On Bitcoin Stock Exchange in South Africa have become a very well known and popular question over time. OK, so what’s Bitcoin?
It’s not an actual coin, it’s “cryptocurrency,” a digital form of payment that is produced (“mined”) by lots of people worldwide. It allows peer-to-peer transactions instantly, worldwide, for free or at very low cost.
Bitcoin was invented after decades of research into cryptography by software developer, Satoshi Nakamoto (believed to be a pseudonym), who designed the algorithm and introduced it in 2009. His true identity remains a mystery.
This currency is not backed by a tangible commodity (such as gold or silver); bitcoins are traded online which makes them a commodity in themselves.
Bitcoin is an open-source product, accessible by anyone who is a user. All you need is an email address, Internet access, and money to get started.
Bitcoin is mined on a distributed computer network of users running specialized software; the network solves certain mathematical proofs, and searches for a particular data sequence (“block”) that produces a particular pattern when the BTC trading is applied to it. A match produces a bitcoin. It’s complex and time- and energy-consuming.
Only 21 million bitcoins are ever to be mined (about 11 million are currently in circulation). The math problems the network computers solve get progressively more difficult to keep the mining operations and supply in check.
This network also validates all the transactions through cryptography.
How Does Bitcoins work?
Internet users transfer digital assets (bits) to each other on a network. There is no online bank; rather, Bitcoin has been described as an Internet-wide distributed ledger. Users buy Bitcoin with cash or by selling a product or service for Bitcoins. Bitcoin wallets store and use this digital currency. Users may sell out of this virtual ledger by trading their Bitcoin to someone else who wants in. Anyone can do this, anywhere in the world.
There are smartphone apps for conducting mobile Bitcoin transactions and Bitcoins exchanges are populating the Internet.
How is Bitcoin valued?
Bitcoin is not held or controlled by a financial institution; it is completely decentralized. Unlike real-world money it cannot be devalued by governments or banks.
These cashless transactions are fast and the processor can convert bitcoins into currency and make a daily direct deposit into the establishment’s bank account. It was announced in January 2014 that two Las Vegas hotel-casinos will accept Bitcoin payments at the front desk, in their restaurants, and in the gift shop.
It sounds good – so what’s the catch?
Business owners should consider issues of participation, security and cost.
• A relatively small number of ordinary consumers and merchants currently use or understand Bitcoin. However, adoption is increasing globally and tools and technologies are being developed to make participation easier.
• It’s the Internet, so hackers are threats to the exchanges. The Economist reported that a Bitcoin exchange was hacked in September 2013 and $250,000 in bitcoins was stolen from users’ online vaults. Bitcoins can be stolen like other currency, so vigilant network, server and database security is paramount.
• Users must carefully safeguard their bitcoin wallets which contain their private keys. Secure backups or printouts are crucial.
• Bitcoin is not regulated or insured by the US government so there is no insurance for your account if the exchange goes out of business or is robbed by hackers.
• Bitcoins are relatively expensive. Current rates and selling prices are available on the online exchanges.
The virtual currency is not yet universal but it is gaining market awareness and acceptance. A business may decide to try Bitcoin to save on credit card and bank fees, as a customer convenience, or to see if it helps or hinders sales and profitability.
Are you thinking about accepting Bitcoin? Do you already use it? Share your thoughts and experiences with us.
Looking for a Bitcoin Buying Guide? Wondering where to start? People have a lot of misconceptions about bitcoin – the very first widely known and accepted cryptocurrency worldwide.
A lot of people think for example that only hackers and shady people use it. However bitcoin is actually going mainstream with everyone from TigerDirect to Expedia.com to Dell and even Subway accepting payments in bitcoin now.
Well, bitcoin has a lot of benefits over other currencies. For example, you can send bitcoins to someone as payment without having to go through the bank middleman (and get hit with extra fees). It’s also much faster than sending money via a bank wire or transfer. You can send bitcoins to someone and have them receiving the coins in seconds.
With all of this, it’s no surprise that many people are now trying to buy bitcoin for the first time. However it’s not as easy as going to your bank and withdrawing bitcoins – or going to a store and plunking down some hard-earned cash for bitcoin.
The system works a bit differently than that. This Bitcoin Buying Guide will go over a few things you need to know before you buy – so you can buy safely and securely.
Take your time and research the different places to buy before you decide. Factors to consider include coin prices, extra fees, method of payment and customer service.
Once you’ve found a place to buy, get your funds ready (i.e. you may send a wire transfer or use your Visa to fund your account). Then wait for a good price. (Bitcoin prices are always fluctuating 24 hours, 7 days a week). Then place your order when you’re ready.
Once your order is filled and you have your coins, you’ll want to send them to your wallet. Simply enter your bitcoin address and get the seller to send you your bitcoins. You should see them show up in your wallet within minutes to an hour (depending on how fast the seller sends them out).
Voila, you are now a bitcoin owner. You can now send coins to pay for other goods and services, or hang on to them for a rainy day.
One last thing to remember: bitcoin is still in its infancy. There are huge price swings and the currency can be risky. Never buy more bitcoins than you can afford to lose.