What is Bitcoin?

Many people believe Bitcoin to be very complicated, when in fact it’s a lot more simple and intuitive than what most people think. This series aims to help everyone get a grasp of the basics, and over time also present further learning opportunities for those that want to know more.

Bitcoin is often explained by comparing it to something specific people already know, but this is often what creates a lot of confusion. Bitcoin is a new technology that is unlike anything we have seen before, so a better way to think of it is as a combination of a few different things we are already used to:

Firstly, because it allows you to move money so easily, Bitcoin functions as a payment system, similar to bank transfers or credit cards, only a bit better.

Second, Bitcoin is in some sense similar to gold – that is why many people even refer to it as ‘digital gold’ or ‘Gold 2.0’. Think of it as using gold for money, except it also very easy to move.

Third, Bitcoin is like the internet in that no single person or entity controls it, so anyone can pretty much use it as they like. This gives it some very unique characteristics.

These three characteristics also reinforce one another, so they are all interwoven. But more on all of this in the next few sections. For now, just imagine what would happen if you took a big pot and threw in a credit card, a piece of gold, and a hint of ‘internet’ – mix it all up – and pull out a brand new compound – Bitcoin!

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