The story Bitcoin is straight out of Hollywood. On Halloween 2008, an anonymous developer posted the concept of bitcoin on an IRC mailing list for developers. On January 3, 2009, Satoshi Nakamoto dug up the first block in the Bitcoin network, the genesis block, and launched the world’s first cryptocurrency. You can check out the code here.
Bitcoin has been criticized for you name it: its use in illegal transactions, large amounts of electricity used by miners, price fluctuations, and exchange theft.
Critics cite Bitcoin’s lack of stability, high energy consumption, high and variable transaction costs, low security and cryptocurrency transaction fraud, easy depreciation (due to forks), and the influence of miners.
Nonetheless, Bitcoin has seemed to reach critical mass. Mentioned or featured in movies, television shows, and rap songs, the world’s first cryptocurrency has inspired many copycat technologies, as well as iterations. From ICOs to DeFi to NFTs to the Metaverse, much of the technology was created by blockchain.
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency. You can buy, sell and trade bitcoins directly without intermediaries, such as banks. There is no central bank or sole administrator, and it can be sent from user to user on the Bitcoin peer-to-peer network without an intermediary.
The Bitcoin blockchain records transactions. Miners are rewarded with bitcoins for verifying block of transactions. A network of miners record and confirm these transactions on the blockchain. Bitcoin mining can be very profitable for miners depending on the current hash rate and bitcoin price.
Bitcoin’s software dictates the difficulty that miners face when generating Bitcoin. The network is limited to 1 megabyte worth of information every 10 minutes. This refers to the way in which “blocks” are produced in Bitcoin. Each block is 1MB, and a new block is produced every ten minutes.
A certain level of statistical randomness of the blockchain verification code required for each transaction greatly reduces the risk of anyone participating in a fraudulent Bitcoin transaction.
For a transaction block to be added to the Bitcoin chain, it must be verified by the majority of all Bitcoin holders. The unique code used to identify the user’s wallet and transaction must match the correct encryption model.
Every four years, the number of bitcoins issued is halved compared to the previous four years, as is the reward to miners for discovering new blocks. By 2140, all bitcoins are expected to be in circulation, which means that the mining process will not be issuing new coins and that miners may have to rely on transaction fees instead. With the increase in the number of bitcoins in circulation, people also expect transaction fees to rise.
Miners do not work to verify transactions by adding blocks to a distributed ledger simply because they want to make sure the Bitcoin network is running smoothly; they also receive compensation for their work.
Non-miner participants in the bitcoin market can buy or sell tokens through cryptocurrency or peer-to-peer exchanges. As a peer-to-peer online currency, bitcoin transactions take place directly between equal and independent participants in the network and on the blockchain, without the need for any intermediary to authorize or facilitate them.
Bitcoin allows instant payments to anyone anywhere in the world. Transactions are stored in a public ledger called the Bitcoin blockchain, which prevents double-spending of digital currency.
Cryptocurrencies can be used to send transactions between two parties using private and public keys. Anyone can buy and sell bitcoins, usually through online exchanges like Coinbase or LocalBitcoins.
Satoshi Nakamoto, the unknown creator(s) of Bitcoin, managed to create technology around which a global community and spawn a whole new industry of millions of enthusiasts who create, invest, trade, and use bitcoins in their daily lives.
Over the years, Bitcoin has attracted a colorful array of participants, from libertarian-minded activists and Austrian-minded economists, who like the idea of a currency without inflation and without a central bank, to drug dealers who like the fact that it is less easy to trace a Bitcoin transaction back to an individual, to Fortune 100 corporations.
The financial infrastructure around Bitcoin has grown increasingly sophisticated. For instance, Grayscale, the world’s largest digital currency management company, plans to transform its flagship Bitcoin Trust (GBTC.PK) into a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund. The so-called ProShares Bitcoin Strategy ETF was launched in October 2021, and tracks Bitcoin futures contracts linked to the future price of cryptocurrencies.
It’s not all fun and games, however.
The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the United States (FinCEN) has formulated regulatory rules for “decentralized virtual currencies” such as Bitcoin, and classifies Bitcoin miners in the United States who sell their generated Bitcoin as a money service business (MSB), subject to compliance, Registration or other legal obligations. Meanwhile, the CFTC categorizes Bitcoin as a commodity.