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Legitimate miners and buyers have to incur substantial production and energy expenses, or have to pay the going exchange rates for bitcoins.

Criminal miners pay virtually nothing for its production of new coins, outsourcing the work to hapless victim machines all over the world. Criminal bitcoin thieves don't incur the exchange rate fee 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 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 violate the law).

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There is no doubt the bitcoin has staying power, but if that's only among criminals (and those who would like to traffic together, like the Silk Road drug 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 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 in addition to cover their tracks. Whenever you see a stash of bitcoin and have judicial permission to follow the footprints, do this.

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While bitcoin usage is not limited to criminals, there's 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 less profitable for legitimate traders.

Here is the vital take-away: bitcoins are becoming the"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 forms see mining as pennies from heaven, such as California gold prospectors in 1848. And if you are technologically inclined, why not take action

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Well, before you invest time and equipment, browse this explainer to see whether mining is for you. We'll focus mostly on Bitcoin. (Connected: How Bitcoin Works and our helpful 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 purchase crypto using fiat currency (USD, EUR, JPY, etc); you can exchange it on an exchange such as Bitstamp using other crypto (instance: Using Ethereum or NEO to buy Bitcoin); you even can earn it by playing video games or even simply by publishing blogposts on platforms that pay its consumers in crypto.

In this post addition to lining the pockets of miners, mining serves a second and vital purpose: It is the only way to release new cryptocurrency into circulation. In other words, miners are essentially"minting" currency. For example, as of the time of writing this bit, there were approximately 17 million pop over to this site Bitcoin in circulation.

In the absence of miners, Bitcoin would still exist and be usable, but there would never be any additional Bitcoin. There will 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).

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Besides the short-term Bitcoin payoff, being a miner can give you"voting" power when changes are suggested in the Bitcoin protocol. In other words, an effective miner has influence on the decision-making procedure on such matters as  forking.

Bitcoin are mined in units called"cubes" 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 occur, you can consult with 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 maintain Bitcoin users honest, and has been conceived by Bitcoin's founder, Satoshi Nakamoto. By verifying transactions, miners are helping prevent the"double-spending issue."

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