Saturday, August 31, 2013

What is Bitcoin?

The bitcoin logo
The bitcoin logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Bitcoin is a what you can call a new type of online currency, a crypt-currency. This crypts-currency was propose in the late 90's by a group known as cypherpunks who mainly discussed about cryptography and security and among them was, for a currency that would be totally anonymous and free from the control of large banks and governments. around the late 2008 this guy named "Satoshi Nakamoto" wrote a rocking paper describing this concept of a a P2P payment system that would use the concept discussed by the early cypherpunks.

If you don't know why some intelligent folks are excited about the Bitcoin concept, you should take the time to understand. Bitcoin is a new form of currency that is accepted worldwide and can never be debased by politicians trying to get re-elected or countries trying to pay off huge debts. In a world in which the value of paper money is constantly ravaged by inflation, that's a very attractive attribute. Also, the world is very much ready for a "global" currency. Bitcoin satisfies that need.

Bitcoins are like cash in that they aren't tied to your identity, and transactions made with Bitcoins are irreversible and untraceable. But they're like credits in a manner that they aren't physical. Bitcoins are a peer to peer system.

What Bitcoin allows you to do is to send money to people, make purchases, just like real cash, only difference is this is online. Bitcoin in most ways behave like hard cash . you can give it to person to person, you can loose it, and destroy it.

Well, Bitcoin address is different from any other address system you may have encountered before, A bitcoin address consists of two addresses the public address and the private address. Like the name suggests the public address is public and can be distributed to any one and every one without any fear. the private address is the one you keep very private and secret and dont even tell that to any one at all. You keep it so secret, that no one can access it.

A bitcoin address is a hash of a public portion of a public/private ECDSA keypair and they looks like this:- 1La9GFB8sNRko99jP2N5AMQYPvmsDoVbKb.

Bitcoin is in its infancy, a free market currency whose price or value is determined by the demand and supply. A multitude of factors could in theory affect Bitcoin prices, nobody in the current scenario can conclude that only a few factors affect Bitcoin, I will try to explain only “a few” that have had a considerable impact on Bitcoin prices recently, many more may be yet to be known.
Like gold prices that fluctuate due to a variety of factors, some of the factors which have been observed till date are listed below:

Media Exposure

The initial growth of the Bitcoin ecosystem and prices was attributed to media articles, familiarizing it to more people. The world’s supply of Bitcoins is essentially fixed, but because people in the media keep talking about it, demand keeps rising. This leads to higher prices—and as prices go up, people who currently hold Bitcoins develop greater and greater expectations for the currency. Today, the excitement around Bitcoin is still confined to a tiny segment of the population — technology aficionados, monetary idealists and speculators. The potential for exposure is large.

Eurozone Crisis

A direct correlation between the Cypress bailout and Bitcoin price was observed. Some of the investors in Europe moved their investments into Bitcoin around the time of the Cypress bailout. This resulted in a huge cash flow into the Bitcoin ecosystem.


Demand crisis: Like any currency, Bitcoin is traded on exchanges, Bitcoin holders hoard their stash, which further reduces supply, which in turn boosts the price and sparks yet more media attention—and the cycle continues till profit selling takes place like in any currency.

Fear of Govt intervention

There is nothing illegal about Bitcoin . Cash is as anonymous and not tied to identity. But could government grow increasingly interested in defending its paper-money monopoly? We've already seen hints of this. But because the market is already huge and global, there will be growing attempts to control it, tax it and regulate it.

Trading Exchange outages

Trading exchanges like MTgox which handles almost 70% of trade have seen trading halted due to DDos's, but such events are seen to be temporary and the a price fall due to a DDos is usually recovered when trading resumes to normal levels, leaving only a temporary effect. Smaller exchanges have been hacked due to insecure design of the sites . The interim crashes could be sharp and scary. The Bitcoin algorithm, system and framework itself is preternaturally sound. As with any new creation, there are glitches and vulnerabilities that still need to be worked out in trading exchanges.

Vendor acceptance

Bitcoins remain very much a niche payment method. In accepting the currency there is a small circle of large Internet companies’ participating in the system. Others include WordPress, which will sell you everything from Web hosting to CSS packages in exchange for Bitcoins. WikiLeaks and 4chan are part of a growing list of online organizations that accept Bitcoin donations. As vendor acceptance improves the value of Bitcoin as a currency improves.

Free market currency

Being in its infancy, Bitcoin will see wild price swings till it becomes established as a currency. The market is still in a price discovery stage and is expected to stabilize at a certain point, where its value and place as currency is usable in daily life.

You can use Bitcoins with people and business that accept Bitcoins. as a new currency there are not many brick and mortar stores that accept Bitcoins, but there are online services that may be purchased with Bitcoin. and like any new currency the growth is slow but then number of people and businesses accepting Bitcoin is increasing exponentially.

The Bitcoin algorithm was presented as a scientific paper and peer reviewed like any other scientific paper, the paper was widely accepted and is the sole fundamental of Bitcoin. The algorithm of Bitcoin has been designed so that it is resistant to quantum computers which have not been built as of yet.

 All currencies are backed by gold or similar assets. Lets look at gold.

What is gold backed by? What decides the value of gold? Demand and supply.
What decides the value of Bitcoin? Demand and Supply.

Like gold the amount of Bitcoins is limited, only 21 million Bitcoins will be ever produced. The value of Bitcoin can be equated to how the value of gold is estimated. So the "fundamental" value of Bitcoin can only be estimated the same way the fundamental value of, gold can be estimated — which is guessing at what someone will be willing to pay for it at some time in the future. The whole premise of Bitcoin is that only a finite amount of it will ever be created. This is in stark contrast to standard currencies, the supply of which is continually increased.

Fiat paper currencies are a relic of a past age. It has proven to be a spectacular failure, giving rise to inflations and unending booms and busts. As technology progresses, markets look for an alternative. A single global digital currency is certainly in our future. Bitcoin is just the most successful example of that so far.
Bitcoin can be easily used for international transfers without paying commissions to third parts like banks and cutting down transaction times for bank wires from days to hours for a Bitcoin transaction.

It is always prudent on your part to view Bitcoins objectively and arrive at its value in your life. In my view, Bitcoin is the Internet, applied to Money. We need to remember that Bitcoin is not a stock, a company, or even a regular commodity. It is a technology. That technology is a payment system that is evolving into a real currency. Right now, its most spectacular use is in transferring funds from one person to another. It's as easy as sending a text message on a phone. We live in a digital age. We need a digital currency.

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