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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 kind of like a virtual IOU. On the other hand, you have bitcoin-the-protocol, a dispersed network which maintains a ledger of balances of bitcoin-the-token.
The system enables payments to be sent between users without passing via a central authority, such as a bank or payment gateway. It's made and held electronically. Bitcoins arent printed, like dollars or euros theyre made by computers all around the world, using free software.
It was the very first example of what we call cryptocurrencies, a growing asset class that shares several characteristics of traditional currencies, 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 evidence. The idea was to produce a means of exchange, independent of any central authority, that may be transferred electronically in a secure, verifiable and immutable manner.
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Bitcoin can be used to pay for things electronically, if the two parties are willing. In that sense, its like conventional dollars, euros, or yen, that can also be traded digitally.
Bitcoins most important feature is that it is decentralized. No single institution controls the bitcoin network. It's maintained by a group of volunteer coders, and run by an open network of committed servers spread around the globe. This attracts individuals and groups who are uncomfortable with all the control that banks or government institutions have over their money. .
Bitcoin solves the dual spending issue of electronic currencies (in which digital assets can readily be copied 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 try 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 concept 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 assesses all previous transactions to confirm that the sender gets 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 some effort, be monitored this way. Also, law enforcement has developed methods to identify consumers if necessary.
Furthermore, most exchanges are required by law to perform identity checks on their customers before they're allowed to purchase 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 get redirected here no central adjudicator that can say okay, return the money. When a transaction is listed on the network, and when greater than an hour has passed, then it's not possible to modify.
Even though this might 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) in todays prices, roughly 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 purchase, sell and save your bitcoin. We also explain a few alternatives to bitcoin, in addition to how its underlying technology the blockchain works. .
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 will explain how the system operates, how you can use it for your profit, which scams to avoid. It will also direct you to sources that will help you shop and use your first pieces of digital currency.