What is bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency- a digital, non-tangible form of currency. You can use bitcoin to buy products and services. Bitcoin is also decentralized. This means the currency is without a central bank or a single administrator, so it can be sent from user to user on the peer-to-peer bitcoin network without the need for any intermediaries.
Where did bitcoin come from and why?
Bitcoin was invented by an unknown person or collective using the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Little is known about the official origin, other than the fact that it was released as an open-source software in 2009.
The value of bitcoin has fluctuated over the years since it was created. While some still don't think it's safe to turn 'real' money into bitcoin, others are quite happy to invest millions.
In view of an immense push towards an increasingly cashless society, 2019 has the potential to be a big year for bitcoin. In 2018, almost two-thirds (63%) of people in the UK were said to be using contactless payments. This number has only continued to rise.
How do you use bitcoin?
A bitcoin is technically a computer file which can be stored in a ‘digital wallet’ on your smartphone or computer. Users can send or receive bitcoin via their digital wallet.
Each transaction is recorded in a public list called the ‘blockchain’. The blockchain makes it possible for users to trace the history of bitcoin exchanges, making it virtually impossible to stop people from spending money they do not have, making copies or reversing any transactions.
How can you get bitcoin?
There are three main ways that users can get hold of bitcoin. These include:
Buying bitcoin using 'real' money
Selling items and letting people pay you with bitcoin
Mining bitcoin using a computer
To buy bitcoin, you’ll need to link your bank account to your bitcoin wallet. You can buy or sell bitcoin and deposit that money directly into your account.
Coinbase, a digital currency exchange, is currently one of the world’s largest bitcoin brokers, and is available in the United States, UK, Canada, Singapore, and most of Europe.
While in 2016, the price of a bitcoin was $710.09 in the US, in 2019, the exchange rate for a single bitcoin jumped to $3,890. Clearly, there’s a benefit to investing in such digital technologies. Let’s take a look at some of the other advantages.
What are the pros and cons of using bitcoin as currency?
Personal information is not necessary to complete any transaction. bitcoin purchases are anonymous, so unless a bitcoin user voluntarily publishes their bitcoin transactions, purchases will never be associated with personal identity, so they cannot be traced back to a user.
The blockchain can help counteract fraudulent activity. As every transaction is recorded publicly, it's very difficult to copy bitcoin, fabricate bitcoin or spend money you don't own.
As the bitcoin system is purely peer-to-peer, users can experience a much greater degree of freedom than with other means of exchange. This is because unlike national currencies, governments, banks and other financial intermediaries have no way to interrupt user transactions or place freezes on bitcoin accounts. Due to the lack of any third party involvement, this also means that another major advantage of bitcoin is that sales taxes aren’t added to any purchases.
Since digital currencies are a relatively new and untested phenomenon, it’s wise to weigh their benefits against the risks too.
Not widely supported
Not many shops accept bitcoin yet and some countries have banned it altogether. A lot of companies also don’t recognize bitcoin as a legitimate form of exchange.
Bitcoin thefts from websites that let you store your bitcoin remotely have also been reported, so there are still some discrepancies regarding the safety and security of bitcoin storage.
What are the pros and cons of gambling at a bitcoin casino?
With the introduction of bitcoin soon came bitcoin casinos. The online casino experience remains the same, but these sites accept casino deposits made with bitcoin. Among the most widely used, poker is the most popular game for bitcoin casinos.
Speed and convenience
Additionally, any Bitcoin transfers are much faster than typical bank transfers, eliminating any inconvenience usually associated with typical authorization requirements or waiting periods.
Thanks to the online nature of Bitcoin casinos, this enables global access and easy availability of players around the clock. Because you don’t need to rely on human intervention, this means gaming can be pretty much 24/7!
Lack of verification
Despite speeding up the process, the lack of information required for transactions means any audits and verifications can be a challenge.
There are no age verifications, no location checks or other details which many normal casinos need to prevent underage or illegal activity taking place.
Volatility is a financial term used to describe how much the price of a certain asset varies from time to time. While Bitcoin is doing pretty well at the moment, 2018 saw Bitcoin, and most other major cryptocurrencies, lose around 80% of their value.
Since Bitcoin is still a relatively recent invention, their value can yoyo quite frequently. There is actually no official Bitcoin price. The price is technically set by whatever people are willing to pay. This could mean that gamers might ignore certain local taxes, laws or guidelines to suit their own needs or personal gain, making for an unfair gaming experience.
To Bitcoin or not to Bitcoin?
As it stands, the future of Bitcoin is still unclear. When dealing with small sums of money, Bitcoin is harmless. That said, it would be wise for gamers to do their research before investing or gambling large sums of digital cash to avoid any unsolvable mishaps.