Author Topic: Are bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies used outside of crime and investment?  (Read 831 times)

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Online daqq

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Hi guys,

So, after receiving the 1045th SPAM email claiming that a hacker has hacked my computer and has a naughty video of me and will send it to my contact list, lest I pay him to the specified BTC address, I got annoyed. I checked the address, sure enough, some fools had paid him. It's very depressing.

Which leads to my question: Are cryptocurrencies actually used for any normal transactions? Have you actually used cryptos in such a manner?

By normal I mean those that:
- are not meant as speculative investments (buy BTCs for money, sell for money, receive more money)
- are not crime related (i.e. buy BTCs, transfer to iffy people, receive meth)
- donations are borderline

While I'm all for the idea of cryptocurrencies, it seems that the main use these days is supporting crime of various sorts, and investment speculation. It effectively ceased to be a replacement for currency.

Thanks,

David
« Last Edit: April 03, 2020, 07:59:50 am by daqq »
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Offline NiHaoMike

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I have purchased some tools using Bitcoin. I have also exchanged countless other cryptocurrencies (that I mined) for Amazon gift cards and Paypal.

One cryptocurrency I have been mining for years that is used little for illegal purposes is Swagbucks. Of course, the reason for that is its closed ecosystem nature, which is also its biggest disadvantage for legitimate use as well.
- donations are borderline
Perfectly legitimate use for those who like the idea of giving to makers to fund content, but do not like the usual centralized services such as Patreon and Paypal.
Cryptocurrency has taught me to love math and at the same time be baffled by it.

Cryptocurrency lesson 0: Altcoins and Bitcoin are not the same thing.
 

Offline Halcyon

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Which leads to my question: Are cryptocurrencies actually used for any normal transactions? Have you actually used cryptos in such a manner?

Not really. It was more of a novelty, then it wore off. I think I made about $1500 profit in crypto then got out before the tax office implemented the current rules.

Most banks in Australia now support NPP (New Payment Platform), which enables near-instant intra-bank transfers using nothing more than a BSB and account number, just like any other money transfer and it costs nothing. That alone has eliminated the need for cryptocurrency for me.

So, after receiving the 1045th SPAM email claiming that a hacker has hacked my computer and has a naughty video of me and will send it to my contact list...

Can we see said video? :P
« Last Edit: April 03, 2020, 04:42:55 pm by Halcyon »
 

Online daqq

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Quote
Can we see said video? :P
Sure, here you go.


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Offline james_s

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For a while there were businesses offering to accept bitcoin but I haven't heard much about it in a while, I think the novelty has largely died out. It was always far too volatile to be useful as a currency. A currency is a tool to facilitate transactions and to work well the value needs to be as constant as possible. If you can make a lot of money by speculative investing in the currency itself then it isn't a good currency.
 
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Online magic

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Don't dismiss crime, soon you may find yourself using BTC to pay for leaded solder ;)

That being said, yeah, I have only ever seen it used for varying degrees of shady stuff.
 

Offline james_s

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There were some places around here where you could use it to buy food for a while, I don't know if anyone is still offering that though. It struck me as a gimmick for hipsters so I never paid it much mind.
 

Offline MadTux

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Don't dismiss crime, soon you may find yourself using BTC to pay for leaded solder ;)

Or just buy 60pounds of lead, 40pounds of tin on ebay, mix in a couple of copper scraps and cook it for a while on your favorite stove. ;D
Lifetime supply of leaded solder for you.
Rosin core is overrated anyway, I mostly reuse the solder blobs from my solder sucker when repairing stuff, with large amounts pine resin as flux. Works great!
 

Offline SiliconWizard

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Cryptocurrencies could come in handy in times of major crisis - provided that the internet and enough servers are still operating...
Imagine your access to your bank accounts get suddenly blocked for any reason because there is a major financial crash. People owning some bitcoins or other would be ahead of others. (Just like if you own gold for instance, except gold is not easy to split in small amounts.) Of course that's a very catastrophe scenario.

It's possible there is a very small economy worldwide (outside of crime) working with cryptocurrencies out there, it's probably pretty confidential though, and unsignificant.

 

Offline james_s

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I have my doubts. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are primarily speculative investments. If the economy crashes they may briefly spike but eventually they will crash too as they have no inherent value.

Gold is very useful stuff in itself, it has inherent value. Cryptocurrency isn't even a tangible object that exists, you can't actually do anything with it.
 

Online nctnico

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Gold is very useful stuff in itself, it has inherent value. Cryptocurrency isn't even a tangible object that exists, you can't actually do anything with it.
But what makes gold different from money or cryptocurrency? After all you can't eat it so when the world goes to sh*t it is of no use. Whether it is gold, money (physical or in a bank account) or crypto currency; it is only 'worth' what someone wants to give to you in exchange.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 
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Offline james_s

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But what makes gold different from money or cryptocurrency? After all you can't eat it so when the world goes to sh*t it is of no use. Whether it is gold, money (physical or in a bank account) or crypto currency; it is only 'worth' what someone wants to give to you in exchange.

People who can produce excess food will trade it for gold because gold is desirable, it doesn't oxidize, it's a reasonable conductor of electricity, it's a superb reflector of heat, it's easily plated on or alloyed with other metals, not to mention the physical appearance has made it popular for decorative purposes since the dawn of human society. It's a tangible substance that exists on earth in limited quantities. The value of gold may fluctuate but it's always going to have value and in prosperous times it will increase in value.

Money has value only because we assign value to it, various currencies have come and gone, some are now dead and not worth the paper they're printed on. The US Dollar is much safer than crypto because it's backed by the US government but even it could become worthless if the government collapsed. Throughout everything gold has never been worthless and it never will be, unless we get to where we can synthesize it cheaply. There seems to be an innate desire in people to posses the stuff, countless have been killed over it.
 

Online magic

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Or just buy 60pounds of lead, 40pounds of tin on ebay, mix in a couple of copper scraps and cook it for a while on your favorite stove. ;D
Selling any alloy with more than 0.3% of lead (or thereabouts) is illegal in the Glorious Democratic People's Union of Europe ;D The eBay sources may soon disappear and then you will have to buy it for crypto on the darknet or from Russian smugglers on the local bazaar.

Myself, I recommend paying cash to Russian smugglers because crypto leaves a permanent record of the payment and if the GDP-EU finds out who owned those wallets then your vendor will disappear too ;D I must confess to being a big fanboy of cash, crypto really is for incels who don't dare to leave their mother's basement :P

Not sure if possession of lead is illegal yet, but if it ever will, no way I'm going to buy that stuff for crypto :scared:
« Last Edit: April 05, 2020, 05:32:11 am by magic »
 

Offline james_s

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Is leaded solder not exempt for avionics and such over there? I believe that sort of thing is exempt here.
 

Online magic

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Yes, it is. I have a spool of 60/40 at home labeled "for professional use only" :-DD
 

Offline eplpwr

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It's possible there is a very small economy worldwide (outside of crime) working with cryptocurrencies out there, it's probably pretty confidential though, and unsignificant.

I think a number of sanctioned entities use cryptos. If that is illegal or not depends on how you look at the jurisdiction of some very large country. The scale of sanctions avoidance would imply rather large sums.
 

Online nctnico

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There seems to be an innate desire in people to posses the stuff, countless have been killed over it.
That depends on the society. As far as I can see the Aborigines in Australia didn't care much for the stuff (until the Europeans came over) even though it can be found in abundance in many places. The same goes for the Indians in the US.

You can also look at gold and silver as being secure against fraud because it is not trivial to make and/or acquire.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Online nctnico

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Or just buy 60pounds of lead, 40pounds of tin on ebay, mix in a couple of copper scraps and cook it for a while on your favorite stove. ;D
Selling any alloy with more than 0.3% of lead (or thereabouts) is illegal in the Glorious Democratic People's Union of Europe ;D
Complete nonsense. You can buy all kinds of leaded solder (86 types of 60/40 alone) from Farnell.
There are small lies, big lies and then there is what is on the screen of your oscilloscope.
 

Offline SiliconWizard

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Gold is very useful stuff in itself, it has inherent value. Cryptocurrency isn't even a tangible object that exists, you can't actually do anything with it.
But what makes gold different from money or cryptocurrency? After all you can't eat it so when the world goes to sh*t it is of no use. Whether it is gold, money (physical or in a bank account) or crypto currency; it is only 'worth' what someone wants to give to you in exchange.

Whereas gold has very good chances of still being a dependable reserve of value whatever happens, I still think cryptocurrencies (as long again as the infrastructure is still there to serve them) have chances of being also useful in times of trouble. Of course either way it's all in the trust people put in them. But if there's no workable alternative, a number of people WILL trust them, and it's not unlikely crypto's would be easier to get ahold of and use than gold in such times. And as I said, gold is inconvenient to work with - not easy to split in smaller chunks of value, possibly unsafe to store/carry around (dead easy to steal), etc.

It again of course all depends on the state of society. Cryptocurrencies heavily depend on technology. If networks and maybe even electricity stop being usable, certainly gold will still be there for transactions. So what I'm envisioning here is a possible scenario during a deep worldwide financial crisis, but with basic infrastructures still working. And I don't think this scenario is THAT unbelievable at this point.

As to inherent value, it's all relative. Gold has value because 1/ it can be used in many applications (but if society collapses, this point may become completely moot except maybe still making jewels just like we used gold thousands of years ago, not that essential) and 2/ it takes effort/cost to extract it. Cryptocurrencies also have a cost for "extracting" ("mining") and maintaining them, so they effectively also have "inherent value" in that respect. Another point possibly going for them is that they are almost impossible to "counterfeit". So they might become attractive if things get bad.

« Last Edit: April 05, 2020, 06:17:26 pm by SiliconWizard »
 

Offline james_s

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I still think gold will always have value, if society collapses and the human race survives, new societies will soon form and starting from scratch a material like gold is going to become useful and/or desirable much sooner than an abstract series of numbers. The infrastructure crypto depends on is a serious consideration, imagine today that someone handed you a stack of 8" floppy disks that contained valuable information, what would you do with them? How about a tape pack from some now obscure 1970s mainframe? A smartphone app from 3 years ago? Huge quantities of digital data have been lost to time due to failing hardware and damaged media, I lost most of the programs I wrote when I was a teenager because the bits faded off the hard drive and the floppy disks were lost or damaged, that stuff is just gone.

I would be shocked if more than a small handful of the cryptocurrencies people are messing with today are around 20 years from now, much less 50 or 100 years from now. It also wouldn't surprise me if sometime in the next 100 years some new fundamental development in computing makes it trivial to do the calculations that today require an enormous amount of computational power. Much like the way encryption used during WWII can now be trivially cracked by simple brute force.

I'm also morally bothered by the vast amounts of energy that are expended "mining" crypto, it all amounts to useless busy work and yet it consumes as much power as is used by some entire countries. I think some day we will look back on that and shake our heads at the vast amounts of fossil fuels burned to produce something that has no tangible existence.
 

Online magic

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You can buy all kinds of leaded solder (86 types of 60/40 alone) from Farnell.
Try to order it as an individual to anywhere in the EU :P

I was talking about sales to general population on platforms like eBay. This definitely is forbidden, and for a few years already. Any pure lead you may buy as an individual is also, technically, illegal. There may be exemptions for products made of lead, dunno.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2020, 06:30:38 pm by magic »
 

Offline james_s

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I was talking about sales to general population on platforms like eBay. This definitely is forbidden, and for a few years already. Any pure lead you may buy as an individual is also, technically, illegal. There may be exemptions for products made of lead, dunno.

What do they use in place of those little lead weights used to balance car tires? Ours are still made of lead. As far as I know the little weights used for fishing line are still lead as well though not being an avid fisherman I haven't tried buying those in many years.
 

Offline MadTux

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And as I said, gold is inconvenient to work with - not easy to split in smaller chunks of value, possibly unsafe to store/carry around (dead easy to steal), etc.

Why that? A bar of gold, a sharp chisel of good steel and a miligram scale is all that's needed to divide it into smaller chucks.
I see more of a problem with aluminium bronze, brass etc as gold lookalikes, difficult to distinguish on small quantities.
But if I guy comes along, with like a 1kg bar of gold, that I can hold in my hands and he chisels it off in front of me, I would be pretty sure, it's real.

Crypto cash on the other hand, with transaction fees, network crap, verification, wrong address etc...
Not so sure that works, if the world burns.....
 

Offline Kilrah

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To me gold's value is historical and nothing more. It was the shiny beautiful thing that doesn't degrade and became desirable mostly for its appearance as a status symbol for cultural and spiritual reasons.
Nowadays nobody gives a shit about gold anymore (in Western cultures, different in Asia obviously).

It has some uses as a material but nowhere near enough to justify the value that's given to it.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2020, 07:01:50 pm by Kilrah »
 

Offline james_s

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Nowadays nobody gives a shit about gold anymore (in Wester cultures, different in Asia obviously).

Huh? $1675.00 per ounce says quite a few people give a shit about it.

I'd love it to be cheaper than it is because it really is useful stuff but I don't think there's a time in human history that it has been cheap. Even if it dropped to 10% of the present value it would still be expensive stuff. I don't hoard the stuff personally but it has been a pretty safe investment for a very, very long time and unless we reach a point where the very survival of the human race is in question I'm quite confident that will not change. The value may fluctuate but I think one would be hard pressed to find something less likely to end up worthless.
 

Offline Kilrah

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Huh? $1675.00 per ounce says quite a few people give a shit about it.
This thread just said that bitcoin was a nothingburger even if it was worth $10K not long ago :)

Sure it's been expensive for centuries so less likely to fall to nothing, but in essence its price is still based on artificial criteria just like bitcoin.
Even its rarity is artificial. It's only rare becasue millions of tons of it are kept in vaults.
 

Offline NiHaoMike

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I'm also morally bothered by the vast amounts of energy that are expended "mining" crypto, it all amounts to useless busy work and yet it consumes as much power as is used by some entire countries. I think some day we will look back on that and shake our heads at the vast amounts of fossil fuels burned to produce something that has no tangible existence.
There are some altcoins (e.g. Swagbucks) that use much less energy to mine and some altcoins (Curecoin, Foldingcoin, and Gridcoin) that do useful work such as biological simulations in the mining process. What I would really like to see is an altcoin that is "mined" by setting up decentralized mesh network nodes, to incentivize making a communication network that is robust and decentralized.
Cryptocurrency has taught me to love math and at the same time be baffled by it.

Cryptocurrency lesson 0: Altcoins and Bitcoin are not the same thing.
 

Online magic

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What do they use in place of those little lead weights used to balance car tires? Ours are still made of lead. As far as I know the little weights used for fishing line are still lead as well though not being an avid fisherman I haven't tried buying those in many years.
I was recently looking to buy some lead and indeed fishing weights are still available, either by exemption (supposedly ammo is exempt too) or because nobody in that industry has learned about the ban yet ::) FWIW, it took many months for electronics stores to learn about it and stop selling the stuff to individuals.

The ban was passed without much fanfare and not because of some pressing need to genuinely prevent anyone from obtaining lead but simply because some idiot politician from Sweden was deeply concerned about the logical inconsistency of the EU having a general policy of banning teratogens AND lead being a teratogen AND oh horror still being available without any control. So the point was raised during some meeting and the committee nodded their heads and was like "yeah, prolly you're right" :palm:
« Last Edit: April 05, 2020, 07:33:33 pm by magic »
 


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