Why Nimiq is the most fun way to get anyone into crypto assets – and they don’t have to spend a single cent

Nimiq is a blockchain crypto asset built from the ground up to focus on Web browser operability, from holding the coins, all the way to actually mining them. Just as importantly, it’s also the most fun you’ll have in the crypto space right now.

Overview

Nimiq, exchange code NIM, properly launched in Q2 of 2018, when its mainnet went live. The mission of Nimiq is ease of adoption for the general public, and the method to execute that mission is the Web browser. While you can use other methods to hold and mine NIM, you can do everything right in the browser. And that means you can mine it on any device with a Web browser and an Internet connection.

Like a lot of people, I’ve spent and wasted a lot of time messing with mining hardware and software over the past two or three years. It’s as frustrating as it is rewarding. Sometimes, the instructions haven’t been updated, and so in those cases you find yourself having to figure it out on your own. But a lot of people, who otherwise want to get into crypto assets, find that sort of thing terribly off-putting.

Enter Nimiq, nine years after the launch of Bitcoin. NIM is very much a modern crypto coin – browser based, easy to use, and aimed towards the general public. There are important features that can’t be avoided, such as a set of 24 Recovery Words (which we’ll get to below), but you need that kind of thing to make any blockchain product truly useful.

The best way to create an account is to simply go to nimiq.com. If I have to write a tutorial for you to get started, then perhaps crypto isn’t for you. This is not a put-down. But if you can’t make use of NIM by yourself, at least for the basics, then the creators haven’t succeeded.

The home page actually shows you how to get started with an animation in the top right corner. You choose a randomly generated identicon, or Nimiqon, create a password, and proceed to the next steps.

At least one Nimiqon is required for each account, but you can create as many as you like, as they represent deposit addresses. It’s like having multiple accounts with the same bank.

The next thing you will be asked to do is to download a QR code card that looks something like this:

This is what you will use to login to your account, whether it’s your 27″ iMac or your cheap Android phone you got at Woolworths. This code is basically an encrypted version of your Recovery Words.

After you download your QR code, you will be asked to write down your 24 recovery words. They suggest that you don’t keep them anywhere online, and that you print them out and store them somewhere safe. These recovery words let you rebuild your account in case you lose your password or your login QR code.

Finally, you will be asked to verify that you followed the instructions. It might sound redundant, but unlike your Netflix account, your crypto wallets are so secure that you will never be able to call a help desk if you lose access. Even when you log out, it will ask you to type in a short phrase, and remind you to keep your login details safe. This is exactly how all of this works, because you are effectively your own bank.

Logging out of your account

At this point, you have access to your wallet, or, as Nimiq calls it, your safe. You will be given the chance to obtain one free NIM. It’s not worth much at the time of writing, but you should certainly take it.

The fun begins

Okay, so now you have an account, one deposit address, and one NIM, which is probably worth US$0.002 at the time of writing. Great! Hopefully you found the process somewhat enjoyable and comfortable so far. But wait – there’s more!

From now, there are two ways to obtain NIM. You can buy it from an exchange, if they sell it. Or, you can mine it.

If you aren’t familiar with mining, it’s the common term for proof-of-work (POW), which means that an active node on the network gets rewarded with coins while it’s running. POW is a kind of consensus method, which helps maintain integrity in the blockchain. So, Bitcoin miners get rewarded with Bitcoins, or BTC, and Nimiq miners get rewarded with Nimiq coins, or NIM.

Mining is where the real fun begins. Because Nimiq supports mining right in the browser. You don’t need any special software. You can mine on a cheap Android phone, or a fully featured Mac Pro (wheels included!). Or anything else: an iPad, an Android tablet, a cheap PC, a laptop, a Raspberry Pi, as long as the Web browser is relatively up to date.

To start mining, log into your account. You will always require your QR code file and your password. Once you’re logged in, the easiest way to access the miner is to type miner.nimiq.com into the browser’s address bar. You will be asked which address you want to mine to. At this point we’ve only created one address, so use that by selecting its Nimiqon.

You’ll be taken to a world map, coloured in purple, with nodes marked in orange. You will be asked to join a mining pool. To do that, click on Mining Pool. For now, it doesn’t matter which pool you choose. Just pick one, then close the pop-up box. Eventually the miner will started connecting and validating. You know you’ve started mining when you see a hashrate displayed. A desktop browser will display something like this:

This is what you will see while mining NIM on a desktop computer

You might even be able to mine on either old or specialised Unix workstations, if you can install a modern Web browser on them. Of course this is starting to get a little deeper. But there are certainly those of you out there who are advanced hardware users who also want an easy and fun way to get into the crypto space. If you’re familiar with Sun, Silicon Graphics or IBM Power System computers, you’ll know what I’m referring to.

A Silicon Graphics Octane 2 from 2003; the original Octane was released in 1997

Two caveats, though. Firstly, mining with a Web browser isn’t as efficient as mining with a specialised application. You do have the option of downloading a dedicated mining application, but most people don’t have to worry about that.

Secondly, mining does use a lot of CPU cycles, which means: you will use more electricity; your battery in your mobile device will be hit harder; your device may overheat; other applications won’t run efficiently while you’re mining.

However, I have not noticed any real problems, apart from the lower performance of other applications. The phones that I have used so far have gotten warm, but nowhere near their safe limits. Just as an example, an iPhone 6S uses 1W while plugged in and fully charged. While mining, it uses 5W. That’s nothing compared to other appliances, but then again, you aren’t mining much either. You can pause and restart mining whenever you like while you’re logged in.

An iPhone 6S mining NIM

The benefit of mining is that you don’t need to own any amount of a coin or token to obtain it. You just have to run your miner. This will cost you electricity, but it will also make it unnecessary for you to purchase the coins on an exchange. The only problem is that mining does not currently yield very large rewards. Having said that, some people run miners not so much for profit, but for either fun or for supporting the network.

A cheap Android phone mining NIM

Not only can you mine on your personal devices, you can mine on anything from a work computer to a demo unit at a retailer. You should only do this to benchmark these devices – mining without permission is in some places a sackable offence, and in some places it may even be illegal. However, retailers will let you play around with their demo units if you just want to collect benchmarking information.

If you’re benchmarking a computer, you’ll need to take a USB stick with you which contains your login QR code. What you need to do is to open the Web browser, log into your Nimiq account using your QR code image, then begin the mining process. Give it a couple of minutes at most and make a note of your hash rate.

But, what about iPhones and Android tablets? Most iOS devices don’t let you attach external storage, and that’s for maximising security. So your QR code image has to be downloaded to the device another way. What you can do is to store it on a service such as Postimage or Dropbox, and then write down a shortened URL. Here’s what that shortened URL might look like:

Load that image from the Web browser, save it to the device, then open the Web browser to log into your Nimiq account and start mining. Remember to delete the Login File from the device in all cases.

There are problems, though, with Android devices. Some cheap devices will occasionally interrupt the mining process with system alerts. Some will not allow you to disable sleep mode, which means you might have up to 30 minutes of mining before the system puts the device to sleep. Thankfully, iOS does allow you to disable the sleep mode on all devices.

Going forward

And now we come to the future of Nimiq. Right now, Nimiq has a POW consensus method, explained above. For Nimiq 2.0, we will likely see a change in the consensus method from POW to POS (proof-of-stake). This means two things: mining will be eliminated and replaced with staking; and in order to accumulate any useful amount of NIM, you will have to buy some up front.

The positive aspects of staking over mining are significant. Firstly, there is no need to worry about electricity consumption. While mining pools share workload, the work is all done by the members of that pool on their own devices. But staking pools are different: the client’s devices don’t need to be operating. All you need to do is place or reserve your coins in that staking pool.

Staking is actually very much like bank interest. The more coins you stake, and the longer you stake them, the more staking rewards you get. Most coins use the POS consensus method, or something similar. And most of them apply compound interest – in other words, your staking rewards are more coins. Some coins such as Vechain (VET) reward users with secondary tokens. VET requires no action on the part of the clients, but the payouts are not in VET, but in VeThor tokens.

Depending on whom you talk to, mining is more fun despite the requirement for powerful hardware for significant gains. But, as a blockchain matures, difficulty increases, and so miners have to keep upgrading their hardware. Staking is somewhat boring. But, instead of buying hardware, you just buy the coins and let compound interest go to work.

Some would say that staking encourages saving whereas mining encourages spending. That’s because staking is like compound interest and the more you save, the more you receive. But mining hardware depreciates, even if the coin grows in value, and so miners feel the need to sell some of their coins to offset the depreciation of their hardware.

Full disclosure: I do own a modest amount of NIM and I probably will slowly increase that over time. This is not financial advice, but I feel I should declare it.

Further reading

This is a solid overview of the Nimiq project by Coin Bureau:

This is where you can access the official white paper:

https://www.nimiq.com/about/

If you’re interested in the current price of Nimiq, go straight here:

https://coinpaprika.com/coin/nim-nimiq/

Supply and block rewards chart:

https://nimiq.mopsus.com/rewards

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