Bitcoin (₿) is a cryptocurrency invented in by an unknown person or group of people using the name Satoshi Nakamoto and started in when its implementation was released as open-source software. Feb 13,  · Simply put, bitcoin is a digital currency. No bills to print or coins to mint. It's decentralized -- there's no government, institution (like a bank) or other authority that controls it. Owners are. Digital money that’s instant, private, and free from bank fees. Download our official wallet app and start using Bitcoin today. Read news, start mining, and buy BTC or BCH.

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Bitcoin - Wikipedia

Using specialized software and increasingly powerful and energy-intensive hardware, miners convert these blocks into sequences of code, known as a "hash. It's like thousands of chefs feverishly racing to prepare a new, extremely complicated dish -- and only the first one to serve up a perfect version of it ends up getting paid.

When a new hash is generated, it's placed at the end of the blockchain, which is then publicly updated and propagated. For his or her trouble, the miner currently gets Note that the amount of awarded bitcoins decreases over time. Ultimately, the value of a bitcoin is determined by what people will pay for it. In this way, there's a similarity to how stocks are priced.

The protocol established by Satoshi Nakamoto dictates that only 21 million bitcoins can ever be mined -- about 12 million have been mined so far -- so there is a limited supply, like with gold and other precious metals, but no real intrinsic value. There are numerous mathematical and economic theories about why Nakamoto chose the number 21 million. This makes bitcoin different from stocks, which usually have some relationship to a company's actual or potential earnings. Without a government or central authority at the helm, controlling supply, "value" is totally open to interpretation.

This process of "price discovery," the primary driver of volatility in bitcoin's price, also invites speculation don't mortgage your house to buy bitcoin and manipulation hence the recent talk of tulips and bubbles. Bitcoin has made Satoshi Nakamoto a billionaire many times over, at least on paper.

It's minted plenty of millionaires among the technological pioneers, investors and early bitcoin miners. If you're willing to assume the risk associated with owning bitcoin, there is an increasing number of digital currency exchanges like Coinmama, CEX, Kraken and Coinbase -- the largest and most established of them -- where you can buy, sell and store bitcoins. Getting started is about as complicated as setting up a Paypal account. With Coinbase, for example, you can use your bank or Paypal account to make a deposit into a virtual wallet, of which there are many to choose from.

Once your account is funded, which usually takes a few days, you can then exchange traditional currency for bitcoin. You can sell it. Or you can just hang on to it. Note that there are no inherent transaction fees with bitcoin, although exchanges like Coinbase typically charge a fee when you buy or sell. Short, qualified answer: Yes, for now, as long as -- like any currency -- you don't do illegal things with it.

For instance, bitcoin was the sole currency accepted on Silk Road, the Dark Web marketplace for drugs and other illicit goods and services that was shuttered by the FBI in Since then, bitcoin has largely evaded regulation and law enforcement in the US, although it's under increased scrutiny as it attracts more mainstream attention. Legal and regulatory hazards aside, as both an investment and currency, bitcoin is very risky. When you wake up in the morning, you know pretty precisely how much a dollar can buy.

The financial value of a bitcoin, however, is highly volatile and may swing widely from day to day and even hour to hour. Exhibit A: December Bitcoin transactions cannot be traced back individuals -- they are secured but also obscured through the use of public and private encryption keys. This anonymity can be appealing, especially with companies and marketers increasingly tracking our every purchase, but it also comes with drawbacks. You can never be certain who is selling you bitcoin or buying them from you.

Opportunities for money laundering abound; in , authorities in the Netherlands arrested 10 men for just this. Theft is also a risk. There are few avenues for pursuing refunds, challenging a transaction or recovering such losses. Once a transaction hits the blockchain, it's final. Because bitcoin is so new and decentralized, there is plenty of murkiness and many unknowns. Even the technical rules for mining are still evolving and up for debate. The IRS views bitcoins as property, not currency.

Even Coinbase, the most established of them all has struggled to keep up with demand, plagued by site outages, scaling issues and customer service complaints.

Even if it's venture-backed, every bitcoin player today is by definition a startup and comes with all of the associated risks. In August , different sects within the bitcoin mining community had a disagreement about the rules governing the mining process -- specifically, what constitutes the appropriate size in megabytes of a block. Or my friend Lisa too? Maybe I made a couple of copies of that digital apple on my computer.

Maybe I put it up on the internet and one million people downloaded it. As you see, this digital exchange is a bit of a problem. Until now. See also: How to Sell Bitcoin. Just like World of Warcraft , say. So, cool, someone like them could keep track of our digital apples. He could just add a couple of digital apples to his balance whenever he wants!

It was just you and me then. How can I just hand over my digital apple to you in the usual way? Seems kinda tough …. Read more: How to Store Your Bitcoin. All the transactions that have ever happened, from all time, in digital apples, will be recorded in it. Especially if it got really big. Or kinda like Wikipedia.

You could participate in this network too — updating the ledger and making sure it all checks out. So, did you see what happened? The total number of apples was defined in the public ledger at the beginning.

I know the exact amount that exists. I used to not be able to say that about digital things. It will be updated and verified by the public ledger. Or maybe I can attach more important things; like say a contract, or a stock certificate, or an ID card ….

So this is great! Well, a lot of people are arguing over it now.

New to Bitcoin? Download the wallet to get started. But first: A quick backstory

Digital money that’s instant, private, and free from bank fees. Download our official wallet app and start using Bitcoin today. Read news, start mining, and buy BTC or BCH. Bitcoin (₿) is a cryptocurrency invented in by an unknown person or group of people using the name Satoshi Nakamoto and started in when its implementation was released as open-source software. Feb 13,  · Simply put, bitcoin is a digital currency. No bills to print or coins to mint. It's decentralized -- there's no government, institution (like a bank) or other authority that controls it. Owners are. Tags:Exchange moneygram to bitcoin, Pro trader bitcoin, How does tax work on bitcoin south africa, Free bitcoin lotteries, Prisma bitcoin miner