What is Bitcoin? History, Characteristics, Pros, and Cons

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What is Bitcoin? Characteristics, History, Pros, and Cons

Definition of Bitcoin

Bitcoin (BTC) was the first virtual currency that was utilized and exchanged electronically.

Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer (peer-to-peer) network that is decentralized. Its issuance, expenditure, and reserves are all controlled by no one or entity.

Each Bitcoin is produced digitally and under a restricted issuance policy with just 21 million units available.

Who Created Bitcoin?

In 2009, an unknown programmer, or a team of programmers, under the alias Satoshi Nakamoto, delivered Bitcoin as open-source software for the first time. One of Satoshi’s main motivations for creating the currency was the financial sector’s economic crisis caused by the real estate bubble, and the governments’ subsequent decision to print inorganic money to bail out the banks, as evidenced by the image he left etched in the Genesis Block of Bitcoin.

Many speculations persist concerning the genuine identity of BTC’s founder; however, everyone named in those stories has openly denied being Nakamoto.

Nakamoto has previously stated that he is a 37-year-old Japanese guy. However, there are serious suspicions about this because of his superb English, the hours he spent on the boards, and his unlabelled Japanese software. Nakamoto went on to other activities in mid-2010, leaving Bitcoin in the control of a few important members of the Bitcoin community. Gavin Andresen, Satoshi’s principal developer, was also named.

Satoshi Nakamoto is said to hold roughly 1 million Bitcoins or around 5% of the total worldwide supply of the cryptocurrency.

Who Controls Bitcoin?

Gavin Andresen claims that once Satoshi Nakamoto departed the project, the very first thing he worked on was more decentralization. Andersen wished for Bitcoin to exist independently of him, even if he were to be ‘hit by a bus.’

The independence of Bitcoin from governments, banks, and multinational companies is a major selling point for many individuals. No authority has the authority to interfere with BTC transactions, levy transaction fees, or steal money from users. Furthermore, Bitcoin’s movement is incredibly transparent, as each transaction is recorded in the Blockchain, a vast distributed public database.

The Proof-to-Work algorithm, also known as Proof of Work, was devised to establish user consensus. This technique requires users connected to the network to donate their processing resources in order to encrypt and decode network transactions. The longest blockchain is created by the users who generate the greatest processing power, and the system will recognize that this chain is the real one since it has the most user involvement.

How Does Bitcoin Work?

Users only see the quantity of Bitcoin they have in their wallet as well as the results of the many transactions they have performed with the currency as a means of visualization.

However, a public record known as a “blockchain” is shared behind the scenes on the Bitcoin network, which is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Every transaction among network users is recorded in this book. “Blocks” are made up of digital recordings of transactions.

If a single letter or number is changed in a transaction block, it affects all following blocks as well. Anyone may quickly notice and remedy the inaccuracy or attempted scam as it is a public book. Furthermore, in order to make such a modification in the Bitcoin network, more computational power than all of the network’s power connections would be required. In the world, neither Google nor Facebook has such computational capacity.

The authenticity of each transaction may be verified by each user’s wallet. Digital signatures relating to shipping addresses are used to protect transactions and ensure their legitimacy.

A BTC transaction may take a few minutes to complete due to the authentication process and is dependent on the trading platform. The Bitcoin system is meant to take around 10 minutes to mine each block of transactions.

However, owing to the advancement of Lightning Network technology, Bitcoin transactions may now be completed in a fraction of the time. This technology enables us to construct Payment Channels beyond the Bitcoin Blockchain network, allowing us to complete transactions faster and without having to go through the time-consuming verification procedure.

For further information: What is the Lightning Network and how does it work?

Bitcoin Features

1. Decentralized

The network’s independence from any official body was one of Satoshi Nakamoto’s key aims when he created Bitcoin. It is structured in such a way that any individual or corporation may become a member of a vast network through the computing utilized in the mining process and the verification of transactions. Furthermore, even if a portion of the network is offline, money will continue to flow.

2. Anonymity

Banks nowadays know almost everything about their clients, including their credit histories, addresses, phone numbers, and purchasing habits. Similarly, Google and Facebook’s computerized systems are able to track all of our behaviors with only a few clicks. When we use Bitcoin, everything is different since the wallet we use to save and spend our money is not tied to any personal information.

Because every BTC transaction which has ever taken place is recorded on the Blockchain, Bitcoin’s privacy is only relative. In principle, by carefully examining the blockchain record, anyone may discover how much currency is in your wallet address if it was made public. However, tracing a Bitcoin address back to a person is still impossible.

Those that prefer to remain anonymous in their transactions might take precautions to be undetected. There are wallets that emphasize transparency and security, but the most straightforward precaution is to utilize many addresses and avoid transferring significant sums of money to a single wallet.

3. Transparency

As previously stated, transactions on the Bitcoin Blockchain network are preserved in a Public Book, which is recorded on the Blockchain and available to everybody. This means that all network actions are public, but the unique properties of each Bitcoin that users have within the network cannot be traced.

4. Speed

The Bitcoin Blockchain network’s operations are designed to be handled in a couple of minutes, regardless of where the operation’s participants are located. When compared to national and international financial services, Bitcoin has a significant edge in terms of transaction processing time.

5. Irreversible

There is no way to undo a transaction after it has been recorded on the Bitcoin Blockchain. This ability may be a double-edged sword, so we must utilize it with caution. On the one hand, it is beneficial since we can be certain that each Bitcoin we get will never be returned to the individual who sent it to us, but we must keep in mind that this feature may also be harmful when we transfer Bitcoin to another address. Before doing any sort of procedure, double-check that everything is in order.

What can I buy with Bitcoin?

When Bitcoin was initially released in 2009, it wasn’t apparent how or where it might be used. Almost anything is now available for purchase. Corporations like Microsoft and Dell, for example, accept Bitcoin as payment for a range of their goods and digital content. You can travel by AirBaltic and Air Lithuania, get theater tickets through UK Theater Tickets Direct, pick up a couple of bottles of craft beer from Honest Brew, shop on Amazon using the Lightning Network, and so on.

Paying for hotels and houses, collecting bills at various bars and restaurants, joining a dating site, purchasing a gift card, betting at an internet casino, and contributing to a good cause are all alternatives. A slew of new online markets has sprung up, selling anything from illicit drugs to high-end luxury products.

Bitcoin is a very new and difficult method of payment, so the alternatives are still restricted. However, every day, more businesses, from little local coffee shops to industrial behemoths, accept Bitcoin payments.

Learn more here: What to buy With Bitcoins?

Bitcoin has also become an outstanding investment option owing to its continuously shifting exchange rate. Many investors have attempted to profit from this volatility by betting on the rise and fall of Bitcoin values in relation to FIAT currencies.

What is the Best Way to Get Bitcoin?

The most straightforward way to obtain a Bitcoin is to purchase it using fiat currency. Bitcoin may be acquired on practically all exchanges, but it can also be acquired via a Bitcoin ATM or through Peer-to-Peer portals, where it is exchanged with users’ own offers. Cash, bank transfers, credit cards, balances in online payment systems like PayPal or MercadoPago, and a variety of additional alternatives are all accessible to purchase Bitcoin.

To learn more: How to Buy Bitcoin. Complete guide to buy BTC easily and safely

But, until we can purchase Bitcoin, we must first obtain a wallet in which to keep our digital money.

There are other alternatives, but the two most common are an internet wallet (also known as a hot wallet) and a software wallet (also known as a cold wallet). Both methods have their benefits and drawbacks.

On one side, we do see that digital wallets are vulnerable to cybercriminals who may corrupt our cash at any time, yet digital wallets also enable us to access our funds from just about anywhere.

Hardware wallets, on the other hand, are far more difficult to hack, which implies that our cash is safer in these wallets. However, if this gear is damaged or destroyed, we would lose all of the money we have on hand.

There are also mobile wallets, which are extremely simple and easy for consumers who are unfamiliar with Blockchain technology but still want to utilize cryptocurrencies.

Of course, we may earn Bitcoin by participating in their Blockchain network as miners. However, it must be noted that in order to engage as a miner at this moment, we require a significant amount of computational power, which necessitates the use of specialist computers. Bitcoin mining is not for everyone because these devices are rather costly and take a significant amount of energy resources.

Advantages

1. Liberty

Freedom is portrayed as a valued possession in today’s guarded environment. We cannot claim to be free of government controls and monitoring if we are subject to hundreds of levies and restrictions on our ability to spend our money freely.

Bitcoin is unaffected by these restrictions and provides us with a level of freedom that no other asset can match. We aren’t really controlled by the strict monetary policies established by the States, nor need we be concerned regarding inflation or interest rates created by government organizations, so we may utilize our money freely with Bitcoin. In Bitcoin, just the market regulations.

2. High portability

Money’s mobility is one of its distinctive properties, implying that it should be simple to transfer and utilize. Because Bitcoin is entirely digital, it is possible to carry nearly any amount of money on a flash drive or even keep it online.

Cryptocurrencies let users transfer and take payment with the simple scan of a QR code or the click of a mouse. It requires very little time, there are no exorbitant costs, and the money is sent directly from one person to another without the use of unneeded intermediaries; all you need is an internet connection.

3. Choose your Own Commission

Another undeniable benefit of the Bitcoin network is the ability to determine the amount of transaction commission paid, or to pay none at all. After a new block with a successful hash is created, the miner receives the transaction commission. In most cases, the sender pays the whole fee; nevertheless, deducting it from the receiver may be deemed an underpayment.
The commissions are entirely optional, and they serve as a motivator for miners to guarantee that a specific transaction is rapidly included in a new block. This incentive also serves as a source of revenue for miners, bringing in significantly more money than conventional mining, especially when we consider that mining will cease entirely in the future when the Bitcoin production cap is met.

As a result, customers must pick between cost and waiting time on the bitcoin market. A larger commission indicates faster processing, whereas a low commission suggests the transaction will take longer to complete.

4. Without PCI

The Payment Card Industry (PCI) encompasses debit, prepaid credit, electronic wallet, ATM, and point-of-sale cards, as well as the firms that support them. It comprises all firms that keep, handle, or transfer cardholder data and is subject to stringent security and control laws.

While uniform rules and regulations are beneficial to huge corporations, they may fail to consider the requirements of individual employees. By employing Bitcoin, users may avoid having to comply with PCI regulations, allowing them to grow into new regions where credit cards aren’t accepted or fraud levels are too high.

Users benefit from reduced commissions, lower administrative costs, and the ability to extend their markets because they are not controlled by this organization.

5. Control and security

Nobody can manage our Bitcoin transactions for us, which means no one can take money out of our account without our permission. Inside the Bitcoin Blockchain network, all of our funds are secure and cannot be stolen or tampered with.

Furthermore, our identity and private details are kept completely private in these areas since we do not need to provide any information in order to utilize Bitcoin on the Blockchain network. What we’ll have to do with our personal data is going through an identity verification procedure, which is needed by exchanges and other websites where Bitcoin is purchased and sold for FIAT cash.

6. Transparent and Neutral

Every transaction on the Bitcoin Blockchain, as well as every piece of information related to it, is constantly visible to everyone on the Blockchain and can be confirmed and utilized in real-time. Because the BTC protocol is encrypted, no individual or organization can modify or control it at will. Because the network is decentralized, no single entity can have complete control over it. As a result of all of this, Bitcoin will always be impartial, transparent, and predictable.

7. Cannot be Faked

Using the same money twice, which renders both transactions illegitimate, is one of the most common instances of counterfeiting in the digital age. It’s known as ‘double spending.’ To combat this, Bitcoin, just like most cryptocurrencies, makes use of Blockchain technology as well as the many consensus mechanisms embedded in all BTC algorithms.

Because of the irreversibility of blockchain technology, once a Bitcoin is spent, it cannot be recovered in the wallet of the person who spent it.

Cons

1. Legal Issues

We can’t argue that there really is a single global Bitcoin legislation; each nation has its own, and there are significant differences. The usage and trade of Bitcoin is encouraged in certain nations, but it is forbidden and illegal in others.

Different countries have recognized that Bitcoin may be used for a variety of unlawful acts, thus they have attempted to regulate it in some form. Some people are concerned about its usage on the dark web as a payment option for criminal operations including drug trafficking and weapon purchases.

Other countries argue that the usage of Bitcoin is being used for money laundering and tax evasion, resulting in a loss of cash for governments throughout the world.

For More: Is Bitcoin Legal?

2. Recognition Level

Bitcoin does not require a law to operate; it continues to operate whether or not the government recognizes it as a financial asset; nonetheless, the absence of regulation and regulation of Bitcoin yet creates some confusion for its usage.

Companies all over the world will be unable to establish their legality or illegality as long as there is no clear legislation regulating their legality or illegality. Furthermore, many investment funds have yet to determine whether or not to engage in this market until governments make firm choices on the currency.

3. Lost keys

A key is a one-of-a-kind alphanumeric password that allows you to access your Bitcoin wallet. If you lose the key, you’ll also lose your wallet. Most modern wallets, on the other hand, contain backup and restoration methods, but they must be configured before they can be used.

4. Volatility

Bitcoin’s price has been relatively unpredictable, with significant ups and downs, as well as multiple cycles of increases and decreases. All through history, BTC has scaled new heights only to plummet to new lows almost quickly. Its value is unpredictably fluctuating, changing swiftly and dramatically, which can result in severe financial loss for a risky investor who is unfamiliar with how the market operates.

5. Continuous Development

Although Bitcoin technology has still not been fully established, it is growing as more developers join the project. Similarly, cryptocurrency has still not been widely embraced, which means we don’t yet know how it will function after everyone has adopted it. We have no idea if the network will be able to enable broad adoption or, on the contrary, will fail.

Is Bitcoin a Pyramid Scheme?

Warren Buffet, one of the world’s most well-known venture capitalists, has frequently stated that Bitcoin is a bubble and that investing in it is risky since it produces nothing. Finally, he stated that Bitcoin would not have a positive outcome for investors.

Bitcoin is not a pyramid scheme, despite the claims of the guy who runs one of the major banks in the United States and the world (Bank of America). The law of supply and demand governs the value of Bitcoin in the market where it trades. Because of its restricted and controlled supply, the currency’s value will rise in the market as more individuals get interested in purchasing it.

For further information: How is the Bitcoin exchange rate determined?

Is Bitcoin a Bubble?

Many people have been looking for bubbles in the market since the so-called tulip frenzy began.

Nobel Laureate economist Robert Shiller proposed a checklist for determining whether or not something is a bubble. Sharp gains in the price of an asset, growing public enthusiasm, media hype, stories of people becoming wealthy, and increased public interest in the asset are all on the list. The fact is that Bitcoin possesses all of these characteristics.

Because of the asset’s volatility, many people believe Bitcoin will explode amid crucial price decreases. Nothing else in 2018 could compare to how traditional media outlets such as Forbes, The Guardian, CNBC, and The New York Times said that Bitcoin was dying and that it would eventually explode.

Bitcoin, on the other hand, continues bouncing back after each price decrease. Despite the fact that prices have been inflated, the “bubble” continues to resist, and prices tend to increase later to correct themselves within the market.

Difference of Bitcoin From Traditional Currencies

1. Decentralization

Apart from cryptocurrencies, every money in the world is managed by some sort of government. All transactions are processed through a bank, which charges exorbitant fees and takes a while to deliver money.

On the other hand, Bitcoin is managed by everyone and no one at the same time. It is a decentralized network that is founded on the collaboration and communication of all participants. As a result, even if a section of the network is down, transactions will keep flowing normally since another individual will enter to take their place.

2. Cannot be faked

Bitcoin was created as a currency that could withstand any effort at forgery. Blockchain technology, as well as multiple defensive measures incorporated into each algorithm utilized inside the network, ensure the authenticity of BTC.

Most other conventional currencies are particularly vulnerable to counterfeiting, and those in charge of them lack the required measures to prevent such crimes and their economic effects.

3. Longevity

Because Bitcoin does not exist in a physical form, it cannot be destroyed, broken, or changed. Without serious issues, a Bitcoin can be preserved indefinitely on the internet.

4. Transactions cannot be reversed

To avoid fraud in transactions, Blockchain technology stipulates that once a transaction has been completed, it cannot be reversed. We will not be able to retrieve the money back if we send it to the incorrect address.

The old banking and the financial system do not function in the same manner. In the case of a transfer failure, there are several techniques for returning transactions. This is meant to assist the user, but it has also been utilized in a number of frauds.

5. Geographic limitation

While certain conventional currencies, such as the dollar and the euro, are accepted in many nations, most international currencies can only be used inside their original country’s boundaries. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is digital money that can be used anywhere else on the globe.

How is Bitcoin Taxed?

Despite the notion that Bitcoin is a worldwide currency, financial authorities have enacted a wide range of tax restrictions regarding its status as an asset. The recognition of Bitcoin as an asset has progressed quicker than tax regulation. States are more concerned with extracting some sort of tax for using Bitcoin than with truly utilizing all of its features.

In the United States, for example, the Internal Revenue Service recognizes Bitcoin and other popular virtual money as property rather than cash. Every taxpayer who sells products or services in Bitcoin must report the value of the Bitcoin they received on their annual tax returns. In the United States, miners are taxed as well, but only when the mining is successful and results in a profit.

Bitcoin is money, not property, according to the European Court of Justice. Despite the fact that Bitcoin is VAT-free, it may nevertheless be subject to additional taxes imposed on coins in circulation.

The usage of Bitcoin is assessed by the UK tax authorities in each case, based on the facts and situations of the transaction.

In Japan, where Bitcoin is legally recognized as a payment mechanism to be used in business, the sale of Bitcoin is free from consumption tax as of July 2017.

We’ve seen progress in several rules to set payments for the use of cryptocurrencies at the level of Hispanic nations.

The Venezuelan government issued a decree in early 2019 saying that every cryptocurrency transaction will result in tax payment to the Venezuelan tax office.

It is reported that Argentina’s new tax laws may include a tax payment for revenues derived from the ownership of Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

The Iberian country has passed legislation requiring Bitcoin owners to register their ownership to the government. There is currently no clarification on whether taxes would be imposed on the possession or on the profits that can be made.

The regulatory frameworks that control tax concerns vary widely from nation to country because it is still a new technology. Furthermore, many authorities still have no idea how it should be taxed or controlled in a timely manner.

Cryptocurrency Exchanges

Exchange Currency Payment methods
Coinbase USD, EUR, GBP Credit card, bank transfer, PayPal
Bittrex +190 crypto pairs Cryptocurrency
LocalBitcoins (P2P) All currencies Cash, PayPal, bank transfer
CEX.IO USD, EUR, GBP, RUB Credit card, bank transfer, Ethereum
Kraken USD, EUR, CAD, GBP, JPY Bank transfer, Altcoins
CoinMama EUR, USD Credit card, Ethereum
Bitfinex USD Bank transfer, Ethereum, Dash, Monero, Zcash
Poloniex +75 crypto pairs Cryptocurrency
Bitstamp USD, EUR Credit card, bank transfer
Bisq (P2P) +59 crypto pairs Cryptocurrency, bank transfer
GDAX USD, GBP, EUR Bank transfer, Ethereum, Litecoin
ShapeShift +40 crypto pairs Cryptocurrency

 

People to follow

  1. @aantonop Mastering Bitcoin and the Internet of Money is written by Andreas M. Antonopoulos.
  2. @ adam3us. Adam Back is the co-founder and CEO of Blockstream, a company that funds the development of Bitcoin Core, the cryptocurrency’s standard client.
  3. @alextapscott. Alex Tapscott is one of the co-authors of “Blockchain Revolution.” Northwest Passage Ventures is the CEO of a blockchain advising firm called Northwest Passage Ventures.
  4. @barrysilbert. DigitalCurrencyGroup, a venture capital firm focused on the digital currency sector, was founded and is led by Barry Silbert.
  5. @BrettKing. Breaking Banks, a Global Fintech Podcast, is led by Brett King.
  6. @brian_armstrong. Brian Armstrong is the CEO and Co-Founder of @Coinbase.
  7. @CharlieShrem. Charlie Shrem is the co-founder of the Bitcoin Foundation and a business developer at Jaxx, a bitcoin wallet for mobile devices.
  8. @dtapscott. Don Tapscott is Alex Tapscott’s father and co-author of “Blockchain Revolution.”
  9. @ErikVoorhees. Erik Voorhees is an armchair economist, entrepreneur, and writer. The CEO of Coinapult, a service that allows bitcoin users to transmit money to any mobile phone number or email address in the United States or Canada.
  10. @gavinandresen. Gavin Andresen is the Bitcoin Foundation’s chief scientist and the project’s principal developer.
  11. @jonmatonis. Jon Matonis is a member of the Bitcoin Foundation’s Board of Directors. Hushmail is the CEO of a secure email service that allows users to send and receive encrypted emails.
  12. @NickSzabo4. Nick Szabo is a computer scientist who invented the “bit gold” technique for a decentralized digital currency in 1998. He is also known as the “Father of Smart Contracts” since he was the first to raise them.
  13. @OverstockCEO. Overstock’s founder and CEO, Patrick Byrne, was the first big shop to accept bitcoin as a means of payment.
  14. @pwuille Blockstream co-founder Peter Wuille is a Bitcoin Core developer. He is the architect of significant Bitcoin advancements.
  15. @rogerkver. Bitcoin.com, Blockchain.com, Zcash, BitPay, Kraken, and Purse.io are among the Bitcoin firms in which Roger Ver has invested.
  16. @SatoshiLite. Litecoin was created by Charlie Lee. Coinbase’s former Director of Engineering.
  17. @tylerwinklevoss. Tyler Winklevoss is the co-founder and CEO of the bitcoin exchange Gemini. One of the Winklevoss twins sued Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg over the notion.
  18. @VitalikButerin. Vitalik Buterin is one of the co-founders of Ethereum and Bitcoin Magazine.
  19. @wences. Wences Casares is CEO of Xapo.
  20. @winklevoss. Cameron Winklevoss is Co-Founder and Chairman of Gemini.
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