Bitcoin is a digital currency that can be used same way as money and more. Satoshi Nakamoto invented bitcoin in 2008 and it was introduced as a cryptocurrency, or digital currency, or electronic currency in January 2009.
No one knows who Satoshi Nakamoto is, or whether there is an actual person called Satoshi Nakamoto, it may well be the name of a group of people- or even whether this entity would fully understand today, after all the hurdles Bitcoin overcame and the resulting evolutions since its inception, how Bitcoin truly works.
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Traditionally, currencies are issued by banks which are linked to national economies. Bitcoin isn’t, there is no Central Bank of Bitcoin run by gnomes or governed by political appointees whose standing rises or falls as the economies of their country of origin flies or founders.
Traditional finance was once based on the gold standard. This meant an issuing bank guaranteed the value of its currency in gold. Once countries abandoned the gold standard, it was only the international market’s confidence in their issuing country’s economy which bolstered their currencies. Bitcoin does not operate on the gold standard.
War, natural catastrophe, and unwise economic and political decisions can see currencies rise or fall. How bitcoin works differs from this because it is not tied in to any nation’s relative economic strength or weakness, nor is it affected by the fluctuating value of precious metals.
Bitcoin transactions are immediate. A purchase such as the historic pizza delivery of two of Papa John’s pizzas, takes place in seconds, and is recorded in a public ledger called the blockchain.
This ledger is maintained by a number of nodes which prevent double payment (a common hazard in credit card fraud) and make transactions through bitcoin software transparent and readily traceable.
People are, understandably, dubious about investment. The first futures market in tulip bulbs in Amsterdam collapsed overnight in 1637, the South Sea Bubble burst in 1720, and the dot-com bubble imploded in 2002.
The first two of these lamentably celebrated financial catastrophes occurred when folk had to wait a long time to receive both information and goods; the last was the result of sheer over speculation and greed, for want of a better word. Investors who are switched on to how bitcoin works have learned from these lessons of history, and understand that caution and accountability are virtues that pay dividends. These dividends have been more than apparent in the nearly nine years since the bitcoin hit the markets. That’s why everybody’s talking about it. It is also why other cryptocurrencies have sprung up, and are doing very nicely, thank you.
On a logarithmic scale of the bitcoin’s economic growth, its performance has been astounding with rapid growth between 2010 and 2013, and steady growth ever since. The same cannot be said of other currencies.
Large firms such as Microsoft, PayPal and Dell accept payment in bitcoin and charge considerably less for bitcoin transactions than they do for similar purchases made by established credit cards.
In times of economic hardship, the switched on young of Cyprus and Argentina preferred to put their trust in the bitcoin rather than lose their financial clout by trusting their national currencies or the volatile US dollar, they weren’t disappointed.