Bitcoin or BTC is a digital currency, otherwise known as a cryptocurrency. Nobody is 100% certain which individual/s created Bitcoin, but it was introduced to markets in 2009 by ‘Satoshi Nakamoto.’ The most notable aspect of BTC is that no banks or financial institutions are needed to facilitate trades. Additionally, it runs as a virtually anonymous financial system whereby buyers and sellers do not need to input their names, addresses or any other personally identifiable information to transfer BTC. Over the years, many more merchants have begun accepting Bitcoin as part of their payments processing system. It is entirely possible to buy merchandise, pay for goods and services, transfer BTC domestically and internationally with minimal fees/charges.
Since no country or central bank is involved in regulating and administering Bitcoin, it facilitates cheap international money transfers. It is especially enticing to SMEs which do not have to pay vendors like MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express for using their services. Many people have enjoyed significant appreciation of their BTC purchases over the years, since it is now trading above $2,000 per BTC. It is possible to purchase Bitcoin on Bitcoin exchanges. The largest operational BTC exchanges known as Mount Gox. It is the equivalent of digital cash – it is not tied to the gold reserves of a central bank, or the quantity of USD held by governments or other authorities.
People simply ‘mine’ BTC by solving complicated mathematical algorithms. The total quantity of BTC to be produced will be capped at 21 million. This makes them extremely rare and valuable. However, Bitcoin is also volatile. Its value can drop several hundred dollars within seconds, or appreciate equally as sharply. As with other digital currencies, they are stored in a digital wallet, on a user’s computer, external hard drive or in the cloud. There is currently no insurance available to safeguard BTC investments, although computer encryption technology and safe storage are a guarantee against theft. It is traded against fiat currency on reputable exchanges and trading platforms, and the current rate is $2,261.31 (July 2017). It peaked at $3,018.54 on 11 June 2017. The current supply of BTC is 16,431,775 coins, and the currency has a market capitalization of $43 billion.