What is Bitcoin?

The world’s first widely-adopted cryptocurrency. With Bitcoin, people can securely and directly send each other digital money on the internet.

Updated May 6, 20205 min read

Bitcoin was created by Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonymous person or team who outlined the technology in a 2008 white paper. It’s an appealingly simple concept: bitcoin is digital money that allows for secure peer-to-peer transactions on the internet.

  • Unlike services like Venmo and PayPal, which rely on the traditional financial system for permission to transfer money and on existing debit/credit accounts, bitcoin is decentralized: any two people, anywhere in the world, can send bitcoin to each other without the involvement of a bank, government, or other institution.

  • Every transaction involving Bitcoin is tracked on the blockchain, which is similar to a bank’s ledger, or log of customers’ funds going in and out of the bank. In simple terms, it’s a record of every transaction ever made using bitcoin.

  • Unlike a bank’s ledger, the Bitcoin blockchain is distributed across the entire network. No company, country, or third party is in control of it; and anyone can become part of that network.

  • There will only ever be 21 million bitcoin. This is digital money that cannot be inflated or manipulated in any way.

  • It isn’t necessary to buy an entire bitcoin: you can buy just a fraction of one if that’s all you want or need.

Key questions

What is BTC?

BTC is the abbreviation for bitcoin.

Is Bitcoin cryptocurrency?

Yes, bitcoin is the first widely adopted cryptocurrency, which is just another way of saying digital money.

Is there a simple bitcoin definition?

Bitcoin is digital money that allows secure and seamless peer-to-peer transactions on the internet.

What's the price of bitcoin?

The current price of Bitcoin can be found on Coinbase’s website.

Is Bitcoin an investment opportunity?

Like any other asset, you can make money by buying BTC low and selling high, or lose money in the inverse scenario.

At what price did Bitcoin start?

One BTC was valued at a fraction of a U.S. penny in early 2010. During the first quarter of 2011, it exceeded a dollar. In late 2017, its value skyrocketed, topping out at close to $20,000. You can track the price of bitcoin here.

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Bitcoin Basics

Since Bitcoin’s creation, thousands of new cryptocurrencies have been launched, but bitcoin (abbreviated as BTC) remains the largest by market capitalization and trading volume.

Bitcoin Transferred Gif

  • Depending on your goals, bitcoin can function as

    • an investment vehicle

    • a store of value similar to gold

    • a way to transfer value around the world

    • even just a way to explore an emerging technology

  • Bitcoin is a currency native to the Internet. Unlike government-issued currencies such as the dollar or euro, Bitcoin allows online transfers without a middleman such as a bank or payment processor. The removal of those gatekeepers creates a whole range of new possibilities, including the potential for money to move around the global internet more quickly and cheaply, and allowing individuals to have maximum control over their own assets.

  • Bitcoin is legal to use, hold, and trade, and can be spent on everything from travel to charitable donations. It’s accepted as payment by businesses including Microsoft and Expedia.

  • Is bitcoin money? It’s been used as a medium of exchange, a store of value, and a unit of account—which are all properties of money. Meanwhile, it only exists digitally; there is no physical version of it.

Bitcoin is digital money that allows for secure and seamless peer-to-peer transactions on the internet.

What Is Bitcoin? by Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong

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