If you are on a private network (and if you just want to test the technology for free, you should) then any normal computer with a normal CPU will be able to run the network and earn test ether (ether that is only redeemable on the test network where it was generated) through mining. This is the best choice for small-scale network or testing privately, as it's less resource intensive. On the real (or live test) network a normal desktop (or laptop) computer might take a very long time to successfully mine a block and receive ether.
HitBTC, judging by the bitcoin trading volume, HitBTC is one of the most popular bitcoin exchanges that offers a broad spectrum of altcoins. Although it is a well-established exchange, they do not provide information about the country they are based in. Nor did they provide sufficient details about the hacking incident that occurred early in 2016 and affected their clients’ accounts. HitBTC only offers banking services to major market makers and institutional investors; they are not registered as a payment provider. Nevertheless, the exchange provides trading of 150+ different coins while traders who provide liquidity by placing their own asks and bids are paid a highly competitive 0.01% rebate. For more in depth analysis, read our review.
Binance Update: Binance offers $250,000 reward for details that lead to arrest of hackers. The China-based cryptocurrency exchange began live trading in July 2017, so is fairly new to the crypto exchange world. However it has proven itself thus far to its clients, with its robust charting software and both basic and advanced interfaces attracting novice and expert traders. We've written an in depth analysis of Binance
If you’re European, Bitstamp is your best bet to get some bitcoins at a low cost. The company is based in Slovenia, part of the EU. Deposits by SEPA are free, withdrawals are charged a fixed 0.90€ fee once the funds are converted to Euros. Because Bitstamp only offers trading in BTC/USD (Bitcoin versus the US Dollar) all Euro transfers are immediately converted to Dollars. If you want to withdraw by SEPA, you have to convert your funds back to Euros.
J. P. Morgan Chase is developing a permissioned-variant of Ethereum blockchain dubbed "Quorum". It's designed to toe the line between private and public in the realm of shuffling derivatives and payments. The idea is to satisfy regulators who need seamless access to financial goings-on, while protecting the privacy of parties that don't wish to reveal their identities nor the details of their transactions to the general public.
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