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

Criminal miners pay nearly nothing for the production of new coins, outsourcing the job to hapless victim machines all over the world. Criminal bitcoin thieves don't incur the exchange rate cost for acquisition of bitcoins. They simply rely on hacking and malware to siphon bitcoin pockets from law-abiding owners.

What we've got here, then, is a commodity (I hesitate to call it a currency) with a current value, is absolutely free of regulation (for the moment), allows for completely anonymous ownership, and is both highly profitable and nearly free to create (if you're willing to violate the law).

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There's no doubt the bitcoin has staying power, but whether that is just among criminals (and those who would like to traffic together, such as the Silk Road medication sellers and clients ), or if it will become a valuable trading commodity for the rest of us remains 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 profit in addition to cover their tracks. Whenever you find a stash of bitcoin and possess judicial permission to follow the footprints, do so.

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While bitcoin usage is not limited to criminals, there's an undeniably large correlation between bitcoin ownership and criminal activity. Notably since bitcoins are becoming increasingly more rewarding to criminal malware seeders and botnet operators while concurrently becoming ever less profitable for legitimate traders.

Here's the vital take-away: bitcoins are becoming the most"national currency" of criminals the world over and are becoming an increasingly poor investment for valid miners.

Cryptocurrency mining is painstaking, expensive, and only sporadically rewarding. Nonetheless, mining includes a magnetic draw for many investors interested in cryptocurrency. This may be because entrepreneurial forms see mining as pennies from heaven, like California gold prospectors in 1848. And if you are technologically inclined, why not do it

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Well, before you invest time and equipment, read this explainer to find out whether mining is for you. We'll focus primarily 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 this. That said, you certainly don't need to become a miner to own crypto.   You can also buy crypto using fiat currency (USD, EUR, JPY, etc); you can exchange it on an exchange like Bitstamp using other crypto (example: Using Ethereum or NEO to purchase Bitcoin); you even can earn it by playing video games or simply by publishing blogposts on programs which cover its users in crypto.

In addition to lining the pockets of miners, mining functions a second and vital purpose: it's the only way to discharge new cryptocurrency into circulation. In other words, miners are basically"minting" currency. For example, as of the time of writing this bit, there were approximately 17 million Bitcoin in circulation.

In the absence of miners, Bitcoin would nevertheless exist and be usable, but there would never be any additional Bitcoin. There'll come a time when Bitcoin mining ends; each the Bitcoin Protocol, the number of Bitcoin is going to be capped at 21 million. (Associated 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 provide you"voting" electricity when changes are proposed in the Bitcoin protocol. In other words, an effective miner has influence on the decision-making process on these matters as  forking.

Bitcoin are mined in units known as"blocks." At the time of writing, the reward for completing a cube is 12.5 Bitcoin. At today's price of approximately $10,000 per Bitcoin, this means that you'd earn (12.5 x 10,000)$125,000.

When Bitcoin was first 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 reward size will be halved again to 6.25 BTC.

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If you want to keep track of precisely when these halvings will occur, then 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 job of verifying preceding Bitcoin transactions. This convention is meant to keep Bitcoin users honest, and has been conceived by Bitcoin's founder, Satoshi Nakamoto. By verifying transactions, miners are helping to prevent the"double-spending Get More Info issue."

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