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“Blockchains” is a word you’ve been ignoring, here’s what it’s all about

(FINANCE NEWS) You’re hearing more and more about banks and startups using “blockchain” technology. Confused? We got you.

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Mysterious origins

The first, original blockchain came from Bitcoin, an “electronic cash system” created by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. Satoshi aside, there’s nothing secret about the Bitcoin software, as anyone can read the massively disruptive source code that Satoshi unleashed on the world in 2009.

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Bitcoin and the “blockchain” are more or less interchangeable words, as they both have the same origin. But over time, the original Bitcoin idea has inspired 100s of new “altcoins” such as Litecoin, Peercoin and Dash.

Altcoins have blockchains too

Just like Bitcoin, each altcoin has its own blockchain, which you can think of as a breadcrumb trail of confirmed transactions that floats around the world with trusted participants rubber-stamping new transactions as authentic along the way. These participants are called “nodes” and each one keeps a backup copy of the blockchain for reference. According to Bitnodes, there’s approximately 5,300 nodes in the world confirming new Bitcoin transactions.

If you combine the value of all the Bitcoins and altcoins, it’s about $12 billion dollars.

Altcoins comprise about 20% of that market cap. That sounds huge, until you realize Chipotle Mexican Grill is worth more than all the “crypto” coins combined.

What’s the point?

Right now, the Bitcoin blockchain is about 100 gigabytes in size and continues to grow. Hypothetically, an oppressive government could try to detect and block the blockchain, but thus far it’s not a problem for the Bitcoin network.

It seems Bitcoin was designed by Satoshi with resilience in mind, with new transactions (blocks) sized small enough to slip through the greedy fingers of Internet filters.

Early advocates of Bitcoin argued it would mostly appeal to the billions of unbanked people in the world that can’t easily buy and sell goods and services due to prohibitive paperwork, travel distance and other obstacles.

Beyond the coin: trust networks

Speaking of digital money, Bitcoins and altcoins seem to have cracked the code that E-gold trailblazed in the 90s. But beyond the “coin” aspect of blockchain technology, new applications are emerging.

Ethereum aims to use its secure network to create autonomous organizations and decentralized applications to form a “world computer.” And Austin-based Factom uses the blockchain to “safeguard the most critical government, commercial, and non-profit systems.” And Storj offers a blockchain-based encrypted storage service. Also IBM has invested billions in various blockchain technologies, from tracking identity through Bitcoin transactions to enhancing the privacy of cognitive computing for medical applications.

“Blockchain” sounds more credible

For a business, credibility is important and “blockchain” is maybe the safer word compared to “Bitcoin” because it emphasizes the computer science innovation rather than the disruptive economic innovation, which might still make some people nervous. Whatever your point of view, Bitcoin is still the most prominent blockchain by far, and its secure DNA has captured the imaginations of developers and businesses wanting to capitalize on the success of Bitcoin.

#Blockchains

PJ Brunet is a writer, full stack developer, and abstract artist. His first computer was a Texas Instruments TI-99. As a teen, he interned at IBM in Boca where the first PC was born. Graduating with a BFA, he gave California and New York a shot, but fell in love with Texas in 2004, the same year he started blogging about technology.

Business Finance

How to invest in any cryptocurrency without the IRS hunting you down

(FINANCE) Paying taxes on your cryptocurrency investments doesn’t have to be a headache with this simple tool.

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token tax for cryptocurrency capital gains

As the 2018 tax season approaches, those of you who took a chance on cryptocurrency may be wondering: Do I have to pay tax on my digital investments? Sorry, but yes you do.

Although tax laws are constantly changing, especially in the wild west of cryptocurrency, fear not. Token Tax is the one tool to rule them all, and can help you report cryptocurrency taxes.

In this past year, cryptocurrency investment has skyrocketed. The total market cap rose over 1000 percent, even breaking a record and climbing over $600 billion in December.

Coinbase, the most popular online platform for buying and selling digital currency, gained one million users in one month alone.

Cyrptocurrency’s increasing popularity led to changes in IRS rules.

Although cryptocurrency investors were previously able to use the “like-kind” tax code exemption, the IRS now says digital investments must be taxed as short and long-term capital gains.

Back in 2015, only 802 Americans reported Bitcoin related gains and losses. At the time, cryptocurrency could technically be categorized a property instead of income. The 2017-18 year should show a greater increase in reports due to the new IRS regulations.

It can be difficult to determine how to report your taxes, and many other available tools victimize you with information overload. Understanding your tax liability is no fun at all, but it’s not something you’d want to get wrong unless tax jail sounds exciting.

The newly minted Token Tax does the work for you, integrating directly with Coinbase’s API to import all your investments in an easy to read format that’s directly exportable to the IRS. Kraken, Bittrex, and GDAX are also securely integrated with the platform.

Using FIFO, Token Tax calculates your tax liability and displays it in an easy to read interface. You can then export a fill-out 8949 form directly to your accountant or the IRS for review.

Creators Alex Miles and David Holland Lee say they believe Token tax “could be the TurboTax for crypto.”

Even though Token Tax is still in test mode, not even beta, it caught our attention by winning first place overall in Product Hunt’s Global Hackathon.

If you have invested in cryptocurrency and want to get ahead of the curve for tax season, check out their demo and see for yourself.

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Business Finance

Crypto gets trendy – earn digital currency for taking steps

(FINANCE) Crypto is on exciting, not just with values skyrocketing and falling from day to day, but with new ways to earn and invest.

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fitness tracker sweatcoin crypto

If investing actual money into cryptocurrency isn’t your thing, consider investing calories instead. Sweatcoin — a free app for iOS and Android devices — allows you to do just that.

The premise behind Sweatcoin is simple: you earn virtual currency for a certain number of steps. When you’ve earned a certain amount, you can redeem your Sweatcoin earnings for a number of different rewards, including things like vouchers for yoga classes, fitness apparel, and Apple products (e.g., an Apple watch or a new iPhone).

In order to begin earning with Sweatcoin, you just need to install the app, turn it on in the background, and start walking. This means that you’ll need the app running for the duration of your workout, so make sure that your battery is charged and that you’ve allowed the app to access your location services before heading out into the great unknown that is your cul-de-sac.

There are a couple of minor caveats for Sweatcoin, the first of which is its overhead fee.

While you don’t have to pay to use Sweatcoin, you’ll only “take home” around 65 percent of what you earn. This is in part due to Sweatcoin’s fraud prevention services, so it’s for a good cause — just don’t count your virtual chickens before they compile.

Another issue with Sweatcoin is that it only counts your steps when you’re outside. If your preferred method of walking, running, or skipping (if that’s your thing) involves a treadmill, you’ll need a pretty long extension cable.

The final caveat is that, unlike other cryptocurrency like Bitcoin or Ethereum, your earnings won’t compound. Sweatcoin is contingent solely on your activity, not on market behavior or current investments; if you’re looking to build up a crypto portfolio, this probably isn’t the ideal venue for you.

Of course, your body is perhaps the strongest asset that you can own, and investing in it is more likely to have serious long-term benefits than is investing in any kind of cryptocurrency. This is the largest benefit of Sweatcoin: it incentivizes you to work out and take extra steps (literally) long enough for doing so to become a habit. That’s hardly a downside.

If you don’t mind an extra few (thousand) steps per day, Sweatcoin is worth checking out.

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Business Finance

Freelancers: How to stop billing hourly and get the cash monies you deserve

Working as a freelancer isn’t easy. Despite the hard work, many professionals choose this route in order to escape the daily grind of working for an hourly wage. Why, then, do clients still insist that freelancers charge them by the hour?

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Value-based billing

Working as a freelancer isn’t easy. Despite the hard work, many professionals choose this route in order to escape the daily grind of working for an hourly wage. Why, then, do clients still insist that freelancers charge them by the hour?

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You became a freelancer to get away from the mindset that each hour of your time is worth a certain number of dollars. So if you are still billing your clients an hourly wage, you may want to seriously consider shifting to value-based billing.

Each hour is not worth the same amount

Robb Eng, a senior marketer and writer for Web Design Ledger, provides some valuable advice for freelance web designers, but his tips hold up for any freelancer who would like to get free from “the trap of trading hours for dollars.”

First, Eng describes some of the problems with billing by the hour – and if you’re already doing it, these should sound familiar to you. For starters, each job requires a number of different skillsets. Some parts of the job require intense concentration and all your years of experience and education. Other parts any amateur could do in their sleep.

Averaging these disparities out into an hourly wage is tricky – and billing different rates for different tasks is far too burdensome.

Besides being confusing and inconvenient, the biggest problem with hourly billing is that it causes the client to focus too much on how fast you can deliver the task, rather than how well.

Quantify your goals

That’s why it’s so important to shift the paradigm to one of “value-based billing.” As a freelancer, you must show the client the value of your services – in other words, how they will benefit the business. Eng gives an example of a website redesign that could increase profitability by $100,000. When you think about the total value your work will bring to the business, suddenly charging $10,000 or $20,000 looks like only a small fraction of the total value you are providing.

When you asked to be paid relative to the total value you are providing from the business, it changes your role from wage worker to co-collaborator.

Instead of stressing about the bottom line, you are working together with the client to maximize profit for both parties.

To convince hourly billers to switch to value-based billing, you may have to ask some questions. As much as possible, get an idea of the quantifiable goals of the project. How much will the project increase profit, lead generation, or conversions? Try to charge between 10 and 20 percent of the value you’ll be providing for the client.

Price plans and tiers

Next, offer a few different price plans, because people love options. You can charge a flat rate for each service, a monthly or yearly rate for ongoing maintenance, or you can provide several tiers of services at different rates.

Of course, before you get to these steps you’ll need to find out if your client is open to value-based billing. If not, consider walking. If so, be sure to maintain positive relationships. Nothing adds value to a job like a trusting relationship.

#NoMoreHourlyWages

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