Happy Holidays from Decentral!

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Things have been getting all festive here at 64 Spadina. If you’ve walked by Decentral lately, you’ll have probably noticed a sparkly wreath festooning our neon bitcoin logo, flanked by prancing reindeer in the window.

There’s another wreath hanging above the newly wrapped Bitcoin ATM in the lobby.

And everyone is just downright cheery in the office. But that’s not uncommon.

At the front desk, beside our bowl of candy canes, you’ll find Nancy, our super-helpful office angel, ready to answer your questions, help you with the BTM, or sell you some bitcoin swag. She also has a stack of Simple Coin Cards for sale – perfect for stocking stuffers!

At last week’s meet-up, we held a year-end party with refreshments and decorations and lots of bitcoin conversation. There was a great turnout and the second floor party room was packed with friends and family.

The next two Wednesdays fall on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, so there won’t be meet-ups held on those days. But we all look forward to seeing you again on January 7th at 7 pm for the first meet-up of 2015. As always, we encourage you to register for free in advance for our meet-ups.

If you are planning on stopping by Decentral, please take note of our holiday hours:

  • Closed on December 24th, 25th, 26th, and 28th and January 1st
  • Open on Dec. 27th from 10:00 -3:00
  • Regular hours on Dec. 29th and 30th (9:30 – 5:00)
  • Closed Dec. 31st
  • Closed on January 1st.

From all of us here at Toronto Decentral – Happy Holidays!!

Up, Up and Away with BTCTrip.com: My first experience booking a trip with BTC

My son goes to university up north. Every time we want to bring him home for breaks, I look into a few travel options: flights (convenient but pricey), coach bus (cheaper but less pleasant for him), or driving the eight hours each way (ugh). This week, I decided to look into buying a return flight for him using bitcoins.

 

Using BTCTrip.com was pretty simple. I’ve bought tickets on Expedia and CheapOair many times in the past so I’m used to buying airline tickets online. The user experience on BTCTrip is similar to these sites so the whole experience felt very familiar. For someone like myself, who is just starting to get into buying things with bitcoins, this familiarity made me feel comfortable with the process.

 

When I landed on the colourful BTCTrip.com site, there were the familiar info fields: to, from, dates of travel, number of passengers etc. When I compared the price of the plane ticket to the ones being offered on CheapOair, I was pleased to see that the prices were indeed cheaper. Bonus: My teenaged son can sleep in – there was a flight available for the middle of the day! (He’d have had to roll out of bed and trek out to the airport by 7:00am with CheapOair for the same price!)

 

I also looked into the price of a hotel stay on New Year’s Eve in Montreal so he and his brother could go catch a IIHF World Junior hockey game. Like other online hotel booking services, I could sort by hotel amenities and locations. There were plenty of options and I was able to find a room in our price range. So far, so good!

 

Once I purchased my flight, there was a brief, disconcerting moment as I got an email saying that they hadn’t been able to process my payment yet. I eventually realized that the delay was due to the confirmation process – of course – but it would have been helpful if that bit of explanation had been included in the alert, especially for those of us who are still learning the ins and out of bitcoin. The good thing was that customer service sent me a prompt and friendly reply.

 

Shortly thereafter, my e-ticket arrived and I forwarded it to my son. Excellent! It’s easy to see why BTCTrip has so many endorsements on their site.

 

Later that same evening, Martin Fernandez, founder and CEO of BTCTrip, was the guest speaker at the Decentral Meet-up in Toronto. He was very enthusiastic about the future for the online travel industry. He sees a day when the blockchain and smart contracts will play a major role in booking flights and hotels, where consumers can use online services like BTCTrip to cut out layers of middlemen and make bookings themselves. When these sorts of transactions are possible, he predicts that the costs of travel will decrease significantly for consumers.

 

Now that I’ve had my first pleasant experience buying airfare with BTCTrip.com, I only hope that these exciting new advancements will happen before my daughter starts university as well, in a couple of years!

Decentral Holiday Party

Wednesday, Dec. 17th. 7pm to 10pm.

This Wednesday, our meet-up will be full of festive cheer and fun with refreshments, decorations, and – of course – lots of bitcoin conversation.

While you’re here, check out some of our cool BTC merch – like coins, pins, t-shirts and Simple Coin Cards. (Great for gift-giving!)

Sign up for free on the Decentral Meet-up site.

Decentral Talk Live launches on Decentral.tv

As part of its bid to become the premier news and information site with video content related to cryptocurrencies and decentralized tech, decentral.tv is launching Decentral Talk Live, a daily show about bitcoin, blockchain technologies, and all things decentralized. Interviews with prominent personalities, innovators, and entrepreneurs will be the key focus, along with product reviews and general news and discussion of current events in the cryptocurrency and decentralized tech space.

 

Hosted by Anthony Di Iorio and Ethan Wilding, Decentral Talk Live will also feature an assortment of guest hosts including specialists in legal, accounting, security, and tech development from the Decentral space. The first installment will feature Patrick Murck, the executive director of the Bitcoin Foundation as he answers questions from Anthony and Ethan, as well as guest host, Michael Perklin. Next on the schedule is a series of interviews focusing on various bitcoin ATMs, including BitAccess, Lamassu, and BitX. Look for more episodes when Decentral Talk Live talks with Jordan Kelly of Robocoin, Dmitry Murashchik of Mycelium, Matt Schlich of ZapChain, and many other well-known names in the bitcoin community.

 

New episodes will air weekdays at 3:00 pm EST on decentral.tv.

 

Decentral.tv is a 24-hour interactive internet dashboard that’s packed with video segments, curated news and information, a Twitter feed, interviews, feature programs, charts, and customizable exchange tickers. It delivers globally relevant content with news about decentralized and disruptive technologies around the world. Its most prominent feature provides a playlist of quality videos, including live broadcasts of the weekly Decentral Toronto meet-up events, as well as other unique and curated programs.

Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, Decentral is a home to disruptive and decentralized technologies. It offers co-working space and a bitcoin teller machine, and numerous tech companies are headquartered here.

For media and partnership inquiries or to suggest news and story ideas, please contact Christie Harkin or Anthony Di Iorio at [email protected] or call +1-416-831-9593.

Simple Coin Card: The Gift of Bitcoin – now available exclusively at Decentral!

Note: Shu Wang, the founder of Simple Coin Card, will be at the Decentral meet-up tonight (December 10) to answer your questions.

 

Gift cards are a convenient and simple way to give people what they want while also allowing them to make choices in their purchases. Now, Simple Coin Cards make it easy to give the gift of bitcoin.

 

Simple Coin Cards look like regular plastic gift cards and come in a variety of pre-set amounts that match Canadian currency denominations: $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. They have a one-time key on the back that is activated on purchase. All you do is scratch and reveal the key, visit simplecoincard.com, enter the key, and deposit your coins to the wallet of your choice. Don’t have a wallet? You can easily click on the link provided to create your own Rushwallet in seconds.

 

After the recipient has deposited their gift in their wallet, they can start spending their coins.
The website also has a list of links to places where you can spend your bitcoins.

 

Because Simple Coin Cards come in a variety of denominations, they are a fantastic way to introduce your family and friends to bitcoin. Anyone who has ever used a gift card or a phone card will find the card platform familiar and safe.

 

While Simple Coin Cards make excellent gifts, they are also a year-round alternative to using a bitcoin ATM to purchase bitcoin in person. The fees are comparable at 10% (deducted at the time of redemption) and the rate of exchange is derived at the time of purchase from the best available price among the Canadian exchanges. Cards are portable and don’t require a prolonged Internet connection to get your coins.

 

Security

All funds that support any activated Simple Coin Cards are stored in a secure hot wallet, while funds for unactivated cards are kept in cold storage. Each card has a unique, one-time use key on the back. Once the key has been entered into simplecoincard.com and the bitcoins have been transferred into the user’s wallet, the card is no longer active and can be discarded. Cards are not refillable or reusable.

 

Where to purchase Simple Coin Cards

Right now, Simple Coin Cards are available to purchase in person exclusively at Decentral Toronto, 64 Spadina Ave. Simply come in during our regular office hours and ask for Simple Coin Cards at the front desk.

#BitcoinGivingTuesday: Sharing the bitcoin love

After the frantic spending hype of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday is a welcome palate-cleanser. And just as we did on those first two days, the Bitcoin community is holding its own event: Bitcoin Giving Tuesday — a project organized by Bitcoin Black Friday, the BitGive Foundation and the Bitcoin Foundation.

 

The number of charities accepting bitcoin donations is on the rise. It’s one more way that they are able to engage with a set of committed donors while reducing their overhead costs. Donated bitcoin can be recorded as a non-cash gift and then exchanged for fiat, without the high transaction costs normally associated with credit card payments.

 

Bitcoin donations also have the capacity to reach farther around the world. Many remote territories, especially in the developing world, do not have access to the infrastructure needed to run credit card or PayPay systems. But they can accept bitcoin.

 

Now that the start of holiday gift shopping has officially begun, this is the day that we’re encouraged to think about giving a gift to a worthy cause. The bitcoin community has often expressed the desire to change the world for the better. Bitcoin Giving Tuesday is another way that we can do this.

 

For a list of organizations that accept bitcoin, visit bitcoingivingtuesday.org. You can also donate directly through the website: 100% of all donations will go to the non-profit of your choosing.

 

You’ll also find more inspiration at the Twitter hashtag #BitcoinGivingTuesday and on the main thread at /r/Bitcoin.

Cyber Monday and Holiday Shopping with Bitcoin

Bitcoin ATM Toronto

It’s Cyber-Monday — want to take advantage of some deals AND spend your bitcoins? There are a few options.

 

Perhaps the easiest thing to do is use bitcoin to buy electronic gift cards for some of your favourite online stores and then shop as usual. There are some excellent sites out there that offer gift cards. Even if you don’t take advantage of Cyber Monday sales, these are still great options for online holiday shopping with bitcoins.

 

YesToBitcoins.com offers gift cards in a dozen different countries – just select your country from the drop-down list to see which stores are offering cards. Depending on where you live, there is a good selection of retailers to choose from; for example, there are offers from Roots, Lululemon, Amazon, and Starbucks. E-cards will be sent to your email address within 24-hours, so you might still be able to get it in time to shop today. If not, there are still plenty of deals to be found in the next few weeks — or save it for Boxing Week specials!

 

Purse.io lets you use bitcoin to buy anything from Amazon at a discount — first-time users get a discount of about 8% on top of any Amazon savings — so you can take advantage of Cyber Monday sales and then some. The process is a bit convoluted to set up but once you sort it out, the deals are excellent. (Hint: you will need to uncheck the “Don’t Spoil My Surprises” button which is NOT where they tell you it is. Go to the wishlist drop-down menu labelled “List Actions” on the right side of the page — NOT near your profile picture — and select “Update list profile.” There you can uncheck the box.)

 

Gyft has a Cyber Monday promotion happening, but it’s only available in the US. If you are in the US, you can get 5% Points back on any purchase plus an extra $50 for every $1,000 you spend with Bitcoin. Like YesToBitcoins, Gyft allows you to buy gift cards to many online retailers like Best Buy, Sears, Game Stop, and The Gap.

 

Want to book a getaway? Expedia has several Cyber Monday deals today and they’ll let you pay in bitcoin.

 

Do you have any other suggestions for shopping online with bitcoins? Let us know in the comment section below!

 

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Image credit: By Rexhep-bunjaku (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons