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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've got bitcoin-the-token, a snippet of code which represents ownership of an electronic concept kind of like a virtual IOU. On the other hand, you have bitcoin-the-protocol, a dispersed network that maintains a ledger of balances of bitcoin-the-token.
The system enables payments to be sent between users without passing via a central authority, like 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 instance of what we today call cryptocurrencies, a growing strength class that shares some features of traditional currencies, together with verification based on cryptography.
A pseudonymous software programmer going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto proposed bitcoin in 2008, within an electronic payment method based on mathematical proof. The idea was to produce a means of exchange, independent of any central power, that could be transferred electronically in a secure, verifiable and immutable way.
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Bitcoin can be used to cover things electronically, if both parties are willing. In that sense, its like conventional dollars, euros, or yen, that can also be traded digitally.
Bitcoins most important characteristic is it is decentralized. No single institution controls the bitcoin network. It is maintained by a group of volunteer coders, and run through an open network of committed 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 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. 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 little alternative) keep the price.
While 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 concept function in semi-anonymity. Since there's absolutely 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 gets the necessary bitcoin in addition to the ability 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 tracked this way. Additionally, law enforcement has developed approaches to identify users if necessary.
Furthermore, most exchanges are required by legislation to perform identity checks on their customers before they are allowed to buy or sell bitcoin, facilitating another way that bitcoin utilization can be monitored. Since the network is transparent, the advancement of a specific transaction is visible to all.
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This is because there's no central adjudicator that can say ok, return the money. If a transaction is listed on the network, and if more than an hour has passed, it's not possible to change.
Even though this might disquiet some, it will mean that any transaction on the bitcoin network cannot be tampered with.
The smallest unit of a bitcoin is called a satoshi. It is one hundred millionth of a bitcoin (0.00000001) at todays prices, roughly one hundredth of a cent. This may 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 utilized for, in addition to how you can buy, sell and save 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, the way you can get it and how it can assist you, without floundering into technical details, this manual is for you. It'll explain how the system works, how you can use it to your gain, which scams to avoid. It will also guide you to sources that will help you store and use your very first pieces of digital currency.