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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 all over the world. Criminal bitcoin thieves don't incur the exchange rate cost for acquisition of bitcoins. They just rely on hacking and malware to siphon bitcoin wallets from law-abiding owners.
What we've got here, then, is a commodity (I hesitate to call it a currency) with a current price, is absolutely free of regulation (for the moment), allows for completely anonymous ownership, and is both highly profitable and almost free to produce (if you are willing to violate the law).
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There's no doubt the bitcoin has staying power, but whether that's just among criminals (and those who would like to traffic with them, like the Silk Road drug sellers and clients ), or whether it is going to become a valuable trading commodity for the rest of us remains unclear.
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My information to law enforcement is easy: follow the bitcoin. There's no doubt that more and more criminals will be using bitcoin to generate gain as well as cover their tracks. Whenever you see a stash of bitcoin and possess judicial permission to follow the footprints, do this.
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While bitcoin usage is not confined to criminals, there is an undeniably high correlation between bitcoin ownership and criminal activity. Notably since bitcoins are becoming every more profitable to criminal malware seeders and botnet operators while concurrently becoming ever less rewarding for traders that are valid.
Here is the key take-away: bitcoins are becoming the most"national currency" of criminals the world over and are becoming an increasingly inadequate investment for valid miners.
Cryptocurrency mining is painstaking, expensive, and only sporadically rewarding. Nonetheless, mining includes a magnetic draw for many investors interested in cryptocurrency. This may be because entrepreneurial forms 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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Before you invest the time and equipment, read this explainer to see whether mining is for you. We'll focus mostly on Bitcoin. (Related: How Bitcoin Works and our useful infographic, What's Bitcoin)
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By mining, you can earn cryptocurrency without having to put down money for it. That said, you certainly don't need to be a miner to own crypto. You can even purchase crypto using fiat currency (USD, EUR, JPY, etc); you can exchange it on an exchange like Bitstamp using other crypto (example: Using Ethereum or NEO to buy Bitcoin); you even can earn it by playing video games or even simply 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 is the only way to discharge new cryptocurrency into circulation. In other words, miners are basically"minting" currency. For example, at the time of writing this bit, there were approximately 17 million Bitcoin in circulation.
In the absence of miners, Bitcoin would still exist and be usable, but there might never be any additional Bitcoin. There'll come a time when Bitcoin mining ends; per the Bitcoin Protocol, the number of Bitcoin will be capped at 21 million. (Related reading: What Happens to Bitcoin After All 21 Million are Mined). top article
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Besides the short-term Bitcoin payoff, being a miner can provide you"voting" electricity when changes are proposed in the Bitcoin protocol. In other words, a successful miner has influence on the decision-making process on such matters as forking.
Bitcoin are mined in units known as"blocks." At this time of writing, the reward for completing a cube is 12.5 Bitcoin. At today's price of about $10,000 each Bitcoin, this means that you'd earn (12.5 x 10,000)$125,000.
When Bitcoin was mined in 2009, mining one block would earn you 50 BTC. In 2012, this was halved to 25 BTC. In 2016, this was halved into 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 precisely when these halvings will happen, then 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 are 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 issue."