All there is to know about Bitcoin: news and discussions.
Bitcoin is a consensus network that enables a new payment system and a completely digital money. It is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen. Bitcoin is pretty much like cash for the Internet. Bitcoin is open-source; its design is public, nobody owns or controls Bitcoin and everyone can take part.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a distributed peer-to-peer digital currency that can be transferred instantly and securely between any two people in the world. It’s like electronic cash that you can use to pay friends or merchants.
What are bitcoins?
Bitcoins are the unit of currency of the Bitcoin system. A commonly used shorthand for this is “BTC” to refer to a price or amount (e.g. “100 BTC”). There are such things as physical bitcoins, but ultimately, a bitcoin is just a number associated with a Bitcoin Address. A physical bitcoin is simply an object, such as a coin, with the number carefully embedded inside. See also an easy intro to Bitcoin.
How are new bitcoins created?
New bitcoins are generated by the network through the process of “mining“. In a process that is similar to a continuous raffle draw, mining nodes on the network are awarded bitcoins each time they find the solution to a certain mathematical problem (and thereby create a new block). Creating a block is a proof of work with a difficulty that varies with the overall strength of the network. The reward for solving a block is automatically adjusted so that, ideally, every four years of operation of the Bitcoin network, half the amount of bitcoins created in the prior 4 years are created. A maximum of 10,499,889.80231183 bitcoins were created in the first 4 (approx.) years from January 2009 to November 2012. Every four years thereafter this amount halves, so it should be 5,250,000 over years 4-8, 2,625,000 over years 8-12, and so on. Thus the total number of bitcoins in existence can never exceed 20,999,839.77085749 and counting. See Controlled Currency Supply.
Blocks are mined every 10 minutes, on average and for the first four years (210,000 blocks) each block included 50 new bitcoins. As the amount of processing power directed at mining changes, the difficulty of creating new bitcoins changes. This difficulty factor is calculated every 2016 blocks and is based upon the time taken to generate the previous 2016 blocks. See Mining.
What’s the current total number of bitcoins in existence?
The number of blocks times the coin value of a block is the number of coins in existence. The coin value of a block is 50 BTC for each of the first 210,000 blocks, 25 BTC for the next 210,000 blocks, then 12.5 BTC, 6.25 BTC and so on.
How divisible are bitcoins?
A bitcoin can be divided down to 8 decimal places. Therefore, 0.00000001 BTC is the smallest amount that can be handled in a transaction. If necessary, the protocol and related software can be modified to handle even smaller amounts.
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