Essentially, if you are interested in trading in digital currencies but don't want to get bogged down in the underlying technology, products like Coinbase are a way to begin a foray into a new form of currency speculation and investing. You do, however, lose some of the advantages of trading in a cryptocurrency and through the blockchain. On Coinbase, you have no pseudo anonymity—your name is attached to your Coinbase account and so is your bank account, so transaction history is relatively easy to track down. And if you're not working on the blockchain, there's not much you can do to ensure that the verification of your transaction history or your account is taking place on the blockchain. You are, instead, placing trust in the intermediary, in this case, Coinbase.
Despite the intricate technology associated with and necessary for cryptocurrency investing, speculation and possession, Coinbase has created an apparatus that makes this process remarkably easy and familiar, almost like buying and selling stocks. This screenshot from the Coinbase site shows real-time cryptocurrency prices and doesn't look too different from your ordinary online stock tracker.
Bitcoin (BTC) is the world’s first decentralized digital currency and payment system and is by far the most known and valuable cryptocurrency. It was created in 2009 by an anonymous person or group called Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin enables transactions to be sent peer-to-peer without passing through a central authority. The transactions are recorded on a decentralized public ledger called the blockchain and each payment acquires a small transaction fee to cover the cost of the network. The total supply of Bitcoin is 21 million and it’s smallest unit of bitcoin is called a Satoshi, it’s a hundred millionth of a bitcoin – 0.00000001 BTC. The creation of Bitcoin’s is happening through mining. Miners have the task to validate transactions and keep the network secure. Their efforts are rewarded by new minted Bitcoins and transactions fees. Bitcoin can be exchanged for fiat or other cryptocurrencies, products and services. Over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepts bitcoin as a payment.
For those of you who have not been paying attention to one of the biggest trends in investing and tech, cryptocurrencies are digital currencies using encryption techniques that regulate the generation of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. Units of currency are created through a process referred to as mining.