A decade ago, I was aghast when digital products began to appear for download without any physical media: “Why would I want to purchase a game that I must be connected to the Internet to play when I can buy it from a store on CD-ROM?” It was another big leap for me to hand out my financial data to make purchases on the Internet: “Am I supposed to trust a company whom I have never met with my bank account information just because they have ‘pal’ in their name?” Today, it is difficult to imagine an Internet and world without these types of transactions (When was the last time you rented a movie from a physical store?) In fact, there are now built entire virtual economies driving virtual worlds through the purchase of virtual services with virtual currency. In the current state of things, might it be possible to setup an entire self-sustaining supply chain, delivering a digital product paid for with digital currency collected for doing electronic work without any input of physical resources? Let’s find out.
I have found that the Internet is now largely populated by folks who have nothing to say…to as many people as possible…who have nothing to say back…allot. As blogging has taken off, it is easier and cheaper than ever to register a domain and have a site hosted. All this competition for web hosting means that any service that you wished was offered by a hosting company probably already is. In an earlier article (http://betteroffbitcoin.com/arvixe-will-host-your-site-for-bitcoin/), the topic of paying for hosting services with bitcoin was raised. This led to the genesis of one of those thoughts that burrows through the mind of its host, assimilating other incomplete thoughts until it matures into a project that must be completed. I liked the idea of paying for a website with mining profits rather than having to shell out USD. I had some experience with cloud mining in the past, but was never too impressed with the profitability. However, I figured cloud mining with an automatic payout to the bitcoin payment address of the hosting company would be a very low maintenance system. Unfortunately, the majority of web hosting companies that accept bitcoin payment will generate a temporary address when payment is initiated, which is incompatible with an automatic payout from a mining pool. I was able to put together a list of companies (see list below) that would supply a static payment address by emailing those listed in the Bitcoin wiki as accepting bitcoin payment (https://en.bitcoin.it/wiki/Trade#Domain_Name_and_DNS_Hosting). With all these pieces in place, it is not too much additional effort to anonymize the whole setup.
Here is my setup (check Terms of Service and local laws before supplying inaccurate identifying information):
1) All of the following steps can be performed via an anonymizing network, such as Tor.
2) Register for a Gmail.com account. You may have registration problems if you are identified with an IP outside the US.
3) You will need a phone number for several of the following steps. Google Voice provides a reserved number and a convenient interface, but requires another number for the initial setup. It is possible to setup a free VoIP system by registering on SIP2SIP.info (figure 1) and using SIP2SIP server settings (figure 2) to register for a phone number on ipkall.com (figure 3) and setup a softphone, such as MicroSIP (figure 4). You can then register for a new Google Voice number (figure 5) and enter your VoIP number for verification (figure 6). If everything went well, the call should come through the softphone and you can enter the verification number with the on-screen keypad. It is probably a bad idea to use the ipkall number for the next steps as it will expire if not used frequently; this is not a problem with a Google Voice number.
4) Contact a web hosting company requesting a static bitcoin payment address. I used HostingBuY, but a list of other companies willing to supply static addresses is supplied below. Place an order (figure 7), but do not pay the invoice until instructed to do so as this is likely to be a non-standard request (figure 8). UPDATE: A static address can now be requested from Microtronix by creating an account, going to your account settings, and clicking on “Other” –> “Bitcoin Subscription” in the top banner.
5) Setup a CEX.io account with Gmail account and Google Voice number.
6) You will need an initial investment of bitcoin in CEX.io for purchasing hashing power or “GHS” (figure 9). You will also need to pay your first year of hosting up front as the hosting company is probably not willing to wait a year for you to mine enough to cover your bill (figure 10). I transferred bitcoin from another account (your wallet address can be found under “Balance”), but to eliminate any “paper” trail, new bitcoin could be mined directly into this account from a personal rig using the GHash.io mining pool over an anonymizing network (Litecoin can also be exchanged for bitcoin within CEX.io).
7) Setup the CEX.io “Profile”à”Auto Payout” with the payment address supplied by the hosting company (figure 11). Your mining dividends will be periodically credited to your hosting account so that the hosting company can deduct funds as needed.
8) Install CEX Auto Order Client to reinvest a portion of your profits back into GHS (http://www.jonathanhardison.com/index.php/caoc/). Request an API key and secret from CEX.io (figure 12). I am reserving 92% bitcoin for hosting payment and reinvesting the other 8% into hashing every 24 hours (figure 13); I am reinvesting 100% of Namecoin (Namecoin could also be used to purchase a decentralized .bit domain, but browsers require some configuration to resolve). At my current production rate with 21 GHS, expect to receive one 0.01 bitcoin payout per month; we shall see if the reinvestment is enough to sustain this. As more hashing power joins the Bitcoin network, difficulty is raised, which decreases profitability (figure 14). The solution to this problem is to have a portion of the mining profits reinvested in more hashing power to keep up, but there is not yet a way to do this within CEX.io. I am not satisfied with this part of the setup as it requires personal hardware to be running in order to sustain the system. Please request and vote for an automated reinvestment feature within the CEX.io system (https://support.cex.io/hc/communities/public/questions/new).
Companies willing and able to supply a static bitcoin payment address: