Today there is no doubt that cryptocurrency is the future of modern society. Digital assets have made a revolution in the financial industry, providing people with faster and more secure ways to transfer their funds.
Hundreds of unique cryptocurrencies exist nowadays. But still, there is a leader that defines the future of the whole crypto industry – Bitcoin. So, why is it so popular and expensive? How can you use Bitcoin, and what benefits does it offer? Let’s find out in this course.
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Before Bitcoin – An Introduction
Although many people believe that Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency, the truth is that the idea of a new financial system appeared way earlier. In the 1980s, the owners of a gas station in the Netherlands made an attempt to create digital money to protect their funds from annoying thieves. They hired developers who made an attempt to link money to smartcards. The drivers used those cards instead of cash.
In 1989 David Chaum created DigiCash, a system that ensured safe and anonymous transactions based on the Blind Signature Technology. Nonetheless, the project was closed in 1998 due to the growing popularity of credit cards. Ten years after the release of DigiCash, Wie Dai published his paper on “B-money.” Although the offered virtual currency was never released, the concept of the decentralized network made a significant impact on the whole financial industry.
There were other important attempts to develop cryptocurrencies such as Bit Gold, HashCash, and Flooz. All of the mentioned projects inspired Satoshi Nakamoto to come up with the idea of Bitcoin.
The Beginning of Bitcoin
Bitcoin was introduced during a challenging period for the global economy – the financial crisis of 2008. It showed the significant drawbacks of traditional financial institutions such as banks. Thus, their clients started looking for a better financial system able to solve the problems of fiat currencies.
And in 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto published a white paper, which included the concept of Bitcoin. He also expressed his dissatisfaction with the banks as well as admitted the unreliability of fiat currencies.
Nakamoto launched Bitcoin on the 3rd of January, 2009. On this day, the first block – the genesis block – was mined. During the first months after the launch of Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency was obtainable only by the miners, who were validating its blockchain.
Almost 1.5 years after that, on the 22nd of May, 2010, the first “real world” BTC transaction took place. A man from Florida ordered two Papa John’s pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins. The value of those pizzas was only $25. Thus, the first transaction established the initial BTC price, which was 4 bitcoins per penny. Even now, many cryptocurrency enthusiasts celebrate May 22, calling it Pizza Day.
The following transactions with Bitcoin took place on different online forums. Internet users were exchanging various products or services for bitcoins. But the situation significantly changed in 2011, when such networks as Ethereum and Litecoin appeared. The coders started improving Bitcoin’s blockchain, adapting it to the needs of the modern community.
At the same time, Bitcoin became available on some exchanges, which made it easier to trade and store. Due to the increased liquidity, Bitcoin managed to start its way from a few cents in 2010 and arrive at an all-time high of $64,888 in 2021. Moreover, according to Bitcoin price prediction, one BTC unit will be equal to almost $100,000 by the end of 2023.
Who Is Satoshi Nakamoto?
Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym of a person or a group of people who published the original Bitcoin whitepaper. Although many people, such as Hal Finney and Adam Back, have claimed to be the inventors of BTC, the true identity of Satoshi has never been revealed and verified.
The interesting fact is that it’s estimated that nearly 1 million bitcoins are under Nakamoto’s control. Considering that the maximum number of BTC coins is 21 million, it means that Satoshi’s stake is 5% of the overall Bitcoin holdings. Nonetheless, people claim that Satoshi Nakamoto doesn’t use his digital coins. Another interesting fact is that the smallest unit of the BTC coin is named after its creator – satoshi.
Others Involved With Bitcoin
While many have heard about Satoshi Nakamoto, most know nothing about other people who have significantly contributed to the development and popularization of Bitcoin. Here are the most prominent participants in the development process:
- Hal Finney. This man was a cryptographer and one of the first developers and users of Bitcoin. In 2008, Finney was among the defenders of Satoshi’s ideas. Hal downloaded the Bitcoin software on the day it was released. Soon after that, Satoshi Nakamoto sent him 10 BTC coins as a test. Unfortunately, Hal died in 2014.
- Martti Malmi a.k.a. Sirius. Martti is the second BTC developer after Satoshi Nakamoto. Besides, he founded the Bitcoin Forum. Around 2012, Malmi stepped back from the Bitcoin project, but he is still devoted to cryptocurrency and is working on his own projects.
How Bitcoin Works
Before you decide to start investing in Bitcoin, you should understand the way it works. In this part of our article, you will get acquainted with the definitions of blockchain, hash rate, and mining. Consider that any crypto investor should be familiar with these terms to continue their journey in the crypto industry.
What Is the Bitcoin Blockchain?
Satoshi Nakamoto described both Bitcoin and blockchain in 2008. Although some people believe that these terms are synonymous, it’s a big misconception. Simply put, a blockchain is a type of database – a collection of data kept on a particular device. Usually, the stored information is structured in table format. It significantly simplifies its filtering and searching.
Besides, each block of information stored in a blockchain is encrypted. The blocks are arranged chronologically and chained together, which makes them almost impossible to change or hack.
The blocks are added to the blockchain through mining. When a BTC transaction is requested and authenticated, a block that represents this transaction appears. It’s sent to every node (computer) in the network. Nodes validate the transaction and receive the reward for Proof of Work. Only after the validation, the new block is added to the blockchain, and the information about it is distributed across the whole network.
The described process is impossible without nodes, which can be different devices, including computers, servers, and laptops. The nodes connect and regularly exchange information with each other. The main duties of nodes include:
- Validation of the blocks. Nodes accept or reject transactions.
- Storing blockchain transaction history. Nodes save and keep each transaction block.
- Spread of transaction history. Nodes ensure that each participant of the blockchain has up-to-date data about the latest transactions.
Since the first introduction of the original concept, thousands of blockchains have been created. They power such popular cryptocurrencies as Ethereum, Cardano, Tether, and, of course, Bitcoin.
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Bitcoin Hash Rate and Mining
Hash rate shows the speed at which a device can process the information and turn it into a hash, which consists of letters and numbers of a certain length. It’s calculated at hashes per second.
The faster the hash rate a computer has, the more profit a crypto miner can make. The miners compete to verify ~1MB worth of a particular transaction faster than others. Only the miner who solves the puzzle first gets a reward.
Bitcoin mining is an integral part of the blockchain. Through the solution of complex math problems, new coins are added to the Bitcoin network. In addition, miners ensure the trustworthiness and security of the payment network by checking each transaction.
Bitcoin Network and Bitcoin Foundation
The Bitcoin network operates on a cryptographic protocol. Its users can send and receive digital coins with the help of special crypto wallets. As has been mentioned above, each transaction is recorded in the blockchain. Right now, the Bitcoin network includes nearly 500,000 unique users who send and receive Bitcoins every day. And, according to the statistics, the overall number of BTC wallet owners worldwide is 76.62 million users.
The popularity of Bitcoin was ensured by the Bitcoin Foundation. This nonprofit organization was founded in 2012. Its main aim was to prove that Bitcoin isn’t a new kind of trickery. Plus, the organization was educating lawmakers on the Bitcoin ecosystem. Thus, the foundation was solving different regulatory and policy issues associated with this cryptocurrency. It was also supporting Bitcoin core developers such as Wladimir van der Laan, Gavin Andresen, and Cory Fields.
Unfortunately, the foundation went into bankruptcy in 2015. After that, some specialists supported by the organization were hired by the MIT Media Lab. It provides a working environment for the Bitcoin developers, allowing them to work on various BTC variations such as Bitcoin XT and Bitcoin Classic.
Bitcoin Learning Recap
So, the main facts about Bitcoin you should remember after reading this part include:
- The first attempts to create cryptocurrency were made in the 1980s. The well-known Bitcoin predecessors are DigiCash, BitGold, HashCash, and Flooz.
- The financial crisis of 2008 was among the main reasons for the creation of the new financial system.
- The Bitcoin concept was published in 2008, and the cryptocurrency itself appeared in 2009.
- Bitcoin’s creator is Satoshi Namkomoto. Nonetheless, no one knows his true identity.
- Bitcoin uses blockchain technology for storing information about transactions.
- Miners ensure the trustworthiness and safety of the Bitcoin blockchain. In addition, they are responsible for discovering new blocks.
- The performance of Bitcoin mining devices directly depends on their hash rate.
- Currently, the Bitcoin network includes 76.62 million users. Every day nearly 500,000 people conduct Bitcoin transactions.
Right now, we offer you to plunge into the short history of the most popular cryptocurrency and discuss its major milestones:
What Are Bitcoin Halving Dates?
Bitcoin halving dates are the events that cut the rewards for mining Bitcoin in half. They are necessary to prevent Bitcoin inflation and regulate the rate at which new units enter circulation.
The Bitcoin halving dates happen every 210,000 blocks mined. As a rule, it takes nearly four years. It’s expected that Bitcoin halving will stop happening in 2140 when all 21 million coins will be mined. The halvings ensure the decrease of BTC amount with each new block. It makes this cryptocurrency scarcer and more valuable. You may get acquainted with all Bitcoin halvings and short information about them in the table below.
It’s also possible to check out the information about the upcoming halving date on special services. They show how many blocks are left and use this information to predict when a halving will happen.
What Is a Bitcoin Fork and Bitcoin Cash?
Bitcoin forks are new versions of the Bitcoin currency, which introduce new rules for BTC users to follow. Due to this split, the users choose which rules to follow, which is similar to a fork in the road.
Bitcoin forks may be divided into two types:
- Soft Forks. These forks are backward-compatible and offer insignificant changes only to the Bitcoin protocol. For example, it may be a change of the block size from 1MB to 800KB.
- Hard Forks. These are entirely new versions of Bitcoin. No transactions are possible between the previous and new versions of Bitcoin. They are separate from each other, and the changes set by the fork are permanent.
Currently, there are 105 Bitcoin forks. Nonetheless, 31 of them are no longer relevant. The most successful Bitcoin fork became known as Bitcoin Cash — it was created in 2017.
The new cryptocurrency appeared when the developers of the Bitcoin community couldn’t come to an agreement related to the implementation of new changes. Thus, a small group of BTC developers forked to create their own version of Bitcoin with some changes:
- Bitcoin Cash offers cheaper transaction fees – nearly $0.008 per transaction. At the same time, Bitcoin’s average transaction fee is $2.46.
- Bitcoin Cash offers faster transaction time. Usually, it takes less than 10 minutes to verify a Bitcoin Cash transaction.
- More people can use BCH because it can deal with more transactions per second (116 transactions on average).
Now it’s time to get to the most exciting part of our guide! Here you’ll discover everything you need to know about trading, owning, and storing BTC coins. This information will be helpful for anyone who wants to start investing in this cryptocurrency.
Where to Buy Bitcoin and Bitcoin ATMs
Nowadays, there are many ways to buy Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. The simplest way to do it is to visit different exchanges. They allow any person to use their favorite payment method to purchase Bitcoin online. However, not all of these services are worth your attention. If you want to avoid fraudsters, you should consider three key points:
- Available payment methods. It’s great if a service accepts such banking options as credit cards, payment apps, and popular e-wallets.
- User reviews. It’s essential to do your own research and discover the information about a service you want to use. There are numerous resources on the Internet that may provide you with up-to-date ratings of all popular BTC exchanges.
- Fees and currency pairs. Make sure that you can buy Bitcoin on the chosen service. Also, pay attention to the fees set by your BTC exchange. Usually, they are based on the size of your transaction. However, there are also fixed fees.
In addition, it’s important to consider that some BTC exchanges will ask you to pass the verification process according to KYC standards. It usually includes providing your phone number, address, and photo ID. At the same time, some exchanges do not require verification, which means you can conduct transactions without revealing your identity.
There are also P2P platforms that match BTC buyers and sellers. Their users can trade their cryptocurrencies with other individuals. In this case, each seller can set their own price and accept particular payments. For example, they may accept not only PayPal or bank transfers but also hard cash. If you want to buy Bitcoin using such a service, you should make sure that the trader you’ve chosen has a good reputation.
Finally, there are Bitcoin ATMs, which you can visit to purchase Bitcoins or other digital coins by depositing cash. They produce blockchain-based transactions, which send cryptocurrency to the person’s crypto wallet. Usually, a Bitcoin ATM uses QR codes to simplify the conduction of the transactions.
Consider that currently, there are more than 14,000 BTC ATMs around the globe. You can find the nearest Bitcoin ATM using Google Maps or such websites as Coin ATM Radar.
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Bitcoin Wallet – How Does It Work?
A BTC wallet is a device or software used to send and receive bitcoins. Although they don’t store your actual BTC units, they keep the private keys necessary to sign any Bitcoin transaction. It’s important to remember that anyone who knows your private key will be able to control all bitcoins related to the particular address. Thus, you should never share this information with other users. It’s important to understand the following terms:
- Private keys. They provide the users with access to their cryptocurrencies on the blockchain. As a rule, the owners of cryptocurrency use public addresses and private keys to deposit and receive digital assets. Consider that it’s impossible to withdraw bitcoins without knowing your unique private key, which consists of many numbers and letters. Crypto wallets use private keys to ensure that fraudsters won’t get access to your funds.
- Public keys. They allow the user to receive bitcoins into their accounts. As well as private keys, they are stored in your crypto wallet. Public keys are paired with your private keys. In addition, consider that your private address is actually a shortened form of your public key. You can share it with other users without any worry.
- Seed phrase. This is a string, which usually consists of up to 24 words, generated by your wallet. It’s possible to compare your seed phrase to the master password. Even if you delete or lose your wallet, you still will be able to get access to your cryptocurrencies with the help of the seed phrase.
Some crypto wallets may be used to store not only bitcoins but also other cryptocurrencies. They are called multi-currency wallets.
Bitcoin Wallet – How to Store Bitcoin
All crypto wallets are divided into hot and cold ones. The choice of the type depends directly on your goals and the way you want to use the cryptocurrency.
You can set up and use hot wallets without any difficulties. If you create an account on an exchange or download special desktop software, you actually create your hot wallet. Hot wallets are connected to the Internet and allow their users to make a crypto transaction with a few simple clicks on their mobile phones or laptops. Thus, they are perfect for people who often trade their crypto assets or make everyday purchases with bitcoins.
Nonetheless, you need to consider the major drawback of hot wallets – lack of security. All your funds may be stolen by cyber-criminals, so it’s not recommended to use these wallets to keep your long-term investments.
There are also cold wallets, which are considered the most secure solution for cryptocurrency storage. You connect your cold wallet to the Internet only to make a transaction. It means that criminals won’t be able to get control over your funds without getting physical access to your cold wallet.
At the same time, cold wallets are impractical for the everyday usage of cryptocurrency. As a rule, it’s more difficult and time-consuming to send bitcoins or other digital coins from cold wallets.
The variety of modern crypto wallets is impressive. Nonetheless, we strongly recommend you choose the most reliable ones. Here you can get acquainted with our shortlist of such options:
This company offers various cold wallets such as Nano X and Nano S. The users can connect to these devices with Bluetooth or USB using a special Ledger app on their computer or mobile devices.
This online wallet has an excellent UI and allows its users to store, send, and receive both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. It’s possible to manage BitPay on different devices because it has both desktop and mobile applications. BitPay is an HD wallet, which means that it features a series of key pairs generated from a random seed. With their help, the software provides great manageability and high security.
This hot wallet is popular with crypto users due to the possibility to store more than 100 different cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and DOGE. It’s also possible to exchange your digital assets in Exodus. The simplicity and professional customer support make this wallet a perfect option for beginners.
4. Trezor Model T
Trezor offers devices with the best security features and a variety of supported cryptocurrencies – for example, Model T accepts 1,600 different coins. It is a luxury device with a color touchscreen. Plus, it’s very easy to set up and use. The only drawback of the Trezor Model T is its relatively high price.
This hot wallet is an ideal option for mobile users. It provides the perfect management of your cryptocurrencies and supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, and ERC-20 tokens such as Tether, Wrapped Bitcoin, and others. Mycelium also has a built-in exchange and hardware wallet support feature.
Selling Bitcoin and Taxes
Cryptocurrency taxation directly depends on your country. Nowadays, counties like the US consider cryptocurrencies as property. All taxpayers who live in such countries must report their Bitcoin transactions. At the same time, governmental organizations also pay attention to exchange databases to keep an eye on the users who are making money on Bitcoin.
In some cases, your cryptocurrency tax rate may depend on the type of your investment. For example, short-term investments have higher taxes than long-term ones.
Bitcoin Learning Recap 2
So, now you know the most important events in BTC history and how to start investing in Bitcoin. Please, remember the following information to trade your cryptocurrencies without any trouble:
- Bitcoin halvings happen every 4 years to avoid inflation and regulate the rate at which new BTC units enter circulation.
- You can buy Bitcoin on an exchange, P2P platform, and Bitcoin ATM.
- Hot wallets are perfect for users who trade their cryptocurrencies every day.
- Opt for cold wallets if you want to make long-term investments.
- Never share your private key with other users.
- Never forget your wallet’s seed phrase.
- Pay attention to your country’s attitude to cryptocurrencies to determine whether you should pay taxes for your digital assets.
Bitcoin Use Cases
Bitcoin opens different possibilities for modern users. With its help, the financial industry can deal with such serious problems as the total control of the central banks over fiat currency. This part of our guide will show you how Bitcoin can be used and all of its advantages compared to fiat currencies.
Fiat Currencies and Inflation
Fiat money isn’t linked to physical reserves. Thus, it may lose value due to inflation. Moreover, fiat currencies may become useless in case of hyperinflation. A similar situation happened in Hungary after WWII. Then the monthly inflation rate was 41.9 quadrillion percent. In addition, there is a risk that people will just stop using a nation’s currency, which will lead to its loss in value.
Fiat currencies are also largely controlled and easily manipulated by central banks. For instance, they control how much money is printed as well as set their daily reference rates.
A great example of such manipulation happened on August 5, 2019. The People’s Bank of China set the daily reference rate of yuan above ¥7 per dollar. It significantly depreciated the Chinese currency and made Chinese exports cheaper. The actions of People’s Bank led to global markets’ sell-off, which caused significant losses for many companies such as American Express, Intel, and IBM.
Bitcoin aims to solve the mentioned problems and risks. First of all, it’s designed to resist inflation due to limited supply and regular halvings. Also, Bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency, which means that there is no central authority able to manipulate it.
Store of Value
A store of value is an asset that is able to retain its value over time. In case a person buys a reliable store of value, they may be sure that its value won’t depreciate in the future.
There are several reasons why Bitcoin is one of the best ways to store your wealth:
- Scarcity. The limited number of bitcoins ensures that there won’t be more than 21 million units.
- Fungibility. It means that all bitcoins are indistinguishable.
- Divisibility. The ability to split into smaller units is important for a store of value. And each bitcoin consists of millibitcoins, microbitcoins, and satoshis.
Elimination of Intermediaries
Right now, such financial institutions as banks play the role of middlemen between the sellers and buyers. As well as the majority of other cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin aims to eliminate the intermediaries, which will lead to lower transaction fees. It also may reduce or even totally remove some governmental institutions responsible for financial administration.
Cross Border Remittance
The average percentage transaction fee for cross-border remittances is nearly 6.51%. Moreover, this number may reach even 11% if a transaction is conducted through banks. In addition, international payments may take 3 days. Meanwhile, we have Bitcoin, which operates globally and offers relatively fast transaction time with significantly lower fees.
Bitcoin as Legal Tender
Legal tender is the definition of money that is legally valid and may be used to pay debts or purchase different goods and services. Some countries are trying to turn Bitcoin into a legal currency. For instance, El Salvador has already become the first country to accept BTC as legal tender. Unfortunately, other countries haven’t given Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency this official status.
At the same time, BTC trading is allowed in such countries as the US, India, the UK, and Canada. Furthermore, they are looking for possibilities to make Bitcoin a legal currency by creating special committees. However, there are several governments, which make a stand against cryptocurrencies. For example, China is one of these countries.
Bitcoin Learning Recap 3
As you can see, Bitcoin stands a strong chance to improve the whole financial industry due to the variety of benefits:
- Bitcoin can resist inflation and avoid the manipulations caused by governments or financial institutions.
- BTC is a reliable store of value due to such features as scarcity, fungibility, and divisibility.
- Bitcoin can eliminate intermediaries like banks in financial transactions. It’ll lead to lower transaction fees.
- BTC operates globally and offers international banking operations with relatively fast transaction times and low fees.
- In 2021 El Salvador became the first country to accept BTC as legal tender. Other countries such as the US, Canada, and the UK also trying to make Bitcoin a legal currency.
Bitcoin Scams and Volatility
Apart from all of these amazing possibilities, Bitcoin also provides fraudsters with new ways to trick BTC investors. Here you can find some common scams you should avoid:
- Dangerous websites. There are many sites set up to resemble popular platforms. They encourage the visitors to make payments and steal their money or bitcoins. If you want to avoid shady websites, pay attention to their URLs. If they don’t use SSL encryption and there is no HTTPS, you should think twice before making a deposit.
- Unreliable tweets and social media posts. On Twitter and Facebook, it’s possible to come across dangerous bots that promote links to tricky exchanges. Always check out the source that posts the link and never reply to it just because other users do it.
- Trick emails. Cryptocurrency companies regularly send emails to various crypto enthusiasts. However, fraudsters may also use fake emails to steal your money. To avoid this, you should always pay attention to the logo of the email. Besides, you may get in touch with the company’s customer support to find out whether they’ve sent you a message.
In addition, crypto investors face high Bitcoin market volatility, which is used to calculate the Bitcoin fear and greed index. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand that such volatility is a usual component of any financial market in an early growth phase. Thus, with greater adoption of Bitcoin and the development of its derivatives, its volatility will decrease.
Summary of CryptoBite Bitcoin Guide
Bitcoin has come a long way from its release in 2009. Inspired by such projects as DigiCash, Bit Gold, HashCash, and Flooz, its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, managed to form a new financial system. When Nakamoto left the project, its idea was supported by different enthusiasts, including Hal Finney and Marti Malmi.
Due to the secure blockchain technology, Bitcoin works perfectly. Its miners ensure the introduction of new blocks in the blockchain, and BTC halvings protect the cryptocurrency from inflation.
Also, it stands to note the importance of Bitcoin forks. Although none of them is as popular as the original Bitcoin, there are such interesting options as Bitcoin Cash. If you want to invest in other coins apart from BTC, it may be a wise decision to consider them.
And, of course, you’ll need to find a reliable exchange to start trading bitcoins. However, you may also pay attention to different P2P platforms and ATMs. But don’t forget to make sure that the website or trader you’ve chosen has a good reputation.
You’ll also need a crypto wallet to store your digital assets. Opt for hot wallets if you want to trade your cryptocurrencies regularly. At the same time, use cold wallets if you want to make long-term investments and ensure 100% protection of your funds.
By the way, if you don’t know which wallet to choose, you can select the options from our list. Finally, discover your country’s attitude to Bitcoin trading and taxation.
Satoshi Nakamoto developed a great concept. His Bitcoin can solve such financial issues as inflation and expensive international transactions. It can also become a great store of value as well as eliminate the intermediaries, which will lead to lower transaction fees. Plus, there is a possibility that not only El Salvador but other countries such as the US and the UK will accept BTC as legal tender.
Although there are problems caused by fraudsters, a careful crypto investor can easily avoid them by following simple tips. And if you are afraid of Bitcoin’s high volatility, remember that there is nothing extraordinary about it. Furthermore, according to Bitcoin price prediction, its value will continue rising.
We hope that this guide will stand you in good stead. If you want to discover more about other cryptocurrencies, please check out another guide prepared by CryptoBite. Plus, you can sign up for our mailing list to stay informed of the latest crypto news.