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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 that represents ownership of a digital concept kind of like a digital IOU. On the other hand, you have bitcoin-the-protocol, a distributed network that maintains a ledger of balances of bitcoin-the-token.
The system enables payments to be sent between users without passing through a central authority, like a bank or payment gateway. It is made and held electronically. Bitcoins arent printed, for example dollars or euros theyre produced by computers all around the planet, using free software.
It was the first instance of what we today call cryptocurrencies, a growing strength class that shares several characteristics 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 method based on mathematical evidence. The idea was to produce a means of exchange, independent of any central power, which 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 both parties are willing. In that sense, its similar to conventional dollars, euros, or yen, that 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 through an open network of committed 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 double spending issue of electronic currencies (in which digital 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. Together with bitcoin, the integrity of the 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 this currency (and especially citizens with little alternative) bear the cost.
Together with bitcoin, on the other hand, the supply is tightly controlled by the underlying algorithm. A small number of new bitcoins trickle every hour, and will continue to do so at a diminishing rate until a max of 21 million has been reached. This makes bitcoin more attractive as an advantage in theory, if demand grows and the supply remains the same, the value will increase. .
While senders of traditional electronic payments are often identified (for verification purposes, and to abide by anti-money laundering and other legislation), users of bitcoin in concept 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 submitted, the protocol assesses all previous transactions to confirm that the sender gets 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 some effort, be tracked this way. Additionally, law enforcement has developed methods to identify users if necessary.
Additionally, most exchanges are required by law to perform identity checks on their clients before they are permitted 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. If a transaction is recorded on the network, and if more than an hour has passed, then it's impossible to modify.
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 is 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 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 buy, sell and save your bitcoin. We also explain a few alternatives to bitcoin, as well as the way its underlying technology the blockchain works. .
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 manual is for you. It'll explain how the system works, how you can use it to your our website profit, which scams to avoid. It is going to also direct you to sources that will enable you to store and use your very first pieces of digital currency.