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To cut through some of the confusion surrounding bitcoin, we need to divide it into two components. On the one hand, you have bitcoin-the-token, a snippet of code which represents ownership of an electronic concept sort of like a virtual IOU. On the other hand, you've got bitcoin-the-protocol, a distributed network that maintains a ledger of balances of bitcoin-the-token.
The machine enables payments to be sent between users without passing via a central authority, such as a bank or payment gateway. It is made and kept electronically. Bitcoins arent printed, like dollars or euros theyre made by computers all around the world, using free software.
It was the first example of what we call cryptocurrencies, a growing strength class that shares some characteristics of traditional currencies, together with verification based on cryptography.
A pseudonymous software programmer going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto suggested bitcoin in 2008, as an electronic payment method based on mathematical proof. 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 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, that can also be traded digitally.
Bitcoins most important characteristic is that it is decentralized. No single institution controls the bitcoin network. It is maintained by a group of volunteer coders, and run by an open network of dedicated computers spread around the world. This attracts individuals and groups who are uncomfortable with the control that banks or government institutions have over their money. .
Bitcoin simplifies the dual spending problem of electronic currencies (in which digital assets can easily be replicated 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 these 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 value relative to other people. Holders of this currency (and notably citizens with very little alternative) keep the price.
Even though senders of traditional electronic payments are usually identified (for verification purposes, and to comply with anti-money laundering and other legislation), users of bitcoin in theory 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 filed, the protocol assesses 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 by the address of his or her pocket. Transactions can, with some effort, be monitored this way. Additionally, law enforcement has developed methods to identify consumers if necessary.
Additionally, most exchanges are required by law to perform identity checks on their clients before they're allowed to buy or sell bitcoin, facilitating another manner that bitcoin usage can be tracked. Since the network is transparent, the advancement of a specific transaction is visible 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 listed on the network, and when greater than an hour has passed, it's not possible to modify.
While this may disquiet some, it will 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, roughly one hundredth of a cent. This may conceivably enable microtransactions that traditional electronic money cannot.
Read more 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 purchase, sell and store your bitcoin. We also explain a few alternatives to bitcoin, as well as the way its underlying technology the blockchain functions. .
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 guide is for you. It will explain how the system works, how you can use it for your gain, which scams to avoid. It is going to also guide you to sources which will help you store and use your first pieces of digital currency.