How Did Bitcoin Start?
In 2009 A technical paper was posted on the internet by Satoshi Nakamoto titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. It described a system of cryptocurrency that was not backed by any government or any form of existing currency. Interestingly, there is no such person. It’s a pseudonymn.
Where Do Bitcoins Come From?
Bitcoin is based on solving an encryption formula which requires extreme amounts of computing power. Each time you solve a portion of the formula you earn a “BitCoin.” Websites like Deepbit.net help you set up the mining formula. Companies began to sell hardware called gate array miners to enhance the processing speed. Only 21 million BitCoins will ever exist. Nearly all Bitcoins have been mined and are now in circulation.
What is the Vision of Bitcoins?
Bitcoins are intended to be digital currency. Buyers and sellers will use them and eliminate all the middlemen such as credit cards, ATM machines, etc. Bitcoins will be safer than carrying a plastic card. Bitcoins will be an international currency with no exchange transaction fees.
What is the Value of a Bitcoin?
Bitcoins are like diamonds or gold – no intrinsic value. As more people want to buy Bitcoins, sellers will charge more. It’s a free market and as wild as you can imagine. No rules, regulations or oversight. Speculators who think Bitcoins will be successful, buy as many as they can and hold them price appreciation. If 21 million Bitcoins are in circulation and current price is $30000, then total market value is ~$600 Billion.
Who Sells Bitcoins?
Larger Buyers go to Exchanges. An Exchange is a website with significant software and funding. Exchanges act as a clearing house to match buyers and sellers similar to Stock Exchanges. They keep a very small transaction fee for each trade. There are at least 21 Bitcoin Exchanges in the U.S. alone. Mt Gox was one of the largest exchanges and was located in Japan.
Using an Exchange
To Buy Bitcoins on an Exchange:
- Create an account at an exchange like Coinbase.com, Kucoin.com and Binance.com
- Wire them some money (no credit cards allowed)
- Funds will show up in your account
- Purchase or sell Bitcoins whenever you wish from your account.
- You can have all or some sent to your Bitcoin wallet on your computer
Buying Bitcoins Locally
- Many small Dealers want to make money selling Bitcoin to individuals who use them for e-commerce.
- The Dealer will withdraw Bitcoins from their account at an Exchange and sell them to you.
- You can buy any fraction of a coin you wish. There is no “round amount.” (i.e. $100 my buy .4567 of a Bitcoin)
- Search for local Bitcoin sellers and you will get the current prices from each.
- Buying small amounts of Bitcoins is popular.
- Find a dealer with an acceptable price (price is posted on the internet.)
- Arrange a meeting place that is safe.
- Bring cash since he/she doesn’t accept any form of credit.
- You pay him and he initiates a transfer from his account in a Bitcoin Exchange.
- He gives you a secure code which deposits them in your “wallet.”
Buy Bitcoins from ATM
- ATM’s that sell Bitcoin are in a very few locations.
- First one was in Texas in a gun store.
- Bitcoin ATM’s only take cash.
- They only sell Bitcoin, you can’t convert Bitcoin to cash.
Why Would You Want Some Bitcoin?
- It’s a novelty and would be fun to try.
- Show your friends that you are a true groundbreaker.
- You like to gamble.
- You don’t trust Credit Cards and want to buy stuff online.
- You want to buy something on the internet that is “unconventional.”
- You want to sell something that is “unconventional”
Bitcoin Issues – Legality
- Bitcoin transactions are untraceable.
- Seller doesn’t tell the IRS
- Buyer can be anonymous
- U.S. Treasury and IRS wants it stopped.
- First big user of Bitcoin was Silk Road
- Drug trade proliferated
- No money laundering necessary
- It’s very hard to stop Bitcoin – it’s an international scheme.
Bitcoin Issues – Safety
- Largest Exchange, Mt Gox in Japan just went bankrupt
- Hackers were siphoning off their Bitcoins
- They lost $450 million dollars
- Account holders are the real losers
- Electronic Wallets
- Many websites have created “secure” electronic wallets for you.
- There are Wallets for Windows, Mac, iPhone, and Android
- Some “Wallets” deduct a small fee for every transaction
- Wallets have proven to be safe, but no guarantees.
Who Accepts Bitcoin?
- Thousands of online merchants such as:
- 50,000 Retail stores (and counting) accept Bitcoin
- Hotels in Las Vegas
- Gift Cards for GAP, Lowes, Burger King, etc.
- Mostly small merchants who want to increase traffic
Will Bitcoin Survive?
- Cryptocurrency like Bitcoin.
- Since most owners are speculators the true price for owning Bitcoin only to use as a currency is unknown.
- Hedge Funds and Banks will likely start trading Bitcoins similar to international currencies and gold.
- Bank of America announced that Bitcoin could be a major means of payment for commerce.
Will Bitcoin Succeed?
- Digital currency makes a lot of sense.
- It could eliminate a lot of middle man costs (credit cards, wire fees, etc.)
- It could be extremely easy to use
- It could eliminate billions of dollars in credit card fraud and identity theft.
- Bitcoin may utterly fail but some form of digital currency will probably emerge.
- It must be safe
- It must be traceable by government entities
- It must be easy to use.
- People must have trust in it’s value