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To cut through some of this confusion surrounding bitcoin, we need to separate it into two components. On the one hand, you've got bitcoin-the-token, a snippet of code which represents ownership of a digital 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 held electronically. Bitcoins arent printed, for example dollars or euros theyre made by computers all around the world, using free software.

It was the first example of what we call cryptocurrencies, a growing asset class which shares several characteristics of traditional currencies, with verification based on cryptography.

A pseudonymous software programmer going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto suggested bitcoin in 2008, within an electronic payment system based on mathematical proof. The idea was to generate a means of exchange, independent of any central power, which could be transferred electronically in a secure, verifiable and immutable way.

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Bitcoin can be used to cover things electronically, if the two parties are willing. In that sense, its like conventional dollars, euros, or yen, which are also traded digitally.

Bitcoins most important feature is that it is decentralized. No single institution controls the bitcoin network. It's maintained by a group of volunteer coders, and run by an open network of committed computers spread around the globe. This brings individuals and groups that 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 readily be copied and re-used) via 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 others. Holders of the currency (and especially citizens with very little alternative) keep the cost.

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Together with bitcoin, on the other hand, the distribution is closely controlled by the underlying algorithm. Even a small number of new bitcoins trickle out every hour, and will continue to do so at a diminishing rate until a maximum of 21 million has been attained. This creates bitcoin more attractive as an asset in theory, if demand grows and the supply remains the same, the value will increase. .

While senders of traditional electronic payments are usually identified (for verification purposes, and to abide by anti-money laundering and other legislation), users of bitcoin in theory function in semi-anonymity. Since there's absolutely no central validator, users do not need to identify themselves when sending bitcoin to another user. When a transaction request is filed, the protocol assesses all prior transactions to confirm that the sender gets the necessary bitcoin in addition to the authority to send them.

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In practice, every user is identified with the address of his or her wallet. Transactions can, with a little effort, be tracked this way. Additionally, law enforcement has developed approaches to identify users if necessary.

Additionally, most exchanges are required by law to perform identity checks on their customers before they're permitted to purchase or sell bitcoin, facilitating another way that bitcoin usage can be tracked. Since the network is transparent, the progress of a particular transaction is visible to all.

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This is because there's no central adjudicator that can say okay, return the money. If a transaction is listed on the network, and if more than an hour has passed, then it's impossible to change.

While this may disquiet some, it will mean that any transaction on the bitcoin network cannot be tampered with.

The smallest unit of a bitcoin is referred to as a satoshi. It's one hundred millionth of a bitcoin (0.00000001) in todays prices, about one hundredth of a cent. This could conceivably enable microtransactions that traditional electronic money cannot.

Read more 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 save your bitcoin. We also explain a few alternatives to bitcoin, as well as the way its underlying technology the blockchain functions. .

If you want to know what is Bitcoin, the way you can get it and how it can help you, without floundering into technical details, this guide is for you. It will explain how the system operates, how you can use it for your profit, which scams to avoid. reference It will also guide you to resources which will enable you to shop and use your first parts of digital currency.

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