Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and worldwide payment system. It is the first decentralized digital currency, as the system works without a central bank or single administrator. 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 distributed ledger called a blockchain. Bitcoin was invented by an unknown person or group of people under the name Satoshi Nakamoto and released as open-source software in 2009.
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 is pseudonymous, meaning that funds are not tied to real-world entities but rather bitcoin addresses. Owners of bitcoin addresses are not explicitly identified, but all transactions on the blockchain are public.
Additionally, bitcoin exchanges, where bitcoins are traded for traditional currencies, may be required by law to collect personal information.
To lower the costs, bitcoin miners have set up in places like Iceland where geothermal energy is cheap and cooling Arctic air is free. Bitcoin miners are known to use hydroelectric power in Tibet, Quebec, Washington (state), and Austria to reduce electricity costs.
Miners are attracted to suppliers such as Hydro Quebec that have energy surpluses because they can mine for a lower cost than buying power on the open market. Long Blockchain Corp., formerly known as Long Island Iced Tea Corp.
, announced in December that it had changed its name and was shifting its business focus to blockchain technology. Shares of the company more than tripled after the announcement.
The Square Bitcoin Revenue is $1 billion USD.