Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a payment system invented by an unidentified programmer, or group of programmers, under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin was introduced on 31 October 2008 to a cryptography mailing list, and released as open-source software in 2009. There have been various claims and speculation concerning the identity of Nakamoto, none of which are confirmed. The system is peer-to-peer and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the blockchain, which uses bitcoin as its unit of account. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, the U.S. Treasury categorizes bitcoin as a decentralized virtual currency. Bitcoin is often called the first cryptocurrency, although prior systems existed and it is more correctly described as the first decentralized digital currency. Bitcoin is the largest of its kind in terms of total market value.
Bitcoins are created as a reward in a competition in which users offer their computing power to verify and record bitcoin transactions into the blockchain. This activity is referred to as mining and successful miners are rewarded with transaction fees and newly created bitcoins. Besides being obtained by mining, bitcoins can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services. When sending bitcoins, users can pay an optional transaction fee to the miners. This may expedite the transaction being confirmed.
In February 2015, the number of merchants accepting bitcoin for products and services passed 100,000. Instead of 2–3% typically imposed by credit card processors, merchants accepting bitcoins often pay fees in the range from 0% to less than 2%. Despite the fourfold increase in the number of merchants accepting bitcoin in 2014, the cryptocurrency did not have much momentum in retail transactions. The European Banking Authority and other sources have warned that bitcoin users are not protected by refund rights or chargebacks. The use of bitcoin by criminals has attracted the attention of financial regulators, legislative bodies, law enforcement, and media. Criminal activities are primarily focused on darknet markets and theft, though officials in countries such as the United States also recognize that bitcoin can provide legitimate financial services.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that was created in 2009. It is designed to not be controlled by any one party and is underpinned by a system called blockchain, which records transactions.
To ensure transactions are not falsified or records of ownership changed, participants of the bitcoin network must sign off on transactions in "blocks" (hence, blockchain).
To incentivize people to do this work, which involves computers completing complex cryptographic problems, people who verify blocks are rewarded with freshly created bitcoin. Hence, this process is known as bitcoin "mining."
However, the creators of bitcoin designed the system so there would only ever be a limited supply of bitcoins to be mined (a maximum of 21 million). To ensure the longevity of the system, the cryptographic problems involved in the mining get progressively harder, meaning it takes longer to earn them.
Miners are turning to more powerful computers to complete these tasks and earn bitcoin. As a result, mining (and on the flipside, bitcoin transactions) are sucking up greater and greater amounts of electricity. Bitcoin transactions now use so much energy that the electricity used for a single trade could power a home for almost a whole month, according to Dutch bank ING.
The bulk of Bitcoin "mining" is done in China, where energy costs are comparatively cheaper than in places like the UK or US.
"The top six biggest mining pools from Antpool to BTCC are all largely based in China," Mati Greenspan, an analyst with trading platform eToro, said in an email earlier this month. "Some rough estimates put China's hashpower at more than 80% of the total network."
However, there is growing concern about what the environmental impact of all this electric usage could be. Most of the electricity generated in China comes from CO2 emitting fossil fuels. Greenspan said: "We need to be mindful of how that energy is created."
You can see live data on the mining pools that are currently active at
Heiko Closhen, Entrepreneur