SALT LAKE CITY — In many homes this Christmas bewildered families opened gifts from their Bitcoin-enthusiast family members to find strange paper printed covered with codes and numbers.
The gift: Bitcoin. While many have heard of the new digital currency, some may be surprised to learn that it can be gifted using the very non-digital method of paper.
Canton Becker, created of bitcoinpaperwallet.com even created a special holiday themed Bitcoin "wallet" that can be printed at home.
A Bitcoin wallet consists of two parts; a public address where Bitcoin can be sent and a private key which allows those Bitcoins to be spent. These paper wallets "store" Bitcoin and make it possible to gift Bitcoin to anyone.
By using free software to scan the private key, recipients can spend the Bitcoin online. Days before Christmas Bitcoin enthusiasts on Reddit's popular Bitcoin subbreddit excitedly discussed plans to give out paper wallets.
"Can't wait to give these out!" OLDDAZE said.
- Created in 2009 by alias Satoshi Nakamoto.
- Can be used to make anonymous purchases.
- No transaction fees, no middle man.
- Bought on exchange, transferred or mined.
- Stored in a digital wallet.
- Sometimes associated with illegal transactions.
"I printed these yesterday too! So festive," kelsifique said.
Those unfamiliar with Bitcoin may be confused by the gift and unsure of what to do with their new currency.
"(Don't) forget to make backups! I've gifted full bitcoins to people, and even after hearing it went to $1,000+, they (couldn't) be bothered to learn about it," said user TheSelfGoverned.
This week on Bloomberg, anchor Matt Miller gave a paper wallet on air to co-anchor Adam Johnson. During the course of the segment Adam Johnson opened his Bitcoin wallet, revealing the private security key on air. Immediately a viewer going by the name of milkwaymasta swiped the Bitcoin by scanning the revealed private key.
The would-be thief promised to return the Bitcoin saying that, "A segment on Bitcoin security and the importance of NOT showing the private key...will be more than enough compensation."
If you received Bitcoin this Christmas, one of the easiest ways to use it, according to CoinDesk, a Bitcoin news outlet, is to buy a giftcard.
"You can buy a gift card from over 200 popular high street retailers, by sending your newly-gifted coins to (Gyft.com)," said Danny Bradbury of CoinDesk.