All About Bitcoin and Litecoin mining and other alternative crypto currencies
Black Friday is almost here and Bitcoin users should also prepare for some nice deals and discounts for various crypto currency related items and not only. The website Bitcoin Black Friday is dedicated to collecting various deals that should go live on November 27th 2015 (Black Friday), so you might want to check it out in a few days when things get hot. Meanwhile the website is still accepting merchants that want to offer a good deal to users for the Bitcoin Black Friday, so there is time for getting your deal listed if you want to have something special for Black Friday customers. The dedicated website expects that over 2000 merchants will take part in this year’s Bitcoin Black Friday.
The Bitcoin payment processor Coinbase has just introduced the Shift Card which is essentially a VISA Debit Card that currently allows Coinbase users in twenty-four states in the U.S. (for the moment) to spend Bitcoin online and offline at over 38 million merchants worldwide just like they would with a normal VISA card. With the Shift Card, you can now spend Bitcoin anywhere in the world that VISA is accepted with the amount of BTC coins deducted from your Coinbase account. It seems however that the Shift Card is a partnership with Coinbase and not their own product, so you need to link your account and authorize a payment of the $10 card issuance fee (will be paid in Bitcoins).
Currently the eligible states where users can apply for a Shift Card are: Alabama, Arizona, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. With a beta test for California that is limited to the first 1000 applicants. Other states can be added later on, so if you are interested in the product you might want to keep an eye on the list.
By default, the daily spending limit for the Shift Card is $1,000 USD. You can lower this limit to any amount below $1,000. The daily ATM withdrawal limit is $200 USD. There is no annual fee, no fee for domestic payments, however there is 3% for international ones, there is a $2.50 USD fee for domestic ATM withdraws and $3.50 USD for international ATM withdraws. So it seems that the target users for the Shift Card are USA customers that plan to spend Bitcoins for domestic payments and not withdraw BTC to USD on an ATM or use the cards abroad.
Since the Shift Card is limited to only certain states of the USA, if you live in a non supported state or in a different country there are other alternatives for debit cards that are backed by Bitcoin that you might want to check out. We have been using a VISA debit card powered by BTC linked to our Xapo account for a while already and are quite happy with the results. Another alternative is the service E-Coin that is essentially an online Bitcoin wallet along with a Bitcoin debit card linked to it and you can get either a virtual debit card or a physical one, though we have not yet tested the service we are soon going to. Another interesting alternative is the Gold-backed debit card from BitGold where you can purchase Gold with Bitcoin and still fund your card with BTC, even though your account balance will be in Gold.
Since we’ve been closely following the development of the different ccMiner forks and have been compiling Windows binaries for most of the updated versions we have decided to do an interesting test. We have picked up the last 20 releases of the ccMiner SPMOD fork for Maxwell and tested them on a Gigabyte GTX 970 WF3 GPU running at stock frequencies to see what has happened with the hashrate in the X11, Quark, NeoScrypt and LyraREv2 algorithms. The first version we tested with ccMiner 1.5.53-git SP is from early July and looking at the results it seems that the most notable improvement is with Quark as well as some slight improvement with X11. Lyra2REv2 support has been added in release ccMiner 1.5.60-git SP, so there are no results prior to that, it seems however that the initial versions and the last one have pretty much the same hashrate with some drop with some in-between versions. The NeoScrypt hashrate hasn’t changed much, there is some slight variance with different versions probably due to the Boost frequency of the GPU variating a bit. Do note that these are results with publicly available and open source code, there could be some higher performance private miners also available…