Bitcoin is the first and most well known example of a new kind of money called a “cryptocurrency.”
It creates, holds, and transfers value using cryptographic equations and codes to ensure that transactions can only be completed once.
What then Is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency created in January 2009. It follows the ideas set out in a white paper by the mysterious and pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto.12 The identity of the person or persons who created the technology is still a mystery. Bitcoin offers the promise of lower transaction fees than traditional online payment mechanisms do, and unlike government-issued currencies, it is operated by a decentralized authority.
Bitcoin is known as a type of cryptocurrency because it uses cryptography to keep it secure. There are no physical bitcoins, only balances kept on a public ledger that everyone has transparent access to (although each record is encrypted). All Bitcoin transactions are verified by a massive amount of computing power via a process known as “mining.” Bitcoin is not issued or backed by any banks or governments, nor is an individual bitcoin valuable as a commodity. Despite it not being legal tender in most parts of the world, Bitcoin is very popular and has triggered the launch of hundreds of other cryptocurrencies, collectively referred to as altcoins. Bitcoin is commonly abbreviated as BTC when traded.
What kind of money is Bitcoin?
One of Bitcoin’s most important characteristics is that it is decentralized using peer-to-peer technology—meaning no single institution can control the Bitcoin network.