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BYOB: Using Bitcoin to Be Your Own Bank

Published on December 15th, 2014 by john

After the first time I heard about bitcoin, it took me almost a year of learning about the underlying technology before I bought my first coins. Part of the reason for the delay was because I wanted to first understand bitcoin, but after grokking the concept of “decentralized digital currency,” the main hurdle was availability. The options for purchasing bitcoins were slim at the time, limited to wiring money to online exchanges in foreign countries or sending concealed cash in an envelope to “OTC” traders and hoping that bitcoins were received in return (I didn't choose either of these options). After I managed to purchase my first bitcoins, I then had to figure out how to secure them. Luckily, a programmer from my area had developed a cool piece of software called Bitcoin Armory that was specifically geared towards the security-minded, and it made securing bitcoins relatively easy using advanced techniques like cold storage signing and Shamir's Secret Sharing. Learning how to keep my bitcoins secure took practice, but I eventually developed an efficient workflow that made it easy to move coins between cold storage and hot wallets.


Once I felt comfortable using bitcoin, I started to spread the word and tell others about this exciting technology. But there was a problem: every new person I told about bitcoin had to start from scratch, and I didn't yet know of an effective way to boil down the bitcoin story into an easily digestible elevator pitch, let alone teaching someone how to use it securely. When I would tell someone that it's p2p money, I had to first explain what p2p meant and then explain why they would want to use bitcoin instead of the money they were already using. The “why” for bitcoin can be more difficult to explain than the “what” or the “how,” and I would often end up just sharing a bunch of links that were probably never read. But the more I practiced the pitch, and the more diverse my audience became, the better I got at explaining the “what,” “how,” and “why” of bitcoin. I eventually felt comfortable enough to share my excitement with the world, and started a website where people could contact me to learn about bitcoin one-on-one. This started a journey into the bitcoin investing and startup world, and ultimately brought me to where I am today.


After almost two years of consulting for bitcoin investors, startups, merchants, and casual users alike, I have decided to take everything I've learned and taught and distill it down into an online course and companion e-book entitled “BYOB: Using Bitcoin to Be Your Own Bank.” In the course, I will be sharing a brief overview of the history and technology behind bitcoin and then dive right in to the practical ways that people can use bitcoin, including how to buy, sell, send, receive, and store bitcoins without relying on centralized services.


I'm running an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign right now to gauge public interest in this form of bitcoin education. For $25, contributors will receive lifetime access to the course as well as both a digital and physical zine version of the companion e-book. The intended audience is people new to bitcoin who want to learn how to use it without the fear of being hacked like so many others have been in the past. Contributors to the crowdfunding campaign can be beginner bitcoiners themselves or people who want to purchase access to the course and e-book as a gift for someone else. With the holiday season just around the corner, I can think of few better gifts to give than the gift of monetary freedom and satisfying one's curiosity about bitcoin. And for those who don't celebrate religious holidays, this is a perfect opportunity to make it a New Year's resolution to take control of your money and “Be Your Own Bank!”


If this sounds like a great way to help increase bitcoin adoption, please consider contributing to the crowdfunding campaign at the $1, $15, or $25 level (or choose your own amount). You can also help by sharing the campaign page and video via email and social media with those who might be interested. I am starting to reach out to people who can help with the cover design and formatting of the e-book, if you're interested in being hired to do this, please get in touch!

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