many people are now trying to buy bitcoin for the first time. However it’s not as easy as going to your bank and withdrawing bitcoins – or going to a store and plunking down some hard-earned cash for bitcoin.

The system works a bit differently than that. This Bitcoin Buying Guide will go over a few things you need to know before you buy – so you can buy safely and securely.

Take your time and research the different places to buy before you decide. Factors to consider include coin prices, extra fees, method of payment and customer service.

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Once you’ve found a place to buy, get your funds ready (i.e. you may send a wire transfer or use your Visa to fund your account). Then wait for a good price. (Bitcoin prices are always fluctuating 24 hours, 7 days a week). Then place your order when you’re ready.

Once your order is filled and you have your coins, you’ll want to send them to your wallet. Simply enter your bitcoin address and get the seller to send you your bitcoins. You should see them show up in your wallet within minutes to an hour (depending on how fast the seller sends them out).

Voila, you are now a bitcoin owner. You can now send coins to pay for other goods and services, or hang on to them for a rainy day.

One last thing to remember: bitcoin is still in its infancy. There are huge price swings and the currency can be risky. Never buy more bitcoins than you can afford to lose.

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Wondering if you should invest in Bitcoin? If you've been around any kid of financial news lately, you've no doubt heard about the meteoric rise in the world's most well-known cryptocurrency.

And if you're like a lot of people right about now, you're probably wondering, "Bitcoin - yes or no?"

Should you invest? Is it a good option? And what the heck is Bitcoin anyway?

Well here's a few things you should know about Bitcoin before you invest. Also note that this article is for information purposes only and should not be taken as any kind of financial advice.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is known as a cryptocurrency or a digital currency. It's basically online money. Like any currency you can exchange it for other currencies (like say, buy bitcoins with US dollars or vice versa) and it fluctuates in relation to other currencies as well.

Unlike other currencies however it is decentralized, meaning there isn't any one central bank, country or government in charge of it. And that means it's not as susceptible to government or central bank mismanagement.

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Because it's decentralized, this also means that you can send a friend Bitcoin (money) on the other side of the world in seconds without having to go through a bank intermediary (and pay the banking fees).

Unlike a credit card charge, Bitcoin transactions are not reversible. So if you send Bitcoin to the wrong address - you can't get it back.

Also, there are a lot of tales from people who have lost their Bitcoin wallet address (through hacking, phones being stolen, virus-infected computers, etc.) and they've completely lost their coins. There's no way to get them back.

For this reason, you really need to know what you're doing and take the time to research how to buy and store your coins properly if you want to invest in Bitcoins - or any other cryptocurrency.

So those are some of the things to consider before investing in Bitcoin. Basically while Bitcoin has a lot of great things going for it - and while it has the potential to change financial transactions as we know it - there is still a lot of risk. There are a lot of unknowns out there still.

If you do decide to buy, take your time and research your options. Don't buy from just any seller. Some of them are trustworthy and run a great business. But there are others that will overcharge you and may not even deliver your coins.

Be safe and do your research first. Find a trusted seller with a stellar reputation - there are quite a few of them out there. And remember the golden rule here - never invest more than you can afford to lose.

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Bitcoin (BTC) is a new kind of digital currency-with cryptographic keys-that is decentralized to a network of computers used by users and miners around the world and is not controlled by a single organization or government. It is the first digital cryptocurrency that has gained the public's attention and is accepted by a growing number of merchants. Like other currencies, users can use the digital currency to buy goods and services online as well as in some physical stores that accept it as a form of payment. Currency traders can also trade Bitcoins in Bitcoin exchanges.

There are several major differences between Bitcoin and traditional currencies (e.g. U.S. dollar):

  1. Bitcoin does not have a centralized authority or clearing house (e.g. government, central bank, MasterCard or Visa network). The peer-to-peer payment network is managed by users and miners around the world. The currency is anonymously transferred directly between users through the internet without going through a clearing house. This means that transaction fees are much lower.
  2. Bitcoin is created through a process called "Bitcoin mining". Miners around the world use mining software and computers to solve complex bitcoin algorithms and to approve Bitcoin transactions. They are awarded with transaction fees and new Bitcoins generated from solving Bitcoin algorithms.
  3. There is a limited amount of Bitcoins in circulation. According to Blockchain, there were about 12.1 million in circulation as of Dec. 20, 2013. The difficulty to mine Bitcoins (solve algorithms) becomes harder as more Bitcoins are generated, and the maximum amount in circulation is capped at 21 million. The limit will not be reached until approximately the year 2140. This makes Bitcoins more valuable as more people use them.
  4. A public ledger called 'Blockchain' records all Bitcoin transactions and shows each Bitcoin owner's respective holdings. Anyone can access the public ledger to verify transactions. This makes the digital currency more transparent and predictable. More importantly, the transparency prevents fraud and double spending of the same Bitcoins.
  5. The digital currency can be acquired through Bitcoin mining or Bitcoin exchanges.
  6. The digital currency is accepted by a limited number of merchants on the web and in some brick-and-mortar retailers.
  7. Bitcoin wallets (similar to PayPal accounts) are used for storing Bitcoins, private keys and public addresses as well as for anonymously transferring Bitcoins between users.
  8. Bitcoins are not insured and are not protected by government agencies. Hence, they cannot be recovered if the secret keys are stolen by a hacker or lost to a failed hard drive, or due to the closure of a Bitcoin exchange. If the secret keys are lost, the associated Bitcoins cannot be recovered and would be out of circulation. Visit this link for an FAQ on Bitcoins.

Bitcoin will likely gain more public acceptance over time, but its price is extremely volatile and very sensitive to news-such as government regulations and restrictions-that could negatively impact the currency.

Therefore, I do not suggest investors to invest in Bitcoins unless they were purchased at a less than $10 USD per BTC because this would allow for a much larger margin of safety.

Otherwise, I believe that it is much better to invest in stocks that have strong fundamentals, as well as great business prospects and management teams because the underlying companies have intrinsic values and are more predictable.

Disclosure: Victor Liang has has no positions in Bitcoins and has no plans to change his position in the next 72 hours.

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Bitcoin is a virtual currency. It doesn't exist in the kind of physical form that the currency & coin we're used to exist in. It doesn't even exist in a form as physical as Monopoly money. It's electrons - not molecules.

But consider how much cash you personally handle. You get a paycheck that you take to the bank - or it's autodeposited without you even seeing the paper that it's not printed on. You then use a debit card (or a checkbook, if you're old school) to access those funds. At best, you see 10% of it in a cash form in your pocket or in your pocketbook. So, it turns out that 90% of the funds that you manage are virtual - electrons in a spreadsheet or database.

But wait - those are U.S. funds (or those of whatever country you hail from), safe in the bank and guaranteed by the full faith of the FDIC up to about $250K per account, right? Well, not exactly. Your financial institution may only required to keep 10% of its deposits on deposit. In some cases, it's less. It lends the rest of your money out to other people for up to 30 years. It charges them for the loan, and charges you for the privilege of letting them lend it out.

How does money get created?

Your bank gets to create money by lending it out.

Say you deposit $1,000 with your bank. They then lend out $900 of it. Suddenly you have $1000 and someone else has $900. Magically, there's $1900 floating around where before there was only a grand.

Now say your bank instead lends 900 of your dollars to another bank. That bank in turn lends $810 to another bank, which then lends $720 to a customer. Poof! $3,430 in an instant - almost $2500 created out of nothing - as long as the bank follows your government's central bank rules.

Creation of Bitcoin is as different from bank funds' creation as cash is from electrons. It is not controlled by a government's central bank, but rather by consensus of its users and nodes. It is not created by a limited mint in a building, but rather by distributed open source software and computing. And it requires a form of actual work for creation. More on that shortly.

How can I spend it?

There are hundreds of merchants of all sizes that take BitCoin in payment, from cafes to auto dealerships. There's even a BitCoin ATM in Vancouver, British Columbia for converting your BTC to cash in Vancouver, BC.

And so?

Money has had a long history - millennia in length. Somewhat recent legend tells us that Manhattan Island was bought for wampum - seashells & the like. In the early years of the United States, different banks printed their own currency. On a recent visit to Salt Spring Island in British Columbia, I spent currency that was only good on the lovely island. The common theme amongst these was a trust agreement amongst its users that that particular currency held value. Sometimes that value was tied directly to something solid and physical, like gold. In 1900 the U.S. tied its currency directly to gold (the "Gold Standard") and in 1971, ended that tie.

Now currency is traded like any other commodity, although a particular country's currency value can be propped up or diminished through actions of their central bank. BitCoin is an alternate currency that is also traded and its value, like that of other commodities, is determined through trade, but is not held up or diminished by the action of any bank, but rather directly by the actions of its users. Its supply is limited and known however, and (unlike physical currency) so is the history of every single BitCoin. Its perceived value, like all other currency, is based on its utility and trust.

As a form of currency, BitCoin not exactly a new thing in Creation, but it certainly is a new way for money to be created.

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In its 17th-century Gouden Eeuw (Golden Age), the United Provinces of the Netherlands rode high on a wave of self-confidence. The Dutch had thrown off the yoke of Spanish control, establishing themselves as the premier trading nation of Europe... and, indeed, of the world.

With self-confidence came folly.

Dutch traders had recently introduced tulips from the Ottoman Empire to Holland. They rapidly became a coveted luxury item amongst the mercantile elite.

But they were difficult to grow in Northwest Europe. Consequently, single bulbs of unusual varieties could fetch prices that made working for a living seem insane.

During the chilly winter months when tulips would not grow, the canny Dutch invented formal contracts to buy tulips at the end of the growing season - the first futures market.

As the winter of 1636 began, the price of these futures contracts began to increase rapidly. By February 1637, a contract for a single bulb could fetch the equivalent of 10 times the average household's income.

Then the bubble burst. Tens of thousands of investors lost everything - and more.

Are we amidst such a mania once again? Those of us who watch the bitcoin market are becoming nervous...

On May 25, a single bitcoin was worth twice as much as an ounce of gold - $2,430. It had been worth as much as a single ounce of gold only a few weeks before that.

Besides, who holds bitcoins because the blockchain might make money for someone else someday?

Bitcoin Do's and Don'ts

It's too early to tell if bitcoin is a sustainable investment. But I can tell you a few things to do... and not to do... with the digital currency.

Do invest a sensible portion of your portfolio in it, if you understand and can afford the risks.

Do approach bitcoin as a buy-and-hold strategy. If it drops, don't sell. Wait for it to come back.

Don't look to make a quick killing with bitcoin. It's far too unpredictable and detached from the sort of known and understood fundamentals that underpin our market analyses here at Banyan Hill.

Don't make bitcoin a part of your retirement portfolio unless you can really afford the risk and potential loss.

Dutch investors in 1637 had no antecedent with which to compare the market for tulips. Thanks to them and others like them who've seen bubbles come and go over the centuries, we do.

My advice is: Treat bitcoin as a flower that may well bloom... but keep your garden diversified.


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