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Legitimate miners and buyers need to incur substantial production and energy costs, or have to pay the going exchange rates for bitcoins.
Criminal miners pay virtually nothing for its production of new coins, outsourcing the job to hapless victim machines the world over. Criminal bitcoin thieves don't incur the exchange rate cost for acquisition of bitcoins. They just rely on hacking and malware to siphon bitcoin pockets from law-abiding owners.
What we've got here, then, is a commodity (I hesitate to call it a currency) that has a current price, is free from regulation (for the moment), allows for completely anonymous ownership, and is both highly profitable and nearly free to produce (if you're willing to break the law).
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There is no doubt that bitcoin has staying power, but if that's just among criminals (and those who wish to traffic with them, like the Silk Road medication sellers and clients ), or whether it is going to become a valuable trading commodity for the rest of us is unclear.
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My advice to law enforcement is simple: follow the bitcoin. There is no doubt that more and more criminals will be using bitcoin to generate gain in addition to pay their tracks. Whenever you see a stash of bitcoin and have judicial permission to follow the footprints, do so.
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While bitcoin use is not limited to criminals, there is an undeniably large correlation between bitcoin ownership and criminal action. Notably since bitcoins are becoming every more rewarding to criminal malware seeders and botnet operators while concurrently becoming less rewarding for traders that are valid.
Here's the key take-away: bitcoins are becoming the most"national currency" of criminals the world over and are becoming an increasingly poor investment for legitimate miners.
Cryptocurrency mining is painstaking, expensive, and only sporadically rewarding. Nonetheless, mining has a magnetic attraction for many investors interested in cryptocurrency. This may be because entrepreneurial types see mining as pennies from heaven, like California gold prospectors in 1848. And if you are technologically inclined, why not do it
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Well, before you invest the time and equipment, read this explainer to find out whether mining is for you. We'll focus mostly on Bitcoin. (Related: How Bitcoin Works and our useful infographic, What is Bitcoin)
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By mining, you can earn cryptocurrency without having to put down money to it. Nevertheless, you certainly don't need to be a miner to own crypto. You can also buy crypto using fiat currency (USD, EUR, JPY, etc); you can trade it on an exchange such as Bitstamp using other crypto (example: Using Ethereum or NEO to purchase Bitcoin); you even can earn it by playing video games or even by publishing blogposts on programs that pay its consumers in crypto.
In addition to lining the pockets of miners, mining serves a second and critical purpose: it's the only means to discharge new cryptocurrency into circulation. In other words, miners are basically"minting" currency. By way of example, as of the time of writing this piece, there were about 17 million Bitcoin in circulation.
In the absence of miners, Bitcoin would nevertheless my link exist and be usable, but there would never be any additional Bitcoin. There'll come a time when Bitcoin mining ends; per the Bitcoin Protocol, the number of Bitcoin is going to be capped at 21 million. (Associated reading: What Happens Bitcoin After All 21 Million are Mined).
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Aside from the short-term Bitcoin payoff, being a miner can give you"voting" power when changes are proposed in the Bitcoin protocol. In other words, a successful miner has influence on the decision-making process on these issues as forking.
Bitcoin are mined in units called"cubes" At the time of writing, the reward for completing a cube is 12.5 Bitcoin. At today's cost of about $10,000 each Bitcoin, this means that you'd earn (12.5 x 10,000)$125,000.
When Bitcoin was first mined in 2009, mining one block would earn you 50 BTC. In 2012, this was halved to 25 BTC. In 2016, this was halved to the current level of 12.5 BTC. In 2020 or so, the payoff size will be halved again to 6.25 BTC.
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If you want to keep tabs on exactly when these halvings will occur, you can consult the Bitcoin Clock, which upgrades this information in real time.
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Miners are getting paid for their work as auditors. They're doing the work of verifying previous Bitcoin transactions. This convention is meant to keep Bitcoin users honest, and was conceived by Bitcoin's founder, Satoshi Nakamoto. By verifying transactions, miners are helping to prevent the"double-spending problem."