Over the years, digital currencies have become a trend, with Bitcoin one of the biggest among them. This article gives you everything you need to know about them.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a digital payment system[ invented by an unknown programmer, or a group of programmers, under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. It was released as open-source software in 2009.

The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, bitcoin is called the first decentralized digital currency.

It can’t be stopped by anybody

Anyone can use it, but there isn’t a single company that is in charge of it. Bitcoin transactions are irreversible. This means that no one, including banks, or governments can block you from sending or receiving bitcoins with anyone else, anywhere in the world. With this freedom comes the great responsibility of not having any central authority to complain to if something goes wrong.

You can earn Bitcoins by ‘mining them’

Mining is a tricky process that involves solving a complex maths problem that takes both time and computing power. The more powerful your computer (and thus, the quicker you can crunch the numbers) means a more difficult problem.

Custom-built Bitcoin mining hardware and software is now available, allowing miners to find Bitcoins even faster.

The money is saved online in Bitcoin wallets

Bitcoin wallets are simply specially-designed programs that store your Bitcoin, the same way a regular wallet would store your cash.

The exchange rate of a bitcoin is determined by its demand

Bitcoin’s price is determined by the laws of supply and demand. Because the supply is limited to 21 million bitcoins, as more people use Bitcoin the increased demand, combined with the fixed supply, will force the price to go up. Because the number of people using Bitcoin in the world is still relatively small, the price of Bitcoin in terms of traditional currency can fluctuate significantly on a daily basis, but will continue to increase as more people start to use it. For example, in early 2011 one Bitcoin was worth less than one USD, but in 2015 one Bitcoin is worth hundreds of USD.

Everybody can see your transactions on Bitcoin

All Bitcoin transactions are stored on a public ledger known as the blockchain. Some companies offer various tools such as Bitcoin mixers to help achieve greater privacy, but it takes a huge amount of effort to use Bitcoin anonymously. You may want to follow your country’s tax regulations regarding Bitcoin in order to avoid trouble with the law, but you have the power not to should you choose to take that risk.