A Guide To Cryptocurrencies


Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer Electronic Cash System (2009) Satoshi Nakamoto 

The original ‘White Paper’ of Bitcoin written by the still mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used by Bitcoins inventor(s). The paper theorises an online payment system in which electronic cash is sent directly from one user to another without the need for a third-party institution such as a bank. It is now recognised that Nakamoto did more than invent a currency. He also solved a longstanding problem in computing, to do with data and networks. His solution was complex, but it involved the use of an infrastructure comprising “blocks” of confirmed transactions that form a chronologically linked “chain”. This paper is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the theory behind blockchain and how Bitcoin was born. It is important to note that before every new cryptocurrency is launched, a white paper is written by its creators. A white paper details everything a potential investor needs to know, including the problem the new token intends to solve in the existing market. It is simultaneously a pitch, a business plan and a marketing plan. You can find a data base of white papers here.

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World” (2016) by Don Tapscott &, Alex Tapscott

This book is incredibly successful in envisioning the future potentials of blockchain technology. Written by father and son duo, Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution sets out examples of changes this technology could bring about. First, they suggest, blockchain technology could transform remittances, the largest flow of funds into the developing world; transfers could take place in an hour rather than a week, and with greatly reduced commission. Second, the technology could provide immutable land title registration for the estimated 5 billion people in the world who have only a tenuous right to their land. Third, it could overhaul online identity, allowing us greater privacy but also the ability to gain value from those aspects of our data we are prepared to share. Finally, blockchain technology could help artists and musicians claim ownership of their work and receive a fair share of its value. But they continuously raise the same questions: Is this blockchain revolution likely?, And is it actually desirable?. The authors acknowledge both barriers to adoption and also dangers. Either way, whether the revolution comes around or not, this book lays out the huge potential that is the blockchain.

Sex, Drugs and Bitcoin: How much illegal activity is financed through cryptocurrencies? (2018)

Is an academic paper by Sean Foley (Senior Lecturer at University of Sydney), Jonathan R Karlsen (PHD student at the University of Technology Sydney) and Tālis J. Putniņš (professor at UTS). The paper discusses the ethics of people investing in currency that is being used to sell drugs, weapons, finance terrorism, forgeries, launder money and sometimes even murder for hire. This is both an interesting and controversial paper because the authors claim that much of Bitcoin’s value is derived from its use as the perfect anonymous trading system for the dark web. They use the analogy that Paypal is to Ebay, what Bitcoin is to the dark-net, in that it is a reliable, scalable and convenient payment method. The authors are trying to illustrate the size of the problem, that whilst Bitcoin has grown rapidly in price, it has also facilitated the growth of an illegal market very close in size to the total market value of illegal drugs in the United States. Their primary finding is that close to one half of all Bitcoin transactions are associated with illegal activity. This is an incredibly detailed research paper, nearly sixty pages long, it even shows you examples of what illegal drugs can be purchased with Bitcoin on the Silk Road. It is also one of the most recent sources of data that is available (January 2018) on the correlation between Bitcoin and the dark web.

The Internet of Money (Volume One) (2016) by Andreas M. Antonopolous 

Much of the existing literature on cryptocurrencies focuses on the how of Bitcoin. Technologist, Bitcoin advocate and computer scientist, Andreas Antonopoulos’s book, The Internet of Money (2016) focuses on the why. The Internet of Money is a collection of talks he has given around the world from 2013 to 2016. Antonopolous is not afraid to make bold claims such as Bitcoin is, “the most important technological invention in computer science of the last 20 years”. He also recognises there are many critics and skeptics but compares it to the early stages of the internet when there were also many critics and says Bitcoin is still in its early stages of development. The book does have some flaws such as the fact that because it is a collection of talks there is some repeated material but it is well worth reading as it is much more interesting and insightful than a lot of other material on Bitcoin. The other great thing about this book is that it is available on audible to listen to in the car or at home!. You can also listen to his TedTalk here.

Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the inside story of the misfits and millionaires trying to reinvent money (2015) by Nathaniel Popper 

Nathaniel Popper is a New York Times Reporter that has written a novel that provides an indepth history of the early days of digital currencies including experiments such as ‘Digicash’ and ‘hashcash’ and the people who played with the ideas behind it, ‘cypherpunks’. Popper tells the story of the currencies earliest investors including Argentinian entrepreneur Wences Cesares, Silk Road owner Ross Ulbricht, the Winklevoss twins and many more. Most interestingly, it gives a global perspective of Bitcoin, not just how the currency is effecting the Western world, but also the developing world. Popper makes the point that for countries like Argentina, where pesos are so unstable and China where taking money out of the country is restricted, cryptocurrencies are even more important. It also delves into how China wrestled with the decision to make cryptocurrencies legal or illegal. This book is a good place to start for anyone wishing to know more about Bitcoin.

Industry Sources

CoinDesk is probably the largest industry specific website that exists for all things cryptocurrency. It includes every ‘how to’ you would ever need to start trading, mining, and even how to accept bitcoin payments for your store. It also releases a quarterly report on the state of blockchain, detailing any updates, future projections and the current state of the industry. CoinDesk also hosts the largest annual blockchain technology summit in the US, Consensus, raking in at least $17 million in ticket sales alone. The Consensus conference is said to push the price of Bitcoin skyward exponentially, in 2017 the Bitcoin price spiked by 69% during the Consensus conference.

CoinSpot is an Australian cryptocurrency exchange where you can buy and sell Bitcoin, Ether and over 60 different alt coins. BTC markets is often considered Australia’s most popular platform however traders only have the main 6 coins to pick from. CoinSpot also gives you the ability to buy alt coins directly using AUD, whereas on BTC markets, traders  have to first use Australian dollars to buy Bitcoin and then buy the alt coins with a Bitcoin trading pair. For example, the “trading pair” ETH/BTC (Ethereum and Bitcoin). Its is also extremely user friendly as it calculates the amount of AUD you would need to buy a certain amount of cryptocurrency, BTC markets does not have this feature.

For example, to buy 10 of the cryptocurrency ‘VeChain’, CoinSpot calculates it will cost AUD$46.63.

Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 5.18.25 pm
Example of CoinSpot user friendly interface, calculates cryptocurrency into AUD.


Telegram Messenger is an instant messaging service for all your questions about cryptocurrency. It is the most used messaging app in the cryptocurrency community with 84% of blockchain-based projects having an active Telegram community. It has become the universal communications hub for crypto enthusiasts, for sharing news and tips. It is a secret chat that uses end-to-end encryption, meaning nobody but the sender and recipient can read the messages, not even the Telegram staff. For anyone who is hooked on the cryptocurrency world, Telegram is a great communications platform outside of typical social media.

News Media 

Women in Cryptocurrencies Push Back Against ‘Blockchain Bros’ (2018)

This New York Times article discusses the contradictory nature of the blockchain and virtual currencies originally meant to be a force of equalisation and democratization, has now become a male dominated culture. The article echoes similar sentiments felt in other sectors of the technology industry where women are decidedly a minority. The article also discusses current attempts to try and get more women into the world of investing because the start of a new technology is often where the big money is made, the winners then decide who to invest in and what to build next. Its an extremely important article about the realisation of a scarily boring and unequal future if the current trends persist, just 4%-6% of cryptocurrency investors are women.

Cryptocurrency Regulation in 2018: Where the World stands Right Now 

Regulation is one of the biggest words in the world of cryptocurrencies right now, this article, published in Bitcoin Magazine, covers 15 different countries treatment of e-currencies from the US to South Africa, Ghana, Russia and lots more. Its important to know how different countries are reacting to the rapid growth in order to get some insight into the future of not only regulation but also taxation which is something traders are starting to think about.


The Bad Crypto Podcast

The Bad Crypto Podcast is a crude, comedic podcast created by two guys who are both technologists and crypto-enthusiasts but admit they are also learning as they go. This is a great podcast for beginners because the hosts don’t use abrasive, technical speak that often alienates those people that are new to the central ideas and concepts. They explain concepts like Bitcoin mining and how to use exchanges in a really easy to understand format, but they also just have a lot of fun which is a pleasure to listen to. Their success has been huge for how recent it is, their first podcast aired in July 2017 but have already had interviews with people like John McAfee, once the founder of software company ‘McAfee’.

Unchained: Big Ideas From The World of Blockchain and Cryptocurrency  

Unchained was created by Laura Shin, a senior editor at Forbes Magazine. In such a male dominated field, its great to have a female voice asking the tough questions and she also talks about gender related issues in the crypto world, such as the fact that nearly all the people who write code for cryptocurrency are men. Her position at Forbes means she is privy to interviewing some of the top authorities in the business and finance sphere as well as entrepreneurs, investors and thinkers. Unchained is a bit more advanced and technical compared to Bad Crypto, it goes into more depth about different types of cryptocurrencies and interestingly talks a lot about governance. The only downside to Unchained is that new episodes only come out once a fortnight which is a long time in the world of cryptocurrency.


Twitter is a great source of information for any topic, but especially for crypocurrencies!. All the big names in the crypto world use twitter as their main form of communication on a public platform. Some of the best and least annoying accounts to follow are:

@cz_binance https://twitter.com/cz_binance (CEO of Binance.com)

@APompliano https://twitter.com/APompliano (Trader and enthusiast)

@SatoshiLite https://twitter.com/SatohsiLite (Charlie Lee, creator of Litecoin)

Contextual Essay

My interest in cryptocurrencies stemmed from an article I came across in the Law Society Journal of New South Wales titled “The Dark Side of Bitcoin” (March, 2018). The article was about a new research paper called Sex, Drugs and Bitcoin: How much illegal activity is financed through cryptocurrencies? Undertaken by forensic financial analysts at multiple Sydney Universities. The research paper finds a clear correlation between illegal activity on the dark net, such as arms trade, drug trafficking, human trafficking and cryptocurrencies being the anonymous trading system that allows it to happen. This gave me an almost immediate negative opinion of cryptocurrencies, but it didn’t portray the whole story. After further research into the potentials of blockchain technology and the capabilities it presents for a completely decentralized financial system, I realized there was a clear difference between the representation of cryptocurrencies in media as the future of decentralized currency and the reality of the future of cryptocurrencies having to be regulated by governments or third parties.

I looked into the history of cryptocurrencies and the original white paper written by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 theorizing an online payment system in which electronic cash is sent directly from one user to another without the need for a third party institution. The need for regulation directly contradicts its original purpose and I started to wonder how this would be accepted or rejected by users of cryptocurrencies.

Originally I thought about creating a podcast as a sort of ‘how to’ on trading and investing in cryptocurrencies, but I realized that many of these videos and podcasts already exist on youtube and other platforms. I also knew that much of the existing literature on cryptocurrencies and the blockchain is overly complicated and confusing for an average person looking to invest or just understand a bit more about it. For this reason my aim was to follow on from a previous ‘Future Cultures’ students digital artifact, @eddiesmedia, who created a succinct library of quality literature, industry research and news media to educate people unfamiliar with the technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. I think this is important because there is so much speculation, hype, confusion and prophesying surrounding cryptocurrencies that it isextremely hard for the average person to understand the risks, potential uses and history of cryptocurrencies.

Overall I think the finished product presents a good scope of different and helpful media sources, from books, research papers, industry websites, news media, podcasts, and twitter accounts to follow. I wanted the reader to get a grasp of the struggle between those who believe cryptocurrencies will herald the future of money and those who are very skeptical about whether the blockchain revolution is likely and how this will be effected by the impending regulation already being implemented. I would have liked to go more into depth about the history of currency and bookkeeping by providing a source that explains how the system of ledgers transformed banking.

 Resources used

Antonopoulos, A 2016, The Internet of Money (Volume One), Merkle Bloom LLC

Allam, K 2018, ‘The Dark side of Bitcoin’, Law Society of NSW Journal, Issue 24, March 2018, p.28-29

Dahlen, M ‘The Internet of Money (Volume One)’ Objective Standard: A journal of culture and politics, Volume 12 issue 4, 2018, p.97-100

Foley, S, Karlsen, J, Putnins, T, 2018 ‘Sex, Drugs, and Bitcoin: How much illegal activity is financed through cryptocurrencies?’ SSRN https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3102645

Nakamoto, S ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’, 2008, https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf viewed April 27 2018

Popper, N 2016, Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the inside story of the misfits and millionaires trying to reinvent money, Harper Paperbacks

 Tapscott, D 2016, Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World, Penguin Random House

Bitcoin Part 2

In my previous post ‘Paypal is to Ebay what Bitcoin is to the dark-net’  I discussed the both positive and negative uses and potentials of cryptocurrencies for the future. This post will delve further into exisiting research surrounding cryptocurrencies and what will eventually become an extension of the digital artefact conducted by previous student of university subject BCM325 (Future Cultures) @eddiesmedia, which can be found here.

Bitcoin was first conceived by an anonymous person/people called Satoshi Nakamoto (the true identity of which remains unknown) in 2008 through the paper ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’. It describes an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof (the art of communication via coded messages) allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party (Nakamoto, 2008, p1).

Much of the existing literature on cryptocurrencies focuses on the how of bitcoin. Technologist and computer scientist, Andreas Antonopoulos’s book ‘The Internet of Money’ (2016) focuses on the why. Antonopoulos makes very big claims such as “Bitcoin is the most important technological invention in computer science of the last 20 years” (Dahlen, 2017). Antonopoulos explains that Bitcoin was made for the internet age, he compares it to credit cards and the deeply flawed nature of companies storing their customer’s credit card information, making it vulnerable to hackers. Bitcoin is completely decentralised and Antonopolous makes the claim that because the Bitcoin network is distributed, “it is immune to mass theft and data breaches” (Dahlen, 2017).

But still there are risks involved with creating a ‘wallet’ and trading and investing in cryptocurrencies. E-currencies are inherently volatile, their value routinely spikes and plummets much more frequently than widely used currencies, making investing a gamble.  It is because of this instability and threats to the Bitcoin community such as inevitable bugs and accidents, that Kroll, Davey and Felten (2013) argue the Bitcoin system will require mechanisms for governance and that such governance is already emerging, which will eventually lend itself to influence by government regulators. It is known that Bitcoins are used to facilitate a significant trade in illegal goods on the dark web, an anonymous online marketplace that has over $8 million in monthly sales (Kroll, 2013, p.2.).

A bitcoin ‘wallet’ also known as a ledger to store assets on. 


There has been multiple suggestions of how to regulate virtual currencies such as Kevin Tu’s paper ‘Rethinking Virtual Currency Regulation in the Bitcoin Age’ (2015) which notes it is nothing new for regulation to lag behind the rapid growth of a new technology. Tu divulges that current efforts such as that in the United States are taking a limited approach to the treatment of virtual currencies under existing legislation and believes a new cohesive framework for regulating cryptocurrencies must be forged. However, Low (2017) discusses the prospects of trying to regulate something that is an obscure asset, in other words there is no tangible property. It seems inevitable that the question of what private law rights a bitcoin holder has over his bitcoins will eventually have to be answered.

In March 2018, Binance, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange announced it would be moving its headquarters to Malta with Malta trying to position itself as a ‘crypto-friendly’ country. With this, Malta has taken the step to establish the Malta Digital Innovation Authority, given the task of regulating the crypto markets as well as attracting more investors into the country. Similarly, Bermuda has proposed a bill, the Initial Coin Offerings Act, that will require businesses facilitating the sale of or providing services relating to cryptocurrencies to collect and retain key information about their customers. New regulations in Australia make it mandatory, as of April 3rd, for digital currency exchanges to “report suspicious activity to AUSTRAC, maintain certain records for at least seven years and verify the activities of their customers” (Munro, 2018) in an effort to counteract money laundering and terrorism financing (NewsBTC, 2018). Nolan Bauerle, head of research at CoinDesk, notes that the new regulations officially bring cryptocurrency exchanges in line with banks and other responsible financial service providers. But Brian Kelly explains in his 2015 book, ‘The Bitcoin Big Bang’, that “Bitcoin was created to remove third parties from the financial system, whether they are government agencies or money centre banks” (Kelly, 2015, p. 139). Regulating, in many ways, is counter productive to Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision. Whilst these agencies have the ability to declare digital currencies illegal, as China and South Korea have done, Kelly admits that any type of regulation, “will be an implicit nod of legitimacy” (Kelly, 2015, p.140).

You can find here many other countries stance on cryptocurrencies.

Joseph Muscat, Malta’s Prime Minister tweets ‘Welcome to Malta @binance’ 2018 

There is so much speculation, hype, confusion and prophesying surrounding cryptocurrencies that it is extremely hard for the average person to understand the risks, potential uses and history of cryptocurrencies. Whether bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies herald the future of money or if they remain a niche form of electronic money, there is no denying that they are having a significant impact on economies and regulators. My aim is to follow on from @eddiesmedia’s succinct library of quality literature, industry research and news media to educate people unfamiliar with the technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies and continue on learning the world of Bitcoin.


Dahlen, M ‘The Internet of Money (Volume One)’ Objective Standard: A journal of culture and politics, Volume 12 issue 4, 2018, p.97-100

Kelly, B, The Bitcoin Big Bang, John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated, Hoboken, New Jersey, 2015

Kroll, J & Davey, I & Felten, E ‘The economics of Bitcoin Mining, or Bitcoin in the Presence of Adversaries’, The Twelfth Workshop on the Economics of Information Security, Washington, DC, June 11-12, 2013 http://www.econinfosec.org/archive/weis2013/papers/KrollDaveyFeltenWEIS2013.pdf

Low, K ‘Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies as property? Law, Innovation and Technology, 2017, pp.235-268

Nakamoto, S ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’, 2008, https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf viewed April 27 2018


Paypal is to Ebay what Bitcoin is to the dark-net

Have you ever thought about why you should have to pay fees to keep your hard earned cash in a bank?….

Banks are some of the wealthiest companies in the world and it has only been up until recently that most big banks in Australia have stopped charging customers transaction fee’s to withdraw their own money from an ATM. Secondly, banks accumulate a wealth of data on customers spending habits. This data can be very valuable information for advertising companies and governments to create customer profiling and effectively produce more data trends as Barclays started doing in 2013 (Jones, 2013, The Guardian).

But what if there was a way of cutting out the middle man?

As society becomes more and more virtual, demand to be able to pay for goods and services with virtual currencies in a decentralised way has resulted in the invention of cryptocurrencies, ruling out the need for banks.

The most commonly known of these virtual currencies is Bitcoin, however the concept of e-cash was theorised long before the arrival of Bitcoin. In a 1999 interview, Professor Milton Friedman, an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic sciences, predicted the global influence of cryptocurrencies when he said “I think the internet is going to be one of the major forces for reducing the role of government. The one thing that’s missing but that will soon be developed is a reliable e-cash.” (Youtube, 2013).

Bitcoin has been the buzz word in the finance and investment world over the past year or two, being described as ‘volatile’, ‘speculative’ and in a ‘bubble’ by media reports since it hit a record high of AU$24,000 in December 2017 (Allam, 2018, Law Society Journal). Whilst Bitcoin is the most widely known application, as of March 2018 there are now 1,494 cryptocurrencies in existence (Allam, 2018, Law Society Journal) with exchanges and markets accumulating a daily dollar volume of around $50 billion (Foley, Karlsen & Putnin 2018, p.1). The nature of cryptocurrencies is anonymity as the blockchain acts as a global online data base that anyone, anywhere can use. Such a complex record of transactions, known as ‘blocks’, would traditionally be owned and under the surveillance of banks, companies or governments, however, blockchain isn’t owned by anyone.

Explaining what the potential of the Blockchain could mean for the future of the internet and data freedom is complex and confusing to explain in a few sentences but is summed up well in this short video that featured on Lateline in 2017.

Blockchain: the technology that could dramatically change the internet’. ABC Lateline, 28 September 2017 

This entirely unregulated new world of digital currencies has bamboozled regulators and governments, with some governments like China and South Korea putting a blanket ban on initial coin offerings (ICO’s). Cryptocurrencies do have potential benefits such as faster and more efficient transactions, and its biggest fans even believe that blockchains can not only replace central banks but usher in a new era of online services outside the control of internet giants like Facebook and Google (Finley, 2018, Wired). However the other side of the (Bit) coin is that it has also created the perfect trading system for the darknet, a hidden online black marketplace. Recent research by forensic financial analysts from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) and the University of Sydney claims that nearly half of all Bitcoin transactions are associated with illegal activity. The upcoming research paper, Sex, Drugs and Bitcoin: How much illegal activity is financed through cryptocurrencies? (2018), discusses the ethics of people investing in currency that is being used to sell drugs, weapons, finance terrorism, forgeries, launder money and sometimes even murder for hire (Foley, 2018, p.1).

The research proposed by academics Sean Foley, Jonathan Karlsen and Talis Putnin estimates that $72 billion of illegal activity per year involves Bitcoin, and one quarter of Bitcoin users are engaged in illegal activities (Foley, 2018, p. 2). Bitcoins existence on the dark web is explained by Francis Pouliot, the CEO of Satoshi Portal, Bitcoins first ever Blockchain hub, as “when Bitcoin was first becoming more readily used it was the only e-currency that was censorship resistant unlike PayPal or Visa and this is why it was the only payment option for users of the dark web” (CGTN, 2017). Whilst the methodology of the research conducted for Sex, Drugs and Bitcoin (2018) holds merit, it is important to remember that this is a study on the activities of those who do not wish their activities to be discovered in the first place (Torpey, 2018, Bitcoin Magazine). The anonymity of cryptocurrencies makes it very difficult to track or prove illegality and is possibly why the dark realities of Bitcoin’s anonymous trading methods rarely makes it into media reports. Furthermore, buying and selling cryptocurrencies is considered high-risk as the Australian Competition and Consumer Commissions (ACCC) received 1,289 complaints related to Bitcoin in 2017 with investors reporting being scammed losses totalling $1,218,206 (Hobday, 2018, ABC). However this has not stopped transnational companies like Shopify, Webjet, Expedia, Microsoft and Subway who have started accepting Bitcoin as payment for products and services. Some of the worlds biggest corporations adopting the use of Bitcoin and the high demand for digital money means that governments are scrambling desperately to find a way of regulating the use of cryptocurrencies.

As cryptocurrencies become more widely understood and adopted by mainstream institutions it is showing exciting potential for the future of the internet and data freedom, however will a way of implementing consumer protection laws and regulating it’s illegal uses emerge?. Creating a digital artefact surrounding this issue may be challenging as there is limited academic research available on the uses and legitimacy of cryptocurrencies however this is the question I wish to explore through my research report.


Allam, K 2018, ‘The Dark side of Bitcoin’, Law Society of NSW Journal, Issue 24, March 2018, p.28-29

Finley, K 2018, ‘The Wired guide to the Blockchain’, Wired, 02.01.2018, https://www.wired.com/story/guide-blockchain/

Foley, S, Karlsen, J, Putnins, T, 2018 ‘Sex, Drugs, and Bitcoin: How much illegal activity is financed through cryptocurrencies?’ SSRN https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3102645

Hobday, L 2018, ‘More than 1,200 people complain to ACCC about bitcoin scams’, ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-02-19/more-than-1200-people-complain-to-accc-about-bitcoin-scams/9462240 viewed 21.03.2018

Jones, R 2013, ‘Barclays to sell customers data’ The Guardian, 25 June, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/jun/24/barclays-bank-sell-customer-data

Torpey, K 2018, ‘Study suggests 25 per cent of bitcoin users are associated with illegal activity’ Bitcoin Magazine, Jan 22, https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/study-suggests-25-percent-bitcoin-users-are-associated-illegal-activity1/