What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin has existed for several years now and many people have questions about them. Where do they come from? Are they legal? Where can you get them? We’ve got the answers to those questions and more.

Bitcoins(The virtual banking currency of the internet) are electronic currency, otherwise known as ‘cryptocurrency'(A cryptocurrency is a digital currency where encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds without a central bank). Bitcoins are a form of digital public money that is created by painstaking mathematical computations and policed by millions of computer users called ‘miners’.

Bitcoins are, in essence, electricity converted into long strings of code that have money value.

Bitcoin is decentralised, which means that no single authority or institution holds or controls the bitcoins. Regular currency is controlled by one governing authority such as a central bank. If the country requires more money it can print more money but that devalues the currency and leads to inflation. Bitcoins can be transferred electronically and practically instantly and have historically had low transaction fees, though this is something that has recently changed.

Bitcoin is a consensus network that enables a new payment system and a completely digital money. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain.

Bitcoin was created in 2009 by an unknown person using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. Transactions are made with no middle men – meaning, no banks! More merchants are beginning to accept them: You can buy webhosting services, pizza or even manicures.


How are bitcoins created?

Only 21 million bitcoins can ever be created in order to protect the value of the bitcoin system. Bitcoins can be ‘mined’, which is the process of actually creating bitcoins, or they can be bought using regular currency.

Some people have claimed to be the Bitcoin founder but to date, the Bitcoin inventor’s identity remains anonymous. Bitcoins are created digitally by a community of people that anyone can join. Each machine that mines bitcoins makes up part of the network and each machine works together.


Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?

Satoshi Nakamoto is the creator of  Blockchain and Bitcoin. Despite countless attempts to unmask the person or people behind the name, their identity has remains unknown.


How Bitcoins Work

Bitcoins are completely virtual coins designed to be ‘self-contained’ for their value, with no need for banks to move and store the money.

You can use your bitcoins to purchase goods and services online, or you can tuck them away and hope that their value increases over the years. Bitcoin is has a range of uses, including funding companies, investing cash and transferring money without fees. It is commonly associated with criminal activity such as drug dealing, cyber crime and money laundering, since it can be near-impossible to tie a bitcoin wallet to any one individual.

Once you own bitcoins, they behave like physical coins: they possess value and trade just as if they were chunk of gold in your pocket. Bitcoins are traded from one personal ‘wallet’ to another.


Who controls the Bitcoin network?

Bitcoin is controlled by all Bitcoin users around the world. While developers are improving the software, they can’t force a change in the Bitcoin protocol because all users are free to choose what software and version they use. In order to stay compatible with each other, all users need to use software complying with the same rules. Nobody owns the Bitcoin network much like no one owns the technology behind email Bitcoin can only work correctly with a complete consensus among all users. Therefore, all users and developers have a strong incentive to protect this consensus.


Why Bitcoins Are So Controversial.

Various reasons have converged to make Bitcoin currency a real media sensation.

From 2011-2013, criminal traders made bitcoins famous by buying them in batches of millions of dollars so they could move money outside of the eyes of law enforcement. Subsequently, the value of bitcoins skyrocketed.

Ultimately, though, bitcoins are highly controversial because they take the power of making money away from central federal banks, and give it to the general public. Bitcoin accounts cannot be frozen or examined by tax men, and middleman banks are completely unnecessary for bitcoins to move. Law enforcement and bankers see bitcoins as ‘gold nuggets in the wild wild west’, beyond the control of traditional police and financial institutions.

Bitcoin Values and Regulations

Bitcoins have value because they are useful as a form of money. Bitcoin has the characteristics of money (durability, portability, fungibility, scarcity, divisibility, and recognizability) based on the properties of mathematics rather than relying on physical properties (like gold and silver) or trust in central authorities (like fiat currencies). In short, Bitcoin is backed by mathematics. With these attributes, all that is required for a form of money to hold value is trust and adoption. In the case of Bitcoin, this can be measured by its growing base of users, merchants, and startups. As with all currency, bitcoin’s value comes only and directly from people willing to accept them as payment.

A single bitcoin varies in value daily; There are more than two billion dollars worth of bitcoins in existence. Bitcoins will stop being created when the total number reaches 21 billion coins, which will be sometime around the year 2040. As of 2017, more than half of those bitcoins had been created.

Bitcoin currency is completely unregulated and completely decentralized. There is no national bank or national mint, and there is no depositor insurance coverage. The currency itself is self-contained and un-collateraled, meaning that there is no precious metal behind the bitcoins; the value of each bitcoin resides within each bitcoin itself.


What affects its price?

The price of a bitcoin has jumped up and down since it first entered the mainstream consciousness in 2013.

Prices slowly crept up after that but have since surged again. This is largely put down to regulators appearing to warm to bitcoin and the rise of initial coin offerings – a way for projects to raise money by selling cryptographic tokens similar to bitcoins. Many sceptics believe we are in the middle of a new bitcoin bubble while advocates say we are just beginning to see the rise of bitcoin.


Why do bitcoins have value?

Bitcoins have value because they are useful as a form of money. Bitcoin has the characteristics of money (durability, portability, fungibility, scarcity, divisibility, and recognizability) based on the properties of mathematics rather than relying on physical properties (like gold and silver) or trust in central authorities (like fiat currencies). In short, Bitcoin is backed by mathematics. With these attributes, all that is required for a form of money to hold value is trust and adoption. In the case of Bitcoin, this can be measured by its growing base of users, merchants, and startups. As with all currency, bitcoin’s value comes only and directly from people willing to accept them as payment.


Bitcoin and taxes.

Bitcoin is not a fiat currency with legal tender status in any jurisdiction, but often tax liability accrues regardless of the medium used. There is a wide variety of legislation in many different jurisdictions which could cause income, sales, payroll, capital gains, or some other form of tax liability to arise with Bitcoin.


Owning Bitcoins.

Bitcoins are stored in a “digital wallet,” which exists either in the cloud or on a user’s computer. The wallet is a kind of virtual bank account that allows users to send or receive bitcoins, pay for goods or save their money. Unlike bank accounts, bitcoin wallets are not insured by the FDIC.


Banking or Other Fees to Use Bitcoins

There are very small fees to use bitcoins. However, there are no ongoing banking fees with bitcoin and other cryptocurrency because there are no banks involved. Instead, you will pay small fees to three groups of bitcoin services: the servers (nodes) who support the network of miners, the online exchanges that convert your bitcoins into dollars, and the mining pools you join.

The owners of some server nodes will charge one-time transaction fees of a few cents every time you send money across their nodes, and online exchanges will similarly charge when you cash your bitcoins in for dollars or euros. Additionally, most mining pools will either charge a small one percent support fee or ask for a small donation from the people who join their pools.

In the end, while there are nominal costs to use Bitcoin, the transaction fees and mining pool donations are much cheaper than conventional banking or wire transfer fees.


What is Bitcoin mining And How does Bitcoin mining work?


Mining is the process of spending computing power to process transactions, secure the network, and keep everyone in the system synchronized together. It can be perceived like the Bitcoin data center except that it has been designed to be fully decentralized with miners operating in all countries and no individual having control over the network. This process is referred to as “mining” as an analogy to gold mining because it is also a temporary mechanism used to issue new bitcoins. Unlike gold mining, however, Bitcoin mining provides a reward in exchange for useful services required to operate a secure payment network. Mining will still be required after the last bitcoin is issued.

Anybody can become a Bitcoin miner by running software with specialized hardware. Mining software listens for transactions broadcast through the peer-to-peer network and performs appropriate tasks to process and confirm these transactions. Bitcoin miners perform this work because they can earn transaction fees paid by users for faster transaction processing, and newly created bitcoins issued into existence according to a fixed formula.

For new transactions to be confirmed, they need to be included in a block along with a mathematical proof of work. Such proofs are very hard to generate because there is no way to create them other than by trying billions of calculations per second. This requires miners to perform these calculations before their blocks are accepted by the network and before they are rewarded. As more people start to mine, the difficulty of finding valid blocks is automatically increased by the network to ensure that the average time to find a block remains equal to 10 minutes. As a result, mining is a very competitive business where no individual miner can control what is included in the block chain.

The proof of work is also designed to depend on the previous block to force a chronological order in the block chain. This makes it exponentially difficult to reverse previous transactions because this requires the recalculation of the proofs of work of all the subsequent blocks. When two blocks are found at the same time, miners work on the first block they receive and switch to the longest chain of blocks as soon as the next block is found. This allows mining to secure and maintain a global consensus based on processing power.

Bitcoin miners are neither able to cheat by increasing their own reward nor process fraudulent transactions that could corrupt the Bitcoin network because all Bitcoin nodes would reject any block that contains invalid data as per the rules of the Bitcoin protocol. Consequently, the network remains secure even if not all Bitcoin miners can be trusted.

Want to invest in bitcoin.

Bitcoin is safeguarded against fraud and theft through independent and decentralised set up, as well as being free from transaction fees. It has also given great returns to some investors, with the price jumping from a few dollars at the beginning of 2013 to $1,100 by November. People who invested £2,000 five years ago would now be millionaires.

After a few level years, its dollar price soared again this year, and it has peaked at around $4,200. But the price has also dropped in the past and left people out of pocket. Back in May it fell by $400 in a day.


Bitcoin is legal or Not?

To the best of our knowledge, Bitcoin has not been made illegal by legislation in most jurisdictions. However, some jurisdictions (such as Argentina and Russia) severely restrict or ban foreign currencies. Other jurisdictions (such as Thailand) may limit the licensing of certain entities such as Bitcoin exchanges.

Regulators from various jurisdictions are taking steps to provide individuals and businesses with rules on how to integrate this new technology with the formal, regulated financial system. For example, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a bureau in the United States Treasury Department, issued non-binding guidance on how it characterizes certain activities involving virtual currencies.


What About ‘Anonymity’?

Though each bitcoin transaction is recorded in a public log, names of buyers and sellers are never revealed – only their wallet IDs. While that keeps bitcoin users’ transactions private, it also lets them buy or sell anything without easily tracing it back to them. That’s why it has become the currency of choice for people online buying drugs or other illicit activities.

A Bitcoin holds a very simple data ledger file called a blockchain. A blockchain’s file size is quite small, similar to the size of a long text message on your smartphone. Each blockchain is unique to each individual user and his/her personal bitcoin wallet.

Every single trade of blockchains is tracked and tagged and publicly disclosed, with each participant’s digital signature attached to the individual blockchain as a ‘confirmation’. These digital signatures, when given several seconds to confirm their transactions across the network, prevent transactions from being duplicated and people from forging bitcoins.

Note: While every Bitcoin records the digital address of every wallet it touches, the bitcoin system does NOT record the names of the individuals who own wallets. In practical terms, this means that every bitcoin transaction is digitally confirmed but is completely anonymous at the same time.

So, although people cannot easily see your personal identity, they can see the history of your bitcoin wallet. This is a good thing, as a public history adds transparency and security, helps deter people from using bitcoins for dubious or illegal purposes.



They are as secure as possessing physical precious metal. Just like holding a bag of gold coins, a person who takes reasonable precautions will be safe from having their personal cache stolen by hackers.

Your bitcoin wallet can be stored online (i.e. a cloud service) or offline (a hard driveor USB stick). The offline method is more hacker-resistant and absolutely recommended for anyone who owns more than 1 or 2 bitcoins.

More than hacker intrusion, the real loss risk with bitcoins revolves around not backing up your wallet with a failsafe copy. There is an important .dat file that is updated every time you receive or send bitcoins, so this .dat file should be copied and stored as a duplicate backup every day you do bitcoin transactions.

Security note: The collapse of the Mt.Gox bitcoin exchange service is not due to any weakness in the Bitcoin system. Rather, that organization collapsed because of mismanagement and their unwillingness to invest any money in security measures. Mt.Gox, for all intents and purposes, had a large bank with no security guards, and it paid the price.


Abuse of Bitcoins

There are currently few  ways that bitcoin can be abused.

1) Human dishonesty – pool organizers taking unfair share slices: Because bitcoin mining is best achieved through pooling (joining a group of thousands of other miners), the organizers of each pool get the privilege of choosing how to divide up any bitcoins that are discovered. Bitcoin mining pool organizers can dishonestly take more bitcoin

2) Bitcoins are changing how we store and spend our personal wealth. Since the advent of printed (and eventually virtual) money, the world has handed over the power of currency to a central mint and various banks. These banks print our virtual money, store our virtual money, move our virtual money, and charge us for their middleman services.

If banks need more currency, they simply print more or conjure more digits in their electronic ledgers. This system is easily abused and gamed by banks because paper money is essentially paper checks with a promise to have value, with no actual physical gold behind the scenes to back those promises.

3) Technical weakness – time delay in confirmation: bitcoins can be double-spent in some rare instances during the confirmation interval. Because bitcoins travel peer-to-peer, it takes several seconds for a transaction to be confirmed across the P2P swarm of computers. During these few seconds, a dishonest person who employs fast clicking can submit a second payment of the same bitcoins to a different recipient.

While the system will eventually catch the double-spending and negate the dishonest second transaction, if the second recipient transfers goods to the dishonest buyer before they receive confirmation, then that second recipient will lose both the payment and the goods.

4) Bitcoins completely bypass banks. Bitcoins are transferred via a peer-to-peer network between individuals, with no middleman bank to take a slice.

Bitcoin wallets cannot be seized or frozen or audited by banks and law enforcement. Bitcoin wallets cannot have spending and withdrawal limits imposed on them. For all intents: nobody but the owner of the bitcoin wallet decides how their wealth will be managed.

This is really threatening to banks, as you might guess.

Bitcoins are designed to put the control of personal wealth back into the hands of the individual. Instead of paper or virtual bank balances that promise to have value, Bitcoins are actual packages of complex data that have value in themselves.

5) Bitcoin transactions are irreversible. Conventional payment methods, like a credit card charge, bank draft, personal checks, or wire transfer, do have the benefit of being insured and reversible by the banks involved. In the case of bitcoins, every time bitcoins change hands and change wallets, the result is final. Simultaneously, there is no insurance protection of your bitcoin wallet: If you lose your wallet’s hard drive data or even your wallet password, then your wallet’s contents are gone forever.

  • Degree of acceptance– Many people are still unaware of Bitcoin. Every day, more businesses accept bitcoins because they want the advantages of doing so, but the list remains small and still needs to grow in order to benefit from network effects.
  • Volatility– The total value of bitcoins in circulation and the number of businesses using Bitcoin are still very small compared to what they could be. Therefore, relatively small events, trades, or business activities can significantly affect the price. In theory, this volatility will decrease as Bitcoin markets and the technology matures. Never before has the world seen a start-up currency, so it is truly difficult (and exciting) to imagine how it will play out.
  • Ongoing development– Bitcoin software is still in beta with many incomplete features in active development. New tools, features, and services are being developed to make Bitcoin more secure and accessible to the masses. Some of these are still not ready for everyone. Most Bitcoin businesses are new and still offer no insurance. In general, Bitcoin is still in the process of maturing users, while bitcoin exchanges have no insurance coverage for users.


 What are the advantages of Bitcoin?

  • Choose your own fees– There is no fee to receive bitcoins, and many wallets let you control how large a fee to pay when spending. Higher fees can encourage faster confirmation of your transactions. Fees are unrelated to the amount transferred, so it’s possible to send 100,000 bitcoins for the same fee it costs to send 1 bitcoin. Additionally, merchant processors exist to assist merchants in processing transactions, converting bitcoins to fiat currency and depositing funds directly into merchants’ bank accounts daily. As these services are based on Bitcoin, they can be offered for much lower fees than with PayPal or credit card networks.
  • Payment freedom– It is possible to send and receive bitcoins anywhere in the world at any time. No bank holidays. No borders. No bureaucracy. Bitcoin allows its users to be in full control of their money.
  • Fewer risks for merchants– Bitcoin transactions are secure, irreversible, and do not contain customers’ sensitive or personal information. This protects merchants from losses caused by fraud or fraudulent chargebacks, and there is no need for PCI compliance. Merchants can easily expand to new markets where either credit cards are not available or fraud rates are unacceptably high. The net results are lower fees, larger markets, and fewer administrative costs.
  • Transparent and neutral– All information concerning the Bitcoin money supply itself is readily available on the block chain for anybody to verify and use in real-time. No individual or organization can control or manipulate the Bitcoin protocol because it is cryptographically secure. This allows the core of Bitcoin to be trusted for being completely neutral, transparent and predictable.
  • Security and control– Bitcoin users are in full control of their transactions; it is impossible for merchants to force unwanted or unnoticed charges as can happen with other payment methods. Bitcoin payments can be made without personal information tied to the transaction. This offers strong protection against identity theft. Bitcoin users can also protect their money with backup and encryption


Can Bitcoin scale to become a major payment network?

The Bitcoin network can already process a much higher number of transactions per second than it does today. It is, however, not entirely ready to scale to the level of major credit card networks. Work is underway to lift current limitations, and future requirements are well known. Since inception, every aspect of the Bitcoin network has been in a continuous process of maturation, optimization, and specialization, and it should be expected to remain that way for some years to come. As traffic grows, more Bitcoin users may use lightweight clients, and full network nodes may become a more specialized service.

Is Bitcoin fully virtual and immaterial?

Bitcoin is as virtual as the credit cards and online banking networks people use everyday. Bitcoin can be used to pay online and in physical stores just like any other form of money. Bitcoins can also be exchanged in physical form such as the Casascius coins, but paying with a mobile phone usually remains more convenient. Bitcoin balances are stored in a large distributed network, and they cannot be fraudulently altered by anybody. In other words, Bitcoin users have exclusive control over their funds and bitcoins cannot vanish just because they are virtual.

How difficult is it to make a Bitcoin payment?

Bitcoin payments are easier to make than debit or credit card purchases, and can be received without a merchant account. Payments are made from a wallet application, either on your computer or smartphone, by entering the recipient’s address, the payment amount, and pressing send. To make it easier to enter a recipient’s address, many wallets can obtain the address by scanning a QR code or touching two phones together with NFC technology.

Can I make money with Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a growing space of innovation and there are business opportunities that also include risks. There is no guarantee that Bitcoin will continue to grow even though it has developed at a very fast rate so far. Investing time and resources on anything related to Bitcoin requires entrepreneurship. There are various ways to make money with Bitcoin such as mining, speculation or running new businesses. All of these methods are competitive and there is no guarantee of profit. It is up to each individual to make a proper evaluation of the costs and the risks involved in any such project. You should never expect to get rich with Bitcoin or any emerging technology. It is always important to be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true or disobeys basic economic rules.

What happens when bitcoins are lost?

When a user loses his wallet, it has the effect of removing money out of circulation. Lost bitcoins still remain in the block chain just like any other bitcoins. However, lost bitcoins remain dormant forever because there is no way for anybody to find the private key(s) that would allow them to be spent again. Because of the law of supply and demand, when fewer bitcoins are available, the ones that are left will be in higher demand and increase in value to compensate.

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