Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency that enables instant payments to anyone, anywhere in the world. Unlike traditional currencies like US Dollars or Euros, bitcoins are not physically minted or printed. Instead they are produced digitally around the world using software that solves mathematical problems (a process that is called ‘mining’). Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency to begin trading.
Bitcoin is an open-source technology, meaning the source code of its software is available openly for anyone to see. Bitcoin continues to be developed collaboratively and in public. As a distributed network, Bitcoin does not rely on a central authority to manage transactions or to issue new currency. Bitcoins are directly passed between sender and receiver without the need for an intermediary, such as a bank or financial institution.
Bitcoin provides a way for one Internet user to transfer a digital asset (currency) to another Internet user, that is guaranteed to be safe and secure, publicly documented without personal information, and without risk of fraud. Bitcoin challenges the commonly held notion that currency must be controlled by a central government or authority and that all transactions must pass through an intermediary of some kind. There are many risks and potential flaws associated with buying or using bitcoin, but the idea of creating a new currency outside of the control of a third party could present enormous opportunities.