What is blockchain technology?
A blockchain is the structure of data that represents a financial ledger entry, or a record of a transaction. Each transaction is digitally signed to ensure its authenticity and that no one tampers with it, so the ledger itself and the existing transactions within it are assumed to be of high integrity.
When a new transaction or an edit to an existing transaction comes in, generally a majority of the interchange within a blockchain implementation must execute some algorithms and essentially evaluate and verify the history of the individual blockchain block that is proposed, and come to a consensus that the history and signature is valid, then the new transaction is accepted into the ledger and a new block is added to the chain of transactions. If a majority of interchange does not concede to the addition or modification of the ledger entry, then it is denied and not added to the chain. This distributed consensus model is what allows blockchain to run as a distributed ledger without the need for some central, unifying authority saying what transactions are valid and (perhaps more importantly) which ones are not.
What is bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a new currency that was created in 2009 by an unknown person also known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Transactions are made with no middle men – meaning, no banks! Bitcoin is a digital currency, also known as a cryptocurrency that emerged after the financial crisis and is not underpinned by a central bank. It allows people to bypass banks and traditional payment methods for goods and services – an idea that has evidently caught the imagination of some investors, because its price has surged by more than 900% in 2017. Bitcoin – created by “miners” who use high-powered computers to solve complex mathematical problems.
Bitcoins can be used to buy merchandise anonymously. In addition, international payments are easy and cheap because bitcoins are not tied to any country or subject to regulation. Small businesses may like them because there are no credit card fees. Some people just buy bitcoins as an investment, hoping that they’ll go up in value.
Buy on an Exchange
Many marketplaces called “bitcoin exchanges” allow people to buy or sell bitcoins using different currencies. Coinbase is a leading exchange. In India Coinsecure, Zebpay or Unocoin are the leading exchange.
People can send bitcoins to each other using mobile apps or their computers. It’s similar to sending cash digitally.
People compete to “mine” bitcoins using computers to solve complex math puzzles. This is how bitcoins are created. Currently, a winner is rewarded with 12.5 bitcoins roughly every 10 minutes.
The future scope of bitcoins
Future in question
No one knows what will become of bitcoin. It is mostly unregulated, but some countries like Japan, China and Australia have begun weighing regulations. Governments are concerned about taxation and their lack of control over the currency.
Though each bitcoin transaction is recorded in a public log, names of buyers and sellers are never revealed – only their wallet IDs. While that keeps bitcoin users’ transactions private, it also lets them buy or sell anything without easily tracing it back to them. That’s why it has become the currency of choice for people online buying drugs or other illicit activities.
We're in a cryptocurrency bubble. Bubbles tend to go on much longer than people think they will. Smart Wall Street friends were predicting the mortgage bubble would crash back in 2003. They were 5 years early. Bubbles always pop. No one knows when.
Bitcoins can be helpful to a lot of people. Since they are an international currency, you can use them in any country without having to convert between currencies. The Blockchain is really secure and it lets you make sure your money goes to/comes from the right person. People receiving Bitcoins won't have to pay anything for the transactions, and Bitcoins have a lot of support. All of these will definitely help Bitcoin get more users, and if everyone uses Bitcoin it could replace official currencies. Sure, it has some disadvantages, but some of those are because Bitcoin is a new thing, so as time goes on they will be less of a problem. The others can easily be avoided.
The Bottom Line
Bitcoin continues to lead the pack of cryptocurrencies, in terms of market capitalization, user base and popularity. Nevertheless, virtual currencies such as Ethereum and Ripple which are being used more for enterprise solutions are becoming popular, while some altcoins are being endorsed for superior or advanced features vis-à-vis Bitcoins. Going by the current trend, cryptocurrencies are here to stay but how many of them will emerge leaders amid the growing competition within the space will only be revealed with time.
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