However, some altcoins innovate by experimenting with useful features Bitcoin does not offer. For example, Darkcoin hopes to provide a platform for completely anonymous transactions, BitShares describes itself as “a fair version of Wall Street,” and Ripple serves as a protocol users can employ to make inter-currency payments with ease. Some altcoin ecosystems, such as CounterParty and Mastercoin, even utilize the Bitcoin blockchain to secure their platform.
On 25 March 2014, the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ruled that bitcoin will be treated as property for tax purposes. This means bitcoin will be subject to capital gains tax.[63] In a paper published by researchers from Oxford and Warwick, it was shown that bitcoin has some characteristics more like the precious metals market than traditional currencies, hence in agreement with the IRS decision even if based on different reasons.[64]
Disclaimer: Investing in cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings ("ICOs") is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or ICOs. Since each individual's situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopediamakes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns less than 1 BTC, and no positions in any of the other companies mentioned in this piece. Investopedia does not make recommendations about particular stocks. 
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The largest potential for ‘’disruption’’ to the current status quo lies in taking a chunk out of the payment processors market. Visa and MasterCard are estimated to take a 2 to 3 percent cut of every card transaction. By using bitcoin instead, merchants stand to improve their bottom line by at least 2 percent. In addition, because bitcoin transactions are irreversible, there is no possibility for chargebacks and fraud. This reduces the costs of operation by another several percentage points.

Double spending means, as the name suggests, that a Bitcoin user is illicitly spending the same money twice. With physical currency, this isn't an issue: Once you hand someone a greenback $20 bill to buy a bottle of vodka, you no longer have it, so there's no danger you could use that same $20 to buy lotto tickets next door. With digital currency, however, as the Investopedia dictionary explains, "there is a risk that the holder could make a copy of the digital token and send it to a merchant or another party while retaining the original."

CEX is one of those international bitcoin exchanges accepting euros, British pounds, US dollars, Russian Rubles, Ethereum, Zcash, and Dash. Needless to say, CEX is very popular within those currency regions. There is a no-nonsense landing page, giving you the option to buy or sell 100, 200, 500, or 1000 USD worth of Bitcoin. I like the transparency given to users about how much they will actually pay - even before they sign up. Good security practices, a modern and simple user interface, and both bank transfer & credit card purchases are available. CEX is indeed a good beginner-optimized alternative to Coinbase. Read the comprehensive Cex review for more details including fees, verification, & security.
According to BitPay, a Bitcoin Payment Service Provider, as of November 2013 there are over 14,000 merchants currently accepting bitcoins. Two years ago this number stood at few hundred. The number of transactions facilitated by Bitpay increased tenfold in 2014 and crossed the 50,000 mark in November. The payment processor said that 6,296 bitcoin transactions occurred on Black Friday last year, up from only 99 transactions the year prior.
Homero Josh Garza, who founded the cryptocurrency startups GAW Miners and ZenMiner in 2014, acknowledged in a plea agreement that the companies were part of a pyramid scheme, and pleaded guilty to wire fraud in 2015. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission separately brought a civil enforcement action against Garza, who was eventually ordered to pay a judgment of $9.1 million plus $700,000 in interest. The SEC's complaint stated that Garza, through his companies, had fraudulently sold "investment contracts representing shares in the profits they claimed would be generated" from mining.[70]
The FBI shut down Silk Road on 2 October 2013. The alleged chief operator of the site, Ross William Ulbricht (also known as Dread Pirate Roberts) was charged with alleged murder for hire and narcotics trafficking violation. The agency confiscated over 26,000 bitcoins from different accounts on Silk Road, worth approximately 3.6 million US Dollars back then. Twenty days later, the FBI reported that they had seized 144,000 BTC thought to belong to Ulbricht.

Cryptocurrency is also used in controversial settings in the form of online black markets, such as Silk Road. The original Silk Road was shut down in October 2013 and there have been two more versions in use since then. In the year following the initial shutdown of Silk Road, the number of prominent dark markets increased from four to twelve, while the amount of drug listings increased from 18,000 to 32,000.[66]

Monero is a privacy coin and the preferred coin in darknet markets (which is likely why Coinbase won’t be adding it any time soon). It has solid transaction schematics that involves ring signatures and stealth addresses created on an ad hoc basis to keep transactions private. Monero also runs on a proof of work verification standard similar to Bitcoin. PoW means there will always be a value behind XMR, even if only the cost of energy. Finally, Monero has a strong base of community support because it was founded on principles of privacy and decentralization. These values are central to the original cryptocurrency concept. This is why I think it is a good long term investment right now.
Once again, Bitcoin is dangerously close to the local lows. Since June, we have many times seen that bulls stand up for protection of the benchmark of the cryptocurrency on the falls to around $6100. Meanwhile, reversals to decline on the BTCUSD pair are happening on low levels. Last week, the reach of just $6500 became a turning point to the next reversal. It ...

The first decentralized cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was created in 2009 by pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto. It used SHA-256, a cryptographic hash function, as its proof-of-work scheme.[14][15] In April 2011, Namecoin was created as an attempt at forming a decentralized DNS, which would make internet censorship very difficult. Soon after, in October 2011, Litecoin was released. It was the first successful cryptocurrency to use scrypt as its hash function instead of SHA-256. Another notable cryptocurrency, Peercoin was the first to use a proof-of-work/proof-of-stake hybrid.[16]

Bitcoin offers benefits to merchants as well, as transactions that involve the digital currency are secure and irreversible. Without the risk of fraud or fraudulent chargebacks, merchants can offer their products at a discount thereby generating more sales or pocket the difference themselves. In addition, with card processors out of the picture, merchants can save on the percentage cut taken by Visa / MasterCard.