Get $250 back on $500 worth of purchases at Amazon!

Hi readers, I’ve been busy on a couple projects and consequently MIA the past few months. For those of you still visiting the site, I just thought I’d pass along a deal that seems ridiculously good, just in time for the holiday season: apply for a Chase Freedom Visa card and get $200 + $25 + 25 back ($250 total) after spending $500 at Amazon within 3 months. That amounts to a whopping 50% cash back on your first $500 of purchases, which should give you some extra cash to invest into your cryptocurrency addiction. =)

You can see how the deal breaks down by visiting the application page, but you’ll get $200 just for spending $500 in the first three months. You can make the purchases anywhere, but the card happens to earn you 5% cash back at Amazon this quarter, so that’s an additional $25. And you get an additional $25 when you add an authorized user to the card and they make their first purchase in 3 months.

You need to apply for the card by December 18th, but you have until mid-March to make the $500 in purchases. You can cancel the card without penalty after earning the rewards, of course.

Newegg begins accepting Bitcoin

This morning, Newegg announced that they’ve started accepting Bitcoin on their website (via BitPay), making them one of the largest and most popular internet retailers to jump on the cryptocurrency bandwagon to date. Newegg’s homepage is currently prominently featuring Bitcoin, and they’ve created a helpful “about Bitcoin” page on their site to help educate those that want to learn more about it. Bitcoin is even currently appearing at the top of the “payment options” list during Newegg’s checkout process—ahead of credit cards, Paypal, and other methods.

I’m surprised it took Newegg this long, but it’s nice to finally see them embrace cryptocurrency. I’m curious to see what kind of impact this will have on their business—Newegg really seems like an ideal candidate for Bitcoin adoption, given the nature of their products and techno-enthusiast customer base. Hopefully this turns into a major success story for them.

Xapo CEO predicts $1 Million Bitcoin price

The Wall Street Journal posted a short interview with Wences Casares, CEO of bitcoin startup Xapo, regarding his thoughts on the future of bitcoin. Casares predicts that one decade from now, a single bitcoin will be worth somewhere between half a million dollars and a million dollars.

That’s quite the lofty predication, and one that isn’t entirely surprising coming from a guy that runs a business that depends on people buying and holding bitcoins. However, Casares is far from the first person to make such a prediction, and there are fairly rational models that support single bitcoin valuations in the 5 to 6 figure range.

I’ve personally stated many times that I believe the far future (5+ years, in technology) of bitcoin only holds two possibilities: it either fails to catch on and its value drops to zero, or adoption reaches a critical mass and its value skyrockets far beyond where it is today. A scenario where bitcoin simply stagnates and plateaus at a value of several hundred dollars (or a somewhere in the low four figures) is the only unreasonable one to me. I wouldn’t be completely shocked to see a 5- or 6-figure bitcoin price in a decade, just like I wouldn’t be astonished if bitcoin was no longer around. So I suppose a 7-figure valuation isn’t out of the realm of possibility, either.

Regardless of what happens in the future, it’ll probably be interesting to look back at the days of the ~$500 bitcoin.

KNC announces 100 Mh/sec scrypt mining rigs

Yesterday, KnCMiner began accepting pre-orders for their first ASIC scrypt-based mining rigs. Dubbed the “Titan”, KnCMiner claims that each unit will be capable of mining scrypt-based coins (Litecoin, etc) at a rate of at least 100 Mh/sec—far in excess of what GPU-based rigs are capable of today. KnCMiner hasn’t shared power consumption estimates thus far, but each unit will apparently run on a single standard ATX power supply (which is supplied by the customer). The units are scheduled to begin shipping in Q2 or Q3 of 2014, and the pre-order price is set at $9,995 per rig.

There are a handful of other companies that have announced that they’re actively developing ASIC scrypt miners, but KnCMiner is the only one that has a proven track record in this area. KnCMiner’s popular Bitcoin ASIC rigs shipped on time to pre-order customers, and performed in excess of initial estimates—so there is no reason to assume that they won’t be able to deliver on their promises with the Titan.

TechCrunch reported that KnCMiner sold $2 million worth of Titan pre-orders in four hours, so interest in the rigs is apparently quite high.

Edit 3/21: As reader sapientlife points out, ASIC scrypt miners by Gridseed are already available for purchase. The Gridseed miners aren’t very powerful, however—they’re capable of mining scrypt coins about half as fast as a single high-end GPU, for nearly the same up-front cost. However, they’re quite a bit more power efficient than GPU mining (GPUs will use about 10 times as much power at the same hashing speed). Whether or not a Gridseed ASIC beats out GPUs for you depends on electricity costs in your area.

Newsweek seemingly outs Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto

In a story published this morning, Newsweek has finally exposed the identity of Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. Or at least, Newsweek believes that it has.

The story is an odd account of a perhaps over-zealous journalist ambushing a man at his house in California, and proceeding to ask him questions about Bitcoin that he mostly refuses to answer. At no point does this man actually confirm that he is the creator of Bitcoin, and the story’s author doesn’t provide any actual proof to her claim. Only the shared name (most in the Bitcoin community have always assumed that “Satoshi Nakamoto” is a pseudonym) and the fact that this man has apparently done some classified technical work during his career are submitted as evidence that Bitcoin’s creator has been found.

Newsweek went so far as to publish photos of the man and his house in the article—which seems more than a bit irresponsible given that Satoshi allegedly has access to about half a billion dollars worth of bitcoin. That kind of wealth will likely bring him all sorts of attention for the rest of his life, as well as make him a potential target for criminals looking to get their hands on his private keys.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Newsweek finds itself on the receiving end of a good deal of backlash over the story. It’s big on speculation, light on actual facts, and recklessly cavalier toward Nakamoto’s personal privacy.

Edit 6PM: Nakamoto has reportedly officially denied being the creator of Bitcoin. Some folks over in the /r/Bitcoin subreddit have found some of Nakamoto’s Amazon product reviews and compared them to posts written by the real Satoshi—the difference in writing style is quite obvious. It’s looking more and more like Newsweek royally screwed up and turned some random poor guy’s life upside down for nothing.

Edit 7:30PM: The AP posted the details of Nakamoto’s denial. Apparently he’d never even heard of Bitcoin before Newsweek contacted him.

Edit 3/17: Nakamoto has officially denied being the creator of Bitcoin via a written statement from his lawyer. Lawsuit incoming!

Mt. Gox shuts down

mtgox-whiteMt. Gox has been offline since late yesterday evening, just a few hours after I wrote that something like this was probably imminent. Most are interpreting the unavailability of Mt. Gox’s website as a sign that they’ve shut down for good, and unfortunately that’s probably a safe bet.

CNBC posted a good write-up of the events leading up to Gox’s demise this morning. Ars Technica published a short article about the shut down as well.

Hopefully none of you had any money trapped in Gox. This should serve as yet another reminder that cryptocurrency exchanges aren’t banks and should never be treated as such. When exchanges fail—and an absurdly high percentage of them do—you’ll likely be left without recourse, so don’t trust a third party to hold your money any longer than necessary. Store the majority of your cryptocurrency in secure offline wallets, and transfer to exchanges only long enough to execute your trades.

This news will likely have a negative impact on cryptocurrency prices. BTC is down about 20% this morning already, and you can expect it to continue to drop throughout the week as the news makes it way through mainstream media outlets. For the more speculatively-minded folks among us, the next few weeks may present an excellent opportunity to pick up some bitcoins at heavily discounted prices.

Edit: Erik Voorhees posted some eloquent thoughts about the situation over on reddit.

More signs of trouble at Mt. Gox

mtgox-whiteLast night, Mark Karpeles (Mt. Gox’s CEO) resigned his position from the board of the Bitcoin foundation. Earlier today, Mt. Gox completely deleted all of their past tweets from their Twitter feed.

Karpeles stepping down wasn’t exactly a surprise, as many in the Bitcoin community have been calling for his removal for months. However, his action may signify a lack of confidence in his ability to correct the downward spiral of Gox.

Scrubbing their own Twitter feed isn’t exactly a confidence-inspiring move, either.

If you have any money trapped in Mt. Gox, it’s probably a good idea to make sure that you have screenshots of your account balance, records of your transaction history, and logs of any communication with them. Hopefully they’re able to turn themselves around, but if not it’s best to gather as much information as possible before it’s potentially too late.

Edit 10PM EST: Mt. Gox reportedly just disabled trading entirely.

TechCrunch: Is Bitcoin the new Paypal?

TechCrunch posted an article today comparing Bitcoin to the early Paypal days—when fraud, theft, and technical issues ran rampant. TechCrunch’s headline would probably be a bit more accurate if “Mt. Gox” were substituted in place of “Bitcoin” (and to be fair, the body of the article mostly focuses on the current problems plaguing Gox when drawing comparisons to Paypal’s early days), but the write-up is interesting nonetheless.

I do remember a time when Paypal was regarded in much the same way that Bitcoin is today. Back then, trusting a fledgling internet company to “send money across the web” was something that crazy people did. Times have certainly changed, and it’ll be interesting to see where the public perception of cryptocurrency is in five or ten years.

In related news, Mt. Gox issued a short update today apologizing for the continued delays while they work through their issues. What’s up with the “security problems” that Gox claims forced them to relocate? Rumor has it that they’re referring to the three-person protest currently taking place outside their headquarters.

Apologies for the lack of updates

Just a quick note that I’ve been dealing with the death of somebody close to me over the past several weeks, and updates to the site have suffered as a result. I should be able to get back into a semi-regular schedule starting next week. If you’ve sent me a message at any point in the new year, chances are that I haven’t responded to you yet—I’ll do my best to start catching up on email as well.

I have a couple purpose-built custom mining cases here that I’m hoping to get reviews up of soon, for those of you that want something that’s more flexible (and aesthetically appealing!) than a plastic milk crate.

An update to my mining guide for the R9 series of GPUs is still on the horizon as well—I’m still having trouble getting my hands on the more desirable manufacturer brands at prices that don’t sicken me.

Finally, today I updated the cryptocurrency ticker that’s running on my site to pull the BTC quote from Coinbase, given the issues that Mt. Gox has been having. If you’re running a WordPress site and would like the utilize the ticker, you can grab it from the official repository. As of today the ticker also supports displaying quote prices in Euros, in case you’re from across the pond.

Edit: Thanks for the kind words, everyone—they’re much appreciated!

TigerDirect now accepting Bitcoin

Just a couple weeks after Overstock.com went live with Bitcoin payment processing, TigerDirect today announced that they have also begun accepting Bitcoin on their website. TigerDirect is a major electronics and computer parts retailer, and this development makes them one of the largest businesses to accept Bitcoin thus far.

Given the success that Overstock is enjoying with its Bitcoin experiment, and rumors of impending Bitcoin adoption from giants like Google, Newegg, and eBay—it’s looking increasingly likely that 2014 will be the year that most major online retailers start accepting cryptocurrency.