Bitcoin Prices Are Plunging, but What… Is Bitcoin?

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After cresting the $65,000 mark in November 2021, bitcoin — along with a whole lot of other cryptocurrencies — , . That dramatic swing is quintessential of crypto, and a useful reminder to investors that this is among the most volatile assets around. Still, 2022 has been an inflection point for bitcoin and cryptocurrency, as it has penetrated more deeply into financial services and culture, gaining an expansive foothold in popular art, 우리카지노 commerce and other corners of the mainstream. 

If you’re looking for a primer on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, you’re in the right place. We’ll take a look at the basics — what bitcoin is, where it comes from and how to buy it — as well as a range of other topics including valuation, legality and its practical applications.

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Gold bitcoin

Every bitcoin story must include an image of a physical bitcoin. Note: Physical bitcoin coins do not really exist. 

Science Picture Co

But first: A quick backstory

Bitcoin was invented in 2009 by a person (or group) who called himself Satoshi Nakamoto. His  was to create “a new electronic cash system” that was “completely decentralized with no server or central authority.” After cultivating the concept and technology, in 2011, Nakamoto turned over the source code and domains to others in the bitcoin community, and subsequently vanished. (Check out the of Nakamoto from 2011.) 

It’s actually a little more complicated than that.

Jigsaw

What is bitcoin?

Simply put, bitcoin is a digital currency. No bills to print or coins to mint. It’s decentralized — there’s no government, institution (like a bank) or other authority that controls it. Owners are anonymous; instead of using names, tax IDs or social security numbers, bitcoin connects buyers and sellers through . And it isn’t issued from the top down like traditional currency; rather, bitcoin is “mined” by powerful computers connected to the internet. 

How does one ‘mine’ bitcoin?

A person (or group, or company) mines bitcoin by doing a combination of advanced math and record-keeping. Here’s how it works. When someone sends a bitcoin to someone else, the network records that transaction, and all the other transactions made over a certain period of time, in a “block.” Computers running special software — the “miners” — inscribe these transactions in a gigantic digital ledger. These blocks are known, collectively, as the “blockchain,” of all the transactions that have ever been made. 

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Using specialized software and increasingly powerful (and ) hardware, miners convert these blocks into sequences of code, known as a “hash.” This is more dramatic than it sounds; producing a hash requires serious computational power, and compete simultaneously to do it. It’s like a multitude of chefs feverishly racing to prepare a new, extremely complicated dish — and only the first one to serve up a perfect version of it ends up getting paid.

When a new hash is generated, it’s placed at the end of the blockchain, which is then publicly updated and propagated. For their trouble, the miner currently gets 12.5 bitcoins, which, in February 2018, was worth roughly $100,000. .

What determines the value of a bitcoin?

Ultimately, the value of a bitcoin is determined by what people will pay for it. In this way, there’s a similarity to how stocks are priced. 

The protocol established by Satoshi Nakamoto dictates that only 21 million bitcoins can ever be mined — almost 19 million have been mined so far — so there is a limited supply, like with gold and other precious metals, but no real intrinsic value. (There are about why Nakamoto chose the number 21 million.) This makes bitcoin different from stocks, which usually have some relationship to a company’s actual or 우리카지노 potential earnings.

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No, 카지노사이트 they’re not bitcoins. They’re pistachios.

Pistachios/YouTube screenshot by CNET

Without a government or central authority at the helm controlling supply, “value” is totally open to interpretation. This process of “price discovery,” the primary driver of volatility in bitcoin’s price, also invites speculation (don’t mortgage your house to buy bitcoin) and manipulation (hence the well-documented ).

Bitcoin has made Satoshi Nakamoto a billionaire many times over, at least on paper. It’s minted plenty of millionaires among the technological pioneers, investors and early bitcoin miners. The Winklevoss twins, who parlayed a into a venture capital fund that made , are now well-known billionaires, . 

How do I buy bitcoin?

If you’re willing to assume the risk associated with owning bitcoin, there are plenty of like and FTX where you can buy, sell and store bitcoins. 

Getting started is as minimally complicated as setting up a Paypal account. With Coinbase, for example, you can use your bank (or Paypal account) to make a deposit into a virtual wallet, of which there are many to choose from. Once your account is funded, which usually takes a few days, you can then exchange traditional currency for bitcoin.

Speaking of Paypal, a number of established , which makes it quick and easy for beginners to get their feet wet. It’s also worth noting that some platforms charge considerably higher fees to make certain transactions, which can end up eroding your investment if you do a lot of trading. So you should read the terms carefully before buying to make sure you understand the limitations of service.

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What are the risks?

Legal and regulatory hazards aside, as both an investment and currency, bitcoin is very risky. When you wake up in the morning, you know pretty precisely how much a dollar can buy. The financial value of a bitcoin, however, is highly erratic and may swing widely from day to day and even hour to hour.

It’s difficult, though not impossible, for bitcoin transactions to be traced back to individuals. Despite a sharp increase in the total number of  holding crypto, forensic tools have made it possible to monitor transactions and identify individuals’ virtual footprints across various blockchains. The federal government has signaled  and a number of  have been publicly traced to alleged conspirators. As such, it’s more accurate to think of  as opposed to anonymous. 

Still, this pseudonymity can be appealing, especially with companies and marketers increasingly tracking our every purchase, but it also comes with drawbacks. You can never be certain who is selling you bitcoin or buying them from you. Opportunities abound. , and there are limited avenues for pursuing refunds, challenging a transaction or recovering such losses. Once a transaction hits the blockchain, it’s final.

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Coinbase has been tested by a massive rise in interest in bitcoin.

Coinbase

OK, so what about — wait, there are more risks?

Because bitcoin is still relatively new decentralized technology, there is plenty of murkiness and many unknowns. Even the technical rules for mining are still evolving and up for debate.

The IRS views bitcoins as property, not currency, and . In 2017, a federal judge ruled that to the IRS on transactions of $20,000 or more. Coinbase’s have continued into this year, with the SEC blocking a new lending product Coinbase planned to release in September 2021.

Then there’s the fundamental question of whether you should . The surrounding cryptocurrency exchanges are still being hashed out, and exchanges have been . 

Are there other cryptocurrencies?

Yes. There are, with more sprouting up every day. Aside from bitcoin, which is the real progenitor of them all, other well-known alternative currencies include ether, sol and ada. 

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