The retail industry is undergoing a transformative period as the “empowered” consumer, driven by technological advances and breakthroughs, impacts how retailers market, communicate and sell. Retailers continue to erode the barrier to purchase via a myriad of new technologies, such as mobile apps, social media transactions and AI that converse with consumers. They leverage AI to analyze buyer behavior and optimize buyer preferences. Even “traditional” retailers have invested in technologies that track both offline and in-store behaviors to further reduce the barrier to sale regardless of location.
Bitcoin (BTC) is a cryptocurrency payment system based off blockchain, a core component of the digital currency.
Bitcoin’s system is a decentralized peer-to-peer payment network with no central authority. This means it provides a certain level of anonymity with no central point of failure, though most services and business using Bitcoin are centralized in one way or another.
While there are numerous legitimate uses for Bitcoin like investing, paying friends or shopping, a number of criminals have adopted the currency for selling services and deploying ransom campaigns due to its level of anonymity.
The Bitcoin “Bank Account”
Before you can purchase Bitcoin, you first need somewhere to store it. An online Bitcoin wallet and exchange is accessible via the web from a browser or a cellphone. Some exchanges like Coinbase even offer an app for both Android and iPhone that makes buying and selling Bitcoin and in-store purchases very simple.
Paper wallets are a form of cold storage with the address and private keys printed on them from offline computers. By printing the paper wallets offline, the exposure for your wallet being compromised is greatly reduced. There are even hardware wallets specifically designed to securely hold your Bitcoin.
Once you have a wallet, you can buy and deposit your Bitcoin, as well as send and receive it.
How to Purchase Bitcoin
Users wishing to invest, purchase or shop using Bitcoin only have to take a few basic steps before being able to use it. One can either purchase it online at a number of digital exchanges or locally at a Bitcoin ATM, or alternatively, accept it for goods and services.
There are a number of online exchanges you can use to purchase Bitcoin. Exchanges like Kraken, BitStamp, and OkCon all offer services where you can buy it online. Coinbase is one of my favorite online exchanges and one I use personally. Their app is very user friendly and convenient to use.
On Coinbase, you can convert your local currency into and out of Bitcoin and Ethereum, another cryptocurrency, by linking your wallet to your bank account. You can also use debit and credit cards to purchase BTC on Coinbase.
Coinbase allows users to buy and sell items via its app as well. To send money, you simply enter the recipients’ BTC address. If you are purchasing from a local vendor, you can use the app to scan the merchant’s Bitcoin address displayed in the form of a QR code. Coinbase also provides a great interface for watching the digital market so you can buy low and sell high, as the value of Bitcoin does rise and fall like the normal stock market.
You can also purchase Bitcoin at a Bitcoin ATM, if there is one nearby. For example, there are several in Brooklyn (mostly made by three companies, BitCOIN, CoinBTS and CoinSource) that let you purchase and sell Bitcoin at a physical location.
Where Can I Use Bitcoin?
So who uses Bitcoin and where can you use it? Many merchants have adopted or used Bitcoin in one way or another over the last few years, and e-commerce stores are following suit. You can purchase items on websites like Overstock and Newegg Tiger Direct with Bitcoin. And some physical stores accept it. In New York City, for example, a wide array of bars, coffee shops and other independent stores accept Bitcoin.
Perhaps most notably, Darknet marketplaces like Empire and Apollon, along with the DDoS-for-Hire industry, have adopted BTC as their currency of choice. Even ransomware authors are choosing to accept payments via Bitcoin. Criminals will use a number of methods to anonymously purchase and store ill-gotten BTC through the use of services such as tumblers (online services used to launder Bitcoin in an attempt to mask the coin’s origin or to prevent it from being identified while purchasing illegal goods online).
As the currency continues to mature, users may see even more legitimate uses and big name stores accepting Bitcoin. Bitcoin is the first mainstream digital currency, so there will be more growing pains, especially when it comes down to government control and taxes, but there are many benefits and security features behind accepting the digital currency.
This post was updated on September 10, 2019.
Read “The Trust Factor: Cybersecurity’s Role in Sustaining Business Momentum” to learn more.
This year’s door buster deal might just be a DDoS attack
The luring presence of large bowls of excess Halloween candy laying around my house can only mean one thing: It’s that time of year when retailers are preparing stores (both physical and virtual) for a crush of holiday shoppers on Black Friday.
As the story goes, the term originates from an incident in the late 19th century in Philadelphia. The retailer Wanamaker’s Department Store decided on a deep discount of calico, the most common fabric used for dressmaking at the time. The throngs of shoppers that showed up for the penny-a-yard fabric sale ended up breaking through the glass windows of the front door, forcing the store to close. The closure no doubt cost Wanamaker’s dozens of dollars.
It may be hard to believe, but ecommerce sites have been around in earnest for a little over 20 years – Amazon and eBay were both founded in 1995 (right as the Netscape and Internet Explorer browsers were debuting), preceded the year before by J.C. Penney. In 1997, Dell became the first company to land $1 million in online sales.
Twenty years later, it’s hard to imagine a world without ecommerce. Virtually anything can be, and is, bought online, to the tune of $1.2 trillion U.S. dollars globally in 2013, and an estimated $1.672 trillion in 2015. It may have started with books and music, but it encompasses pretty much everything at this point.
As the weather turns and the leaves reveal their polychromatic wonder, I enter this time of year knowing that the holiday season is upon us. Holidays means shopping and like any good technologist, I have transitioned to making most of my holiday purchases online.
As an online retailer (e-tailer), the holiday season is critical to the success of the business. Estimates suggest that on average, over 23% of online sales are made during this time. The stability and availability of the online platform these next couple months can make or break the business. So, what do you do if your online store becomes too popular?
Online retailers are leaving millions of dollars – yes, millions – on the table. Why is this?
In the hyper-competitive world of online commerce sites, every second is absolutely critical in ensuring a user experience that will yield the maximum likelihood of conversion, meaning a site visitor follows through and makes a purchase.
In the hyper-accelerated world of technology, the modern consumer is bombarded with near-daily news of technological breakthroughs, OS updates, device refreshes and breakneck broadband speeds. With this all comes a reinforcement of expectations for modern webpages to deliver dynamic, rich content on par with high-definition cable programming, delivered just as fast as a user would change a channel from one HD broadcast to another.
As we do every quarter at Radware, we’re releasing a new “state of the union” report – an in-depth snapshot of web performance of the world’s top ecommerce sites.
There are compelling arguments why companies – particularly online retailers – should care about serving faster pages to their users. Countless studies have found an irrefutable connection between load times and key performance indicators ranging from page views to revenue.
For every 1 second of improvement, Walmart.com experienced up to a 2% conversion increase. Firefox reduced average page load time by 2.2 seconds, which increased downloads by 15.4% — resulting in an estimated 10 million additional downloads per year. And when auto parts retailer AutoAnything.com cut load times in half, it experienced a 13% increase in sales.
Recently at Radware, we released our latest research into the performance and page speed of the world’s top online retailers. This research aims to answer the question: in a world where every second counts, are retailers helping or hurting their users’ experience – and ultimately their own bottom line?
During the past 12 months, we’ve worked to provide more than application delivery and security solutions. Our goal was (and is) to share knowledge with the IT community so you can assess upcoming trends, implement best practices, and gain insights through our research. Thanks to our readers, partners, customers, and team members for another great year of sharing our thought leadership.
Here’s a look at what resonated the most with our readers this past year. Happy Holidays and we wish you a smart, successful, and secure 2015. Cheers!