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To cut through some of the confusion surrounding bitcoin, we need to separate it into two components. On the one hand, you have bitcoin-the-token, a snippet of code that represents ownership of a digital concept sort of like a virtual IOU. On the other hand, you have bitcoin-the-protocol, a dispersed network which maintains a ledger of balances of bitcoin-the-token.
The system enables payments to be sent between users without passing through a central authority, such as a bank or payment gateway. It's made and held electronically. Bitcoins arent printed, like dollars or euros theyre produced by computers all around the planet, using free software.
It was the first instance of what we call cryptocurrencies, a growing strength class that shares several characteristics of traditional currencies, with verification based on cryptography.
A pseudonymous software programmer going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto proposed bitcoin in 2008, as an electronic payment system based on mathematical proof. The idea was to produce 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 utilized to pay for things electronically, if both parties are willing. In that sense, its similar to conventional dollars, euros, or yen, which can also be 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 attracts individuals and groups that are uncomfortable with all the control that banks or government institutions have over their money. .
Bitcoin simplifies the double spending issue 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. 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 others. Holders of this currency (and especially citizens with little alternative) bear the price.
Together with bitcoin, on the other hand, the distribution is closely controlled by the underlying algorithm. A small number of new my website bitcoins trickle every hour, and will continue to do so at a diminishing rate until a max of 21 million has been attained. This creates bitcoin more attractive as an advantage in concept, if demand grows and the supply remains the same, the value will increase. .
Even though senders of traditional electronic payments are often 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 previous transactions to confirm that the sender has the necessary bitcoin in addition to the ability to send them.
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In practice, each user is identified with the address of their wallet. Transactions can, with a little effort, be tracked this way. Also, law enforcement has developed methods to identify consumers if necessary.
Furthermore, most exchanges are required by legislation to perform identity checks on their clients before they're allowed to purchase or sell bitcoin, facilitating another way check this that bitcoin utilization can be monitored. 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 ok, return the money. When a transaction is recorded on the network, and when more than an hour has passed, it is not possible to change.
Even though this might disquiet some, it does 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 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 the way bitcoins are mined, what it can be used for, as well as how you can purchase, sell and store your bitcoin. We also explain dig this 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 will explain how the system works, how you can use it for your gain, which scams to avoid. It will also guide you to resources that will enable you to shop and use your first pieces of digital currency.