Bitcoin: the currency solution for the future?

Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency: a virtual and digital currency that can be used for making peer to peer transactions online. Acquiring Bitcoin is referred to as ‚mining‘, and this currency can be used to pay for goods and services across the web. As with the other major cryptocurrencies (such as Litecoin, Swiftcoin and Namecoin to name just the next top three cryptocurrencies after the one under discussion), it is decentralized, which means that it is not stored in a bank. Rather, it exists in the form of highly secure computer codes. Transactions made using this cryptocurrency are registered in an online ledger known as a ‚blockchain‘. The aim of this exercise is to ensure that each coin code is unique and that nobody uses the same code to make several different transactions (i.e. using the same virtual coin to pay for several things twice). One single Bitcoin is currently worth in the region of $8, 100 – $8, 200. Large fluctuations and increases in the value of this cryptocurrency have led to people who purchased it for a matter of a few tens of dollars realizing years later that they have a stash worth thousands of dollars.

The mysterious founder of this cryptocurrency

The often accepted story is that Bitcoin was created in 2008 by a Japanese man named Satoshi Nakamoto. However, some have disputed that this is the founder’s true name, and/or have argued that this name was in fact the name used as an umbrella term for a group of people working together. The name appeared in 2008 when what is known as the ‚Bitcoin white paper‘ was published on an online forum. This white paper outlined what the cryptocurrency was and how to use it. Nakamoto worked on developing this cryptocurrency up until 2010 – for instance, one of the things that he or they achieved was the creation of the first blockchain database. There are several candidates for the identity or identities of the founder, though no definite conclusions as yet.

The costs of using this cryptocurrency

Many web users like this currency for its novelty value, the challenge it provides for coders, and the fact that it is untraceable – which means that transactions can be made without either party revealing their identity. However, this untraceability also means that if you lose your coins or they are destroyed you will never see it again. There are also serious environmental concerns due to the very large carbon footprints of the servers used to support cryptocurrency transactions.

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