Price Info - https://www.coinmarketcap.com/currencies/bitcoin
What is it: Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that supports basic smart contracts.
Known Tickers: BTC, XBT
Release Date: 01/03/2009
Known Websites: https://bitcoin.org
White Paper: https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
Coin Market Cap Link: https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/bitcoin
Bitcoin is the original decentralized digital currency launched in 2009. the system is peer-to-peer and transactions take place between users directly without a middleman. Transactions are recorded in a public ledger called a blockchain. No single entity can control the bitcoin network.
It was invented by an unknown person or group of people under the alias “Satoshi Nakamoto”. After the public disappearance of Satoshi Nakamoto, Gavin Andresen became the lead developer at the Bitcoin Foundation.
Bitcoin was the first modern cryptocurrency and has served conceptually as a starting point for subsequent coins. Because of this, virtually all features of bitcoin can be found in other cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin distinguished itself relative to older, less successful versions of digital currency through its decentralized structure. Rather than relying a trusted central server, Bitcoin relies on a peer-to-peer network of computers running the Bitcoin protocol to validate and settle transactions. These computers are compensated for the service they provide to the network with newly minted bitcoin and transactions fees. The current Bitcoin inflation rate is ~4% per annum and halves roughly every 4 years.
Though not a feature of the bitcoin protocol itself, as of Februrary 2018 the network of computers powering bitcoin is significantly larger and more computationally powerful than the network backing any other coin.
The Bitcoin protocol currently stipulates conditions that limit the number of transactions that can occur within a 10 minute period to roughly 2,000. This works out to approximately 3 transactions per second. By comparison, Visa typically process ~2000 transactions/second and is capable of processing 24,000 transactions/second. This limitation led to transaction fees as high as $55 in December 2017.
While it is possible to update the protocol in ways that could raise this limit, there are currently no widely supported proposals that would increase transaction volume by a full order of magnitude or more. There are, however, projects underway to create an overlay network on top of bitcoin which would be capable of facilitating 10s to 100s of thousands of bitcoin transactions per second. At a high level, such an overlay network would work by combining smaller transactions into large ones.
Bitcoin is accepted by thousands of businesses across the globe. One of the most popular Bitcoin exchanges alone, Coinbase, has 10M+ users. Cash settled Bitcoin futures are also available for trading on the CME and the CBOE.
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Two major developments are significantly reducing bitcoin transaction fees and wait times… This will allow bitcoin to scale like the internet did in the early 1990s. This is huge news for bitcoin owners (more on that in a moment).
1. The bitcoin network adopted the Segwit scaling solution in August 2017. Today, adoption is over 30%.
Increased adoption is partially responsible for the 99% drop in the median bitcoin transaction fees since late December.
2. Lightning Network is the second scaling solution. It works on top of the bitcoin blockchain (the same way an app works on top of your smartphone’s operating system).
Lightning Network uses “payment channels” to allow instant payments, near-free transaction costs, and cross-chain support via “atomic swaps” (an exchange of cryptocurrencies without the need of a third party).
Until recently, developers used payment channels only in test environments. That just changed. Lightning Labs recently released a beta version of the Lightning Network. That’s significant because it means developers believe it’s now safe enough to use with real money on the bitcoin network.
Since launching on January 3, 2009, bitcoin has experienced 99.99% uptime. That means it’s been in operation with very limited exceptions.
It’s also the most secure network in the world. It’s never been hacked.
Current estimates suggest you’d need nearly $9 billion worth of equipment just to try to hack the network. And that doesn’t even account for the cost of electricity.