About five years ago, an anonymous computer programmer released the Bitcoin software system on the internet. The currency wiki page explains: “it is an experimental decentralised digital currency that enables instant payment to anyone, anywhere in the world.”
Since its release, Bitcoin had remain quite discrete with only few people taking it seriously until last week when a US Senate committee made of representatives from the Department of Justice and financial regulators from the Securities and Exchange Commission released their views about Bitcoin. After hearing the committee described the virtual currencies as “a legitimate financial service.” Since that day, the value of a Bitcoin rapidly increased to reach more than $1000 or £613 last week. Indeed, Bitcoin is slowly but surely being recognized as the digital future of money.
But what is it? Bitcoin is a digital currency that is a math-based currency. Owning some bitcoin also means owning a ‘private cryptography key that is associated with an address on the internet that contains a balance in the public ledger. The address and the private key let you make transactions.’ Any transaction needs the users’ address as well as the receiver address.
How can you use it? To make Bitcoin more accessible to everyone, a program called “wallet” has been created allowing users to keep track of all the necessary information stated above. The wallet can be easily installed on laptops or phones.
The virtual currency is also available in the real world. In November, the world’s first Bitcoin ATM was opened in Vancouver allowing “users to exchange their credits of the digital currency for cash and vice-versa”. In Japan, customers can make payment using Bitcoin in a Tokyoite restaurant that started using Bitcoin system via a tablet PC sitting beside the cash register. Payment can be done by scanning a sort of code that pops up on the tablet with a phone and payment done.
Surely one day, we will all have a Bitcoin Wallet.
Wired – The Magic Number: Bitcoin Prices Top $1,000
Wired – Bitcoin Survival Guide: Everything You Need to Know About the Future of Money
BBC News technology – Bitcoin virtual currency breaks $1,000 mark
The Week – Bitcoin passes $1,000 mark: will it take over the world?