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Alternative Currency will lead the future


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#1
ProvidencePlant

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Get ready for BitInstant's Bitcoin debit card - Aug. 22, 2012

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- An obscure but growing digital currency is about to get a new link to the physical world. Within the next two months, money transfer service BitInstant plans to launch the first internationally accepted Bitcoin-funded debit card.
"People are always asking, 'Well, what can I spend Bitcoins on?'" says Erik Voorhees, BitInstant's head of communications. "You can finally just say, 'Everything.'"
The Bitcoin economy sounds like something out of science fiction. Launched in 2009, it's a first-of-its-kind "cryptocurrency" consisting of mathematical tokens. Bitcoins aren't issued by any government or bank. The community-backed system is facilitated by complex cryptography and a peer-to-peer transaction network.
New coins are created by "mining," a hardware-intensive task that requires using powerful computer systems to solve complex algorithms. There's a finite supply: The system is designed to create a maximum of 21 million Bitcoins, a target that won't be hit for a decade or more. Right now there are roughly 9.8 million Bitcoins in circulation, worth a combined total of around $96 million.
Bitcoins are still far from mainstream, but they can be used as a valid form of payment for all kinds of goods and services -- shopping site Bitmit offers a look at some of what's available. The coins are a bit like the local currencies used in small towns like Ithaca, N.Y.: They have value because a community has collectively decided to back the notes as tender.
What is a Bitcoin worth? Like any currency, it fluctuates.
A spate of media attention in 2011 -- most notably a Gawker article that linked Bitcoin to Silk Road, an underground drug bazaar -- sent the price of a Bitcoin to a stratospheric high of more than $31. But e-currency thefts followed, and by November 2011 the price of a Bitcoin plummeted to $2.
None of that fazes BitInstant, an 11-month-old New York startup that wants to build bridges between the Bitcoin economy and the regular consumer world.
"We want to be the Apple of Bitcoin," says Charlie Shrem, the CEO of BitInstant. "We want everything to be sleek, sexy, beautiful, fluid, automated."
In two weeks, it will launch Bitcoin Wireless -- a way to buy wireless time for your mobile device from over 300 carriers, they say, including major U.S. providers such as Verizon (VZ, Fortune 500) and AT&T (T, Fortune 500).
BitInstant's core business is facilitating Bitcoin transactions across a variety of exchanges. Want to swap $100 in cash for Bitcoins? You can deposit the cash at one of 700,000 locations worldwide and receive the Bitcoins in your virtual wallet instantly.
BitInstant now handles a transaction volume of $2.5 million a month, Shrem says, and is close to closing a $1 million round of venture capital financing -- the largest ever for a Bitcoin-related company.
The forthcoming Paycard is the company's biggest bid yet for mainstream adoption. BitInstant is partnering with two major banks, one domestic and one international. The company isn't releasing their names yet, but Shrem says the arrangement will let the Paycard connect with MasterCard's (MA, Fortune 500) network.
That means Paycard can be used at traditional retailers. Shrem calls the card "our entrée into the real world." It will be a gradual introduction: BitInstant plans to limit its initial release to 5,000 cards.



Gavin Andresen, a lead developer in the Bitcoin community, says he's looking forward to using the Paycard, especially for international travel.
"I was invited to Europe a few months ago, and the company hosting me reimbursed my airfare expenses using Bitcoin, which was much more convenient than dealing with international wire transfers," he told CNNMoney in an email. "It would have been even more convenient (and just as simple) if I had them reimburse to an international BitInstant debit card that I could use for daily expenses when traveling."
Each Paycard will have a unique Bitcoin address and a QR code that, when scanned by a mobile app, will allow the instant digital transfer of Bitcoins to the card, where they get converted into the owner's national currency. Shrem says one of the card's chief benefits will be its low conversion rate between foreign currencies -- "lower than what Travelex and Western Union, all of these airport places, would charge you."
Bitcoin's backers admit that there is some inherent risk to the electronic currency. After all, there is no FDIC for Bitcoin. It's also volatile: In the last 30 days, the value of a Bitcoin in U.S. dollars has ranged between $7.58 and $15.40.
While Bitcoin is no longer in its infancy, it may have entered its "terrible twos." Exchanges have been plagued by hacks, trading glitches and Madoff-esque pyramid schemes. The currency's image as a tool of hackers and anti-government types has both helped and hurt its public profile. (It's worth noting, however, that while Bitcoin exchanges have been hacked, Bitcoin's encryption code never has been.)
Andresen recently cautioned restraint when trying out the experimental currency: "Only invest time or money in it that you can afford to lose."
Still, he's eager to test out Bitcoin's new real-world link.
"My kids are about to become teenagers, and I think I'll give them BitInstant cards in their stockings this Christmas," he says. "They should be a fantastic, low-cost way to give them a little bit of money to spend while retaining the ability to monitor their spending as it happens."
Why would anyone want to change their hard-earned money into Bitcoins? One advantage Bitcoin fans cite is the ability to move money instantly anywhere in the world. By eliminating the middlemen -- credit-card companies, financial institutions, PayPal -- Bitcoin allows money to change hands digitally as quickly as cash does in the real world.
With Bitcoins "you have total control of your money," Voorhees says. "It's quite empowering."


For Spain's Jobless, Time Is Money - WSJ.com

Spain's Unemployed create their own currency called the Eco.

[ame=http://www.youtube.c...K3x6iX2Q]Summit County Mountain Hours with Wayne Walton & Joby Weeks - YouTube[/ame]

Mountain Hours in Summit County, Colorado.

Edited by ProvidencePlant, 14 July 2013 - 08:34 PM.

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#2
DrazyHaze

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Great. Now currency isnt even able to be held.

So when they shut down servers world wide, there goes my $50,000 in bitcoins.
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#3
Mairuzu

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I agree with that. Silver/Gold for me.
  • Sovereign Psyche and beanhead420 like this

#4
ProvidencePlant

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The Monetary Future: Why Are Libertarians Against Bitcoin?

Why are some prominent libertarians and even Austrian economists coming out against bitcoin? To be fair, it's not all but some. The concept of bitcoin can be difficult to grasp at first and even more difficult to explain. Economists from the 19th and mid-20th centuries can be forgiven for not anticipating an interconnected digital realm like the Internet with its p2p distributed architecture, but modern economists cannot be. In "Libertarian Goldbugs Hating on Bitcoin", Michael Suede observed:

"I feel I have a pretty damn good grasp of Austrian economic theory and its core tenants. Thus, it was incredibly surprising to me when I set about visiting numerous libertarian forums to discuss the new peer-to-peer currency called Bitcoin and was met with wide ranging hostility."

Most libertarians have a deep bias towards gold and precious metals as the perfect money because it has withstood the test of time and, although it can be debased and manipulated by the monetary overlords, it cannot be fabricated at will. Therefore, their criticisms of bitcoin stem from two general themes: (1) it has no intrinsic value like gold; and (2) it fails to satisfy Mises' regression theorem of primary use value prior to becoming money. For more detail on Carl Menger, the origin of money, and the Ludwig von Mises regression theorem, see Robert Murphy's "The Origin of Money and Its Value". Let's review some specific comments from noted libertarians and then focus on the two primary criticisms in turn.

David Kramer

First out of the gate was David Kramer, who wrote "Bitcoin: Just Another Bogus Medium of Exchange" in which he provides a non-cryptographic analysis of bitcoin lacking material use/value and then mistakenly proceeds to compare bitcoin to the ill-fated and centralised e-gold. This diatribe was then re-posted at the Mises Economics Blog where it received over 100 comments.

I have to give credit to Robert Wenzel at EconomicPolicyJournal.com who quickly challenged Kramer's piece with "Bitcoins Real Money or Bogus?" and remains a "fascinated bystander that can not rule out, based on Austrian theory, the possibility of a future electronic money that is not created by governments or that had any prior use value other than having perhaps an interim period as a receipt for a currency or commodity."

Kramer was then refuted by the very libertarian Libérale et libertaire blog with "Money is what the Free Market says it is" which had this to say about the regression theorem:

"Lastly, one more note about 'convention.' The 'Misean Regression Theorem,' which establishes Gold as a convention, based on a regression series for a demand for money that can be traced back to a barter economy where gold emerged as a medium of exchange, also can be viewed as a progression series terminating in totalitarian fiat currency abolishing gold as a medium of exchange. And the the only thing that can undermine this state of affairs is something that likely arises out of a 21st century digital barter economy. Conventions are just that, conventions…they should never be mistaken for universal principles."

Citing a lack of technical comprehension and an ignorance of public-key cryptography, Kramer was also repudiated by Blogdial in "Refuting the attacks on Bitcoin’s design":

"When you have even a slight grasp of how data and computers work, and you understand that the double spending problem has been solved, your first reaction would be to gasp, as the enormity of what Bitcoin is dawns on you."

Peter Schiff

With such a vested interest in gold and the precious metals market, one could expect Peter Schiff to prefer gold as money but gold and bitcoin do not have to be mutually exclusive. Schiff took to the airwaves with a radio discussion on bitcoin with Donald Norman from the London-based Bitcoin Consultancy in what is mainly an audio version of the "no-intrinsic-value" argument.

Schiff's argument is rebutted here and here. Expect to hear more from him in the future.

Doug Casey

Personally, I think Doug Casey will realize the potential of bitcoin before Peter Schiff does, but in the meantime Casey's current bitcoin thoughts are summed up in this recent interview with Louis James, "Doug Casey on Bitcoin and Currencies". After commenting on all of the positive attributes of bitcoin, Casey answered the value question:

Louis: Do they have value in themselves?

Doug: There’s the rub; I don’t see that they do. Bitcoins are just an electronic abstraction. They can’t be used for anything else, nor are they made of something that can be used for anything else. They are like one of those knots in a string that disappear if you pull hard enough on the ends of the string. They are not backed by anything at all. Like government fiat currencies, they are a con game, functioning only as long as people have confidence in them, regardless of whether that confidence is well placed or not.

I’ve always said that the dollar is an “I owe you nothing,” and that the euro is a “Who owes you nothing.” With Bitcoins – which no individual can be held accountable for and which have no value in themselves – I’d have to say they are a “No one owes you anything.” It was inevitable, therefore, that the scheme would collapse… at least in its present form.

And so it is that our prominent gold and monetary freedom advocates come down against bitcoin. Focusing on Casey's incorrect GoldMoney statement that we already have something like bitcoin, yet backed by a precious metal, Blogdial embarrasses the libertarian with the sarcastic "Bitcoins backed by gold launched ". Blogdial states:

"This service is as far from Bitcoin as you could possibly be. There is no software to download, you cannot buy and sell it from anywhere without restriction, you have to integrate with the state at a very intimate level, indeed, they cannot even offer this service to everyone, even Europeans like the Dutch, thanks to the State.
I would never put my money into a service like this where the State is alerted of all your details and 'holdings'. They offer no utility whatsoever in comparison with Bitcoin. You cannot spend your GoldMoney at retailers directly, you can only redeem your stored gold for cash, which you then have to either take in person or spend through another intermediary if you want to buy something from Bangalore. And of course, there are the myriad fees and taxes you have to pay each time you move YOUR MONEY around between these entities."

Michael Suede also refuted Casey in "The Economics Of Bitcoin – Doug Casey Gets It Wrong" where he states:

"Casey is essentially making the claim that because Bitcoins have no uses outside of acting as a money, they are inherently worthless. I have argued against this in previous articles and I will repeat myself here. This is a fallacious argument. To claim Bitcoins are nothing is like claiming your operating system is nothing, therefore it is worth nothing. Clearly an inordinate amount of time and resources went into the development of your computer’s operating system. The time and resources that went into the development of the software constitutes “something”, which is obviously more than nothing. Software can have inherent properties that give it value in and of itself. In the case of Bitcoins, they are imbued with value by the free market because of the properties they have that allow them to act as a store of wealth and as a trade facilitator. Those properties which allow Bitcoins to act in this specific capacity are exactly the same properties that gold has which allow gold to act as a store of wealth and as a trade facilitator. Again, even if gold had absolutely no other uses besides sitting in bank vaults as ingots, gold would still be a money."

Conclusion

Returning to the two primary criticisms, Michael Suede presents a convincing pro-bitcoin argument in "Against the Gold Standard". Echoing my comments on the Keiser Report, Suede writes:

"What system is to prevent the arbitrary replication of receipts for gold under a gold standard? Unless we give up digital transactions and outlaw the use of paper receipts as a society, there is nothing that can prevent it.

This core problem must be addressed by gold standard advocates if they want to argue that gold is superior to encrypted digital currencies like Bitcoin. Since gold can not be shoved down a transmission wire, unless the gold standard advocates want to argue that all transactions must be made with physical specie, they have no possible way of getting around this one fatal flaw with the gold standard."

Clearly recognizing the limitations of gold and a gold monetary standard, C. Harwick in "The History of Gold and the Future of Bitcoin" states:

"That is to say, if the subjective theory of value means anything, 'unique cryptographic hash' is not inherently less valuable than 'shiny rock', even if it has no representation in physical space. Each has only the value that people give to it."

(1) Intrinsic Value and Bitcoin - I believe that this initial rejection of bitcoin on intrinsic value grounds stems from a lack of understanding of cryptographic protocols, specifically the mathematical integrity of the RPOW (Reusable Proofs of Work). For more elaboration on the topic of RPOW and bitcoin's cryptographic elements, see my article "Bitcoin: Timing is Everything".

While bitcoin may not have tangible intrinsic value, it is still a binary display of a discreet and provably scarce cryptographic item. This is what imbues bitcoin with 'gold-like' qualities compared to a digital movie which has intrinsic value but is infinitely copyable.

(2) A Binary Corollary to Mises' Regression Theorem - The regression theorem is not forward-looking and in the binary digital world of the 21st century a theorem corollary is needed to account for arbitrary enforcement and confiscation against a competing nonpolitical monetary system. This binary corollary weighs the importance of a modern money's survivability and states that a digital money is exempt from the regression theorem specifically if: (a) the network can be demonstrated to be immune from State enforcement and termination; and (B) the monetary unit can be defensible against State confiscation.

Due to its p2p decentralised structure, bitcoin satisfies both of the above conditions of the corollary. A permanent disruption of bitcoin's p2p distributed global network would require a practical shutdown of the Internet itself, something the authorities would be reluctant to do since it would simultaneously devastate the broader economy. Furthermore, the monetary unit itself is defensible against State confiscation because it is protected by strong cryptography and the units exist only on the distributed nodes of the network. Actually, bitcoin units are never really transferred but the block chain records the necessary adjustments to ownership. This is related to the tangible intrinsic value discussion because decentralisation has actually achieved defensibility against State confiscation since any other non-digital type of intrinsic value would be subject to confiscation via its centralised location.

This makes sense because as the State-dominated monetary world inevitably expands, the value component assigned to a cryptocurrency for its survivability, or ultimate resiliency, features may be greater than what the market assigns to its exchange value component. It may even be greater than what the market assigns to its value component for user-defined anonymity and untraceability. Without a world reserve fiat currency and the massive exponential debt from the centrally-planned monetary systems, early leaders of Austrian economics probably would not have considered the disproportionate importance of mere survivability for a currency competitor. It was only slowly dawning on them that the power of the monetary monopoly was the most insidious monopoly of all and the most fiercely protected.

Friedrich Hayek led the way in 1976 with his monumental Denationalisation of Money thesis championing competing and nonpolitical currencies. In making legal tender irrelevant, bitcoin as money indeed follows the Hayekian model of "A Free-Market Monetary System" where it has evolved, and is still evolving, from a competing currency environment. Additionally, the new binary corollary to the regression theorem compliments and strengthens Mises' regression theorem, allowing for a justifiable cryptocurrency monetary unit that can achieve monetary freedom during our lifetime.

For further reading:
"The clear divisions on Bitcoin", Blogdial, June 22, 2011
"Another Take on Bitcoins", Gary Kinghorn, June 22, 2011
"A Bit of Sound Money: Free Banking or 100% Reserve Banking", Theodore Phalan, June 21, 2011
"Bitcoin's Value is Decentralization", Paul Bohm, June 17, 2011
"The Economics Of Bitcoin – Why Mainstream Economists Lie About Deflation", Michael Suede, June 11, 2011
"Bitcoin and the Denationalisation of Money", C. Harwick, June 8, 2011



#5
FRANKMJ

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I really like Bit Coins personally. I wonder how this debit card will work out. It could really work out well. Would be great because you should be able to use your debit card globally too, right?

#6
ProvidencePlant

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[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YY7ocM2DWQ]Honeycombs serve as alternate currency for The Fertile Underground - YouTube[/ame]

I know this guy :D

#7
ProvidencePlant

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European Central Bank Report On Bitcoin: It's Likely To Grow And It Poses Risks

The European Central Bank (ECB) recently issued a report on digital currencies. The report largely revolves around Bitcoins and Linden Dollars, and provides a review of the currencies from the perspective of central bankers. Unsurprisingly, they found the currencies to pose “risks” that potentially require future “regulation.”

Here’s a few of the highlights that deserve some commentary:

In an extreme case, virtual currencies could have a substitution effect on central bank money if they become widely accepted. The increase in the use of virtual money might lead to a decrease in the use of “real” money, thereby also reducing the cash needed to conduct the transactions generated by nominal income. In this regard, a widespread substitution of central bank money by privately issued virtual currency could significantly reduce the size of central banks’ balance sheets, and thus also their ability to influence the short-term interest rates. Central banks would need to look at their existing tools to deal with this risk (for instance, trying to impose minimum reserve requirements on virtual currency schemes).

The substitution effect would also make it more difficult to measure monetary aggregates and, as a consequence, would affect the relationship between the monetary aggregates as measured and inflation, which is used to gauge risks to price stability in the medium to longer term.

Lastly, on this second aspect, when virtual money is created outside the realm of the central bank and virtual credit can be extended, this may have implications for the way interest rate decisions by the central bank are transmitted through the economy and the central bank’s control over money and credit developments could become less effective.

Obviously these are not a risks to people like you and me, but they are risks to central bankers, state actors and others who derive their income from forcibly imposed central bank monopoly money interest rate manipulation. The paragraphs are rather startling in their explicitness. They are essentially saying that if enough people transacted in Bitcoins instead of dollars or euros, the central banks would lose control over their ability to manipulate interest rates. Indeed, the entire point of Bitcoin is to provide a currency that cannot be manipulated to suit the whims of commercial banks, central bankers and politicians.

Of course, the question of why central bankers should have such power in the first place is never addressed in the report. Central bankers ARE central planners – straight out of the Soviet Union. They have the power to direct massive swaths of resources throughout the economies under their control by manipulating interest rates to suit their whims. In fact, central banks were so important to communism that Karl Marx enshrined them as a core plank of the Communist Manifesto. Central bank manipulation of interest rates has absolutely nothing to do with free market economics, and everything to do with central planning and control by a power elite.

Central banks manipulate interest rates by essentially printing funny money into existence. Professor Roger Garrison details the deleterious effects of central bank manipulation of interest rates on economies in this lecture. Is it surprising that central bankers would be aghast at a currency that they couldn’t print into existence?

The report goes on to list some more “problems” associated with virtual currencies from the perspective of the central planners:

In these schemes, the settlement asset is the virtual currency, and therefore the finality and irrevocability of payments cannot be ensured. Only central bank money can do so, because central banks present no default risk and act as lender of last resort to the member of the system in order to stop any possible chain reaction resulting from payment incidents or unforeseeable liquidity shortages. Virtual currencies cannot therefore be considered to be safe money, since the likelihood of the asset retaining its value for the holder, and hence its acceptability to others as a means of payment cannot be ensured. It simply relies on the creditworthiness of the issuer of the settlement asset. The level of safety is clearly below that of commercial bank money, as commercial banks are subject to prudential requirements and are supervised in order to reduce the likelihood of default, thereby improving the safety of claims on these institutions.

This is a fundamental risk relating to virtual currency schemes, which do not involve any kind of supervision of the settlement institution or oversight of the system, and therefore no one is accountable for their acts. Nor is there any kind of investor/depositor protection scheme in place. As a consequence, users bear all of these risks themselves.

I find this section to be hilarious. First off, it’s pretty much a bucket of lies as far as Bitcoin is concerned, although some of these criticisms may apply to other forms of virtual currencies. The fact that they make no distinction between various types of virtual currencies with their criticisms speaks volumes about their motives.

For starters, the finality and irrevocability of Bitcoin transactions is 100% assured by the cryptographic algorithms and software architecture the network uses. It is impossible to have chargebacks with Bitcoin.

They claim that virtual currencies cannot be considered to be safe money because their acceptability to others as a means of payment cannot be ensured, while at the same time the U.S. central bank has doubled the monetary base in less than a year, pushed interest rates down to zero and bought up so many government bonds with funny money that a third of every dollar the U.S. state spends is based on the issuance of new debt. And let’s not forget China, India, Iran and Russia using gold to conduct trade with each other, bypassing our petrodollar hegemony entirely.

It’s a joke for them to argue that central bank issued money is somehow safer than currencies like Bitcoin, which cannot be subjected to any such insane manipulations by sociopathic bankers and politicians. The U.S. and Euro zone are not immune from the economic laws of the universe. If they continue debasing their money the way they have been, eventually the rest of the world will get fed up with their nonsense and stop taking their funny money in exchange for goods and services.

Further, this section presents a bit of a red herring. They are claiming that virtual currencies rely on the creditworthiness of the issuer of the settlement asset (virtual currency), which is ridiculous, at least as far as Bitcoin is concerned. Bitcoin, like gold, has no counterparty risk.

The report concludes:

If the use of virtual currency schemes grows considerably, incidents which attract press coverage could have negative impacts on the reputations of central banks, if the public perceives the incidents as being caused, in part, by central banks not doing their jobs properly. As a consequence, this risk should be considered when assessing the overall risk situation of central banks.

In other words, if there is a major incident, like a Bitcoin exchange being hacked and robbed, the bankers are concerned this might tarnish their image, and therefore, they should seek to regulate Bitcoin based on this possible misperception by the public that somehow the central banks weren’t doing their job. Seriously? They consider this to be a valid reason as to why they should “regulate” a private currency market?

None of the criticisms of virtual currencies in the report surprised me in the slightest. As you can see, they aren’t concerned with anything remotely related to free market economics, property rights, free trade, etc.. The only thing they are concerned about is a loss of their own power, which leads them to suggest that “regulation” of virtual currencies by central banks may be necessary in the future. I hope you can see that “regulations” have nothing to do with your best interest, but rather they always are geared toward the interest of those in power.



#8
Mill

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Single Global currency, single global government. 1984. ?. We're almost there.

#9
yurigadaisukida

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We need a single.global.currency that is based on intrinsic value like gold. It would solve many problems
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#10
FRANKMJ

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We need a single.global.currency that is based on intrinsic value like gold. It would solve many problems


Mother of God - YouTube

That was deep.

#11
Broses

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i will never buy into bitcoins.

partially because i have no need for having crack, and heroin shipped to me from the silk road, and also partially because i dont really care for technology.

Don't even mention other drugs here = WW

Edited by WildWill, 02 November 2012 - 02:08 PM.

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#12
ProvidencePlant

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i will never buy into bitcoins.

partially because i have no need for having crack, and heroin shipped to me from the silk road, and also partially because i dont really care for technology.

Cool story, bro?
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#13
ImurderBlunts

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How does one buy weed with Bitcoins?
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#14
phil3

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How does one buy weed with Bitcoins?


Silkroad

#15
halcyone

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While I think it is a great idea for this to rise and threaten the established centralized banking, I still prefer hard currency in hand.

#16
trixman22

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How does one buy weed with Bitcoins?


silk road. You can get almost any mind altering substance for bitcoins from there.



I like the idea of bitcoins but my programming buddy says a person with the right knowledge can easily hack and create their own bitcoins on debit cards. I don't know if that is true as I don't know much about that kind of tech stuff.

#17
Dr. Lecter

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#18
riverroadjack

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Yeah I tried to take my brand new Bitcoin card to my dude with the exotic, he and I actually ended up arguing and he told me to "Not come back around unless I have that green US money, bitch!"

FML

#19
FRANKMJ

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silk road. You can get almost any mind altering substance for bitcoins from there.



I like the idea of bitcoins but my programming buddy says a person with the right knowledge can easily hack and create their own bitcoins on debit cards. I don't know if that is true as I don't know much about that kind of tech stuff.


No it's not that easy.

#20
Dr. Lecter

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