- Digital currencies like Bitcoin are different from traditional forms of payment.
- There are benefits and significant risks associated with digital currencies.
What exactly is Bitcoin, and what are the risks involved in using it as a form of payment or as an investment opportunity? Here are some answers to frequently asked questions:
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is the first and largest asset in the growing category of cryptocurrency (also known as digital currency). It was originally intended as a medium of exchange that is created and held electronically. Bitcoin was the first, but there are hundreds of digital currencies.
We'll focus on Bitcoin here to illustrate how digital currencies work. However, the underlying blockchain technology and functionality of Bitcoin are similar to many of the other widely used digital currencies, including Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin. (For more on blockchain, see below.)
Who creates Bitcoin?
Bitcoins aren't printed by a government organization like the US Treasury does with dollars. Instead, they're produced by people and businesses running computers all around the world, using software that solves a very complex mathematical problem. The mathematical formula is freely available, so that anyone can check it, but you'll need a really powerful set of computers to solve the problem.