Everything you need to know about Bitcoin so you don’t sound completely clueless

If you’ve always wanted to become hip to what cryptocurrency is all about you’re in luck.

Let’s break down exactly what Bitcoin is behind the online message board myths and various conspiracy theories. What is Bitcoin? How can you “earn” Bitcoin? What does Bitcoin do? Is Bitcoin worth investing in?

Here’s what has been fact-checked about this digital form of currency.

Bitcoin is a form of cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency sounds like money you’d use in the afterlife but luckily we don’t have to fret over weekly budgets when we’re dead. Cryptocurrency is a virtual currency that is protected by cryptography. Funds are ultra-secure this way because counterfeiting coins, identity theft and double-spending money in an account that has a unique protective digital code the user must know before accessing any capital is nearly impossible unless you’re an expert hacker.

Unlike banks and cash applications like Venmo, Paypal, and Apple Pay, Bitcoin uses a decentralized model for cash flow, meaning power is delegated from a central authority, (like a bank) and dispersed to regional or local authorities (peer network or “blockchain” with access to the codes.)

What is a blockchain?

When we deposit money into the bank we like the peace of mind of being able to check our balance and past transactions in an online database like our bank’s application on our phone. This helps us manage our budget and stay aware of any fraudulent activity going on in our account. Bitcoin has a similar system of checks and balances that is even more secure.

A blockchain is essentially just that. Legend has it that Satoshi Nakamoto invented the blockchain for Bitcoin in 2008 to publicly serve as the transaction ledger for the online currency. Satoshi Nakamoto is the alleged person or persons who created the first blockchain database and his or her real identity is still unknown (how cryptic?)

This blockchain is incredibly secure since it’s managed by a trusted person and group of carefully selected peers that adhere to a formerly agreed upon protocol for inter-node communication and a strict vetting process before approving new “blocks.”

The blockchains are not unalterable but according to past press releases concerning Bitcoin transactions, they are by definition “secure by design” (SBD) which is an acronym used by software engineers meaning the software products have been designed from the foundation to be secure.

How do I earn Bitcoin?

There are a few different ways to earn bitcoin.

1. Buy Bitcoin with cash or credit

For beginners, I suggest the good old-fashioned buy-in with cash. You can buy Bitcoin at Bitcoin ATM’s with cash or credit. However, some ATM transaction fees can be high and to purchase lesser-known cryptocurrencies you’ll need to start an account with crypto exchange programs such as Binance, Kraken, or Coinbase. This is an easy, accessible way for beginners to enter the crypto market but keep in mind some accounts will require you to verify your own banking information before you’re verified and granted access so plan accordingly if you have a large purchase in mind.

2. Earn Bitcoin through mining

For those of you with a background in STEM you have an advantage earning Bitcoin via digital mining. Mining boils down to someone using their computer or other advanced software to solve multifarious mathematical equations that validate blocks of transactions. Once you crack the code that verifies that “block” of transactions and those cryptocurrencies are validated inside the blockchain those funds become available to you on the market. The first person to solve this mathematical equation gets rewarded with a fragment of the virtual” coin” or “token” he or she helped validate.

If you don’t have thousands of dollars to spend on the Bitcoin mining software known as Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) you can always join a mining network with a small membership fee upfront for joining. The only downside to this is that you must split the costs of the coins you help validate together as a team but the start up costs are significantly less.

3. Promote startups and projects through completing microtasks and airdrops

New emerging companies are using Bitcoin as a reward for helping their brand gain visibility in the marketplace as an incentive for people to share their posts, write a testimonial on their product, or simply download their app. In a digital world, most companies use these airdrop campaigns to create a buzz around their new product or company to garner interest of crypto traders. Much like bartering, the public helps the company do marketing legwork in exchange for something they want, tokens.

Once the project officially goes live when it hits the market those people who performed these microtasks can trade in these coins for cash or other cryptocurrencies. If you’re interested in this method of earning Bitcoin you can check out websites like Airdrop Alert and Bounties Alert to see if there are some upcoming promising new crypto opportunities.

There are multiple different avenues to earn Bitcoin check out this website for more ways to invest in the crypto market.

The takeaway

Bitcoin is just another way for peers to legally, safely, securely, and seamlessly exchange digital currency between one another without pre-approval from a centralized institution. There are many positives to Bitcoin such as more secure online transactions. However, with encrypted digital currency and almost zero government regulation people are naturally concerned over illegal transactions and dark web channels that make it easier for people to obtain deadly weapons or perform other illegal activities of a sinister nature with greater ease.

Until we can settle upon better regulation for purchasing firearms in the legal marketplace I say we focus on the positives of cryptocurrency, for now.