Founded in 2008, shortly after the recession, Bitcoin eliminated most of the hassles one would normally encounter with the big banks. That meant no interest fees, no middleman, and more transparent transactions. At its simplest, Bitcoin is a virtual currency that can be wired, spent as cash, or used in the form of a check. Bitcoin (or BTC) can also be used to refer a purchaser to their seller’s signature, which is a long line of security code encrypted with 16 distinct symbols. The purchaser decodes the signature with their smartphone to get the seller’s cryptocurrency. Bitcoin has a decentralized system that allows people to control their funds and know what was going on.
Even though the cryptocurrency was founded in 2008, nobody knows who the founder (or founders) is. The only thing known about the creator(s) is that they go by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. However, this is the Japanese version of the pseudonym “John Doe.” Adds a bit of mystery, doesn’t it?
So how does one get Bitcoin? Well, they have to install a virtual wallet onto their device. The wallet, which is similar to personal finance software, keeps track of their balance and transactions. Afterward, real money must either be deposited through an online payment company or transferred directly from a bank account into an account on a third-party website that connects bitcoin buyers and sellers. Once the funds are available, a buyer can place an order for a bitcoin, similar to trading stocks, through an exchange. Additionally, Bitcoins can be purchased from third parties, who send the coins directly into your virtual wallet.
Currently, large companies such as Dell, PayPal, and Microsoft accept payment in the form of Bitcoin. However, everyday stores such as Hannaford, Walmart, and BJ’s have not yet made the transition. On a larger scale, though, America is one of many countries reluctant to switch to this new form of money. America is afraid of this new money, and the process to approve regulation has come to a standstill since Trump has taken office.
Will paper money ever die out? That’s hard to say. People love physical money because they can touch and feel it. Bitcoin is all digital. There’s nothing to pull out of a wallet or purse. Additionally, the system might be too complex for most people to understand, much less participate in. The value of Bitcoin has also fluctuated over time. In 2017, it soared from $1,000 to just under $20,000 before dropping down to around $13,000 by the end of the year.