Bitcoins and ilk have thriving communities of tin-foil-hat-wearin’ and Ponzi-scheme types, and also some actual business models. I run a one-person campaign to call enthusiasts for this tech cryptsters but it is not catching on. Or crypsters? Is that any easier?
Despite the weirdness in the communities, cryptocurrencies have practical use. For example, they are sometimes the cheapest way to get money across the border or to tip me for my work on this site. This has been useful even for me, as a normal non-gun-smugglin’ guy who happens to move country sometimes, and doesn’t like paying a 5% conversion tithe between countries with weak banking ties, such as Australia and … anywhere which is not Australia.
However, my exchange rate when buying cryptocurrency in Australia has been terrible of late; I’m no longer sure these are a great idea. I ended up paying about 8% on my last transfer after all the fees were deducted, which is worse than bank rates. My plain credit card came out better.
I am no expert in cryptocurrencies. Rather the opposite; my feeble intellect needs a n00b guide documenting the idiosyncrasies which trip me up and the weird terminology etc. This is that guide, or at least where I keep the links to the best guides. Cryptocurrencies have a vast number of hour of howto guides; the difficulties is working out which ones are current and compensating for the marketing biases in each.
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How to convert cryptocurrency to/from cash (or fiat currency as one must learn to call it when talking to a cryptster):
Use an exchange.
Some I have tried include
The classic and still the biggest in terms of hypothetical market cap.
Bitcoin is what banking looked like in the middle ages — “here’s your libertarian paradise, have a nice day.”
That comparison may be subtler than the author intended.
Mr. Lee said the Chinese took quickly to Bitcoin for several reasons. For one thing, the Chinese government had strictly limited other potential investment avenues, giving citizens a hunger for new assets. Also, Mr. Lee said, the Chinese loved the volatile price of Bitcoin, which gave the fledgling currency network the feeling of online gambling, a very popular activity in China. […]
Peter Ng, a former investment manager, is one of the many people in China who moved from trading Bitcoins to amassing computing power to mine them. First, he mined for himself. More recently he has created data centers across China where other people can pay to set up their own mining computers. He now has 28 such centers, all of them filled with endless racks of servers, tangled cords and fans cooling the machines.
Mr. Ng, 36, said he had become an expert in finding cheap energy, often in places where a coal plant or hydroelectric dam was built to support some industrial project that never happened. The Bitcoin mining machines in his facilities use about 38 megawatts of electricity, he said, enough to power a small city.
A kind of infrastructural one upon which others are built. TBD
Unlike bitcoin, seems to be oriented toward anonymity, which bitcoin is not especially good at apparently. I’m not sure that is what I need right now. Does it have other useful features?
Ripple is a (distributed?) ledger designed for cross-currency remittances, apparently. Once again it seems like this should be good for low-fee international transactions but I cannot seem to make that fly without a bank account in each country.
I don’t know anything about Stellar and their Lumens except for their flashy launch. Something something easy conversion something?
Decred is an open and progressive cryptocurrency with a system of community-based governance integrated into its blockchain.
Most blockchain mechanisms have a cryptocurrency buried somewhere in them.