s 

比特币购物初体验

作者:未知 来源:未知 2014-04-08 我要评论( )

Want To Buy Everyday Stuff With Bitcoin: A User's Guide

比特币购物初体验

Deep in the unregulated underbelly of the Internet, bitcoin is the crypto-currency of the realm, making as many headlines for its volatile price as it has for its popularity with criminals seeking anonymity.

在不受监管的互联网暗区深处有一种加密电子货币,这种电子货币就是比特币。比特币价格起伏多变,而且常被犯罪分子作为隐藏身份的工具,因此经常见诸报端。

These are reasons enough to keep most people away. But bitcoin keeps popping up in more places as a way to pay for legal, everyday things. So I spent a week using the virtual currency and my experience surprised me: It was neither anonymous nor shadowy.

比特币的弊端足以让大多数人敬而远之。但比特币作为购买合法日常用品的方式正为越来越多的商家所接受。于是我花了一周时间来试用这种虚拟货币,我的亲身经历让我颇感意外:比特币的使用既非匿名,也并不神秘。

Though my hunt for places to spend bitcoin did turn up a questionable massage parlor, it didn't require venturing into fishy corners of the Internet. I used bitcoin to buy cupcakes and sushi at local shops, and I got a Grumpy Cat sweatshirt at Overstock.com.

在找地方花比特币的过程中,我确实碰到过一家不太靠谱的按摩院,但我并不需要冒险进入互联网世界的可疑角落。我用比特币在本地的商家购买了纸杯蛋糕和寿司,还在Overstock.com上买了一件不爽猫(Grumpy Cat)运动衫。

Bitcoin isn't ready to replace credit cards or PayPal. It lacks wide acceptance, consumer protections and stability. The currency is in crisis right now, after hacking attacks disabled two of the biggest exchanges, making bitcoin lose a third of its value. During the course of a week, my own bitcoin lost as much as 7% of its value.

比特币还无法取代信用卡或贝宝(PayPal)。它尚未被广泛接受,缺少消费者权益保护机制,也不够稳定。两家最大的比特币交易所受黑客攻击而瘫痪之后,比特币目前陷入了危机,币值缩水三分之一。在一周的时间里,我本人的比特币也损失了高达7%的价值。

But that isn't stopping me from keeping a small wallet of the first major Internet currency. I'm no speculator, I'm not investing my savings in bitcoin, or recommending that anyone does that. I'm interested in what it might enable -- a 'tip jar' for online art, or small daily donations to charity. And if you're intrigued, too, this column will hopefully help you keep from losing your shirt.

但这并没有阻止我持有少量比特币(比特币是首个主要互联网货币)。我不是投机者,我不会把积蓄拿来投资比特币,也不建议任何人这样做。我只是想知道比特币能做些什么,比如存下来在网上买艺术作品,或者每天为慈善捐一点钱。如果你也感兴趣,那么希望这篇专栏文章能让你不致连衣服都赔光。

The good news is you don't have to put much money at risk to try it out. I didn't even buy an entire 'coin' -- just 0.25 of one, or about $160. I signed up for a virtual wallet, which promises to safeguard the string of code that is your money, and exchanges dollars for bitcoin (and vice versa). I recommend Coinbase, whose wallet connects to your regular bank account and charges a small fee, about 1%, with each trade.

好消息是,想尝试比特币的话,并不需要投入很多钱去冒险。我甚至没有买一个“整币”——我只买了0.25个,大约相当于160美元。我注册了一个虚拟钱包,该钱包承诺保障相当于你的钱的一串代码的安全,并提供美元与比特币的相互兑换。我推荐大家使用Coinbase,这家公司的钱包绑定你的普通银行账户,对每笔交易收取少量费用(约为1%)。

Are these people trustworthy? Coinbase is backed by some big names in Silicon Valley, but has nothing like the government-backed guarantees of using dollars in a regular bank. In the past 15 months, Coinbase says it has set up nearly one million consumer wallets.

那么这些人可信吗?Coinbase有硅谷(Silicon Valley)一些著名人物的支持,但不像在普通银行使用美元那样能获得政府担保。Coinbase称,在过去15个月里,该公司已经为消费者建了近一百万只钱包。

What surprised me most is how Coinbase strips some anonymity out of the currency. To buy bitcoin, it asked me for my bank account information, my credit-card numbers, even my bank website login details. The company doesn't retain all that info but it is used to speed up the verification process, which can normally take four days.

最让我意外的是Coinbase剥夺了比特币的部分匿名性。要想购买比特币,Coinbase会要求我提供银行账户信息、信用卡号甚至银行网站登录详情。这些信息该公司不会全部保留,但它们被用于加快认证速度(认证一般需要四天时间)。

The point of gathering all this information, says CEO Brian Armstrong, is to prevent 'shenanigans, ' so the traditional banks will see Coinbase as legitimate.

Coinbase首席执行长布莱恩·阿姆斯特朗(Brian Armstrong)表示,搜集这一切信息是为了防止一些人“耍滑头”,以让传统银行认可Coinbase的合法性。

Coinbase has done a good job of simplifying bitcoin use. To pay for sushi at a local shop, I used the Coinbase app on my Android phone to scan the QR code presented by my server. (Apple hasn't yet approved the Coinbase app for iPhone, but you can make payments via the Web.)

Coinbase在简化比特币使用方面做得很棒。我在本地一家店里买了寿司,结账时,我用自己安卓(Android)手机上的Coinbase应用程序扫描了服务员向我出示的二维码。(苹果(Apple)尚未批准在iPhone上使用Coinbase应用,但你可以通过网页来支付。)

Once I confirmed my sushi payment, the money transferred instantly. For consumers, bitcoin's speed can be a dual-edged sword: If something goes wrong, there's no third party to intercede and get your money back. And returns can be tricky on a currency with a wildly fluctuating value. (Fortunately, I had no complaints about my sushi.)

在我确认了寿司的支付之后,钱就会立即转账。对消费者来说,比特币的速度是一把双刃剑:如果出现问题,是没有第三方干预并帮你追回款项的。此外,这样一种价值大幅波动的货币回报会很不可靠。(幸运的是,我对那些寿司很满意。)

Making a purchase online works much the same. At the Overstock.com checkout page, I chose to pay by bitcoin, and then scanned an on-screen code with my phone.

网上购物的流程也差不多。在Overstock.com的结账页面上,我选择以比特币支付,随后用我的手机扫描了屏幕上一个二维码。

So why bother using bitcoin? Bitcoin doesn't really solve mainstream consumer problems like speed and convenience, says Mark T. Williams, who teaches finance at Boston University and is a bitcoin skeptic. 'It solves a problem if you want to send stuff secretly.'

那么,我们为什么要费这么多事去使用比特币呢?在波士顿大学(Boston University)教金融学的马克·T.威廉斯(Mark T. Williams)对比特币持怀疑态度,他说,比特币并不能真正解决消费者遇到的主流问题,比如速度和便利性。他还称:“如果你想偷偷摸摸地发送什么东西,比特币倒是能解决问题。”

Though Coinbase and other wallets collect information about you, you can still try to make transfers or payments anonymous. If someone gives you bitcoin, you can set up a Coinbase wallet without entering many personal details -- though you'll need to verify yourself if you want to turn your bitcoin back into dollars.

尽管Coinbase和其他比特币钱包会采集你的个人信息,但你仍能设法匿名转账或支付。如果有人给你比特币,你不需要输入很多个人信息就能建立Coinbase钱包——不过如果你想把比特币换回美元,则需要验证身份。

Getting merchants on board will be a slog. Some 3, 000 businesses around the world accept bitcoin for payment, according to Coinmap.org. There are more than 60 in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live, but I still struggled to find places worth spending my bitcoin. When I did, paying with bitcoin was usually speedy, but certainly not faster than using a credit card or cash.

让商家接受比特币是件难事。根据可显示接受比特币商家地理位置的网站Coinmap.org,全球大约有3,000个商家接受比特币支付。我生活的旧金山湾区(San Francisco Bay Area)有超过60个商家接受比特币,但要找到一家值得花钱的地方仍要颇费一番周折。地方一旦找到,用比特币支付通常是很快的,不过当然了,没有信用卡或现金快。

Overstock is planning to offer a financial incentive to paying with bitcoin. Since bitcoin payments save the retailer credit-card fees, Overstock will give bitcoin customers 1% back on their purchases (in store credit).

Overstock计划为比特币支付提供优惠。由于用比特币支付能为零售商省去信用卡费,Overstock将向用比特币消费的人提供1%的购物返利(以店铺购物抵用券的形式返还)。

So far, the killer app for bitcoin may be international transfers, a process made costly and slow by traditional banks and services like PayPal. I tried sending $10 worth of bitcoin to my friend Kevin in Hong Kong. In minutes, he was up on Coinbase and zapping the money back to me. I sent it over the Pacific again, impressed at our ability to play ping pong with a financial process that normally takes days.

到目前为止,比特币的杀手?应用也许是国际转账,传统银行和贝宝等服务让这一过程变得昂贵而缓慢。我试着向我在香港的朋友凯文(Kevin)汇去价值10美元的比特币。他在几分钟之内登录了Coinbase,并把这笔钱迅速汇回我的账户。随后,我再次把钱汇到太平洋对岸,为我们能轻松完成这项一般要耗时数天的金融手续而叫绝。

But when Kevin tried to spend his bitcoin in Hong Kong, opportunities were slim. He found a massage parlor that accepts it, but his wife wasn't impressed with his proposal to sample its services. Eventually Kevin found a florist (wife-approved), but I hadn't sent him enough to buy a bouquet. To buy more bitcoin, a legitimate-seeming Hong Kong wallet company asked for his passport, proof of address -- and more time.

但当凯文试着在香港花比特币时,他却发现机会寥寥。凯文找到一家接受比特币的按摩院,但他夫人对他体验一把按摩院服务的提议并不感冒。凯文最终找到一家花店(征得了夫人的同意),但我给他的钱不够买一束花。要想购买更多比特币,一家看起来还算正规的香港比特币钱包公司要求他出示护照,并提供地址证明——还需要花更多时间。

Someday, all of this might be easier. Taking a vacation with bitcoin might provide a way to avoid international currency and credit card fees. But that day isn't here yet.

将来有一天,这一切也许会变得简单一些。在度假时使用比特币也许能为我们提供一种不必换汇和缴纳信用卡费就能支付的方法。但这一天尚未来临。

'Some day' -- I found myself thinking that a lot while using Bitcoin. It may be a currency of the future, but it's still looking for a reason to be useful in the present.

“将来有一天”——我发现自己用比特币的时候脑子里总会想着这个词。比特币也许是未来的货币,但眼下比特币要想发挥作用,还需要寻找有说服力的理由。

重点词汇学习:

incentive [in'sentiv]
n. 动机;刺激adj. 激励的;刺激的

stability [stə'biliti]
n. 稳定性;坚定,恒心

consumer [kən'sju:mə]
n. 消费者;用户,顾客

charity ['tʃærəti]
n. 慈善;施舍;慈善团体;宽容;施舍物

retailer ['ri:teilə]
n. 零售商;传播的人

anonymous [ə'nɔniməs]
adj. 匿名的,无名的;无个性特征的

massage ['mæsɑ:ʒ, mə's-]
vt. 按摩;揉n. 按摩;揉

sushi ['su:ʃi]
n. 寿司(生鱼片冷饭团)

acceptance [ək'septəns]
n. 接受;接纳;[金融] 承兑;赞同

volatile ['vɔlətail]
adj. [化学] 挥发性的;不稳定的;爆炸性的;反覆无常的n. 挥发物;有翅的动物

网友点评