Bitcoin (BTC) is the cryptocurrency industry’s first asset. In the years since its 2009 launch, Bitcoin, or 比特 币 in Chinese, has ignited the growth and adoption of crypto, ultimately leading to the industry of today. BTC has a maximum supply of 21 million coins — a notable point of focus when discussing BTC value.
Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonymous person or group, published the Bitcoin white paper in 2008, laying out BTC’s concept. In 2009, Bitcoin’s first block, called its genesis block, went live and brought BTC officially into existence as an asset. Nakamoto ceased communication in Bitcoin’s early years, and their real identity remains a mystery.
Although the crypto industry started with just Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology, the sector now includes thousands of assets alongside numerous different blockchains and solutions pertaining to a bevy of use cases.
Over time, competitors have aimed to create different digital assets that improve on Bitcoin’s model as a store of value and transactional asset, but Bitcoin still remains the top asset by market capitalization, thanks to its BTC-to-USD price.
How Bitcoin works
As Bitcoin’s adoption has grown over the years, more people have likely begun wondering how Bitcoin works. Bitcoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency that operates on its own blockchain (the Bitcoin blockchain) that is secured and run by a vast global network of participants. It is a borderless asset that can be traded and transacted fractionally. Safeguarded by its open-source code, Bitcoin’s 21 million maximum coin supply makes the asset scarce and deflationary, unlike the U.S. dollar.
Often valued in a pair with USD, Bitcoin price has increased massively over the years. BTC owners can store Bitcoin themselves and transact it globally, void of any limitations on hours of operation. BTC has also gained a significant amount of mainstream attention over time, likely due to public support from celebrities such as Elon Musk and adoption from companies such as PayPal.
What is Bitcoin mining, and how does it work?
As mentioned above, Bitcoin runs on its own blockchain, excluding the need for any third-party help in facilitating transactions and storing value. Bitcoin mining is the magic behind the Bitcoin network.
Bitcoin runs on a proof-of-work (PoW) blockchain, which is essentially a chain of consecutive blocks containing transaction activity. Bitcoin miners run specialized computer equipment that constantly searches for the answers to complex math puzzles.
The miner or group of miners that solves the puzzle receives a reward in the form of BTC: the block reward and the transaction fees paid by senders of the Bitcoin transactions included in that specific block. Bitcoin’s carbon footprint has been a topic of discussion, however, due to the energy required for mining.
How and where to buy Bitcoin
Bitcoin can be traded via numerous avenues. Buying BTC on a crypto or Bitcoin exchange is one such method of trading Bitcoin. Those interested can also buy Bitcoin in other ways, such as in a peer-to-peer fashion.
One possible route for those wishing to use or hold Bitcoin might include making an account on a centralized crypto exchange, sending money from a linked bank account and then buying Bitcoin on the exchange. It is important, however, to comply with any relevant jurisdictional laws when purchasing Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, such as Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) requirements.