Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a payment system, first proposed by an anonymous person or group of people under the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008.
Bitcoin is decentralized, meaning it is not subject to governmental or financial institution control. The network is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary.
These transactions are verified by network nodes through the use of cryptography and recorded in a public dispersed ledger called a blockchain. Bitcoin is unique in that there are a finite number of them: 21 million.
Bitcoins are created as a reward for a process known as mining. They can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services.
As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment.
Bitcoin can be purchased in person or online. In order to purchase bitcoins, one must have a bitcoin wallet in which to store them.
There are several types of wallets, each with its own set of features and security measures. Once you have chosen a wallet, you will need to set up an account with a bitcoin exchange or service provider in order to convert fiat currency (such as USD) into bitcoins.
LocalBitcoins is one popular bitcoin service that allows users to buy and sell bitcoins between each other with cash or other payment methods. There are also ATMs in some countries that allow users to convert cash into bitcoins.
Coinmama is another popular bitcoin service that allows users to buy bitcoins with a credit or debit card.
Coinbase is the largest bitcoin broker worldwide, serving 32 countries with over 4 million customers. They offer both an exchange and wallet in one service.
Customers can buy bitcoins with a connected bank account, SEPA transfer, Interac Online, and many more payment methods.