What is Bitcoin?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bitcoin () is a cryptocurrency, a form of electronic cash. It is a decentralized digital currency without a central bank or single administrator that can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for intermediaries.[8]

Transactions are verified by network nodes through cryptography and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Bitcoin was invented by an unknown person or group of people using the name, Satoshi Nakamoto,[10] and released as open-source software in 2009.[11] Bitcoins are created as a reward for a process known as mining. They can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services.[12] Research produced by University of Cambridge estimates that in 2017, there were 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin.[13]

Bitcoin has been criticized for its use in illegal transactions, its high electricity consumption, price volatility, thefts from exchanges, and the possibility that bitcoin is an economic bubble.[14] Bitcoin has also been used as an investment, although several regulatory agencies have issued investor alerts about bitcoin.[15]