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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 an electronic concept sort of like a virtual 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 kept electronically. Bitcoins arent printed, for example dollars or euros theyre produced by computers all around the world, using free software.
It was the very first instance of what we today call cryptocurrencies, a growing asset class which shares some characteristics of traditional currencies, together with verification based on cryptography.
A pseudonymous software programmer going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto proposed bitcoin in 2008, as an electronic payment method based on mathematical evidence. The idea was to generate a means of exchange, independent of any central power, which may be transferred electronically in a secure, verifiable and immutable way.
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Bitcoin can be utilized 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's maintained by a group of volunteer coders, and run through an open network of dedicated servers spread around the globe. This attracts individuals and groups that are uncomfortable with the control that banks or government institutions have over their money. .
Bitcoin solves the double spending issue of electronic currencies (in which electronic assets can readily be replicated 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 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 attempt to manipulate a currencys worth relative to other people. Holders of this currency (and notably citizens with very little alternative) keep the cost.
While senders of traditional electronic payments are often identified (for verification purposes, and see page to comply with anti-money laundering and other legislation), users of bitcoin in theory operate 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 as well as the authority to send them.
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In practice, every user is identified with the address of their pocket. Transactions can, with a little effort, be tracked this way. Additionally, law enforcement has developed methods to identify users if necessary.
Additionally, most exchanges are required by legislation to perform identity checks on their customers before they are permitted to purchase or sell bitcoin, facilitating another manner that bitcoin utilization can be monitored. Since the network is transparent, the progress of a specific transaction is observable to all.
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This is because there is no central adjudicator that can say okay, return the money. If a transaction is recorded on the network, and if more than an hour has passed, it's impossible to change.
While this may disquiet a few, it does 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, 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 used for, as well as how you can buy, sell and store your bitcoin. We also 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 manual is for you. It will explain how the system operates, how you can use it for your gain, which scams to avoid. It is going to also guide you to sources that will help you shop and use your very first pieces of digital currency.