The ABC’S of Bitcoin and Everything You Need To Know About “Forks”

bitcoin fork

99% of Cryptocurrencies are total scams. And, yes, Cryptocurrencies are in a bubble.

BUT…the opportunity is NEVER going away and generational wealth will be made. So you have to know the basics, why this opportunity even exists and what to watch out for.

Here’s the problem. There’s around 900 different cryptocurrencies that exist, with new ones being created every week.

I can tell you for sure: 95% of the cryptocurrencies are scams or Ponzi schemes. And I get questions every day: “Is XYZ currency a scam?” And nobody listens to the answer.

Everyone is convinced they are right. That’s a bad sign. I always tell myself I’m the dumbest person in the room. Then I call the smarter people and ask them lots of questions. And then I read everything I can. And in this case, I read the code.

But the opportunity is immense. Think, “Internet 1994”. Right before the “right before”.

BC will stand for “Before Crypto” and AC will stand for “After Crypto”. We are in AC right now and the world is about to change.


I’ve never written about Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies before. But there’s a reason I want to start now.

We’re in a hype bubble.

It doesn’t mean cryptos or bad. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy. It just means….there’s a lot of hype and scammers out there. We’ve seen this story at least twice before in past 20 years and many people have gotten hurt.

I’ve been actively involved in investing in Cryptocurrencies since 2013 (I sold my book, “Choose Yourself” in a Bitcoin-only store I created a month before I released it on Amazon). And for the past 18 months I’ve participated in various ICOs (Internet Coin Offerings) that are all doing well.

I say this just to establish some credentials. I will be writing more frequently about cryptocurrencies simply because I see so many people I know starting to be hurt when, in fact, there’s opportunities to make a lot of money in the space.


Big picture: 

A simple cryptocurrency transaction looks like this:

A) James wants to send Joe 10 bitcoin.

B) James has 100 bitcoins that he has gotten from 500 people who, in turn, got from 10,000 people, and on and on back to the very first bitcoin transaction.

C) James puts together a “transaction” (technically complicated but simply described as a “transaction”) and sends it out onto the block chain.

D) A “block” is a list of transactions.

E) enough “miners” confirm that the transactions in a block are legit (all of the inputs are legit and all of the outputs are legit. The merchant (in this case, “Joe” ) can decide how much validation he needs.

F) the bitcoins get transferred

Every step above is much more complicated, but for a reason.


Pros and Cons: 

THE GOOD:

A) a standardized and neutral confirmation policy backed by software that has no human agendas.

What does this mean?

Imagine I want to send Joe dollars to buy his house. I need to trust all of the middlemen between Joe and me: local bank, central bank, lawyers, governments, Joe’s bank, etc to approve of this transaction if I do it in dollars.

This is ok but at each step someone can be untrustworthy. They are all humans, even the government (humans subtly influence the price of the dollar and also share details of the transaction with unfriendly parties (the IRS)).

Also, each step in the above has a transaction cost. So inflation is built into the system.

If this were a bitcoin transaction, enough miners need to approve that this transaction is valid. So even if a few miners are not trustworthy, the bulk of them will be and we can trust that the transaction between me and Joe is legit.

[This process is complicated. Suffice to say, it works on Bitcoin and any other “legit” cryptocurrency.]

This is the ENTIRE reason for cryptocurrency: avoid governments, borders, middlemen, extra transaction costs. As well as have high security and avoid forgery. 

(there is another reason for cryptocurrency, which is to do more complicated transactions that we can call “contracts” without lawyers, etc. This reason is sometimes the basis for legit ICOs).

Imagine the history of money. Money is used as a store of value OR as a way to transact without having to use a barter system.

Store of Value

First it was the land you owned and the resources you developed on that land (wheat, grains, etc).

Then it was metals. Gold, silver, etc. You traveled with it by fashioning it into jewelry. Too much gold = harder to travel.

Paper currency. Backed first by gold but then…faith in God (“in God we trust”) or government. (Or a pyramid…with an eye in it????)

Electronic currency. Easily transportable. But transaction fees all over the system. Zero privacy.

And the next generation is Cryptocurrency. Easily transportable, little to zero transaction fees, no human intervention between payor and payee, high anonymity, and even functionality.

Money evolves, like anything else, and the natural evolution of money is always as a store of value that is easier to move, more secure, and more private.

Transactions

Transactions have the same history. And the same issues. How can you transact across a far geographic area with less fees, less costs, less chance for human error, higher security and privacy.

A natural evolution leads go crypto-currency.

THE BIGGEST TREND: 

Theism ==> Humanism ==> Data-ism

Think about every industry in human history:

WAR:

Theism: A country planning on going to war would make sacrifices to their gods. Would pray. And would surrender to the fact that whosever god was stronger would win.

Humanism: More people, more bullets, more human intelligence, equals the winner in a war.

Data-ism: This is the war being fought every day right now. We saw tiny snapshot of it with the election but it’s only a snapshot in a ten year long movie.

The war is on every single day. It’s fought in every country. It’s fought with data and hacking and piracy.

MEDICINE:

Theism: Shamans and priests would pray for health or do rituals to enhance health.

Humanism: The doctor knocks your knee, puts hand on head, take two aspiring and call me in the morning

Data-ism: Bloodwork, DNA work, robotic surgeries, fMRIs, Catscans. Statistical matching with massive database of similar scans to do diagnosis. All medicine is starting to be outsourced to data.

CURRENCY:

Theism: “In God We Trust”

Humanism: Let’s throw a President on there. Let’s get the signature of the Secretary of Treasury up there. “Don’t worry, we’re good for it.” While we print a few trillion without telling anyone.

Data-ism: The natural evolution: Cryptocurrency.


Does this mean Bitcoin is “The winner”. Buy bitcoin?

No. It just means the natural evolution of currency is arriving and nothing will stop it.

The basic philosophy is:

– Decentralized. So no one government entity can quietly mint money for their own purposes and have access to your transactions, accounts, etc.

– Security. So nobody can forge or steal your money.

– Privacy. Your transactions can’t be seen and reported to other entitles.

– Functionality. This is the more technical parts of the blockchain in Cryptocurrencies but suffice to say some of the “intrinsic value” of a coin is the functionality and computational power used to “mine” that functionality.


There’s not going to be ONE winner.

Just like there is not one paper currency (or metal currency). There’s dollars, Euros, pesos.

The difference is: those currencies have geographic borders.

Cryptocurrencies have “use” borders. ZCash might be used by people requiring higher anonymity. Filecoin might be used by people requiring decentralized storage. Dash might be used be people requiring faster transactions.

The borders are created when more problems are solved. Which is a true innovation for currency.

As opposed to borders (and supply) being created by geographic boundaries, central banks with secret control, or a gold mine down the block.

THE BAD:

With Bitcoin, a list of transactions is sent out to the network in the form of a “block”. Miners, who are slowly paid in more bitcoin up to a maximum of 21,000,000 validate a transaction.

If a transaction doesn’t make it into a block (on Bitcoin) it waits a certain period of time to get into the next block.

This means it might take more time (a problem).

Another problem is that everyone can “see” the transaction on what is called the blockchain. They can’t see who it was but they can see the size and other details. (a problem).

Sometimes software can provide a solution (a coffee shop can say, I’ll verify the transaction anyway and trust that in ten minutes I’ll know for sure and there’s not a lot of risk in this).

But a software layer involves humans and human error and human “evil”. Hence there are scammers and Ponzi scheme and theft (just like with paper currencies).

The good news is these are problems that can be eliminated.


Just like Internet software since 1991 solved (although always improving) the problems of speed, security, transactions, privacy, more functionality, etc think of cryptocurrencies as the “Internet of Money”.

These problems are being solved.

Either with new currencies (examples: Ether, Dash, filecoin, etc) some of which may be scam currencies, others may be legit. Time and research will tell (just like with the Internet in 1995)…OR with “forks” in currencies, like what is happening today with Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash.


SO WHAT IS BITCOIN CASH AND WHAT SHOULD I DO? 

Bitcoin Cash tries to solve the problem of how can I buy a cup of coffee with bitcoin without using the software layer of Bitcoin.

Remember, if a transaction doesn’t make it onto a block that is then sent out into the network to be validated, it has to wait.

Bitcoin Cash is simply the same as Bitcoin, except it increases the size of a block from 1MB to 8MB. Hence, faster transactions.

The reason that many exchanges are nervous about this “hard fork” is:

A) it’s never happened before. So there could be the possibility that smart developers can find a flaw in the process and steal money.

B) A “fork” is similar to a human election. We had a choice between Clinton and Trump and forked to Trump (not an exact analogy but rough).

Bitcoin is designed to limit human involvement as much as possible because all humans have different agendas.

For instance, perhaps China is greatly in favor of Bitcoin Cash because they currently have a huge edge on mining and they will be able to amass a large amount of Bitcoin Cash before others can.

So the fallout of Bitcoin Cash, while probably correct philosophically and from a software point of view, is still unclear from a human point of view.

Same for the development of any new cryptocurrency (although all new currencies need scrutiny on the software side as well). But this fork is a bit more intense because Bitcoin is so big and it’s the first time this has happened.

This leads immediately to some logical conclusions:

What to do right now about Bitcoin Cash and August 1:

A) remove your bitcoin wallet from exchanges and store it in cold storage. If you google “cold storage” you can see step by step how to do that.

B) If Bitcoin crashes 20% over the next few days because of this fork, I’d be a buyer. The philosophy of Bitcoin remains the same, it’s still the biggest, and volatility only creates opportunity.

C) If Bitcoin Cash goes up too much, I’d sell or sell short, only because we don’t really know how people should value it.

Cryptocurrencies are going to be volatile for awhile. So in addition to the basic opportunity (Cryptocurrencies taking over all currencies) there is many additional trading opportunities due to the volatility.

First, back to the basics:

Why does volatility create opportunity? 

Because it’s rare that intrinsic value changes very quickly from day to day.

Example: We know everything there is to know about McDonalds and 1000s of analysts research the company.

The intrinsic value of McDonald’s will almost certainly never go down 20% in a day. But if the stock went down 20% in a day (example: a 9/11 event occurs causing a mass fear selloff across all stocks), then MCD becomes a value buy because the volatility exceeded the normal change in value.

If you can identify the Cryptocurrencies that are legitimate and not scams, then you can make a lot of money playing in volatile situations in Cryptocurrencies.


Conclusion: 

A) Cryptocurrency philosophy is valid and not going anywhere and is a natural evolution in:

a. the history of money from bartering to coins to paper money to data money

b. the history of every industry from theism to humanism to data-ism.

B) Volatility is huge as people determine what coins are real and what aren’t.

These are the basics.

I wrote these basics around the circumstances of the event happening today: The bitcoin fork.

But I also want to begin helping the many people who are being scammed by all sorts of schemes and layers of schemes that are trying to dupe people into buying or trading cryptocurrencies that can be potentially worse than giant Madoff schemes.

The evolution of money, and the evolution of every industry, strongly imply that Cryptocurrencies, probably in many forms, will be in our future. And will dominate the money supply at some point.

And how we get from “here” to “there” will be paved with many lucrative opportunities.

But I was burned plenty this type of opportunity in the 90s and in the 00s and I don’t plan on doing so again. The solution is research, diversification, building a network of intelligence people who understand all the relevant issues, and then making smart allocation decisions.

If you like this article and would like more on Cryptocurrencies you can let me know in the comments.

  • best video explaining bitcoin: https://youtu.be/bBC-nXj3Ng4

  • Liam

    Excellent summary James. Would definitely like to see more on Cryptocurrencies from you, especially with regards to what you see as opportunities and why. Also your thoughts as how Crypto should relate to the rest of an investment portfolio, when to hold, when to profit take etc.

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  • Very cool to see your “initial volley” re: writing about this space. Would love to see more of it, you can bring a wealth of insights to folks who lack all the background to see this through the multi-angle “lens” you have.

    Would specifically like to hear your take on the different ways to think about the various cryptocurrencies out there at the moment, i.e. “store of value” vs. “payment mechanism” vs. “pyramid scam” etc. etc. (Bitcoin as store of value, Ethereum as, what exactly? Payment mechanism? ICO token transfer mechanism? Fuel for execution of processing for smart contracts? etc.)

    There’s a ton of content you can write on here, from blockchain tech itself to the various ways to think about cryptocurrencies. This first post of yours is a table of contents that’s just waiting to be fleshed out into a full book (or books).

    Thanks,
    B

    • Silvia Valdman

      Agreed with you Brian on all points in your comment! Can’t wait to hear more from James on this most interesting of topics (as a newbie “discovering” digital currencies all seems fascinating and overwhelming all at once so great to have these insights!

  • Michael Loren

    My concern is what is a bitcoin miner? . Do miners mint new bitcoins? What qualifies someone to be a miner? Can anyone be a miner? Is there an end to creating bitcoin? Why so much volatility with bitcoin? Are there better questions to ask? Nice article.

  • Ryan Murray

    James, we love this stuff. Please tell us more!

  • DaMaster

    nice point of view, would love to see other articles like this, some insights on alt coins you think are of good value would be greatly appreciated

  • Thanks for chiming in on this topic James. Your insights are invaluable. Please keep the Bitcoin posts coming.

  • Charlie

    Really happy to see you write about cryptocurrency. Would love to see more.

  • John Doe

    I am interested in learning more.

  • Cliff Samuels Jr

    The big question is how do you spend this cryptocurrency without converting it into US dollars?? Not many products and services are shown in a percent of Bitcoins as the prices.

  • yinka

    Hi James,
    keen follower of your blog and quora answers, thanks for the timely insights. Been very much wanting to know your views on bitcoin/altcoins and was planning to ask your thoughts on this subject on quora, only for me to see this article, what joy!, looking forward to see more of your opinion on this.

    Especially going from the basis of lessons learnt from the dotcom bubble. Would love to hear your thoughts on what “checklist” you would utilize to separate the scams from the legit projects in the current cryptospace?

  • Stewart McClintock

    I had an idea once. And I called it “Everyone’s a Billionaire”. You would sign up to my membership site. And then I would give you a Billion “Digital Rubies”. And every “member” in our “online community” would agree that each of our Digital Rubies was the equivalent of a US dollar. And then each member would list goods and services that they would be willing to sell for digital rubies. Advantages- 1) everyone would have money to spend. 2) as a community we would agree that our rubies never lose value, ever, for as long as humans survive. So no Depressions….. Problems? Someone pointed out that a Billion is too much, someone could buy all the products being offered for sale in the community. But this wouldn’t happen, because we are all members and we agree to be good stewards to the community that we are fostering. Also, the only way for a person to make more rubies, would be to “sell” a good or service, so that would alleviate the problem of there not being enough goods or services to buy. And lastly, another way to make sure the currency always survived for the history of mankind was, that if I ever decided to sell the business, I had to sell it to a member who was contractually obligated to continue the community and it’s rules, and if they ever wanted to sell, they also had to sell to a member, and so on and so on.

  • Diana

    Thank you James. Until now had itnored, evaded – I’m too old, Bit’s too new etc etc. Cured me of that! Still don’t get it. But I get ..big. You changed my thinking.
    Deer in headlights. Thnx.

    CNBC HairDay $1k prediction took how many yrs??

    (Btw- You were sublime – In metaphysical synch w absurdity of moment)

    [Edit note: Concl main sect: “..there ARE…”, ixnay “..there IS..”

    DH
    FtLauderdale

  • Simon Stodart

    Thanks James,
    I look forward to more information on cryptocurrencies, and as they may relate to specific industries, and raising capital for a project, such as a renewable resource project in patnership with the traditional owners, in a 3rd world country with the sharing of profits with the traditional owners, and also with a priority by product of the project is also in the building of community infrastructure and facilities. The question is – is the process of an ICO specific to a project an easy process?
    Thank you in advance of your response to this specific query, as well as to your offer of ongoing information and reports on cryptocurrencies and the blockchain.
    kind regards, Simon Stodart, Australia

  • Rosland MJ

    Please explore more how the crypto$ will impact all areas of business, we already seen it how it impact direct transactions. But what about logistics, manufacturing etcs.

  • Ernie Robert

    Interesting read James, now tie government into the picture and taxes, and how to keep the roads paved and social services going if the government does not have their fingers in the decentralized system. Great article buy the way.

  • BitmusicCo

    We’ve always kept a sharp eye on you, James, and we always will. eloquent.

  • I’ve been messing around with small sums in BTC and ETH, and would love to get more of your wisdom and insight into crypto.

  • Anthony Williams

    please tell me more.

  • Thank you James, finally someone that explains it clearly.

  • Luis Gil

    Este movimiento, dentro de las coordenadas del postimpresionismo, parte también de la imagen de la naturaleza, es decir, del mismo motivo que los impresionistas, pero para ellos serán unas leyes físicas y fisiológicas muy determinadas las que caractericen la esencia de la pintura. Su material de reflexión serán, sobre todo, los escritos de Charles Blanc y, de un modo más radical los impresionistas, los tratados científicos de Cheverul, Sutter, Rood y otros. Gracias a ellos, el Puntillismo vio abierto ante sí un campo en el que su tarea habría de ser la aplicación metódica de sus conocimientos y la reconciliación de los rígidos principios del dibujo con los principios ópticos intuidos por los grandes coloristas. La mente lógica y reflexiva de estos pintores pedía la reducción del instinto al orden, del impulso al cálculo, reduciendo a lo esencial, no sólo los temas de la vida moderna o el paisaje, sino también el método impresionista de presentarlos.

    teniendo como referencia al maestro Gabino Amaya cacho

  • Jay Garces

    Thanks for writing this James! This was a great intro to crypto currencies and makes me want to read more about it. Looking forward to seeing more info from you on this!

  • Michelle Bruce

    I purchased Altucher’s course on crypto material. Some allegedly to be delivered by email and some by USPO. I’ve received nothing. This apparently was billed through Agora Financial. Cannot reach them or Altucher. Had to shut down my credit card.
    Fraud city here, folks.. Prove me wrong, James, and I’ll copiously apologize and sing your praises.

    • Michelle, I won’t let you apologize but you can sing my praises. Everything is being sent to you. Send me your email address so I make sure it got entered in correctly but nobody else seems to be having a problem. I’m at altucher@gmail.com

      • Michelle Bruce

        James, I’m so glad you are proving me wrong! I hope I sing your praises by being one of your most successful Crypto students! I’ve received Day 1 of your intro material. Michelle
        P.S. I apologize anyway!

      • Ian

        Hi James, Also the same issue as Michelle above. I have emailed you as you suggest above as I got a reply saying the e-mail address was not being monitored.

    • JohnAtkinson

      James, I’m guessing you will not respond but I think you need to be very transparent and quickly address this “Crytocurrency Package” issue upfront on your blog. I’ve been loyal follower/listener for years but the way you’re launching this “FREE Cyptocurrency Package” seems covert and misleading.

      I’m reserving judgement because I don’t think you’d ever go down the dark, formulaic path of those get rich quick internet marketers: “Create the campaign & collect their money before you create the material.”

      Many of us want to buy the package but we’re seeing too much negative feedback saying you are not sending the materials (not just @MichelleBruce, @Capitol16’s and @Ian’s comments on this post, but that’s more than enough).

      Your sales page(s) promises “my brand-new book called Cryptocurrencies 101,” a” 6-video series Masterclass,” 3 Special Bonus gifts and other items. It also says, “If you respond today…you’ll get immediate access to all of these moneymaking secrets — for FREE”(with a sub to Altucher Report). I did see the line about the book not being available until October 10th.

      Do all of these crypto materials exist today? If I buy today, what exactly will I get today? Hopefully this isn’t one of “those programs” where you get little or nothing now and other materials are “dripped out” over many days or weeks.

      If you can clear this up, I’ll buy today, if only to analyze your marketing funnel for learning purposes.

      • arph001

        John – I think you hit the nail on the head! It sure appears that Mr. Altucher has gone “black hat”. Even the way the funnel was set up, (act within 13 mintues!!), screams marketing bullshit.

        Finding an honest person on the internet is getting harder and harder, sadly.

  • this is a good article, but my question is:
    – I WONDER IF I SHOULD BUY 100 LITECOINS ?
    – or witch other currency do you think it will worth to buy ?
    any advice would be great since i am looking to do that these days !….
    thanks

  • Alisha P

    I would love lots more!I’d like to learn as much as possible. I have a few ideas but I know nothing about crypto currency or the programming i’d really like to learn more ! Thanks
    I also think I know the next big shift as well of course James will know first , but I think I got it and it’s surprisingly fun!
    Thanks james

  • RichestManInLondon

    Tell me more, James!

    Great read many thanks.

  • Bao Dai

    Please explain how to short Bitcoin Cash. Thanks!

  • Capitol16

    James, I just bought your video series Master Class. In your promo, you say:
    Because on October 26, there’s a single event taking place at precisely 4 p.m.
    And it could trigger a mad rush into cryptocurrencies.
    If you take a position right now…
    In the right cryptos (I’ll show you which ones)…
    You could turn a single $100 bill into a retirement fortune in the next 12 months.

    But, after purchasing, you tell us we won’t have the video series and books until sometime in October. So how does that work? You tell us we should buy in asap, but we don’t get the info on the best way to do this until a month or so from now (Sept 11, 2017)….

  • Ice

    James, you give clarity to a new technological financial system. You make it very easy to understand. My question to you is, have you heard anything more on the 6 million ruples (102,000 USD), that Vitalik Buterin paid Putin’s Univera blockchain to have access to its 10,000 a second transaction capability system, on Buterin’s visit to Russia, being accepted/adopted into Univera’s blockchain on August 30, 2017, or before? I understand, by Putin’s media release, regarding Univera, that it will be available for public use in 2018, and will far surpass any other blockchain presently in existence, with the interface capabilities to present internet businesses, i.e. banks, stock markets, retail businesss, etc. What do you know of this business partnership between the two, Ethereum (ETH) and Univera?

  • Andrew

    You should add a bit about zero proof equations and how Zcash found a way to fix the thing that BitCoin couldn’t.

  • Thomas Carbone

    Yep you are the man. This is right up your alley and everyone could benefit from your advice on this

  • alonsobaja

    Yes , I found this very interesting .

  • Kelton Blurton

    The article explains a lot and raises a lot of questions the same time?

    First question comes to mind if this is the way the future is going? How safe is it when North Korea can steal South Korea’s the coin