We hear a lot about Bitcoin, the virtual cryptographic currency whose value has peaked in recent months. Both simple in principle and very technical in its operation, it fuels the worst fears as the highest hopes.
Bitcoin involves technology, money, mathematics, economics and social dynamics. It is constantly evolving and has many facets. In this article, we explain where this virtual currency comes from and, in a very synthetic way, how it works.
First, a bit of history
The mother of all cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin has been thought of as a tool to fight the corruption of the financial system by replacing trusted third parties (banks) with cryptography and computer code.
A decentralized and non-vertical system whose credibility relies solely on technology. In 2011, Nakamoto forwarded the source code and domain names to the Bitcoin community and disappeared from the radars.
For the anecdote, know that thanks to Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto has become several times billionaire, at least on paper. He also made many millionaires among some pioneering investors who bet on this cryptocurrency.
The twin Winklevoss brothers, who received $ 65 million in compensation for the initial idea that led to the creation of Facebook, invested very early in Bitcoin. Today, they hold one of the largest portfolios in the world, whose current value exceeds $ 1 billion.
Bitcoin, decentralized digital currency
Owners of Bitcoins enjoy an (increasingly) relative anonymity. Buyers and sellers are linked by encryption keys, but platforms that allow you to buy them require a number of documents to prove and verify your identity.
The Bitcoin protocol is based on a complex and exciting technology called Blockchain, or blockchain in French. But we will see how it works a little later.
You may be wondering now what can be done with the virtual money? For the moment, around 100,000 e-merchants accept Bitcoins payments but still very few major retailers. You can also sell your Bitcoins or save them.
Note that for each transaction, the Bitcoin protocol automatically charges fees (payor side). In addition to these fees, you will also find platforms if you buy or sell your virtual money via a marketplace such as Coinbase. And yes, decentralized does not mean completely free.
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