Bitcoin

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What is bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a new currency that was created in 2009 by an unknown person using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. Transactions are made with no middle men – meaning, no banks! Bitcoin can be used to book hotels on Expedia, shop for furniture on Overstock and buy Xbox games. But much of the hype is about getting rich by trading it. The price of bitcoin skyrocketed into the thousands in 2017.

Why bitcoin?

Bitcoins can be used to buy merchandise anonymously. In addition, international payments are easy and cheap because bitcoins are not tied to any country or subject to regulation. Small businesses may like them because there are no credit card fees. Some people just buy bitcoins as an investment, hoping that they’ll go up in value.

How Does Bitcoin Mining Work?

Bitcoin mining is the process of adding new transactions to the Bitcoin blockchain. It’s a tough job. People who choose to mine Bitcoin use a process called proof of work, deploying computers in a race to solve mathematical puzzles that verify transactions.

To entice miners to keep racing to solve the puzzles and support the overall system, the Bitcoin code rewards miners with new Bitcoins. “This is how new coins are created” and new transactions are added to the blockchain, says Okoro.

How to Use Bitcoin?

In the U.S. people generally use Bitcoin as an alternative investment, helping diversify a portfolio apart from stocks and bonds. You can also use Bitcoin to make purchases, but the number of vendors that accept the cryptocurrency is still limited.

Big companies that accept Bitcoin include Microsoft, PayPal and Whole Foods, to name only a few. You may also find that some small local retailers or certain websites take Bitcoin, but you’ll have to do some digging.

You can also use a service that allows you to connect a debit card to your crypto account, meaning you can use Bitcoin the same way you’d use a credit card. This also generally involves a financial provider instantly converting your Bitcoin into dollars. “Crypto.com and CoinZoom are two services that have regulation in the U.S.,” Montgomery says.