Sending money around the world

The night we launched the OpenStack Foundation there was a global celebration around the world with user groups throwing parties, having talks and pizza and drinks. Our initial idea was to send prepaid VISA cards to all of them but we soon realized that not every country or shop in the world accepts them. While we were trying to figure this out, time to ship anything around the world shortened so much that the prepaid VISA option faded out. Next option was to use Paypal… oh boy, what a mess Paypal is when you need to send money to Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and other countries. Paypal is not an option in some countries.  Bank wire transfer are way too expensive and slow. The last option is the good old wire transfer via services like Western Union, MoneyGram and others.

At this point I got fascinated by BitCoin, though and I wanted to learn more about it, again (since last time I checked it was around 3 years ago). I added the BitCoin PPA to my new Ubuntu machine, and installed the BitCoin client. So far so good. I’m now trying to figure out how to buy the actual coins. A quick DuckDuckGo search reveals that I can exchange them with locals with cash. Interesting, but I’ll pass. The other option is to buy online via market exchanges like BitExchange. The problem is that I don’t care about anonymity, I need just to go to a site, put coins in a virtual shopping cart, checkout with a credit card … can’t find a way to do it.

I bit the bullet and I signed up for MtGox, one of the largest market exchange for BitCoin. It works like a stock trade market: you place your offer to buy BitCoins for a price and other members of the market decide whether to sell you or not for that price. In order to operate you need to add funds to your account. How? No credit card option, lots of ways to send cash and bank transfer to Japan or Europe … or use Dwolla, which requires another account. Dwolla sounds interesting too but at this point I give up. I’ll give BitCoin another shot some other time.

Bitcoin value bites the dust

I would have not put real dollars in Bitcoin before and I’m less interested in doing that now that Mt.Gox one of the most prominent Bitcoin exchanges was attacked. More than 60.000 accounts were stolen and with a series of trading operations the value of the virtual currency went from about $17.50 in worth to just pennies in a few hours, with an estimated $40m worth of bitcoins traded.

If this is a problem of security of one site or of the whole Bitcoin infrastructure is, in my opinion, irrelevant: I do not trust the system (yet) enough to pour real dollars in it.

via FT Alphaville » George Clooney roils the Bitcoin market.