Cryptocurrencies are experiencing a moment of unprecedented attention and speculation for several reasons. 1) The value of Bitcoin has been steadily climbing through 2017, with Ether seemingly poised to overtake the cryptocurrency giant any day; 2) Blockchain technology has purposes above and beyond cryptocurrency, and has been hailed by some as the backbone of the future financial system; 3) The increasing number of people who see cryptocurrency as a form of investment similar to gold. If cryptocurrencies stabilize in value, buying Bitcoin or Ether has the potential to be a worthy venture.
Bitcoin is the world’s first cryptocurrency which works on a completely decentralized network known as the blockchain. The blockchain network consists a link of blocks that are secured using cryptography and record all the transactions. Bitcoin was first presented to the world in 2009 by an anonymous identity known as Satoshi Nakamoto. As Bitcoin works on a decentralized network, it is completely free from the involvement of third-party financial institutions or central banks. The Bitcoin blockchain facilitates instant peer-to-peer transactions at minimum transactions fees required to maintain the network. The total number of Bitcoins is fixed at 21 million with its smallest unit being referred to as Satoshi. Each Satoshi represents a hundred millionth part of Bitcoin which means that 100,000,000 Santoshi = 1 BTC. Additional Bitcoins are generated by a process known as mining. Bitcoins are mined by professional miners solving complex computational equations. For each Bitcoin mined, the miners are rewarded with either more coins or transaction fees. The miners also validate all transactions on the Bitcoin network as well as look after the network security. Bitcoin can be exchanged with fiat currencies or other digital currencies. There are over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepting Bitcoin all over the world.
In 2018 Coinbase launched their independant mobile wallet for iOS and Android. The wallet stores the private keys on the user’s device and only they have access to the funds. This brings Coinbase full circle as it started out as a wallet, transitioned to an exchange only (claiming that they are not a wallet) and now they are offering wallet services again.
In 2014, the company grew to one million users, acquired the blockchain explorer service Blockr and the web bookmarking company Kippt, secured insurance covering the value of bitcoin stored on their servers, and launched the vault system for secure bitcoin storage. Throughout 2014, the company also formed partnerships with Overstock, Dell, Expedia, Dish Network, and Time Inc. allowing those firms to accept bitcoin payments. The company also added bitcoin payment processing capabilities to the traditional payment companies Stripe, Braintree, and PayPal.
Bitcoin mining saps energy, costly, uses more power and also the reward delays. For mining, run software, get your wallet ready and be the first to solve a cryptographic problem and you get your reward after the new blocks have been added to the blockchain.Mining is said to be successful when all the transactions are recorded in the blockchain and the new blocks are added to the blockchain.