Category Archives: Electronics

Download of the day – Generative City Free Run

If you’ve played first-person parkour ‘em up Mirror’s Edge, Generative City Free Run‘s stark urban style will look familiar.

Your mission is to jog and hop around the monochrome tower blocks, hunting for a mysterious red shape. Picking this up will cause the city’s buildings to change around you, providing a new challenge.

Track down the red sigil, rinse and repeat. It’s a relaxing way to unwind at the end of the week, and it’s yours free.

To start exploring, download and extract the ZIP archive, then run the file City.exe.

Download here: Generative City Free Run

Download of the Day is our pick of the best free software around – whether it’s useful, fun, or just plain silly. If you have any recommendations, please send them to


Amazon could be gearing up for a brand new Kindle

Amazon’s wide ranging Kindle line has a model to suit all readers and budgets. At the moment its top-tier offering for the dedicated bookworm is the Kindle Oasis but that could change very soon.

Stock of the Wi-Fi only Kindle Oasis has notably dried up on the UK store, with the product page stating that Amazon currently has no idea if or when the product will be back in stock.

On the retailer’s US site, the Wi-Fi-enabled Oasis is still in stock, but its availability is limited, with Amazon stating that it’ll be able to ship devices in one to two months rather than immediately. The price of the Oasis has also notably risen in price on the US store, jumping up to $309.99 from its original (already expensive) $289.99 price point.

Upgrade incoming?

Though it’s far from guaranteed and Amazon hasn’t announced any plans to change the Kindle lineup, this does suggest it could be gearing up to introduce a new Wi-Fi-only Kindle model. Particularly as the 3G-enabled model is still well stocked and sitting at its original price on the US store.

Interestingly, earlier this year there was a leak (no pun intended) which suggested a waterproof Kindle could be on its way in the latter half of 2017. Given that we’re now in the latter half of the year, the timing of this stock shortage is even more notable.

An image posted to MobileRead, allegedly from a Chinese retailer, showed a Kindle with a waterproof glass display. The poster which accompanied the leak showed next to no changes other than waterproofing.

Given that there didn’t appear be any technological improvements it would make sense for Amazon to phase out the expensive WiFi-only Kindle Oasis and replace it with a waterproof model. Not only would it prevent the dilution of the Kindle lineup, it would allow Amazon to appeal to the only section of the reading market it has yet to cater to – the bathtime reader.

Considering the high price point of the Kindle Oasis we wouldn’t be averse to seeing it replaced with a model that boasts such a useful upgrade.


Uber has lost its license to operate in London

Uber has lost its license to operate in London, dealing a massive blow to the beleaguered-yet-hugely-popular taxi hailing app company.

The company’s current license to operate in the British capital expires on 30 September. Its drivers can operate until that date, but has only 21 days to appeal the ruling.

Transport for London said that the company was not a “fit and proper” operator in its ruling, stating that “Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility”, particularly in policing its drivers.

Thousands of drivers in limbo

Uber has more than 40,000 drivers on its books in London, with 3.5 million Londoners using the app to hire cars.

While it’s been praised for its ease of use, GPS-based pick-ups and affordable fares, Uber has regularly faced criticism from London’s traditional black cab services, who argue that Uber’s financial practices prevent a fair competitive market.

This is a breaking story. We will update as new details emerge.


Flipkart Big Billion Days 2017: Best deals and offers on Laptops

Flipkart Big Billions Days 2017 is live now with the greatest offers of the year. The sale which became grossly popular by offering unrealistic discounts on a wide range of products is back with some pretty exciting deals. In this article we will only talk about the best offers on laptops, and believe me, they are just unbelievable.

Among the plentiful discounts and deals available, we have handpicked the top ten laptops which offer you the best value for your money. From affordable budget notebooks to high-end gaming machines, we have the best of everything in our list.

Buy Lenovo Ideapad 110 (6th Gen Core i3, 4GB, 500GB, DOS) at Rs. 20,990 (Rs. 4000 off)

Power by the sixth generation Intel Core i3 processor, this Lenovo Ideapad will certainly not fell like a 20k laptop. Add to that 4GB of DDR4 RAM, this will handle your day to day work with ease. For the sake of comparison, similarly equipped notebooks cost upwards Rs. 25,000 in the offline market.

Dell Inspiron 3467 (6th Gen Core i3, 4GB, 1TB, Windows 10 Home) at Rs. 28,990 (Rs. 5000 off)

This is the perfect middle-class laptop for those who need Windows 10 preinstalled. The sixth generation Core i3 and 4 GB DDR4 RAM inside the Dell Inspiron 3467 will effortlessly suffice your daily needs. As an added bonus you shall also get a free license of Microsoft Office Home and Student 2016.

Lenovo IP 320E (7th Gen Core i5, 8GB, 1TB, DOS, 2GB DDR5 Graphics) at Rs. 35,990 (Rs. 6000 off)

Don’t underestimate by seeing its price, this Lenovo IP 320E is more capable than some laptops costing almost twice. The potent combination of 7th generation Intel Core i5 with 2GB DDR5 NVIDIA 940MX GPU makes this laptop a beast. Just replace the internal hard disk with an SSD and you will feel like using a high-end gaming notebook.

Acer E5 – 575 (7th Gen Core i5, 8GB, 1TB, DOS, 2GB DDR5 Graphics) at Rs. 34,990 (Rs. 3000 off)

This is basically same as the Lenovo IP 320E, but Rs. 1000 lesser. The 7th generation Intel Core i5 mated with 2 GB DDR5 NVIDIA 940MX makes the Acer E5 – 575 quite a powerhouse indeed.

Lenovo Ideapad IP 320 (7th Gen Core i5, 8GB, 1TB, Windows 10 Home, 2GB DDR5 Graphics) at Rs. 39,990 (Rs. 6000 off)

Installing an operating system along with the proper drivers can be a long and complicated process. Those who want to avoid the strenuous process can pay an extra Rs. 4000 and buy the Lenovo Ideapad IP 320, which is just the Lenovo IP 320 E with Windows 10 preinstalled.

Acer Aspire E5-575G (7th Gen Core i5, 8GB, 1TB, Windows 10 Home, 2GB DDR5 Graphics) at Rs. 39,398 (Rs. 3000 off)

Similar to the Lenovo Ideapad IP 320, this is the Windows 10 version of the Acer E5 – 575. Powered by the 7th generation Intel Core i5 CPU and DDR5 NVIDIA GPU, the Acer Aspire E5 – 575G is certainly a laptop to be aspired for.

Apple MacBook Air (5th Gen Core i5, 8GB, 128GB SSD, MacOS Sierra) at Rs. 51,990 (Rs. 9000 off)

This two-year-old MacBook Air is still one of the most sought-after MacBooks and that is purely because of its value for money. Even with the older 5th generation Intel Core i5, it can beat high-end Windows laptops when it comes to general usage. The main reason for this is its high-speed SSD and the magic of Apple’s MacOS. Normally sold for around Rs. 59,000 to Rs. 62,000 Flipkart is now offering the MacBook Air at just Rs. 49,990.

Lenovo IP 520 (7th Gen Core i5, 8GB, 2TB, Windows 10 Home, 4GB DDR5 Graphics) at Rs. 58,990 (Rs. 2000 off)

Even though the Lenovo IP 520 costs just above Rs. 50k, you may consider it as a high-end gaming laptop. With the latest 7th generation Intel Core i5 processor and a massive 4GB DDR5 NVIDIA 940MX GPU, this notebook can handle some demanding graphics-intensive tasks. You should not miss the enormous 2 TB hard disk which is packed inside the Lenovo IP 520.

Lenovo IP 520 (7th Gen Core i7, 8GB, 1TB, Windows 10 Home, 4GB DDR5 Graphics) at Rs. 62,990 (Rs. 2000 off)

This variant of the Lenovo IP 520 comes with the latest 7th generation Intel Core i7 processor and a gorgeous Full HD IPS display. For those who want productivity along in a premium package, you don’t need to look anywhere else.

MSI PL62 7RC-060XIN Gaming Laptop (7th Gen Core i7, 8GB, 1TB, DOS, 2GB DDR5 Graphics) at Rs. 68,990 (Rs. 2000 off)

MSI is well known for its flagship gaming laptops which can cost more than Rs. 1 lakh. However, the PL62 7RC-060XIN is priced at only Rs. 66,990 even though it packs some serious hardware. While other manufacturers use the low power version of Intel processors, this laptop sports the full-fledged quad-core Core i7 CPU. Thus, it is almost twice as fast as its rivals which pack the ultra-low power dual core i7 or i5 processors.

Do note that Flipkart is also offering an additional 10 percent discount if you use your SBI credit or debit cards.


Surface Pro LTE revealed in new leak

An online retailer has accidentally spilled the beans on the existence of a new version of Microsoft’s Surface Pro tablet with LTE connectivity before it has been officially announced.

While there have been rumors that Microsoft was going to announce an updated Surface Pro with LTE, possibly at an event in October, it seems the UK store Misco has jumped the gun by accidentally posting a page allowing customers to pre-order the new Surface Pro with built-in cellular connectivity.

Microsoft shouldn’t be too crestfallen that its new Surface Pro has been leaked, though, as the company itself has previously alluded to the existence of a version that can connect to mobile networks as well as Wi-Fi. Still, let’s hope Microsoft has a few more surprises for us at its upcoming event.

Surface Pro LTE specs

According to a screenshot of Misco’s Surface Pro LTE pre-order page, which SlashGear has posted, there will be two versions available.

The first one comes with a 7th-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, a 12.3-inch display and of course LTE connectivity. This version will apparently cost £1,132 (around $1,400, AU$1,800) .

The second one has the same core specifications, but boosts the RAM to 8GB and the SSD to 256GB. This variant will cost £1,402 (around $1,800, AU$2,300).

The pre-order pages have now been taken down, and those prices may not be final, so we’ll wait for an official announcement from Microsoft before getting too excited about the existence of the Surface Pro LTE. As we mentioned earlier, if it does exist, we’ll likely hear about the new variant of the hybrid at Microsoft’s October 31 event in London.


Microsoft highlights Windows 10’s speed, reliability and battery life boosts

Microsoft has fired off a blog post talking up the success of Windows 10, and how the operating system is improving substantially across many fronts – including reliability, performance and battery life – ahead of the release of the big Fall Creators Update.

The post by John Cable (Director of Program Management, Windows Servicing and Delivery at Microsoft) discusses the previous Creators Update which emerged in April, and noted its relative success compared to last year’s Anniversary Update.

The Creators Update has been rolled out more slowly and carefully than the latter – it’s now on around two-thirds of Windows 10 PCs compared to 85% for the Anniversary Update after five months – and as a result has hit less reliability issues.

Microsoft’s own figures indicate that there has been an impressive 39% reduction in OS and driver stability issues with the Creators Update compared to its predecessor, and we’ve certainly seen less complaints online.

Although that said, the Anniversary Update was particularly nightmarish when it came to the amount of gremlins popping up during the rollout, so you would certainly hope for an improvement.

Performance boosts delivered with the Creators Update include 13% faster boot times, and unlocking your machine with facial recognition (via Windows Hello) is up to 30% faster. The Edge browser has also seen various performance enhancements to make scrolling pages and rendering websites more responsive, with up to 53% speed increases in some cases.

Battery bolstered

And when it comes to Windows 10 on laptops or tablets, you’ll get more battery life thanks to various tweaked apps. Microsoft notes that users watching streaming movies or offline videos will get a boost of 2.5% or 5% extra battery life respectively in the Movies & TV app with the newest version of Windows 10 compared to the Anniversary Update.

And the latest version of Edge delivers a 17% boost in battery life. Yes, Microsoft is still keen to push Edge as the browser of choice for Windows 10 users.

Microsoft is equally keen to bang the drum regarding its policy of listening to user feedback and changing Windows 10 to meet popular demands, a company line which has been repeated multiple times since the OS was launched.

Cable stated: “By listening to user and partner feedback, we evolve Windows to make each quality update and each feature update better than the last. It also assures we continue to keep Windows 10 the most reliable, performant and secure version of Windows ever.”

And the underlying message is that, naturally, we can expect more of the same from the Fall Creators Update next month (which will, among other things, deliver a welcome boost on the privacy front).

In other Windows 10 news this week, we also glimpsed the future of the OS as a fully modular system.

Via: Ars Technica


Best Linux distros for small businesses in 2017

Note: Our best Linux distro for small businesses feature has been fully updated. This article was first published in July 2016.

Running a small business is no easy task. The last thing you need is extra complexity in your IT infrastructure – so why turn to Linux?

Well, it could (if you’re lucky) actually turn out to be a less complex choice for many tasks, depending on the distribution you select. And, critically, Linux is free; at least if you don’t figure in support costs. That’s an overhead ticked off the list.

So what’s the best choice for your small business? We’ve approached this selection with a few criteria in mind. Stability must come first: if you’re putting a distro to work, uptime is critical. Solid support provision comes a close second.

We’ve also considered practical capabilities, which is why you’ll find a couple of non-desktop distributions on our list.

  • Linux Format is the number one magazine to boost your knowledge on Linux, open source developments, distro releases and much more. Subscribe to the print or digital version of Linux Format here.

Built on the solid foundation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) – and, indeed, officially funded by Red Hat as of 2014 – CentOS is undoubtedly a distro with strong credentials. Its default Gnome desktop is pleasant and reasonably familiar to most computer users, the RPM package management system is widely supported, and it’s equally at home on workstations and servers.

CentOS harnesses the open source components of its parent OS, which actually make up the majority of RHEL. Only Red Hat’s trademarks and a few proprietary components are omitted. Thanks to this unique partnership, updates tend to flow to CentOS only a day or two after they hit RHEL. In other words, this is enterprise-class Linux that anyone can use.

CentOS is now one of the world’s most popular server distros, and is perfect if you want to build serious hardware appliances without paying for a Red Hat subscription. While the CentOS community can provide some useful advice free of charge, professional support is the key reason for using RHEL. Server prices for Red Hat combined with a support package start at $799 (around £590, AU$1,000) per year, so it could be prohibitively expensive for small business use.

ClearOS and CentOS are pretty close cousins. Both run many of the same packages inherited from RHEL, and can benefit from the swift Red Hat release cycle. But while CentOS is a functional desktop OS, ClearOS is designed primarily as a server platform and an alternative to commercial options like Red Hat Enterprise Server or Windows Small Business Server. The OS is administered entirely from a web interface, so you won’t need a keyboard, mouse, or even a monitor connected to the machine once ClearOS is installed.

Because of its tight focus, ClearOS is actually easier to use than most server operating systems. That web interface makes installing this operating system’s various components a breeze, so you can easily set up a firewall for your business, manage an email server, install a file server or more – all safe in the knowledge that each of these components will (most likely) work perfectly together.

ClearOS 7 is supported professionally by a dedicated ClearCARE team. It also includes software packages that have been thoroughly tested for stability. Prices start at $108 (£80, AU$135) per year. You might also be interested in ClearVM, the team’s virtualisation solution – the free version allows you to finely manage the precise performance of two virtual machines and eight CPU cores.

While CentOS is an open source OS based on a paid-for release, OpenSUSE works in reverse. This community-developed operating system is used as the basis for the commercially-supported SUSE Linux Enterprise. SUSE actually borrows a lot from Red Hat, including its RPM package management system, but isn’t a direct clone.

OpenSUSE is one of the few distros to use the graphically-heavy KDE window manager by default, though you can also install Mate, LXDE and others. This means it can run on older hardware. In fact, if you’re looking to run small web appliances, the latest version will run on a Raspberry Pi and includes a huge number of packages.

As of June 2017, OpenSUSE now follows a rolling release model, which means updates are regularly available without you having to manually upgrade every 18 months as before. This makes for a much more secure and stable operating system.

If you’re running a small business, the security of your network should be as important a concern as the behaviour of your employees. IPFire ticks both these boxes at once. It’s an all-in-one Linux appliance: install it on a machine which sits between your internet connection and your network switch and it’ll do everything from managing IP addresses to protecting you with a firewall, and controlling what sites your workers are allowed to visit and when.

It does require a certain level of knowledge to get IPFire installed, and its unique nature – it’s constructed from scratch, not forked from any specific version of Linux – means it won’t be quite as easy to configure as other distros may be. Thankfully there are regular ‘Core’ updates, which incrementally keep IPFire up to date with the latest security and app updates.

IPFire is managed via a web interface and requires at least a machine with two network connections. There’s an excellent installation handbook and paid support is available if necessary.

As the most popular desktop distribution of Linux, Ubuntu’s reputation might lead you to think that it’s best suited to home users. While Ubuntu’s stability and flexibility for end users is very solid, there’s also a free-to-use Ubuntu Server version to handle your backend tasks. This is based on Debian Linux, and can make use of Debian’s packages through the Apt package management system (to supplement its own offerings). This means you’ll be able to get the software you need quickly and easily.

One of Ubuntu’s strongest features is the level of support it benefits from. The vast user base means there’s a raft of technical documentation available, and its generous community has answered just about every question you might have.

Ubuntu is released twice a year in April and October. The April releases are tagged LTS which stands for Long Term Support, and unlike the versions released in the autumn, these are maintained for five years. With Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, you’re covered until 2021, which is a great advantage for long-term stability.

For those times when you need a little more help, the Ubuntu Advantage program is a reasonably priced support offering, starting from $750 (£550, AU$940) per year for servers.

Manjaro is built on top of Arch Linux, traditionally one of the more complex and obtuse Linux distros out there. This OS does away with that complexity, while sharing Arch’s streamlined and fast environment, its latest ‘bleeding edge’ software, and its rolling release schedule.

This means you should never have to install a later version of the software – you’ll get the updates as they’re released, and your Manjaro machines will upgrade over time rather than being taken out of service.

The latest release of Manjaro 17.0.4 (Gellivara) uses its own default dark theme which is based on Xfce, but is available with other desktop environments such as KDE and Gnome.

Manjaro has made other improvements over Arch – a better installer, improved hardware detection and repositories full of stable software make it a solid choice for end-user systems. With some work you could probably build a server from Manjaro’s Minimal Net edition, but other distros handle that aspect a lot better.

You could also find a prebuilt version amongst Manjaro’s community editions which may suit your needs perfectly; check them out here.

We’re entering the realm of more difficult distros here, and we’re doing it without the safety net of a dedicated paid support structure, but give Slackware a chance if you’re looking to build bespoke Linux systems.

It’s the oldest consistently maintained Linux distro, having first emerged in 1993, and as such it doesn’t make any assumptions about the way you’re going to use it, giving you more control than most other types of Linux.

You’re going to need control, though: its package manager doesn’t resolve software dependencies, there’s no fixed release schedule (new stable versions of Slackware tend to come out when they’re ready, and the most recent release gap was around three years), and there are no graphical configuration tools.

But knuckle down, edit a bunch of plain text files, and you’ll be able to create exactly the package you need for your business, all on top of a lightweight and bloat-free distro.


eBay Australia celebrates its 18th birthday with a site-wide 18% off sale

It’s hard to remember a time before eBay, the online marketplace that kicked off a retail revolution with its arrival in Australia exactly 18 years ago.

To celebrate this momentous occasion (it’s not every day that a website enters adulthood), eBay is throwing a massive sale that will see every item on the entire site receive an 18% discount.

To take advantage of the huge deals that are sure to be on offer, you only need to visit eBay between 6pm (AEST) and 10pm tonight.

As many items are likely to sell out fast, we suggest pre-loading your prospective purchases in a browser window and then refreshing the page as soon as the sale starts.

In other eBay news

Tonight’s sale wasn’t the only thing eBay had to announce today, with the online juggernaut also revealing that it’s bringing image search functionality to its iOS and Android app early next year.

If you’re out and about and see an item you like but don’t know what it’s called, you only need to whip out your phone and take a picture of it and the eBay app will provide you with the most similar items it can find.

eBay also announced a new function called ‘Find it on eBay’, which will allow users to upload images found on social media and other websites directly to the app in order to find listings of visually similar products.

Both features artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, so expect the functionality to get better the more you use it.

Along with these features, eBay has also introduced eBay Guaranteed Delivery, which will allow you to filter listings by the quickness of their delivery.


HP’s touchscreen Chromebook aims to shrug off spills and deliver thrills

HP’s latest Chromebook is now available to buy in the US, and it’s a rugged convertible with a touchscreen that packs plenty in and starts at the relatively wallet-friendly price of $299 (around £220, AU$375).

The HP Chromebook x360 boasts an 11.6-inch IPS touchscreen fashioned from Gorilla Glass 3 with a resolution of 1,366 x 768.

Core specs include an Intel Celeron N3350 dual-core processor clocked at 1.1GHz with burst to 2.4GHz, integrated graphics (Intel HD Graphics 500), 4GB of LPDDR4 system memory and up to 32GB of eMMC storage.

You also get 2×2 802.11ac Wi-Fi alongside Bluetooth, and wired connectivity includes a pair of USB Type-C ports, and a pair of USB 3.1 Type-A connectors. There’s also a microSD card reader on board, and a front-facing HD webcam is thrown into the bargain, too.

Tough customer

Aside from the Gorilla Glass used with the display, this notebook’s other rugged attribute is a spill-resistant keyboard, which is full-size and will come in pretty handy if you accidentally knock a drink over the keys.

The laptop is 19.5mm thick, weighs in at 1.35kg (2.98 pounds), and boasts a claimed battery life of up to 11 hours 30 minutes. It has a 360-degree hinge to allow for use in laptop, tent, stand or tablet modes in tandem with the touchscreen.

You can purchase the HP Chromebook x360 in either smoke grey or snow white colors from Amazon,, Micro Center, Sam’s Club, Target and over in the States with the price starting at $299 (around £220, AU$375), as mentioned.

It’s been a while since we’ve seen a new Chromebook for consumers in earnest, making the news all the more exciting for bargain-focused laptop buyers.

  • Is this another Chromebook to claws its way onto our best laptops list?


Understanding Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies

Note: Our guide to understanding Bitcoin has been fully updated. This feature was first published in April 2014.

While once a curiosity of the internet, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are considered by some to be the money of the future. However, over the last several years, Bitcoin has certainly had its ups and downs – literally.

Cryptocurrency is an attempt to replace money transactions with a digital medium of exchange using peer-to-peer networking. The first decentralized cryptocurrency, and still the most successful, was Bitcoin, which was created in 2009 by the mysterious developer Satoshi Nakamoto, who subsequently left the project in late 2010.

Virtual money, real impact

The idea is that you use cryptography to control the creation and transfer of money, rather than relying on central authorities.

Since the success of Bitcoin, there have been over 3,000 other virtual currencies introduced with varying degrees of success and popularity such as Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero and Dash. There have even been crowdfunded cryptocurrencies such as Lisk.

Many other cryptocurrencies have just died because of lack of interest, and the simple fact that no one used them. Non-Bitcoin cryptocurrencies are collectively known as altcoins and they are more or less based on the same idea of a decentralized digital medium for exchange.

Their success depends on how much ‘cash’ (the total value of transactions) they have sloshing about the peer-to-peer network (i.e. the virtual economy). Since Bitcoin is open source, anyone can develop their own cryptocurrency using the same technology.

A short lesson in scarcity

Bitcoins derive their value partly through their scarcity, which is defined by a cryptographic lottery. You can buy Bitcoins on online cryptocurrency exchanges or you can earn them through a process known as ‘mining’.

Bitcoin mining programs compute an encryption function called a hash on a set of random numbers. Coins are awarded to whichever miner happens to compute a number below a certain threshold.

Originally, Bitcoin mining was handled by standard PCs with powerful graphics cards, but as the hash difficulty has increased, the preferred method to mine Bitcoins is to employ a Bitcoin ASIC, a chip that has been designed specifically for this task. However, with the higher value of cryptocurrency – in particular Ethereum – and recent advances in GPU processing power, miners have once again been turning to graphics cards for mining.

This lottery favors those with the biggest and fastest machines, and currently there are about 17 million Bitcoins in circulation. Note that the total number of Bitcoins in (virtual) circulation will never exceed 21 million because of the way the system was designed.

As the Bitcoin network gets bigger, the hash gets more complex, and miners get fewer Bitcoins for their trouble, hence they always need better hardware and higher Bitcoin prices to make it worthwhile.

As a currency, Bitcoin is still a niche market. However, multiple established retailers accept it as payment including Overstock, Expedia, Newegg and the Dish Network.

Since Bitcoins can be spent on the internet without the use of a bank account, they offer a convenient system for anonymous purchases, which also makes it possible to launder money and buy illegal products. Since there is no money stored anywhere, accounts can’t be frozen by police or PayPal administrators.

Ideal for small transactions?

Bitcoin was once regarded as an ideal system for small electronic payments – so-called micropayments – as it is difficult to transmit small amounts of currency efficiently with existing systems. Credit card fees, also known as swipe fees, can often exceed the value of the purchase, making this costly for retailers. However, Bitcoins increased transaction fees have proved to be a barrier preventing it making inroads into the world of micropayments.

Another problem with Bitcoin is the volatility of its value which exceeds the volatility of other currencies and gold, resulting in huge fluctuations in comparison to the US dollar. In 2013, the value of Bitcoin went from $10 to over $1,000! Because its supply is ultimately limited, prices will need to vary to accommodate shifts in demand, not the other way round. Unlike gold, Bitcoin has no intrinsic value from alternative uses that could anchor its price.

Not fit for business?

As a currency, Bitcoin is not stable enough for most businesses. The value of a Bitcoin fluctuates dramatically and because there are no controls there is nothing to stop money vanishing if the price tanks.

Bitcoin payment processors offer a way of getting around this problem, as they convert the transaction to hard currency almost instantaneously. Many companies want regulation to provide them with some security and protect them from potential big losses on the cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin’s future

There are some signs that governments are starting to look at regulations and this is clearly proving difficult.

All these factors are significant barriers which are diminishing Bitcoin’s chances of becoming a more widespread and popular currency. Bitcoin’s market capitalization currently stands at about $74.5 billion (around £55 billion).

Previously, Goldman Sachs has said that it was more plausible that Bitcoin could have a significant impact in terms of its innovation on payments technology, “by forcing existing players to adapt to it or co-opt it.”

However, the Goldman Sachs report also said that Bitcoin’s ‘biggest hurdle’ will be maintaining its cost advantage in the face of greater regulation, higher operating costs, and competition from entrenched players.

Fitch Ratings came to a similar conclusion and found that Bitcoin stands to lose much of its appeal if Bitcoin companies are forced to deal with the added cost of regulation, rendering the near frictionless Bitcoin network much less cost-effective than it is today.

In 2017, Bitcoin has been on the rise again, with prices per coin hitting $4,500 (£3,300). This has been fuelled by Chinese buying of the cryptocurrency.

It seems that the sheer success of Bitcoin which has seen it leap from being a shadowy entity to an all-star affair overnight has also hurt its long-term viability. It remains to be seen if Bitcoin can move beyond its niche to gain wider acceptance, and for the time being the cryptocurrency remains quite volatile, and a gamble to investors that has been likened to the tech bubble of the 1990s.