Category Archives: Blog

Building decentral.tv 2.0

Hi! I’m Josh, the new COO of decentral.tv. I’m excited to be joining the team here at Decentral, and want to take a minute to tell you a little about what we have planned in the coming months.

 

First, a little about me. Before coming to Decentral I worked at a legal consultancy, and before that, I articled at a full-service law firm in downtown Toronto. My JD is from U of T, and my Bachelors’ was from McGill, in International Development Studies & Philosophy.

 

I first heard about Bitcoin during law school (from the now-infamous Gawker article about Silk Road). Like many at the time, I mostly dismissed it. The price surge of 2013 obviously caught my eye, but it wasn’t until this past December that I started to understand why so many people are passionate about it.

 

After spending 3 months consuming everything about Bitcoin and blockchain that I could get my hands on, I started hanging around meetings at Decentral, and eventually, volunteering and helping out with events. When Anthony offered me an opportunity to join the team, I jumped on it. After a whirlwind trip to the Texas Bitcoin Conference in Austin, I’m back in the office building the new decentral.tv.

 

decentral.tv, 2.0

The goal of decentral.tv is simple: get interesting people in front of a camera and learn as much as possible from them. There are three ways I want to do this better:

 

1) Panels & debates. The Bitcoin community likes to argue. About a lot of things. Should Bitcoin companies partner with traditional financial institutions, or is the whole point of the technology to work around them? What’s the best way to increase mainstream adoption? Should we increase the block size? What role should organizations like the Bitcoin Foundation play?

These debates are important. This is a young technology, and we’re a young industry. The people building both are making difficult decisions every day, and the answers they come to on the questions above will play a part in determining the future direction of the industry. We want to play a role in that conversation.

We’re going to pick big issues the community cares about, find notable people with strong opinions about those issues, and let them have that debate on camera. The point isn’t to create conflict. The point of a debate is to get smart people to hash out the flaws in each other’s arguments, and through that process, present the best version of each side of an issue to our viewers. It’s also something I know a little about.

 

2) Interviews relevant to the news of the day. We’re a small team juggling a lot of other responsibilities, so it isn’t always easy to get content up the same day we film it. But we’re going to try and do this more often. We want you to be able to come to decentral.tv and watch people in the industry giving their views on the news of today, not news from last week.

 

3) Guests from outside the community. We want to have more people on the show from outside the Bitcoin community. A lot of the Bitcoin media is focused on a small number of people at a small number of companies. We want to broaden our reach to include more people from outside the industry who have a valuable perspective to add. Economists, policy wonks, lawyers, consultants, merchants, and activists all have valuable perspectives that aren’t always present in the (still relatively small) Bitcoin community.

We have a lot more planned, but that should give you a good idea of the direction we’re taking. More to come as our plans take shape.

Decentral.tv partners with BTC Media to become exclusive video content provider

*Decentral.tv, the premier source for bitcoin and decentralized technology videos, is now the exclusive video content provider for BTC Media*

 

Decentral.tv is excited to announce that it has entered into a partnership to become the exclusive video content provider for BTC Media LLC, the world’s largest Bitcoin media group. BTC Media LLC is the parent company of financial technology magazine yBitcoin and its website http://www.ybitcoin.com, as well as the recently acquired Bitcoin Magazine and http://www.bitcoinmagazine.com.

 

“yBitcoin has always stood out as a well-run publication,” said Anthony Di Iorio, founder and CEO of decentral.tv. “Now that Bitcoin Magazine is also in the capable hands of BTC Media and Calli and David Bailey, I’m excited to see where he’ll take this publication moving forward. This partnership between BTC Media and decentral.tv has great potential to provide a valuable service to the bitcoin community.”
David Bailey, CEO of BTC Media, was equally enthusiastic about the prospect of co-operating with decentral.tv. “For us, partnering with decentral.tv was a no-brainer,” he said. “Live video is the next step in delivering high quality content to the community in real time, and is sorely needed in the Bitcoin space. Given Anthony Di Iorio’s proven track record of executing and delivering on challenging projects, we jumped at the chance to bring our readers first hand access to decentral.tv.”

 

As part of this alliance, decentral.tv will provide exclusive video coverage of major events on behalf of BTC Media, as well as contribute weekly written content to Bitcoin Magazine, including recaps of Decentral Talk Live episodes, information on upcoming shows, and articles highlighting topics featured in selected DTL episodes.

 

Decentral Talk Live is a daily talk show that airs Monday to Friday. Hosts Anthony Di Iorio and Ethan Wilding, along with a rotating panel of guest hosts, cover a variety of topics relevant to the Bitcoin community by interviewing prominent names and companies in the crypto space.

 

Decentral.tv is a 24-hour interactive dashboard featuring video segments, interviews, curated news and information, a Twitter feed, charts, and customizable exchange tickers. It delivers globally relevant content with news about Bitcoin and other decentralized and disruptive technologies.

 

For media and partnership inquiries or to suggest news and story ideas, please contact Ethan Wilding or Anthony Di Iorio at info.decentral.ca or call +1-416-831-9593.

A University of Colorado study touting the benefits of remittances sent via Western Union has positive implications for Bitcoin

A recent study out of the University of Colorado Boulder outlines the ways in which money transfers from migrant workers to families in developing countries help reduce poverty and improve their standard of living. The study was conducted in partnership with money transfer service company Western Union, and it touts the benefits that transferring money via Western Union brings to low-income communities around the world. Here are some of the highlights:

 

Communities that are recipients of remittances benefit from the influx of foreign currency, both directly and indirectly.

 

a) Recipients will often reduce their work hours or drop out of the workforce altogether, usually in order to get an education or care for young children or aging relatives.
b) Older recipients are able to retire and enjoy a better quality of life.
c) This diminished local workforce often results in higher wages for other members of the community.
d) Spending on local goods and services, as well as personal savings, increases, indirectly benefiting the rest of the community by creating better employment opportunities and supporting higher wages.

 

Remittance flows have become the second largest, and most stable, source of foreign currency and development assistance worldwide.

 

Official development assistance used to be the largest contributor but, in the past 25 years, it has been outpaced dramatically by foreign direct investment (FDI) and remittances. FDI can be extremely volatile and unstable, depending on global financial markets, but remittances have seen steady and stable growth.

 

  • Most remittances flow to middle income countries (71%) with just 6% flowing to low-income countries
  • Remittances to low income countries, however, now represent 8% of the GDP (up from 2% in 2008), compared to 2% of GDP for middle-income countries. Thus, the impact of remittances is felt more acutely in low-income countries.

 

The general trend worldwide is toward lower official transmission rates, according to a World Bank report in September of 2014.

 

The global average transmission rate fell below 8% for the first time in Q4 2014, to 7.9%, down from 8.93% in Q3 2013. The average remittance cost declined most sharply for East Asia.

 

The Philippines as a case study

According to the study, every ₱100 spent by households generates ₱223 of additional output. On average, each Western Union affiliate office transmits ₱23.2 million in remittances ($552,941 USD), enough to support an additional 85 full-time jobs, usually in the area where the WU office is located. (272,949 = 1 f/t worker)
Overall, remittances through WU offices in the Philippines are then calculated in the study as:

  • 25% of all remittances for the country
  • generating approximately 720,825 full-time jobs

Apart from banks and Western Union, informal remittances contribute another 30-40% of foreign currency that flows into the Philippines.

 

A Bitcoin Perspective

The most interesting thing about this report, from a bitcoin perspective, is the overall conclusion that remittances offer a net gain for recipient communities. There are some potential drawbacks, but the study concludes that the positives outweigh the negatives.

 

Imagine if even one half of those Western Union remittances had been sent using bitcoin.

In the Philippines, sites like coins.ph and rebit.ph make it safe and simple for Filipino recipients to receive and convert bitcoins into pesos. According to the Rebit website, they charge no fees on their transaction.
Fees may be charged to exchange your BTC for pesos, depending on how you choose to receive your money:

“These fees are paid directly to the provider you select. For example, Cebuana Lhuillier cash pickup will charge an additional PhP240 for a PhP10,000 transfer. Meanwhile, a bank account deposit within Metro Manila is free. As you fill in the rebittance form, the pricing display on the sidebar changes to show you what the total cost of the transfer will be.” – rebit.ph

 

Using this model, let’s see what would happen if even half of those Western Union transfers had been made in bitcoin:

According to the study out of University of Colorado Boulder, each Western Union office, on average, handles ₱23.2 million in remittances. Half of those remittances equals ₱11.6 million. Transferring that ₱11.6 million in bitcoin would have saved ₱812,000 (@7%) in fees. (I based this percentage on the average quoted in the study.)
According to the study’s calculations, ₱272, 949 in remittances = 1 full-time job created. That means approximately two more full-time workers could have been hired (1.97) at each Western Union location if just half of those transaction had been made in bitcoin. Nationally, that works out to about 167,450 additional jobs!

 

I also spoke with Philip Agyei Asare, a Bitcoin advocate in Ghana, and asked him if it was just as easy for average Ghanaians to buy, transfer, and sell bitcoins as it is for them to use Western Union and other traditional remittance agencies. He assured me it was; in fact, many Africans also use bitcoin to shop online.

“[People] just need to be educated on how to use the platform [and then be able to educate] the people in diaspora because they will be sending in money to their family and loved ones in Africa,” he said.
Asare is doing his part to help educate: He has been invited to speak on the topic of “Bitcoin in Africa” at the [Bitcoin Consumer Fair in Atlanta] (http://bitcoinconsumerfair.com/) this April. (If you would like to support his efforts to attend, you are welcome to send tips/donations to his address: 1BNht8bCmbZVkmR2FJQaWh7Gmcr2qLZCod).

Some final thoughts…

 

There are two lines in the report that stood out for me:

  1. “The Central Bank and other bankers dislike any proliferation of informal remittance agents who transfer funds through informal channels for lower fees than formal banks and transmission services can charge. However informal transmissions may begin to slow as the cost of formal remittance cost declines.” Perhaps what we can take away from this statement is as follows: Banks and other formal remittance services are having to play catch-up when it comes to charging less for remittances now that other informal channels – like bitcoin – are offering cheaper and faster alternatives.
  2. “As the [cost percentage] rate of formal services declines, senders will increasingly utilize formal mechanisms, due to higher convenience and security, compared to informal channels.” Unless the informal channel you are using is Bitcoin, of course, with its highly secure protocol. The flipside to this statement in the study is that people are looking for low-cost, secure ways to send and receive money. Here is where bitcoin is able to make inroads.

As for expecting people to return to using traditional transmission services just because their fees go down a bit, that might be wishful thinking on the part of the Central Bank and Western Union, especially if they could understand just what sort of impact the savings could have on the local economy.

 

Disclaimer/note: Referencing coins.ph and rebit.ph does not mean that I endorse either website, or that one company is any better than the other. I chose to use rebit.ph in my example simply because I found the website a bit easier to navigate and the answers to my questions were clear.

Buying Bitcoins: Is it really that hard?

Updated: Tuesday, January 20

Last Wednesday at the Decentral meet-up, part of the discussion touched on the idea that while it’s getting much easier to SPEND bitcoins, buying bitcoins is still a pretty daunting task.
Sure, there are a few bitcoin ATMs sprinkled around the world, (including one here at Decentral), and there’s also LocalBitcoins as an option. But what if you don’t live in a city with a BTM? What if there isn’t a LocalBitcoins trader handy? Or if you don’t feel like schlepping across town to find the BTM or the trader?

 

This lack of access to coins was lamented as a real barrier to adoption. Why would anyone in the Western world go to the trouble of sourcing out bitcoins when fiat money is so darn handy? And using PayPal for online purchases or accepting payments? Piece of cake!

 

Philosophical arguments aside (and yes, those definitely came up!) I thought I’d try to challenge this premise by going right back to the roots of setting up a bank account, a PayPal account, and an account on an exchange. Since I’ve never tried to set up a new bank account with a new bank online, and it’s been 10 years since I set up my PayPal account, I decided to start from scratch. I’m not much of a techie, so I figured, if I can sort my way through the processes, anyone can.

 

(Note: I could also have gone into the process of applying for a new credit card but chose not to go through that whole thing too. Suffice to say, the last time I got a card, it took a good week and a half to get it delivered and the PIN number – mailed separately – got lost in the mail.)

 

For now, let’s imagine I live in Northern Ontario. There are no BTMs and the nearest LocalBitcoin trader is a dogsled ride away. But there is a bank down the road and I have a decent Internet connection.

 

Scenario 1: Get an online bank account.

To get a bank account at one major Canadian bank, here is what they want me to do:

That’s a lot of personal information. And some of it has to be mailed, depending on the option I choose.
So I go through the process of applying for my account. That part is pretty quick and easy. Verfying my account, however, requires that I ALREADY HAVE an account at another bank. Otherwise, I have to go into a branch in person. So much for getting all set up strictly from the comfort of my living room.

 

Scenario 2: Set up a PayPal account:

Some of us at the meet-up talked about the ease of using our existing PayPal accounts to make and accept payments. Again, philosophical arguments aside, I decide to investigate how easy it is to work with PayPal, starting from the account sign-up stage.

Signing up with PayPal is also pretty easy. I just use my email address for verification, and it takes about 5 minutes.

So I now have my new bank account and new PayPal account.

 

Scenario 3: Set up an account at a bitcoin exchange

First, I open a new account on the QuadrigaCX exchange and it takes about 5 minutes. Now, if I want to buy bitcoins, I need to fund my account; that is, I need to put money into my Quadriga account so that I can use the money to buy bitcoins. Quadriga offers a few ways to do this:

If I want to get my bitcoins, I’ll need to transfer money from my bank. Getting my money transferred right away using INTERAC Online will cost me at least $5 and I’ll need to get verified. These are the documents Quadriga asks for in order to get verified.

  • My phone number
  • Scan of a Passport or Drivers license (Must be in colour)
  • Scan of a bank statement or utility bill showing my name and full address
  • Photo of me holding the ID that I have provided

Once I email or upload these documents to the site’s secure server, it can take up to 48 hours for them to get verified. That is a bit of a set-back if I want to buy bitcoins today.

 

Scenario 4: Set up an account at a digital currency retailer

Undeterred, I also open an account with Harbor.ly. The verification process at this digital currency retailer is pretty simple as well, but if you aren’t comfortable using social media as third-party authenticators, this site might not be for you.

Next, I have to hook my Harborly account up to my bank account. Once again, like QuadrigaCX, it’s going to take up to 48 hours to get a new account verified.

So, yes, getting set up online to buy bitcoins can have a bit of a delay while your account is verified. Keep in mind that most of these processes are part of KYC compliance requirements.
On the other hand, the amount of personal information that I handed over to the exchange and retailer is comparable to setting up a bank account and a PayPal account.
It’s also going to take about a week for me to get my new bank card in the mail. There are plenty of delays no matter what you’re trying to do.

 

All set up and ready to get me some BTC

Now, let’s look at costs:

  • Harborly charges 1% on transactions
  • QuadrigaCX charges 0.05% on all completed trades.

With QuadrigaCX, once I have my account verified and funded, it only takes me a few seconds to buy my bitcoins. And if I want to sell my coins and transfer the money to my bank account, it usually takes a few hours for an e-transfer to go through.

Let’s look at what it costs to move money around with PayPal. It has a pretty complicated fee schedule. Here is what it would cost me to receive $500 from somewhere within Canada:

Whoa. In my case, I have several US clients. That costs even MORE to get paid by them.

But now, let’s look at how long it takes to actually GET funds. Some banks will hold deposits on new accounts for up to 5 business days. When I get paid by clients using PayPal, it takes 3-5 business days for funds in my PayPal account to show up in my bank account. So there is still a significant waiting period involved there.

 

UPDATE: Another way to get BTC online right away

I also tried buying some bitcoins on QuickBT. If you really want to get your hands on a small amount of bitcoin ASAP, you can buy up to 0.2BTC almost instantly. All you need is a wallet address (if you don’t have one, they provide a links to Blockchain.info and Coinkite), a phone number, and an email address.
I entered my wallet address and got an instant quote:

Then I entered my phone number, received a PIN code, and paid online from my bank account via INTERAC. (Note: I couldn’t use my new bank account yet since I still had to wait another week or so for my new bank card.)

Moments later, I had my bitcoins and a confirmation was emailed to me.

By far, this was the quickest and most convenient way to get started with bitcoins. The only drawbacks are that (a) you can only buy a small amount in any given day, and (b) it will cost you more (about 10.5% in fees) than waiting a few days and buying through sites like QuadrigaCX or Harborly.

 

My conclusion:
I will grant that since most of us have bank accounts and some of us are already hooked up with PayPal, the pressing need to set up an account at a bitcoin exchange isn’t really there unless we really want to get our hands on some bitcoins. Of course it is easier to stick with what you know. But if you are willing to wait a day or two to get verified on an exchange like QuadrigaCX or Harborly – or get started in minutes on QuickBT if you are willing to pay a bit more – there are definite benefits. It’s not really as onerous a task as you might have thought.

 

When you compare the effort involved in setting up an online bank account to setting up an account on a bitcoin exchange, it’s not all that different. The main difference, of course, is that you probably already have a bank account. In the end, however, I’ve found it has saved me both time and money to move funds around in bitcoin, so it seems to have been well worth the small initial effort.

 

For another interesting discussion on this topic that has more of an international/American bent to it, check out this Reddit thread that, coincidentally, popped up over the weekend:
http://redd.it/2ss6ee

So – how do you buy your bitcoins?

Happy Holidays from Decentral!

Things have been getting all festive here at 64 Spadina. If you’ve walked by Decentral lately, you’ll have probably noticed a sparkly wreath festooning our neon bitcoin logo, flanked by prancing reindeer in the window.

There’s another wreath hanging above the newly wrapped Bitcoin ATM in the lobby.

And everyone is just downright cheery in the office. But that’s not uncommon.

At the front desk, beside our bowl of candy canes, you’ll find Nancy, our super-helpful office angel, ready to answer your questions, help you with the BTM, or sell you some bitcoin swag. She also has a stack of Simple Coin Cards for sale – perfect for stocking stuffers!

At last week’s meet-up, we held a year-end party with refreshments and decorations and lots of bitcoin conversation. There was a great turnout and the second floor party room was packed with friends and family.

The next two Wednesdays fall on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, so there won’t be meet-ups held on those days. But we all look forward to seeing you again on January 7th at 7 pm for the first meet-up of 2015. As always, we encourage you to register for free in advance for our meet-ups.

If you are planning on stopping by Decentral, please take note of our holiday hours:

  • Closed on December 24th, 25th, 26th, and 28th and January 1st
  • Open on Dec. 27th from 10:00 -3:00
  • Regular hours on Dec. 29th and 30th (9:30 – 5:00)
  • Closed Dec. 31st
  • Closed on January 1st.

From all of us here at Toronto Decentral – Happy Holidays!!

Up, Up and Away with BTCTrip.com: My first experience booking a trip with BTC

My son goes to university up north. Every time we want to bring him home for breaks, I look into a few travel options: flights (convenient but pricey), coach bus (cheaper but less pleasant for him), or driving the eight hours each way (ugh). This week, I decided to look into buying a return flight for him using bitcoins.

 

Using BTCTrip.com was pretty simple. I’ve bought tickets on Expedia and CheapOair many times in the past so I’m used to buying airline tickets online. The user experience on BTCTrip is similar to these sites so the whole experience felt very familiar. For someone like myself, who is just starting to get into buying things with bitcoins, this familiarity made me feel comfortable with the process.

 

When I landed on the colourful BTCTrip.com site, there were the familiar info fields: to, from, dates of travel, number of passengers etc. When I compared the price of the plane ticket to the ones being offered on CheapOair, I was pleased to see that the prices were indeed cheaper. Bonus: My teenaged son can sleep in – there was a flight available for the middle of the day! (He’d have had to roll out of bed and trek out to the airport by 7:00am with CheapOair for the same price!)

 

I also looked into the price of a hotel stay on New Year’s Eve in Montreal so he and his brother could go catch a IIHF World Junior hockey game. Like other online hotel booking services, I could sort by hotel amenities and locations. There were plenty of options and I was able to find a room in our price range. So far, so good!

 

Once I purchased my flight, there was a brief, disconcerting moment as I got an email saying that they hadn’t been able to process my payment yet. I eventually realized that the delay was due to the confirmation process – of course – but it would have been helpful if that bit of explanation had been included in the alert, especially for those of us who are still learning the ins and out of bitcoin. The good thing was that customer service sent me a prompt and friendly reply.

 

Shortly thereafter, my e-ticket arrived and I forwarded it to my son. Excellent! It’s easy to see why BTCTrip has so many endorsements on their site.

 

Later that same evening, Martin Fernandez, founder and CEO of BTCTrip, was the guest speaker at the Decentral Meet-up in Toronto. He was very enthusiastic about the future for the online travel industry. He sees a day when the blockchain and smart contracts will play a major role in booking flights and hotels, where consumers can use online services like BTCTrip to cut out layers of middlemen and make bookings themselves. When these sorts of transactions are possible, he predicts that the costs of travel will decrease significantly for consumers.

 

Now that I’ve had my first pleasant experience buying airfare with BTCTrip.com, I only hope that these exciting new advancements will happen before my daughter starts university as well, in a couple of years!

Decentral Talk Live launches on Decentral.tv

As part of its bid to become the premier news and information site with video content related to cryptocurrencies and decentralized tech, decentral.tv is launching Decentral Talk Live, a daily show about bitcoin, blockchain technologies, and all things decentralized. Interviews with prominent personalities, innovators, and entrepreneurs will be the key focus, along with product reviews and general news and discussion of current events in the cryptocurrency and decentralized tech space.

 

Hosted by Anthony Di Iorio and Ethan Wilding, Decentral Talk Live will also feature an assortment of guest hosts including specialists in legal, accounting, security, and tech development from the Decentral space. The first installment will feature Patrick Murck, the executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation as he answers questions from Anthony and Ethan, as well as guest host, Michael Perklin. Next on the schedule is a series of interviews focusing on various bitcoin ATMs, including BitAccess, Lamassu, and BitX. Look for more episodes when Decentral Talk Live talks with Jordan Kelly of Robocoin, Dmitry Murashchik of Mycelium, Matt Schlich of ZapChain, and many other well-known names in the bitcoin community.

 

New episodes will air weekdays at 3:00 pm EST on decentral.tv.

 

Decentral.tv is a 24-hour interactive internet dashboard that’s packed with video segments, curated news and information, a Twitter feed, interviews, feature programs, charts, and customizable exchange tickers. It delivers globally relevant content with news about decentralized and disruptive technologies around the world. Its most prominent feature provides a playlist of quality videos, including live broadcasts of the weekly Decentral Toronto meet-up events, as well as other unique and curated programs.

Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, Decentral is a home to disruptive and decentralized technologies. It offers co-working space and a bitcoin teller machine, and numerous tech companies are headquartered here.

For media and partnership inquiries or to suggest news and story ideas, please contact Christie Harkin or Anthony Di Iorio at [email protected] or call +1-416-831-9593.

Simple Coin Card: The Gift of Bitcoin – now available exclusively at Decentral!

Note: Shu Wang, the founder of Simple Coin Card, will be at the Decentral meet-up tonight (December 10) to answer your questions.

 

Gift cards are a convenient and simple way to give people what they want while also allowing them to make choices in their purchases. Now, Simple Coin Cards make it easy to give the gift of bitcoin.

 

Simple Coin Cards look like regular plastic gift cards and come in a variety of pre-set amounts that match Canadian currency denominations: $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. They have a one-time key on the back that is activated on purchase. All you do is scratch and reveal the key, visit simplecoincard.com, enter the key, and deposit your coins to the wallet of your choice. Don’t have a wallet? You can easily click on the link provided to create your own Rushwallet in seconds.

 

After the recipient has deposited their gift in their wallet, they can start spending their coins.
The website also has a list of links to places where you can spend your bitcoins.

 

Because Simple Coin Cards come in a variety of denominations, they are a fantastic way to introduce your family and friends to bitcoin. Anyone who has ever used a gift card or a phone card will find the card platform familiar and safe.

 

While Simple Coin Cards make excellent gifts, they are also a year-round alternative to using a bitcoin ATM to purchase bitcoin in person. The fees are comparable at 10% (deducted at the time of redemption) and the rate of exchange is derived at the time of purchase from the best available price among the Canadian exchanges. Cards are portable and don’t require a prolonged Internet connection to get your coins.

 

Security

All funds that support any activated Simple Coin Cards are stored in a secure hot wallet, while funds for unactivated cards are kept in cold storage. Each card has a unique, one-time use key on the back. Once the key has been entered into simplecoincard.com and the bitcoins have been transferred into the user’s wallet, the card is no longer active and can be discarded. Cards are not refillable or reusable.

 

Where to purchase Simple Coin Cards

Right now, Simple Coin Cards are available to purchase in person exclusively at Decentral Toronto, 64 Spadina Ave. Simply come in during our regular office hours and ask for Simple Coin Cards at the front desk.

#BitcoinGivingTuesday: Sharing the bitcoin love

After the frantic spending hype of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a welcome palate-cleanser. And just as we did on those first two days, the Bitcoin community is holding its own event: Bitcoin Giving Tuesday — a project organized by Bitcoin Black Friday, the BitGive Foundation and the Bitcoin Foundation.

 

The number of charities accepting bitcoin donations is on the rise. It’s one more way that they are able to engage with a set of committed donors while reducing their overhead costs. Donated bitcoin can be recorded as a non-cash gift and then exchanged for fiat, without the high transaction costs normally associated with credit card payments.

 

Bitcoin donations also have the capacity to reach farther around the world. Many remote territories, especially in the developing world, do not have access to the infrastructure needed to run credit card or PayPay systems. But they can accept bitcoin.

 

Now that the start of holiday gift shopping has officially begun, this is the day that we’re encouraged to think about giving a gift to a worthy cause. The bitcoin community has often expressed the desire to change the world for the better. Bitcoin Giving Tuesday is another way that we can do this.

 

For a list of organizations that accept bitcoin, visit bitcoingivingtuesday.org. You can also donate directly through the website: 100% of all donations will go to the non-profit of your choosing.

 

You’ll also find more inspiration at the Twitter hashtag #BitcoinGivingTuesday and on the main thread at /r/Bitcoin.

Cyber Monday and Holiday Shopping with Bitcoin

It’s Cyber-Monday — want to take advantage of some deals AND spend your bitcoins? There are a few options.

 

Perhaps the easiest thing to do is use bitcoin to buy electronic gift cards for some of your favourite online stores and then shop as usual. There are some excellent sites out there that offer gift cards. Even if you don’t take advantage of Cyber Monday sales, these are still great options for online holiday shopping with bitcoins.

 

YesToBitcoins.com offers gift cards in a dozen different countries – just select your country from the drop-down list to see which stores are offering cards. Depending on where you live, there is a good selection of retailers to choose from; for example, there are offers from Roots, Lululemon, Amazon, and Starbucks. E-cards will be sent to your email address within 24-hours, so you might still be able to get it in time to shop today. If not, there are still plenty of deals to be found in the next few weeks — or save it for Boxing Week specials!

 

Purse.io lets you use bitcoin to buy anything from Amazon at a discount — first-time users get a discount of about 8% on top of any Amazon savings — so you can take advantage of Cyber Monday sales and then some. The process is a bit convoluted to set up but once you sort it out, the deals are excellent. (Hint: you will need to uncheck the “Don’t Spoil My Surprises” button which is NOT where they tell you it is. Go to the wishlist drop-down menu labelled “List Actions” on the right side of the page — NOT near your profile picture — and select “Update list profile.” There you can uncheck the box.)

 

Gyft has a Cyber Monday promotion happening, but it’s only available in the US. If you are in the US, you can get 5% Points back on any purchase plus an extra $50 for every $1,000 you spend with Bitcoin. Like YesToBitcoins, Gyft allows you to buy gift cards to many online retailers like Best Buy, Sears, Game Stop, and The Gap.

 

Want to book a getaway? Expedia has several Cyber Monday deals today and they’ll let you pay in bitcoin.

 

Do you have any other suggestions for shopping online with bitcoins? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

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Image credit: By Rexhep-bunjaku (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons