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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 sort 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 machine enables payments to be sent between users without passing through a central authority, like a bank or payment gateway. It's made and held electronically. Bitcoins arent printed, like dollars or euros theyre produced by computers all around the world, using free software.
It was the very first instance of what we call cryptocurrencies, a growing asset class that shares some features of traditional currencies, with verification based on cryptography.
A pseudonymous software developer going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto suggested bitcoin in 2008, as an electronic payment system based on mathematical evidence. The idea was to generate a means of exchange, independent of any central authority, which could 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 similar to conventional dollars, euros, or yen, which can also be traded digitally.
Bitcoins most important feature is 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 servers spread around the world. This brings individuals and groups that are uncomfortable with the control that banks or government institutions have over their money. .
Bitcoin simplifies the double spending issue of electronic currencies (in which electronic 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 try 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 often identified (for verification purposes, and to comply with anti-money laundering and other legislation), users of bitcoin in dig this concept 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 submitted, the protocol checks all previous transactions to confirm that the sender gets the necessary bitcoin in addition to the authority to send them.
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In practice, each user is identified with the address of their wallet. Transactions can, with some effort, be tracked this way. Also, law enforcement has developed approaches to identify users if necessary.
Additionally, most exchanges are required by legislation to perform identity checks on their clients before they are permitted to purchase or sell bitcoin, facilitating another way that bitcoin usage can be tracked. Since the network is transparent, the advancement of a particular transaction is observable to all.
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This is because there is no central adjudicator that can say ok, return the money. If a transaction is recorded on the network, and when more than an hour has passed, it is not possible to modify.
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 referred to as 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 the way bitcoins are mined, what it can be used for, in addition to how you can buy, sell and store your bitcoin. In addition, we explain a few alternatives to bitcoin, in addition to the way its underlying technology the blockchain works. .
If you want to know what is Bitcoin, how you can get it and how it can help 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 direct you to sources which will help you store and use your first pieces of digital currency.