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Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer online currency, meaning that all transactions happen directly between equal, independent network participants, without the need for any intermediary to permit or facilitate them. Bitcoin was created to allow “online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.”
Bitcoin’s most unique advantage comes from the fact that it was the very first cryptocurrency to appear on the market.
It has managed to create a global community and give birth to an entirely new industry of millions of enthusiasts who create, invest in, trade and use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in their everyday lives.
The entire cryptocurrency market is based on the idea realized by Bitcoin: money that can be sent and received by anyone, anywhere in the world without reliance on trusted intermediaries, such as banks and financial services companies.
At this moment (Monday, May 24, 2021), there are almost 18,713,700 BTC in circulation.
Bitcoin’s total supply is limited by its software and will never exceed 21,000,000 coins.
New coins are created during the process known as 'mining'.
As compensation for spending their computational resources, the miners receive rewards for every block that they successfully add to the blockchain.
At the moment of Bitcoin’s launch, the reward was 50 bitcoins per block: this number gets halved with every 210,000 new blocks mined — which takes the network roughly four years. As of 2020, the block reward has been halved three times and comprises 6.25 bitcoins.
Mining Bitcoins can be very profitable for miners, depending on the current hash rate and the price of Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is the first decentralized, peer-to-peer digital currency. One of its most important functions is that it is used as a decentralized store of value.
In other words, it provides for ownership rights as a physical asset or as a unit of account. Many crypto enthusiasts and economists believe that high-scale adoption of the top currency will lead us to a new modern financial world where transaction amounts will be denominated in smaller units.
For many of us, Bitcoin is considered a store of value, like gold, rather than a currency.
The most popular wallets for cryptocurrency include both hot and cold wallets. Cryptocurrency wallets vary from hot wallets and cold wallets:
The Lightning Network is an off-chain, layered payment protocol that operates bidirectional payment channels which allows instantaneous transfer with instant reconciliation. It enables private, high volume and trustless transactions between any two parties.
The Lightning Network scales transaction capacity without incurring the costs associated with transactions and interventions on the underlying blockchain.
The current valuation of Bitcoin is constantly moving, all day every day. It is a truly global asset. From a start of under one cent per coin, BTC has risen in price by thousands of percent to the numbers.
The prices of all cryptocurrencies are quite volatile, meaning that anyone’s understanding of how much is Bitcoin will change by the minute.
Bitcoin’s original inventor is known under a pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. As of 2020, the true identity of the person — or organization — that is behind the alias remains unknown.
Over the years a large number of people have contributed to improving the cryptocurrency’s software by patching vulnerabilities and adding new features.
Bitcoin’s source code repository on GitHub lists more than 750 contributors, with some of the key ones being Wladimir J. van der Laan, Marco Falke, Pieter Wuille, Gavin Andresen, Jonas Schnelli and others.
Bitcoin is almost synonymous with cryptocurrency, which means that you can buy Bitcoin on virtually every crypto exchange - both for fiat money and other cryptocurrencies. Some of the main markets where BTC trading is available are:
If you are new to crypto, use CoinMarketCap’s own easy guide to buying Bitcoin.
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