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Similar to PayPal’s disruption of the e-commerce payment solutions in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, Bitcoin has become the latest trending topic in tech and finance. Its rise can be attributed to a number of factors including wavering economies in Europe and the U.S. combined with its ease of use and lack of regulation by any government institutions.
Bitcoin is far from just the latest tech trend of the day however. E-commerce giant Overstock.com recently began accepting the digital currency as a legitimate means of payment. Ben Horowitz, one of the founders of venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, is bullish on Bitcoin too. He has invested in multiple Bitcoin startups, providing further validation that the digital currency is here to stay.
So what exactly is Bitcoin?
“Bitcoin is based on a piece of software written by an unknown person or people in 2009 under the Japanese-sounding name Satoshi Nakamoto. Transactions happen when heavily encrypted codes are passed across a computer network. The network as a whole monitors and verifies the transaction, in a process that is intended to ensure no single bitcoin can be spent in more than one place simultaneously.”
There is a limited amount that is currently circulated (approximately 12 million bitcoins are out there now), which adds to the value of the currency.
Using Bitcoin can be more convenient for online transactions, however it is highly volatile and is not backed by any official government entities. It is even banned in certain countries in Asia and eastern Europe because of this.
The pros of the currency include ease of use for transactions, autonomous ways of storage (no banking fees), and growing mainstream acceptance. The cons include instability, susceptibility to hackers, and limitations on turning it into cash in certain areas.
If you are interested in utilizing Bitcoin for small amounts, here are 3 companies that can help you get started.
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