About Bitcoin (BTC)
Bitcoin is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies in the market. First introduced in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin has held the crypto market’s number one spot according to market capitalization. Bitcoin paved the way for many existing altcoins in the market and marked a pivotal moment for digital payment solutions.
As the world’s first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin has come a long way in terms of its value. However, one does not have to buy an entire bitcoin as bitcoins can be divided into small units called satoshis, named after the creator. A satoshi is equivalent to 0.00000001 bitcoin.
There is no physical BTC token so you can think of bitcoin as digital money. Bitcoin transactions are fully transparent and can’t be censored. You can send money to anyone in the world with ease. It’s a financial system backed by thousands of computers, known as ‘nodes’, around the world, instead of a single central bank or government, i.e. hence the term ‘decentralization’.
Because Bitcoin is decentralized and community-driven, many upgrades to Bitcoin come in the form of formal proposals called Bitcoin Improvement Proposals, or BIPs. This ensures that the software is always undergoing upgrades that can further contribute to the community’s needs. Anyone can propose a BIP, and the community will reject or approve of the BIP collectively. One major upgrade to Bitcoin’s consensus protocol is the SegWit Upgrade, proposed in BIP 141 and designed to help the bitcoin scale to support more transactions to meet growing demand. BIPs like these change Bitcoin’s consensus rules, resulting in forks.
Forks are the points where software is copied and modified, resulting in two chains with a shared original chain. There are two types of forks–soft and hard forks. Soft forks are upgrades that still allow un-upgraded nodes to interact with upgraded nodes. Hard forks are upgrades that do not allow un-upgraded nodes to interact with upgraded ones. Bitcoin Cash is an example of a hard fork of Bitcoin.
Because Bitcoin is decentralized, it is not subjected to inflation or any monetary policies created by any central banks or government. Instead, there will only ever be 21 million BTC in existence.
Common Bitcoin Misconceptions
Bitcoin is just a passing phase.
Bitcoin and blockchain technology introduce solutions for real-world issues, seeking to help the unbanked population, combat counterfeiting and improve cross-border transactions to name a few. Even if we disregard the notion of bitcoin as a speculative asset or store of value, it is likely here to stay and disrupt many sectors.
Bitcoins can be copied and pasted, making them easy to counterfeit.
No, thanks to the Bitcoin protocol, your bitcoin cannot be copied. The word ‘crypto’ in ‘cryptocurrency’ comes from the word ‘cryptography’, a technique that allows for secure communication, meaning that it is impossible to counterfeit bitcoin, unlike fiat. In fact, Bitcoin solves the issue of double-spending, a loophole in traditional digital cash that allows a user to spend the same amount of funds twice.
Bitcoin is bad for the environment.
A significant percentage of bitcoin mining uses renewable energy (wind, solar, hydro etc) instead of traditional energy sources that are bad for the environment.