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Realtime Bitcoin Stats (realtimebitcoin.info)
205 points by rwinn on Apr 8, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 145 comments

I have one new appreciation for fiat currencies - they're designed to circulate with a steady rate of inflation. It seems there's a hesitation of spending bitcoins knowing if you just wait a day it will go up, so it's being treated like a precious metal rather than a new way of paying for things.

Edit: Thanks for the correction, meant to say fiat currencies tend to 'inflate', not deflate.

Yes, but fiat currencies are designed to lose value over time, which makes it difficult for people to save effectively. Governments and large banks get the newly-inflated money first, which gives them first bite at the existing value of money with money essentially made from nothing.

Encouraging people to spend money for the sake of it sounds like a good idea when people have created the concept of 'hoarding' - which is just saving with a scary name. But future productivity has to come through capital appreciation, which has to come through saving. By working against this, wrong investment choices are made because the time horizon is altered.

The concept of fiat currencies in terms of being able to expand the money supply is superior to having a fixed money supply, but the way in which it is implemented works directly against capital formation and feeds directly into misdirected investment and speculation by allowing money creation to run ahead of sensible investment. As aptly experience by the excessive amounts of capital diverted into residential real estate, caused by excessive amounts of new money. Without the easy money, the level of investment in real estate would have been much lower, and the subsequent crash much less destructive.

Fiat currencies have been around for 250 years or so, and not one single one of them have survived that long.

"Encouraging people to spend money for the sake of it sounds like a good idea when people have created the concept of 'hoarding' - which is just saving with a scary name."

But to be clear: there's a fundamental difference between "saving" and "investment".

1. Saving/Hoarding: Keeping money/cash under the mattress - nobody else has the ability to "spend" the money in the mean time. Also called "sinking funds" by Keynes. This is money kept in a bank deposit. The important point is that you can, at any time, choose to "stop saving" the money and spend it. i.e. you keep the right to spend the money at any time. Nobody else can make use of it. It effectively is out of circulation until you choose to spend it.

2. Investment: Lending the money to someone else for a fixed term - you can't ask for the money back before the end of the fixed term. They can spend it on goods/services for that period of time after which they have to pay it back. The money stays "in circulation".

Absent fractional reserve banking, #2 is the only thing that can actually generate a real return. i.e. real, profitable, economic activity that makes people better off. Without FRB, a checking account cannot pay interest, because #1 cannot be used in any risk-free way to generate value.

For economic productivity, #2 is a good thing, #1 is a bad thing. The fact that everyone is trying to do #1 right now with US dollars and the like is what is considered to be the source of our current economic malaise (according to the economists that I agree with anyway). Fractional reserve banking, QE and the like to some extent lets money that is in category #1 be used for "economic good" in category #2 - effectively fooling the hoarders into "investing" their money.

Of course, bitcoin doesn't have fractional reserve banking - and pretty much by design seems to make it impossible for things in category 1 to be used as category 2. This is why the "hoarding" of bitcoins is considered to be deflationary.

>Saving/Hoarding: Keeping money/cash under the mattress - nobody else has the ability to "spend" the money in the mean time. Also called "sinking funds" by Keynes. This is money kept in a bank deposit. The important point is that you can, at any time, choose to "stop saving" the money and spend it. i.e. you keep the right to spend the money at any time. Nobody else can make use of it. It effectively is out of circulation until you choose to spend it.

One of the big problem with Keynes.

Money stuffed in a mattress = hoarding.

Money in a bank deposit = still in circulation, able to be lent by the bank.

There is a massive difference. Other people can make use of funds deposited in accounts. This is why banks take in deposits, to lend it out at a higher rate and pocket the spread.

I would also quibble with your definition of investment. Investment should be classified as spending in the expectation of a financial return (ie, not the joy of owning a new shirt, but actual cash returned on cash outlaid). You can say 'a fixed term' but that is a nebulous concept. 24 hours is a fixed term, so is a week, so is a year, so is 30 years. Lending someone money overnight so they can arbitrage some goods by moving them physically from one location to another one is just as much investment as sinking the money into a toll road for 50 years. The definition has to be on the intention rather than the time horizon, otherwise you're just being arbitrary to support an argument.

>(according to the economists that I agree with anyway)

Highly likely you agree with Krugman. I think he speaks out of his hat. We'll leave it at that.

> There is a massive difference. Other people can make use of funds deposited in accounts. This is why banks take in deposits, to lend it out at a higher rate and pocket the spread."

Only because of fractional reserve banking. Absent fractional reserve banking, if I 'lend' something to another party but reserve the right to demand it back at any time, then there is simply no way that they can "use" what I have lent them. They can't use the money while still honouring my right to demand the money back at any time.

So "money" which can be demanded back at any time has he same status as money kept under the mattress - it can't be profitably "used" by anyone.

The important point about "investment" is that the money trully is "tied up" - if only for a day. The shorter the term, the more like "cash" it is.

> Highly likely you agree with Krugman. I think he speaks out of his hat. We'll leave it at that.

You're right I do agree with Krugman (for the most part). I've been reading his blog since 2007 and you know what, he's been right in his predictions pretty much the whole time!

If you think Krugman is speaking out of his hat, who do you recommend instead?

I believe you're speaking of CPI-style inflation, or in the case of Bitcoin, deflation.

The rate of money supply inflation of Bitcoin is around 12% at the moment[1]. Until 2025 or so, the supply inflation rate of Bitcoin will be greater than 1%.

I fully expect the exchange rate to fluctuate wildly until a much larger supply of fiat and Bitcoin sits on both sides of the exchange order book. As it stands, a moderately-capitalized trader could throw the exchange rate around at a whim.

[1] https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=130619.0

>"It seems there's a hesitation of spending bitcoins knowing if you just wait a day it will go up"

So this argument seems to be rather popular, and on the surface it does seems to make sense. However, it glosses over an important consideration.

Are you buying goods in USD or BTC?

Now if it's the latter, then yes there may be stronger psychological pressure (even though rationally there is not much difference).

However, increasingly goods are being traded in USD using BTC as a backing, in which case it would make little difference if you spend in USD from a bank account, or USD with a bitcoin wallet. Because it is possible to trade USD for BTC almost instantly. (Let's ignore the issue of wire transfer delays for now, because that doesn't change the overall argument).

Consider the person holding say 200 bitcoins today. In this situation, if the transaction is a small amount (say a cup of coffee ($3), at 180USD/BTC is about 0.016 BTC at todays rate. I'd have no problem spending that.

In fact psychologically it may be more likely that people trade with their BTC "winnings", because like a casino it has been shown that that is treated as more disposable than "real money".

Thus if one is spending a fraction of a bitcoin priced in USD, and this amounts to a small percentage of your overall position, it's unlikely to endure as a significant purchasing disincentive.

I've spent many years studying economics, but I'm also a programmer. One thing that annoys me about the discussion that tends to crop up on Hacker News is that you have too many of the latter issuing too many uninformed opinions on the former. Currencies that are doomed to deflate are doomed to enter liquidity traps. There is nothing special about BitCoin that prevents this from happening, regardless of its position against other currencies. There are probably ingenious ways to implement distributed digital currencies, but I'm fairly sure that in the long term BitCoin is not one of those ways.

I was wondering why no one ever buys or sells houses. But your post makes it perfectly clear: Since no more land is created, real estate is deflationary, so obviously no one would ever sell a house.


Also, I'm happy you're patting yourself on the back for all your training and experience. But you still need to make a compelling argument instead of just saying "Things are just so."

But the housing industry is barely recovering from a "liquidity trap" in 2008! People weren't selling houses because they expected home prices to constantly go up. You had people flipping homes and adding no value to them. Eventually, the market crashes after too many people buy homes that they didn't need...

Note, its not that people "don't sell homes", it is that homes are prone to rampant speculation that can bring down the entire industry.

His claim is that a fiat currency (ie: Dollar), can repel the liquidity trap with monetary policy. IE: Carefully controlled inflation or deflation.

OK, you made some good points I will have to think about more. I would think the type of deflation we're discussing had only a small role to play in that crisis, but I admit it probably played some.

Of course the irony is that monetary policy causing unreasonably low interest rates (i.e. controlled inflation) was a large factor of that crisis as well.

Got an argument to back that up?

Why don't you go through the charts. Find me the year that the Fed caused too much inflation, and then tell me how much the dollar was inflated that year.

I doubt you can, because during the housing crisis, the dollar experienced deflation. The Fed acted swiftly, although not swift enough! The dollar failed to hit inflation targets in 2008-2009 as we experienced -0.4% inflation.

For the 2009 to 2010 years, we only experienced 1.4% inflation. Both years, we missed inflation targets of 3%. Worse, the dollar deflated in value in one year.

Every other year, inflation has been the same as always: ~3% since 1990.

Economic data does not match your words. The US hasn't had inflation over 4% for the last 22 years. There is no inflation problem.

If the goal of ~3% inflation is a poor goal, then tell me why.

"The housing bubble was fundamentally engendered by the decline in real long-term interest rates"- Alan Greenspan

I'm happy you're patting yourself on the back for your knowledge of a single quote by a single economist. But you still need to make a compelling argument instead of just saying "Things are just so."

See how this game is played?

EDIT: Well, that was probably too mean. So lemme ask you this.

Since you agree with Alan Greenspan so much, please tell me what caused the long-term decline of interest rates. HINT: it wasn't the fed, according to Greenspan. After all, the Fed raised interest rates in 2004 and 2005.

The difference between a normal currency and bitcoin with regards to deflation is that bitcoin is almost infinitely divisible, whereas traditional currencies are not.

Divisibility acts in opposition to deflation to create liquidity.

The idea is in the future you don't trade bitcoins per se, but microbits, or picobits etc (or whatever they will be called).

Economies get in a liquidity trap must faster than division becomes a problem. The difference is so marcant that almost nobody even talked about divisibility before the bit coin people.

Anyway, I'm not sure the expression "liquidity trap" means anything when talking about bitcoins.

Satoshis are the lowest denominator of bitcoin, being .00000001BTC

The reason people aren't paying for things is because its hard to do, not due to deflationary concerns. If I were confident that the purchasing power of bitcoin was going to continue increasing relative to the USD, and all vendors accepted BTC, I'd immediately move over all of my USD to BTC and spend my BTC on a daily basis.

I don't believe the argument that a deflationary currency, by itself, will make people not be willing to buy things. Consider a savings account - why would anyone take money out of their savings account to buy things? If all you need to do is keep it in the account, it will make more money, so why spend it?

It's a question of degree. Your savings account with $100,000 in it will probably be worth about $100,002 tomorrow at current rates. The equivalent amount in Bitcoin might be worth much, much more at the rate it's been climbing.

Or much much less, and it has been known to fall precipitously as well.

It doesn't matter if you keep converting your income to BTC as it comes in, because if you spend your USD income instead of buying BTC then you've effectively done the same thing.

That bit of economics common knowledge was also developed before our modern, dynamic, fast, globally interconnected economy. I'm sure there's still some technical truth to it, but I wonder if it's as true now to the degree it was back in, say, the Depression era.

It would be interesting to see how a currency with a set rate of deflation instead of inflation worked now. Say your money gained 3% per year purchasing power instead of lost it, everyone would be incentivized to spend or invest it in ways that returned either ROI or utility worth at least 3% per year, or otherwise hoard it. Spending and investment (or at least malinvestment) would slow, but capital formation would increase.

Too bad there's no way to test such a thing, see how it works out in practice. BTC unfortunately does not seem to provide a stable rate of deflation, at least for the foreseeble future.

You mean... the Japanese Yen?

Nintendo and Sony posting record losses as the Yen continues to get stronger and stronger. The $200 Wii console sold the best in 2010 and 2011, but because the Yen deflated so much Nintendo lost money on the USD -> Yen conversion and overall didn't do so well.

Savings accounts don't beat inflation. No guaranteed and insured investment does to my knowledge(if you find one that's not a ponzi scheme, let me know). If savings accounts were paying out double digit % point gains, you can bet your ass people would be shoveling money into the accounts and not cashing out.

They aren't beating inflation right now, but historically they have. ~5 years ago interest rates on savings accounts were roughly 5% and inflation was 3-4%. Empirically, people actually saved less during that time (although there were many other confounding factors).

Point taken, but we're still arguing apples and oranges. Savings accounts historically maybe earned a percent or two above inflation. There's very little incentive to just let money sit in a savings account at those rates. Even extremely low risk investments are better.

Where does an investment get its value from? If saving gives me 3% but investing 5%, how does the deflationary nature of the currency change these two numbers? Surely investing gives a greater return as value is created regardless of whether the economy is inflationary or deflationary. You know, we have only had pure fiat money for the past 40 years. Before the we advanced from the dark ages to the 21st century with a deflationary system.

Most savings accounts pay under the rate of inflation, and rely on someone (usually a bank) being willing to pay you that rate to get you to give them your money. Presumably the utility they derive from this makes it profitable for them.

BTC on the other hand, if we reach a steady deflationary state, beats the rate of deflation by definition, and just by you sitting on it. Slightly different situation.

--edit-- Also see here - http://eprint.iacr.org/2012/584.pdf It seems the ~80% of bitcoin are long-term dormant, so people are just holding on to them, regardless of the reason.

Yeah parent would have been precise referring to the low volatility rather than the inflation of fiat money.

According that argument you shouldn't spend any fiat currencies either, because it's more profitable to convert all of it to bitcoins.

Isn't that spending it on bitcoins?

The problem with bitcoins is as they become more popular, the demand is rising faster than the bitcoins are 'minied'. Technically speaking, if the demand stayed constant, the supply would slowly raise and the value would inflate (until all the coins are mined).

This would solve the issue of people buying Bitcoin for investment purposes, though I wonder if people would be able to spend Bitcoin fast enough to not keep the people / exchanges that act as banks negatively affected - or could this be differentiated easily?

I think you mean inflation, where the longer you hold on to it , the more worthless it becomes.

Thanks and you're correct, I was thinking how deflationary bitcoin was while writing. Fixed.

Is there any way of estimating the 'real" bitcoin economy?IE, Use of bitcoin to buy & sell goods & services rather than exchanging bitcoin for cash & via versa?

I mean lot of investing/speculation is obviously going on, but is there growth in bitcoin based commerce? That's ultimately the problem I hope bitcoin will solve.

You could attempt to replicate the analysis used in "Quantitative Analysis of the Full Bitcoin Transaction Graph" by Dorit Ron and Adi Shamir. (http://eprint.iacr.org/2012/584.pdf)

In 2012 they noted that:

“If we sum up the amounts accumulated at the 609,270 addresses which only receive and never send any BTC’s [bitcoins], we see that they contain 7,019,100 BTC’s, which are almost 78% of all existing BTC’s. Due to the way bitcoins can be repeatedly moved to fresh addresses, some of which can be very recent, we can not claim that all these bitcoins are out of circulation. However,76.5% of these 78% (i.e., 59.7% of all the coins in the system) are old coins", de ned as bitcoins received at some address more than three months before the cut off date (May 13th 2012), which were not followed by any outgoing transac- tions from that address after they were received. One can also argue that very old dormant bitcoins were simply abandoned or lost by users who experimented with the system in its early days, when it was very dicult to buy anything or to exchange bitcoins into dollars. To be even more cautious with our estimation of dormant bitcoins, we decided to ignore all the transactions which took place prior to July 18th 2010, when Mt.Gox started its exchange and price quoting services. The sum of the balances of all the addresses which have not been active since that date is 1,657,480 bitcoins. Clearly, by considering all these bitcoins as "lost" rather than "hoarded" we are underestimating the number of bitcoins which are kept dormant in "saving accounts". By ignoring these very old bitcoins and repeating the same calculation, we found that 73% of all the remaining BTC's were accumulated at addresses which only receive and never send bitcoins, and that 70% of these 73% (i.e., 51%) are dormant bitcoins in the sense that they were received more than three months before our cuto date but after it became easy to exchange them. If instead of summing the transaction values we sum the nal balances of all the addresses that were active after July 18th 2010 but became inactive in the last three months, we get that 55% of all coins in the system are dormant in this sense. This is strong evidence that the majority of bitcoins are not circulating in the system, and since it is based on the address rather than the entity graph, this conclusion is not a ected by possible inaccuracies in the way we associate addresses with users.”

That's Adi Shamir, an Israeli cryptographer. You might know him as the S in RSA.


My bad, edited.

Thanks for the link.

I do wonder what "Bitcoin Banks" like Flexcoin do to these statistics. I "feel" like no one really uses Flexcoin, but that would definitely skew the statistics by a lot.

Its a bit unfortunate that there is no real statistic that can stand on itself... But Ron and Shamir's work there is useful.

You can buy most of the online stuff with BTCs i.e. servers, VPNs, hosting services, seedboxes, most cloud services, music, gambling, games etc

Many sites have started accepting BTC now. ( http://bitpay.com makes it possible )

Some sites which are quite popular and known





( Not sure if updated , but here is a small list https://www.spendbitcoins.com/places/ )

We did a quick survey of what is for sale for Bitcoin on various craigslist exchanges this morning: http://blog.gli.ph/2013/04/08/things-you-can-buy-today-with-...

Spoiler: you can buy aquarium shrimp in Portland right now for .0164 BTC.

Accepting Bitcoin doesn't mean you're getting the same value that you paid for it. Each person would have to / want to calculate what they paid for a Bitcoin before purchasing. From what I can see most sellers can earn more money offering Bitcoin as an option - and a much higher amount, and if they're able to spend the Bitcoin themselves before it drops, then they're able to profit even more.

The BTC amount on the sites is displayed as per the present market value.

Yes, sellers would earn more money but they too are taking that risk if you are one of those who think its a bubble and BTC would collapse badly.

Checkout how bitpay.com works. Its actually nice.

Google up "bitcoin days lost", that's quite a good indicator for the traffic/volume. Also, most of the volume indicators ignore BTC trade, as that's done using the exchanges' internal systems.

The metric you're thinking of is "Bitcoin Days Destroyed". A search for "Bitcoin Days Lost" brings up tales of woe from users who lost bitcoins. But I do agree that this is probably the best metric for measuring how dynamic the Bitcoin economy is. Incidentally, Bitcoin Days Destroyed has continued to rise, even in recent months. It has risen steadily almost since the inception of Bitcoin.


That chart is cumulative. Of course it goes up over time, there isn't any way for it to go down.

The recent rate of BDD gives some fuzzy picture of current activity though:


You can see that hoarding increased slightly during March (a day destroying more than about 11 million bitcoin days should roughly reflect the market loosening up, destroying less should reflect the market tightening). Early April is also among the fastest periods (over the entire history of bitcoin) of BD destruction.

The chart is cumulative numbers of bitcoin days destroyed. What you want is the rate of bitcoin days destroyed.

Yes, I realize I linked the wrong chart -- was in a hurry. I meant to link to the rate. If you see my other comments mentioning BDD, they reference the rate of BDD.

I love the visualization, but wow almost $200. Greater fool theory is at work here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greater_fool_theory

...or the takeoff ramp for a new technology. I'm not sure, either.


There are more bitcoin transactions... but not enough to qualify the 20x increase in value the last three months.

That could be explained by rampant speculation.

It could also be explained by increased organic non-speculatory demand as Bitcoin shows up in the media more frequently, and more people begin to use it - against a relatively fixed supply.

If more people are using Bitcoin, then there would be more transactions. Bitcoin transactions / day have grown from ~35,000 in August 2012 to ~55,000 in February 2012.

Between February 2012 and today, the number of Bitcoin transactions/day has not grown at all, while Bitcoin prices have skyrocketed by 1000%.

Definitely a bubble forming - bitcoins marketcap was 1B only a week ago (http://blockchain.info/charts/market-cap).

Note they also use the Ƀ (B with stroke) to represent Bitcoin. Kudos to ECOGEX for their discussion a few weeks ago that set this in motion (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=5451084).

Many more people use ฿ than Ƀ.

Source: I've been studying and speaking on Bitcoin since 2010. (http://vimeo.com/27653912)

This is a moot point. I recognize that more people use ฿ than Ƀ. I was simply stating what was used on the site and congratulating the use of (what I consider) to be a more visually appealing symbol.

Congrats on using yourself as your own source. Don't beg the question and stop trolling.

I should point out I'm wearing a bitcoin t shirt printed months ago that has the Ƀ so this has clearly already had wide adoption before then... don't give anyone undue credit.

No, that's complete nonsense. Only some individuals represent bitcoin with a stroke.

Bitcoin surprisingly doesn't have a standard in its logo and symbol usage. Everybody said BTC for bitcoin though.

Complete nonsense... Did I say Ƀ was the standard? Did I say ฿ was the standard?

No, I noted they used Ƀ and gave the previous article props for bringing that symbol more recognition. Did I say they invented it? No.

All of you need to stop trolling, comments like the ones in response to my OP are what ruins HackerNews.

Hm. I hope that sites like this are not a new trend but fear otherwise. Visiting this page with my screen reader (NVDA from http://nvda-project.org) shows all of a combo box with different currencies in it. There is precisely no other content. At least before the worst things the blind had to worry about were unlabeled links that you could eventually possibly figure out through trial and error. This? Nothing. I don't even see the clever little "Your browser sucks" message, as it's not my browser causing the issue. Just a complete lack of semantic markup of any kind that the screen reader could possibly interpret.

That's unfortunate. All text is rendered with SVG, so it should be technically possible for your screen reader to pick up on when new SVG text nodes are added. Perhaps i should add a "Your screen reader sucks message" :-P

That sure sounds like you're saying, "My customer can't use my product. I know, let's blame him instead of doing something about it." :-P

I think the buy/sell prices are reversed. Bid/ask is of course common terminology and the buying price will be higher than the selling price.

I can see your interpretation, but I think the way he has it also makes sense. The buy price is what people are willing to buy it for (i.e. it's the bid). The sell price is what people are willing to sell it for (i.e. it's the ask).

Perhaps switching to bid/ask would be a good idea to clear up the confusion, but it's potentially more confusing to people unfamiliar with financial markets.

How do you get all that data? I am super interested in knowing how something like this is built. How do you connect to the bitcoin network and serve the stats via this app. I am butchering my question but I hope it makes atleast some sense.

I'm not sure how this particular site is doing it, but Blockchain.info has some convenient APIs (http://blockchain.info/api), or you can run a full Bitcoin node and either interact with the JSON-RPC API (https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Original_Bitcoin_client/API_Calls...) or parse the block chain (https://github.com/znort987/blockparser https://github.com/gavinandresen/bitcointools)

For price/trade data most (all?) exchange have APIs (e.x. https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/MtGox/API)

Have you found anyone with a public JSONP API? That'd seem to enable a new level of in-browser apps... though perhaps Blockchain.info/MtGox aren't ready for the accompanying level of traffic.

http://bitcoincharts.com/about/markets-api/ has public JSON API for all the popular Bitcoin currency markets.

For the other data (non-market transactions etc.) you can run the Bitcoin-qt client on virtually any hardware and then connect to its built in JSON API.



I suppose if the JSON endpoints support CORS that'd be as good...


However, my (unauthenticated) test attempts against blockchain.info and bitcoincharts.com, with the "Origin:" header, didn't give the right "Access-Control-Allow-Origin:" header in response.

Very nice rwinn! But I have a question. With the fast rise of bitcoins, lets say that I now have $10m worth of coins(I don't btw). How would I convert all to gbp/usd and would the governments tax you?. With anti-money laundering controls in place in the uk, such a windfall would cause huge problems!

Well for starters, you can go crazy and start spending BTC ( bitcoins ) directly and buy stuff instead of encashing immediately.

Coming back to if withdrawn in as local currecny.

Income that is earned through the exchange of services with another person, whether in the form of bitcoins, any other currency or even barter; is included in gross income, and would be subject to income tax.

So practically bitcoins could be subject to self employment tax if BTC is considered a commodity like gold.

If considered as a currecny or a debt then the gained currency could be taxed based on market value at the end of each tax year. Also, IRS never conisders currency as long-term investement so if treated as another currency then it would be taxed as holding an account in any non-functional (foreign) currency.

All this is just assuming its your owned BTC via trading/exchanging and not via business which accepts BTC or via selling items online or via mining.

Edit : Forgot to answer your question "Where can I buy BTC?"

Here are few reliable places








https://blockchain.info/wallet/sms-phone-deposits ( Hybrid wallet + small exchange )

Why would BTC gains be subject to self-employment tax? Surely they would be treated like other forex gains?

Honestly if I had $10 million in BTC gains I'd get a tax professional and seek a private letter ruling from the IRS to clarify the situation. I imagine that misreporting $10 million of income would be an unpleasant experience.

> All this is just assuming its your owned BTC via trading/exchanging and not via business which accepts BTC or via selling items online or via mining.

All of those would be taxable too. The only question is when: every year at their current market value, or when traded for (official) currency.

Yup it would be taxable I should have mentioned that.

What I meant to say for businesses accepting BTC would have other and extra taxes apart from Income like Sales/Excise

For miners I assume it would be either considered as a owned commodity or intagible personal property.

I would assume just like any other commodity the current market value is considered if you have not traded in local currency.

Also if you have bought BTC and sold to make some profit by trading, there would be commodity tax.

You would trade them for gbp/usd on one of the exchanges. Mtgox.com is by far the biggest.

As for tax, this is probably taxed as any other profit you make on buying and selling stuff, at least in my country (Norway). If I buy an art painting and sell it with a profit, I am obliged to inform on this on my tax sheet. And the same goes for bying/selling other currencies as well, but bitcoins are harder to track for the government (but not impossible).

As far as my understanding goes for the UK tax position - if you bought the Bitcoins then you purchased an asset and then sold it again thereby creating a capital gain on which CGT would be due when you do your tax return. You could try and avoid paying tax by simply not telling the Inland Revenue - but that would appear to be tax evasion.

Not sure what the tax situation would be if you mined them - perhaps they would count as income?

The only thing I'd be sure of is that if you did have $10m worth of coins in the UK then you'd be silly not to speak to an accountant who specialises in tax planning for individuals - excellent ones do exist!

> lets say that I now have $10m worth of coins(I don't btw). How would I convert all to gbp/usd

You can't. You couldn't convert even a small slice of this amount without collapsing the market. It's simply too illiquid.

> and would the governments tax you?

You betcha.

I would be interested in the answer.

IANAL (or accountant)

I'd imagine (in the UK at least) that they would be subject to capital gains tax.

All this hype and speculation gives me a bit of pause, and worries me about actually mining. However, I keep wondering, what opportunities are there left to "sell the shovels" ?

Investor tools and services are how it's done with traditional currencies.

That's why I bought BitcoinMining.tv

How do you calculate the hash rate?

I have spent some time trying to understand the various hash rate estimates people come up with. Basically, I've determined that they're all 100% bogus. People like to work from the difficulty using bad/incorrect statistics since that's the most obvious way to get to something in the units of hashes/s, but I can never understand exactly what the process is. I'm genuinely curious to know what people do in practice, since I'm genuinely curious to know the "real" answer.

100% bogus? I'm not sure what bad/incorrect statistics you are referring to since it's relatively straight forward to find.

The current target hash is "0x000000000000022FBE0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000"

This means that to solve a block, you must find a SHA-256 hash of that block's transactions + nonce that hash to a value equal or below that target. Since the output of a SHA-256 hash is essentially random, the probability of finding a nonce that evaluates to hash at or below that target is roughly [target]/[possible sha256 outputs] or 3.51e60/2^256, or 3.034e-17. On average, that means it takes 1/3e-17 or 3.3e16 hashes per block. To calculate average hashes per second of the network, we look at number of blocks solved in the last x unit of time (if you want a 24 hour average, take the number of blocks in the past 24 hours). As of the time of this post, 170 blocks have been solved in those 24 hours. This implies an expected 24*3.3e16 or 8e17 hashes have been computed. Divide by 86400 (seconds in a day) and you get 9.26e12, or 9.26 TH/s. The site reports 6.5 TH/s, presumably because it uses a longer window than 24 hours (probably 7 days).

Just because it's a statistical average instead of the exact rate doesn't mean it's 100% bogus. If you want, you can use fairly standard statistical models to find an acceptable error margin.

You have errors. 170 blocks have been found so 170*3.3e16 = 5.6e18 hashes have been computed. Divided by 86400 = 64.9 Thash/s (and the site currently reports 65.2 Thash/s, not 6.5).

Ah oops, you are correct. Looks like I cannot edit my post otherwise I would fix it :/

It doesn't bother you that your method counts only unique hash values tested? Or that this value is being used on the site to talk about power expenditure (which is clearly related to total hashes per second, not unique hashes)?

You're right that you can compute the N-second average rate easily. But nobody reports the "network hash rate" as such. And since the denominator matters a lot in determining what the number means, pretty much all the numbers you find out in the world are (1) misreported and (2) bogus.

It does count only unique hash values, but why should that bother me? People don't randomly generate the same 256 bit number very often (in fact, the probability is so low that it has almost certainly never happened)

When I search for "bitcoin network hashrate" on google, the first link is http://bitcoin.sipa.be/, which does in fact report the N-second average rate. It reports the 7-days, 14-day, and 30-day average rate.

Duplicate hashes are an issue because of the birthday problem: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday_problem

The chance of two hashes being equal is small but the number of two hash pairs grows exponential to the number of hashes.

No, it's still not an issue. Check out the table for 256 bit numbers in the article you linked. To get a 0.1% probability of even a single collision, you need to generate 1.5e37 hashes. At 10 TH/s, that would take 3e17 years. 10 million times longer than the age of the universe.

The birthday paradox basically says that you can expect a collision when you've explored the square root of the problem space. For birthdays, you expect a collision in a group of sqrt(365) ~= 19 people.

For a 256-bit hash, you expec a collision in a group of 2^128 hashes. That is still huge. Absent a weakness in the hash being found, it's unlikely anyone will ever generate two colliding hashes.

The network collaborates to adjust the mining difficulty, to keep the rate of new coins approximately the same over time:


There is a linear relationship between the hash rate and the difficulty (there is further discussion at that link).

I'm aware of that. rwinn, can you tell me if this is what you're doing?

It's in your last sentence that you go wrong. There's a relationship between the number of expected hashes per new block and the difficulty. That tells you something about the hash rate, but not the rate itself. Actually, it tells you something about the number of unique hashes being tried per new block (in expectation). And for some applications, that may, in fact, be what you care about.

Specifically, the appearance of new blocks is, if you like, a random variable with an exponential distribution. You can, in principle, estimate the rate parameter for this distribution using the difficulty and the timestamps in the Bitcoin log, but it's not straightforward. The last time I got into it, I was halfway through building a Bayesian estimator for the rate parameter using the log before I had to give up and move on to real work. I'll do it soon.

I don't see how a hash (as a token of bitcoin work) would be anything other than unique (for the result to be useful to me it has to include my address in the input).

In what applications would the likely immediate hash rate be more useful than the historical average hash rate? I guess the obvious one is turning some bit of mining hardware on and off.

There is currently 11M+ coins in circulation, but the site shows 10,994,200. It seems to lag a few days behind. Hardly "real time".

How do you get this data? and will you post the source of the website on GitHub or something similar so we can see how it works?

From what I've seen all websites work on the MTGox API


Cool concept, however it never updates for me, and Money Sent is always $0 (left it open during a 10~ min break.)

Chrome 26.0.1410.43, Linux

I'm seeing Money Sent: $0.00 too; Iceweasel 10.0.12, Debian Testing

Am I misunderstanding what "coins in circulation" means?

Coins in circulation 10994200

that's 201798541 ɃTC

edit: ah, it's showing USD value but putting BTC as the currency

Good catch, fixing

I got a "Your browser sucks" message because I had scripts disabled. Poor form.

Off topic... is this a correct ranking of preferred form in handling this situation?

blank page or other such confusing non-function : bad

"your browser sucks" - page still doesn't work : poor

"please enable scripts or get a newer browser" - page still doesn't work : fair

"please enable scripts or get a newer browser" - page works for non-js users but is somewhat crippled : good

page works perfectly without js : excellent (you could use headers to have it auto reload every few seconds?)

If this was a company website or something maybe I would agree with you, but seeing how the draw here is "Realtime" bitcoin, the OP obviously put in a lot of work in the realtime aspect. If you look at the source it looks like websockets + canvas.

Considering this, it seems OP would have needed to rewrite the whole service (he would have needed to write application layer + the alternate html) just to serve those without javascript, which would not be in realtime (and essentially a duplicate service of all the other bitcoin exchange boards).

Whats the tradeoff in terms of development time vs. supporting a small set of users?

I agree, this is a simple site displaying information in a very simple way. It should be very easy to fallback onto other ways of displaying this info.

a thing I've been wishing I had is some sort of price-vs-difficulty comparison metric - you might think, for example, that the dramatic rise in bitcoin costs would mean that mining had gotten more profitable - but unfortunately, the first wave of "Application Specific Integrated Circuits" are being deployed, and they're not even available for sale yet - so the mining capacity is suddenly and dramatically in the hands of a small group of organizations. But that hasn't been obvious at all from the various charts online.

Check out the "mining factor" metric: http://www.bitcoinx.com/charts/ Mining is as profitable today as it was back in July 2011.

I would prefer to have semi transparent graphs in background.

Well done. I think that it would look cleaner if you removed the two decimal places. If it's estimated, then you probably shouldn't be showing them anyway.

It's estimated due to the way bitcoin works.

A transaction can be made up of a different number of inputs, if the inputs don't exactly match the output (the amount you want to send), there is "change".

The change is sent to a new address (belonging to the sender). So blockchain.info and this site are guessing as to which of the outputs was the intended sending amount and which was the change.

Is "Estimated money sent" since you open the page?

Yep, that's right

And the "total volume" below?

It's the total amount of money passing trough the network.

But since bitcoin transactions work by sending "change" back to yourself this value is not that relevant. In most cases 90% of the transaction amount is sent back as change.


So you spend your entire wallet minus the price of what you bought every time you make a purchase?

If the ratio of 'money spent'/'total volume' is 1/5, does that mean that people are, on average, spending one fifth of their wallet?

You spend the results of previous transactions. Each transaction can have multiple inputs and multiple outputs, so when you make a purchase, you select enough payments that you have received to cover the cost as the inputs of the transaction, and make the purchase price (to the recipient) and whatever is leftover (back to yourself) as the outputs. (I imagine software would take care of all the complexity; and whatever is leftover, typically 0.01, is given to the miners to incentivise them to spend the processing power to authenticate the transaction.)

This means that the Bitcoins in somebodies wallet is conceptually the list of transactions that have been made to them (that haven't been spent yet). It also means that a nice big graph can be made of how money is (or isn't) flowing through the system.

Thank you. That's the most lucid description of bitcoin spending I've yet to see.

It would mean they are, on average, spending 1/5 of the sum of the transactions' inputs.

Bitcoin wallets generally contain multiple addresses, and transactions will be created with inputs associated with only a subset of these addresses.

You seem to have an integer overflow error or something.

> Coins in circulation

> 10994200

> that's 224,516,226.80 kr

That's not right, $2,049,318,880.00 ~ 13,192,490,290.00 SEK

The webpage is scrollable vertically (at least on my google chrome), why is that?

It could use delimiters on "Coins in circulation."

Mind sharing what libraries you used for this?

Not at all :) The frontend is built with d3.js and geometry.js. Backend is node running express with browserify and less to bundle the client.

How does it know power consumption?

It's based of that 40 megahashes per second consumes 1 joule of power (1watt)

Where do you get that figure? ASIC and GPU devices are completely different in power consumption for the same amount of MH, for example.

From https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mining_hardware_comparison and some discussions on #bitcoin-dev

ASICs represent only a tiny fraction (for now) of the power consumed by the network though. The vast majority is consumed by GPUs at ~1-2 MHs/watt.

That's awesome - great work! :)

Hm, returns a 502 now.

lovely UI

I'm surprised so many people in the tech community have fallen for this Ponzi Scheme.

For example, many heard about "some guy bought a $25 pizza with 10,000 bitcoins", but no one has thought about what this means. It means someone now has that 10,000 "coins" (which is close to 2'000,000).

This also means someone had this amount (and possibly much more). And, finally, no one questions who posseses the first "coins".

That's why the creator is anonymous. Just my 2 cents.

>no one questions who posseses the first "coins".

This is thoroughly documented https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Mining

The whole thing of this is to remain anonymous. Again, no one questions and no one knows how posesses the first coins.

So, this is a free Out of jail card.

The creator of Bitcoin included a newspaper headline from the Financial Times the day of Bitcoin's release in the very first block.

While he may be in possession of the earliest coins, he obtained them after the public release of the software, as it would have been impossible for him to include that quote in the genesis block before the day he announced the release to the whole internet.

The quote: "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks"

From: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/business/industries/banking/ar...

You could have had any of those blocks. I had several.

I'm not sure how to interpret your argument. It just seems like your pissed of someone else has 2,000,000 dollars.

What pisses me off is people are falling into this Ponzi Scheme.

It's their lookout - if it does collapse, it's small enough that it won't cause real harm. If it doesn't, then it's a pretty exciting new development in the world of currency and money.

People trading Bitcoins and working on it are doing no harm to anyone, so I find it odd that anyone could get upset about it. It's like getting upset about people who trade dolls or toy soldiers or rare oil cans.

How is it a Ponzi scheme? I don't see anyone promising returns to previous investors based on money taken from new investors.

It's a bit of a stretch to call it a Ponzi scheme IMO, but you could try to make the argument that all the early investors who got in for cheap/"free" are now cashing out with the money of new investors.

But, the "Ponzi scheme" people are essentially engaging in name calling, because its definitely not a Ponzi scheme. There is no Ponzi (or Madoff) at the top running the scheme.

Better to rationally call it what it is: an enormous ramp in the spot price driven almost purely by speculation.

Some people say it's a classic bubble. Bitcoin already had one of these in 2011, this could be another.

Some people say bitcoin is different than other commodities, that this is not a bubble, but more of a "tipping point" event where bitcoin has gained enough traction/attention that it is rocketing up to its "true" value.

Pick your side, and if you're so inclined, place your bets.

Odd ... I can't select the bitcoin address at the bottom of the page in Firefox, but it works in Chrome.

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