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To cut through some of the confusion surrounding bitcoin, we need to divide it into two components. On the one hand, you have bitcoin-the-token, a snippet of code which represents ownership of an electronic concept kind of like a virtual IOU. On the other hand, you have bitcoin-the-protocol, a dispersed network that maintains a ledger of balances of bitcoin-the-token.
The system enables payments to be sent between users without passing via a central authority, like a bank or payment gateway. It is created and kept electronically. Bitcoins arent printed, for example dollars or euros theyre produced by computers all around the world, using free software.
It was the first instance of what we today call cryptocurrencies, a growing asset class which shares some features of traditional currencies, together with verification based on cryptography.
A pseudonymous software developer going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto suggested bitcoin in 2008, as an electronic payment system based on mathematical proof. The idea was to generate a means of exchange, independent of any central power, that could be transferred electronically in a secure, verifiable and immutable manner.
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Bitcoin can be used to pay for things electronically, if the two parties are willing. In that sense, its like conventional dollars, euros, or yen, that are also traded digitally.
Bitcoins most important feature is it is decentralized. No single institution controls the bitcoin network. It is maintained by a group of volunteer coders, and run by an open network of dedicated computers spread around the globe. This attracts individuals and groups who are uncomfortable with the control that banks or government institutions have over their money. .
Bitcoin simplifies the dual spending problem of electronic currencies (in which electronic assets can easily be copied and re-used) through an ingenious combination of cryptography and economic incentives. In electronic fiat currencies, this function is fulfilled by banks, which gives them control over the traditional system. With bitcoin, the integrity of these transactions is maintained by a distributed and open network, owned by no-one. .
Fiat currencies (dollars, euros, yen, etc.) have an unlimited supply central banks can issue as many as they want, and can try to manipulate a currencys worth relative to other people. Holders of the currency (and especially citizens with little alternative) bear the cost.
Even though senders of traditional electronic payments are usually identified (for verification purposes, and to comply with anti-money laundering and other legislation), users of bitcoin in concept function in semi-anonymity. Since there is no central validator, users do not need to identify themselves when sending bitcoin to another user. When a transaction request is submitted, the protocol checks all prior transactions to confirm that the sender has the necessary bitcoin as well as the ability to send them.
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In practice, each user is identified by the address of their pocket. Transactions can, with a little effort, be monitored this way. Additionally, law enforcement has developed methods to identify users if necessary.
Furthermore, most exchanges are required by law to perform identity checks on their clients before they are allowed to buy or sell bitcoin, facilitating another manner that bitcoin usage can be tracked. Since the network is transparent, the advancement of a particular transaction is observable to all.
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This is because there's no central adjudicator that can say ok, return the money. When a transaction is listed on the network, and if more than an hour has passed, it's not possible to change.
While this may disquiet a few, it will mean that any transaction on the bitcoin network cannot be tampered with.
The smallest unit of a bitcoin is called a satoshi. It's one hundred millionth of a bitcoin (0.00000001) at todays prices, roughly one hundredth of a cent. This may conceivably enable microtransactions that traditional electronic money cannot.
Read to find out how bitcoin transactions are processed and how bitcoins are mined, what it can be utilized for, in addition to how you can purchase, sell and store your bitcoin. In addition, we explain a few alternatives to bitcoin, as well as how its underlying technology the blockchain functions. .
If you want to know what is Bitcoin, how you can get it and how it can help you, without floundering into technical details, this guide is for you. It'll explain how the system works, how you can use it to your gain, which scams to avoid. It will also direct you to resources which will enable you to shop and use your very first parts of digital currency.