Just as email and VOIP changed the way we communicate, Bitcoin and other similar alternative currencies (or alt currencies) are changing the financial landscape. Introduced in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency, an e-cash system that uses peer-to-peer technology. The digital coins are created through “mining” and transferred via smartphones or computers without going through intermediary parties such as banks or electronic payment gateways. With the sudden growth, dip, and subsequent recovery of the Bitcoin’s value in the early part of the year, all eyes are now focused on alt currencies. Some have even compared Bitcoin’s value to that of gold, and thousands are actively trading online. Some retailers, especially small business owners, have begun accepting Bitcoin as a payment option because of low transaction fees compared to credit cards. But whether alt currencies will become mainstream remains to be seen.
For 26-year-old Sam Hu who heard about the alt currency concept only this March as Bitcoin’s value rose from US$15 to US$100+, trading on Bitcoin and other derivations such as Litecoin and Namecoin is a risk he’s willing to take. “These are very speculative, and I do realize that there is a risk of these going to zero value,” he says. “I don’t mind taking on the risk of volatility of the Bitcoin price because it suits my risk profile. I believe that Bitcoin and/or other digital currencies will rise in value when it is perceived by people around the world that the current financial system is slowly falling apart. The massive rise in Bitcoin’s value coincided with the Cyprus bail-ins, which was when people started realizing that money in the bank probably isn’t the safest place to keep wealth.”
Largely due to this vested interest, this Economics/Accounting and Information Systems graduate developed a mobile app called “BTC-e Coin Prices” that shows the various prices of virtual currencies on the BTC-e.com Exchange. “The app is a quick price checker for Bitcoins, Litecoins, PPCoins, Namecoins, Feathercoins and a few other coins.” Primarily used to display coin prices, it can also provide updates based on user’s preference, and allows the user to customize the list of displayed exchange rates. “As not everyone trades/holds the same coins as everyone else, there’s an option to delete by swiping, and re-order the coins by holding and dragging. There’s also an option to auto-update while the app is running in the background every minute, 5 minutes, 15 minutes, etc.” The app shows the prices in USD, Euro, Ruble and Bitcoin (i.e., other currencies expressed in terms of Bitcoin) and also an absolute and percentage change as of last update.
This app is the only one on the app store that interfaces solely with the BTC-e.com site, which has the highest trade volumes for quite a few of the coins. It was produced for only US$210 by a freelancer on the world’s most preferred outsourcing site Freelancer.com. “There are more complicated apps out there that link to a range of exchange, but they are not simple to use,” differentiates Sam. “The app I created is simple, with a clean interface and is purely for checking coin prices of interest.”
Freelancer.com was Sam’s only choice when he decided to have the app built. “I chose Freelancer® because it merged with vWorker, where I’ve had some previous positive experience. I didn’t consider hiring offline either as I knew the quality that was on Freelancer,” he says, citing the high quality and polished portfolios of bidders on the site.
He ended up contacting Denley, a fellow Australian and software engineer specializing in Java, Android and Eclipse Modelling Framework, to carry out the job and was blown away by the excellence of his work. “He was spot on with turning my requirements into functional specification. He gave advice on what would work and not work best based on his experience. We worked together to fine tune a solution.” The project was completed in seven days, including changes and tweaks to the app itself.
“Freelancer® is my first choice when it comes to outsourcing work,” he stresses. “It is quick, easy, and good value for money. Its user interface is easy to navigate and we can chat onsite with freelancers. Posting a job is extremely quick, and freelancers are notified almost immediately. I also like the live feed of how many people have read and are reading your job post.”