Bitcoin is the world’s first digital currency that was created in 2009 by a mysterious entity named Satoshi Nakamoto.
As a digital currency or cryptocurrency, Bitcoin operates without a central bank or single administrator.
Instead, Bitcoin can be sent via a Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networking, devoid of intermediaries.
Bitcoins are not issued or backed by any governments or banks, and Bitcoin is not considered to be legal tender, although they do have status as an acknowledged transfer of value in some jurisdictions.
Rather than composing a physical currency, Bitcoins are pieces of code that can be sent and received across a kind of distributed ledger network called a blockchain.
Transactions on the Bitcoin network are confirmed by a network of computers (or nodes) that solve a series of complex equations. This process is called mining.
In exchange for mining, the computers receive rewards in the form of new Bitcoins. Mining grows increasingly difficult over time, and the rewards get smaller and smaller.
There is a total of 21 million Bitcoins. As of May 2020, there are 18.3 million Bitcoins in circulation.
This number changes approximately every 10 minutes when new blocks are mined. Presently, each new block adds 12.5 bitcoins into circulation.
Since its inception, Bitcoin has remained the most popular and largest cryptocurrency in terms of market cap in the world.
Bitcoin’s popularity has contributed significantly to the release of thousands of other cryptocurrencies, called “altcoins.”
While the crypto market was originally hegemonic, today’s landscape features countless altcoins.
Bitcoin has been extremely controversial since its original launch.
Given its mercurial nature, Bitcoin has been criticized for its use in illegal transactions and money laundering.
As its impossible to trace, these attributes make Bitcoin the ideal vehicle for illicit behavior.
Moreover, critics point to its high electricity consumption for mining, rampant price volatility, and thefts from exchanges.
Bitcoin has been seen as a speculative bubble given its lack of oversight.
The crypto has weathered multiple collapses and survived over a decade so far.
Unlike its launch back in 2009, Bitcoin today is viewed far differently and is much more accepted by merchants and other entities.