Bitcoin has been in the news for the past few years, but for many people, it’s unclear what it is exactly. Simply put, Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency; a digital currency which uses encryption to transfer funds. Created in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin is not backed by any government, which allows it to, sometimes drastically, fluctuate. Bitcoin has been called ‘the money of the future.’
Bitcoin can be used online or offline, and companies like Walmart, Expedia, and Microsoft accept it as a form of payment. Even bars, restaurants, car dealers, and dentists accept bitcoin. Through Gyft, a mobile gift card app, you can turn your bitcoins into store credit for most major companies in the U.S.
It is also the primary form of payment used in the software program, TOR, that is used on the dark web because it can be made untraceable. Once a payment has been made, it would be impractical to try and trace it back to one location, making it the perfect form of security.
(Side note: the dark web can be used to buy anything from drugs and exotic animals, to hire professional hitmen or kidnappers)
You can buy bitcoins in a variety of ways; with cash at a bitcoin ATM, with your credit card, or even through your bank. Once purchased, your bitcoins will be sent, encrypted, to your bitcoin wallet (which can be accessed through your computer, smartphone, or on the cloud) and then you will be free to use your digital money however you want. The hassle of banks and credit cards are erased and the human temptations, government meddling, and greed that often accompany them go with it.
Bitcoin is a cheaper alternative to cash and other forms of digital payment, like credit cards or bank transfers, because you avoid the fees connected to the latter. However, as aforementioned, bitcoin often fluctuates, as it is separate from any central authority to control and regulate the worth. The world has seen bitcoin sink to less than $5 and rises to nearly $20,000. Fun fact: The rapper Ludacris once accepted bitcoin to purchase his 2014 album, Animal Ambition, and when the price shot up last year, he made over $8 million.
There are many features that have made bitcoin so popular in the past few years. The military-grade cryptography, flexibility, convenience, and anonymity are making it more desirable than ever.
In my next few articles, I will dive deeper into the concept of bitcoin. Including why you consider buying physical (cold storage) bitcoins and public keys, a code used to link people in a form of secure communication.
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