Frequently Asked Questions

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Bitcoin is a consensus network that enables a new payment system and a completely digital money. It is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen.

From a user perspective, Bitcoin is pretty much like cash for the Internet. Bitcoin can also be seen as the most prominent triple entry bookkeeping system in existence. Bitcoin is the first implementation bitcoin bit mining a concept called "cryptocurrency", which was first described bitcoin bit mining by Wei Dai on the cypherpunks mailing list, suggesting the idea of a new form of money that uses cryptography to control its creation and transactions, rather than a central authority.

The first Bitcoin specification and proof of concept was published in in a cryptography mailing list by Satoshi Nakamoto. Satoshi left the project in late without revealing much about himself. The community has since grown exponentially with many developers working on Bitcoin. Satoshi's anonymity often raised unjustified concerns, many of which are linked to misunderstanding of the open-source nature of Bitcoin.

The Bitcoin protocol and software are published openly and any developer around the bitcoin bit mining can review the code or make their own modified version of the Bitcoin software. Just like current developers, Satoshi's influence was limited to the changes he made being adopted by others and therefore he did not control Bitcoin. As such, the identity of Bitcoin's inventor is probably as relevant today as the identity of the person who invented paper. Nobody owns the Bitcoin network much like no one owns bitcoin bit mining technology behind email.

Bitcoin is controlled by all Bitcoin users around the world. While developers are improving the software, they can't force a change in the Bitcoin protocol because all users are free to bitcoin bit mining what software and bitcoin bit mining they use. In order to stay compatible with each other, all users need to use software complying with the same rules.

Bitcoin can only work correctly with a complete consensus among all users. Therefore, all users and developers have a strong incentive to protect this consensus.

From a user perspective, Bitcoin is nothing more than a mobile app or computer program that provides a personal Bitcoin wallet and allows a user to send and receive bitcoins with them.

This is how Bitcoin works for most users. Behind the scenes, the Bitcoin network is sharing a public ledger called the "block chain". This ledger contains every transaction ever processed, allowing a user's computer to verify the validity of each transaction.

The authenticity bitcoin bit mining each transaction is protected by digital signatures corresponding to the sending addresses, allowing all users to have full control over sending bitcoins from their own Bitcoin addresses.

In addition, anyone can process transactions using the computing power of specialized hardware and earn a reward in bitcoins for this service. This is often called "mining". To learn more about Bitcoin, you can consult the dedicated page and the original paper.

There are a growing number of businesses and individuals using Bitcoin. This includes brick-and-mortar businesses like restaurants, apartments, and law firms, as well as popular online services such as Namecheap, Overstock. While Bitcoin remains a relatively new phenomenon, it is growing fast.

At the end of Aprilthe total value of all bitcoin bit mining bitcoins exceeded 20 billion US dollars, with millions of dollars worth of bitcoins exchanged daily. While it may be possible to find individuals who wish to sell bitcoins in exchange for a credit card bitcoin bit mining PayPal payment, most exchanges do not allow funding via these payment methods.

This is due to cases where someone buys bitcoins with PayPal, and then reverses their half of the transaction. This is commonly referred to as a chargeback. Bitcoin payments are easier to make than debit or credit card purchases, and can be received without a merchant account. Payments are made from a wallet application, either on your computer or smartphone, by entering the recipient's address, the payment amount, and pressing send.

To make it easier to enter a recipient's address, many wallets can obtain the address by scanning a QR code or touching two phones together with NFC technology. Much of the trust in Bitcoin comes from the fact that it requires no trust at all.

Bitcoin is fully open-source and decentralized. This means that anyone has access to the entire source code at any time. Any developer in bitcoin bit mining world can therefore verify exactly how Bitcoin works. All transactions and bitcoins issued into existence can be transparently consulted in real-time by anyone. All payments can be made without reliance on a third party and the whole system is protected by heavily peer-reviewed cryptographic algorithms like those used for online banking.

No organization or individual can control Bitcoin bit mining, and the network remains secure even if not all of its users can be trusted. You should never expect to get rich with Bitcoin or any emerging technology. Bitcoin bit mining is always important to be wary of anything that sounds too good to be true or disobeys basic economic rules.

Bitcoin is a growing space of innovation and there are business opportunities that also include risks. There is no guarantee that Bitcoin will continue to grow even though it has developed at a very fast rate so far. Investing time and resources on anything related to Bitcoin requires entrepreneurship. There are various ways to make money with Bitcoin such as mining, speculation or running new businesses.

All of these methods are competitive and there is no guarantee of profit. It is up to each individual to make a proper evaluation of the costs and the risks involved in any such project. Bitcoin is as virtual as the credit cards and bitcoin bit mining banking networks people use everyday. Bitcoin can be used to pay online and in physical stores just like any other form of money.

Bitcoins can also be exchanged in physical form such as bitcoin bit mining Denarium coinsbut paying with a mobile phone usually remains more convenient. Bitcoin balances are stored in a large distributed network, and they cannot be fraudulently altered by anybody. In other words, Bitcoin users have exclusive control over their funds and bitcoins cannot vanish just because they are virtual. Bitcoin is designed to allow its users to send and receive payments with an acceptable level of privacy as well as any other form of money.

However, Bitcoin is not anonymous and cannot offer the same level of privacy as cash. The use of Bitcoin leaves extensive public records. Various mechanisms exist to protect users' privacy, and more are in development. However, there is still work to be done before these features are used correctly by most Bitcoin bitcoin bit mining.

Some concerns have been raised that private transactions could be used for illegal purposes with Bitcoin.

However, it is worth noting that Bitcoin will undoubtedly be subjected to similar regulations that are already in place inside existing financial systems. Bitcoin cannot be more anonymous than cash and it is not likely to prevent criminal investigations from being conducted. Additionally, Bitcoin bit mining is also designed to prevent a large range of financial crimes. When a user loses his wallet, it has the effect of removing money out of circulation.

Lost bitcoins still remain in the block chain just like any other bitcoins. However, lost bitcoins bitcoin bit mining dormant forever because there is no bitcoin bit mining for anybody to find the private key s that would allow them to be spent again. Because of the law of supply and demand, when fewer bitcoins are available, the ones that are left will be in higher demand and increase in value to compensate. The Bitcoin network bitcoin bit mining already process a much higher bitcoin bit mining of transactions per second than it does today.

It is, however, not entirely ready to scale to the level of major credit card networks. Work is underway to lift current limitations, and future requirements are well known. Since inception, every aspect of the Bitcoin network has been bitcoin bit mining a continuous process of maturation, optimization, and specialization, and it should be expected to remain that way for some years to come.

As traffic grows, more Bitcoin users may use lightweight clients, and full network nodes may become a more specialized service. For more details, see the Scalability page on the Wiki. To the best of our knowledge, Bitcoin has not been made illegal by legislation in most jurisdictions.

However, some jurisdictions such as Argentina and Russia severely restrict or ban foreign currencies. Other jurisdictions such as Thailand may limit the licensing of certain entities such as Bitcoin exchanges.

Regulators from various jurisdictions are taking steps to provide individuals and businesses with rules on how to integrate this new technology with bitcoin bit mining formal, bitcoin bit mining financial system. Bitcoin is money, and money has always been used both for legal and illegal purposes. Cash, bitcoin bit mining cards and current banking systems widely surpass Bitcoin in terms of their use to finance crime.

Bitcoin can bring significant innovation in payment systems and the benefits of such innovation are often considered to be far beyond their potential drawbacks. Bitcoin is designed to be a huge step bitcoin bit mining in making money more secure and could also act as a significant protection against many forms of financial crime.

For instance, bitcoins are completely impossible to counterfeit. Users are in full control of their payments and cannot receive unapproved charges such as with credit card fraud. Bitcoin transactions are irreversible and immune to fraudulent chargebacks.

Bitcoin allows money to be secured against theft and loss using very strong and useful mechanisms such as backups, encryption, and multiple signatures. Some concerns have been raised that Bitcoin could be more attractive to criminals because it can be bitcoin bit mining to make private and irreversible payments.

However, these features already exist with cash and wire transfer, which are widely used and well-established. The use of Bitcoin will undoubtedly be bitcoin bit mining to similar regulations that are already in place inside existing financial systems, and Bitcoin is not likely to prevent criminal investigations from being conducted. In general, it is common for important breakthroughs to be perceived as being controversial before their benefits are well understood.

The Internet is a good example among many others to illustrate this. The Bitcoin protocol itself cannot be modified without the cooperation of nearly all its users, who choose what software they use. Attempting to assign special rights to a local authority in the rules of the global Bitcoin network is not a practical possibility.

Any rich organization could choose to invest in mining hardware to control half of the computing power of the network and become able to block or reverse recent transactions. However, there is no guarantee that they could retain this power since this requires to invest as much than all other miners in the world.

It is however possible to regulate the use of Bitcoin in a similar way to any other instrument. Just like the dollar, Bitcoin bit mining can be used for a wide variety of purposes, some of which can be considered legitimate or not as per each jurisdiction's laws. In this regard, Bitcoin bitcoin bit mining no different than any other tool or resource and can be subjected bitcoin bit mining different regulations in each country.

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Your computer—in collaboration with those of everyone else reading this post who clicked the button above—is racing thousands of others to unlock and claim the next batch.

For as long as that counter above keeps climbing, your computer will keep running a bitcoin mining script and trying to get a piece of the action. Your computer is not blasting through the cavernous depths of the internet in search of digital ore that can be fashioned into bitcoin bullion. The size of each batch of coins drops by half roughly every four years, and around , it will be cut to zero, capping the total number of bitcoins in circulation at 21 million.

But the analogy ends there. What bitcoin miners actually do could be better described as competitive bookkeeping. Miners build and maintain a gigantic public ledger containing a record of every bitcoin transaction in history. Every time somebody wants to send bitcoins to somebody else, the transfer has to be validated by miners: If the transfer checks out, miners add it to the ledger. Finally, to protect that ledger from getting hacked, miners seal it behind layers and layers of computational work—too much for a would-be fraudster to possibly complete.

Or rather, some miners are rewarded. Miners are all competing with each other to be first to approve a new batch of transactions and finish the computational work required to seal those transactions in the ledger.

With each fresh batch, winner takes all. As the name implies, double spending is when somebody spends money more than once. Traditional currencies avoid it through a combination of hard-to-mimic physical cash and trusted third parties—banks, credit-card providers, and services like PayPal—that process transactions and update account balances accordingly.

But bitcoin is completely digital, and it has no third parties. The idea of an overseeing body runs completely counter to its ethos. The solution is that public ledger with records of all transactions, known as the block chain. If she indeed has the right to send that money, the transfer gets approved and entered into the ledger.

Using a public ledger comes with some problems. The first is privacy. How can you make every bitcoin exchange completely transparent while keeping all bitcoin users completely anonymous? The second is security. If the ledger is totally public, how do you prevent people from fudging it for their own gain? The ledger only keeps track of bitcoin transfers, not account balances. In a very real sense, there is no such thing as a bitcoin account.

And that keeps users anonymous. Say Alice wants to transfer one bitcoin to Bob. That transaction record is sent to every bitcoin miner—i. Now, say Bob wants to pay Carol one bitcoin. Carol of course sets up an address and a key. And then Bob essentially takes the bitcoin Alice gave him and uses his address and key from that transfer to sign the bitcoin over to Carol:.

After validating the transfer, each miner will then send a message to all of the other miners, giving her blessing. The ledger tracks the coins, but it does not track people, at least not explicitly. The first thing that bitcoin does to secure the ledger is decentralize it.

There is no huge spreadsheet being stored on a server somewhere. There is no master document at all. Instead, the ledger is broken up into blocks: Every block includes a reference to the block that came before it, and you can follow the links backward from the most recent block to the very first block, when bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto conjured the first bitcoins into existence.

Every 10 minutes miners add a new block, growing the chain like an expanding pearl necklace. Generally speaking, every bitcoin miner has a copy of the entire block chain on her computer. If she shuts her computer down and stops mining for a while, when she starts back up, her machine will send a message to other miners requesting the blocks that were created in her absence. No one person or computer has responsibility for these block chain updates; no miner has special status. The updates, like the authentication of new blocks, are provided by the network of bitcoin miners at large.

Bitcoin also relies on cryptography. The computational problem is different for every block in the chain, and it involves a particular kind of algorithm called a hash function. Like any function, a cryptographic hash function takes an input—a string of numbers and letters—and produces an output. But there are three things that set cryptographic hash functions apart:. The hash function that bitcoin relies on—called SHA, and developed by the US National Security Agency—always produces a string that is 64 characters long.

You could run your name through that hash function, or the entire King James Bible. Think of it like mixing paint. If you substitute light pink paint for regular pink paint in the example above, the result is still going to be pretty much the same purple , just a little lighter. But with hashes, a slight variation in the input results in a completely different output:. The proof-of-work problem that miners have to solve involves taking a hash of the contents of the block that they are working on—all of the transactions, some meta-data like a timestamp , and the reference to the previous block—plus a random number called a nonce.

Their goal is to find a hash that has at least a certain number of leading zeroes. That constraint is what makes the problem more or less difficult. More leading zeroes means fewer possible solutions, and more time required to solve the problem. Every 2, blocks roughly two weeks , that difficulty is reset. If it took miners less than 10 minutes on average to solve those 2, blocks, then the difficulty is automatically increased. If it took longer, then the difficulty is decreased.

Miners search for an acceptable hash by choosing a nonce, running the hash function, and checking. When a miner is finally lucky enough to find a nonce that works, and wins the block, that nonce gets appended to the end of the block, along with the resulting hash. Her first step would be to go in and change the record for that transaction. Then, because she had modified the block, she would have to solve a new proof-of-work problem—find a new nonce—and do all of that computational work, all over again.

Again, due to the unpredictable nature of hash functions, making the slightest change to the original block means starting the proof of work from scratch.

But unless the hacker has more computing power at her disposal than all other bitcoin miners combined, she could never catch up. She would always be at least six blocks behind, and her alternative chain would obviously be a counterfeit.

She has to find a new one. The code that makes bitcoin mining possible is completely open-source, and developed by volunteers. But the force that really makes the entire machine go is pure capitalistic competition.

Every miner right now is racing to solve the same block simultaneously, but only the winner will get the prize. In a sense, everybody else was just burning electricity. Yet their presence in the network is critical. But it also solves another problem.

It distributes new bitcoins in a relatively fair way—only those people who dedicate some effort to making bitcoin work get to enjoy the coins as they are created.

But because mining is a competitive enterprise, miners have come up with ways to gain an edge. One obvious way is by pooling resources. Your machine, right now, is actually working as part of a bitcoin mining collective that shares out the computational load. Your computer is not trying to solve the block, at least not immediately. It is chipping away at a cryptographic problem, using the input at the top of the screen and combining it with a nonce, then taking the hash to try to find a solution.

Solving that problem is a lot easier than solving the block itself, but doing so gets the pool closer to finding a winning nonce for the block. And the pool pays its members in bitcoins for every one of these easier problems they solve. If you did find a solution, then your bounty would go to Quartz, not you.

This whole time you have been mining for us! We just wanted to make the strange and complex world of bitcoin a little easier to understand. An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the long pink string of numbers and letters in the interactive at the top is the target output hash your computer is trying to find by running the mining script. In fact, it is one of the inputs that your computer feeds into the hash function, not the output it is looking for.

Obsession Future of Finance. This item has been corrected.