Over the past twelve months, cryptocurrency has moved out from the underground; previously the preserve of nerds and computer ‘boffins’, suddenly everyone was talking about - and investing in - this mystical substance.
Why? Well, like most things in life, it was because people had suddenly realised that there was a buck to be made, as the price of Bitcoin grew and grew, and the average punter on the street started to get involved, leading to a bubble over the Christmas period, which duly popped, with the price of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies retreating through 2018.
Opinion is divided over whether this is just a blip on the road to the eventual world domination of Bitcoin, or whether it’s fundamentally flawed, and will never be used on a wide scale - but still, while we’ve talked about it for three paragraphs now, could you actually explain what it is?
Well, there have been plenty of attempts - from full technobabblespeak, to simplified versions, but no one has summed it up quite as well as Twitter user @theophite, who responded to the statement ‘I still don’t get bitcoin’ with the following:
It’s both funny, and true.
“Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, a form of electronic cash. It is a decentralized digital currency without a central bank or single administrator. Bitcoins can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network directly, without the need for intermediaries. 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 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. Research produced by the 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.
“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. Bitcoin has also been used as an investment, although several regulatory agencies have issued investor alerts about bitcoin.”
Think we prefer the sudoku one to be honest.
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