Complete Guide To Bitcoin
New to Bitcoin? This guide will tell you everything you need to know, from crypto and blockchain experts.
Let’s Talk About Bitcoin
There are a number of reasons you might be interested in Bitcoin. You might want to do some investing & trading to grow your portfolio or maybe you are thinking about retirement and looking for ways to increase your financial security. Maybe you are concerned about the economy and looking for a way to create some asset protection. No matter your reasons, we think it’s important that anyone who is planning on investing or buying Bitcoin should be educated on what and why they are buying.
In 2011, when I had my first introduction to Bitcoin, I only recognized it as some kind of internet money and dismissed it like most people at first glance.
In 2014, I started paying attention to Bitcoin and Blockchain when I watched, The Rise And Rise Of Bitcoin.
This was the documentary that opened my eyes and kept me awake for a week, wrapping my head around the gigantic social, economical, and global implications Bitcoin was about to thrust onto the world.
From that day forward, I became a true believer.
Quick Bitcoin Facts
What People Are Saying About Bitcoin
You may be surprised to see who is praising Bitcoin
What You Will Find On This Page
Table of contents:
Easy To Understand Bitcoin Guide
This Bitcoin guide will answer the most frequently asked questions and break down Bitcoin and cryptocurrency so that anybody can understand it.
You don’t need to be a tech geek to follow along.
You’ve undoubtedly come here to learn the fundamentals of Bitcoin, and you’ll discover a wealth of material on this site to assist you do so.
We prefer to concentrate on the broad picture issues that you can see what’s going on with Bitcoin, rather than go into technical lingo that no one wants to learn in the first place.
Let’s now talk about why everyone should be buying Bitcoins.
Bitcoin is the greatest invention of this century and one of the most profound in history.
The Importance of Bitcoin.
Many people both in and outside of the crypto-sphere have labeled Bitcoin as the next generation gold, but very few understand it and even fewer know how to use it.
Bitcoin is a generational & technological change in our monetary system that improves the way money can be used, stored, and transacted.
But it goes far beyond that.
Bitcoin is often referred to as the future of money and it has rightfully earned that title for many reasons.
Bitcoin and blockchain together is simultaneously a trusted accountant and keeps track of all your transactions. Without fail the blockchain will store this data on it’s permanent ledger while enabling anyone without prejudice or needing an approval, the economic vehicle to securely and freely move money around the world.
Bitcoin operates as a peer-to-peer financial system, independent of banking institutions, and is available to anyone that has access to the internet.
Remember the post office?
We sent tangible letters in the mail before Gmail and Yahoo, depending on people-operated systems to transport our mail across state or city lines or just a few zip codes over.
You may have been content with being able to send a letter to a friend or family member without having to travel to see them, but once email arrived, it drastically altered the way we communicate and introduced new expectations for how we interact.
Email is instant, hyper-efficient and cost-effective, enabling true global communication, without using a post office or third-party.
In terms of its benefits, bitcoin is comparable to email in the sense that it offers people more freedom and control over their money.
We currently are relying on antiquated and slow-operating financial institutions (SWIFT). It takes less time using horses, trains, and ships to move money around the globe compared to sending a wire with your bank. That is partially a joke but you can realistically jump on a plane and fly across the world with physical cash faster than your bank can send it.
What if sending money can be just as easy as sending an email to someone overseas?
There are many benefits to Bitcoin, which we discuss in more depth below.
Let’s look at what Bitcoin really is and why it’s necessary for some.
Why Bitcoin? – True Story
Bitcoin is a digital currency that functions based on mathematical formulas, cryptography, and engineering.
Depending on who you ask, you will see different perspectives in relation to how they categorize Bitcoin.
Some will call it an investment, others will call Bitcoin a hedge against inflation. There are also many that like to just use it as money.
Then there is another group of people not often recognized or talked about and these are the billions of people who don’t have access to a banking system.
It was discovered in a report that there are over two billion adults unbanked in the world, and some of the contributing factors to this number is that most of these adults have little trust in the traditional banking system. The lack of access to the services of banks or similar organizations is also present in more developed and financially stable countries as well. (source: https://www.statista.com/statistics/1246963/unbanked-population-in-selected-countries/)
These people recognize Bitcoin as financial and economic freedom.
The blockchain operates on the internet and there is no governing body to approve and monitor transactions. Anyone with internet access can participate in the Bitcoin and crypto economy — the exact financial freedom many citizens need.
Some people may or may not have easy access to a bank. Many can walk down the street and use their phone app to withdraw money from their bank account. For others, this isn’t an option, and Bitcoin is the only available alternative. Lucky for them it’s the best.
25% of the world (1.7 billion people) is un-banked and several billion more are under-banked — so for many, this is life-changing.
Here are some of the real reasons you should have an interest in Bitcoin.
You have to look at the history of money and examine global economic systems and realize a few common patterns we see.
- No government issued currency has lasted throughout history or been able to hold it’s value
- The average currency only lasts 26 years
- All nations start with sound money backed by gold
- Gold has never gone bankrupt
- Gold has always been the preferred asset class for preserving wealth.
- As currencies declined in value, the people that transitioned into gold were able to ride the harsh economic times while most other currencies became absolutely worthless.
- Overtime countries encounter unsustainable debt and resort to printing cash, eventually leading to the demise of the entire nation’s economic system.
- Due to the pandemic, the US and many countries have been been forced in the corner. The US printed trillion of dollars to keep the economy from collapsing — nearly 40% of all currency in existence was printed in one year.
Bitcoin has been recognized as gold 2.0.
A more secure, far more efficient, and global friendly way to move any amount of money you want without restrictions.
An instance of how we see Bitcoin helping people in need is taking place in Venezuela, where the Bolivar has experienced devastating hyperinflation. Just a few years back, a cup of coffee would cost around 450 Bolivares, and in 2018, the price shot up to 1.4 million Bolivares. This is due to a series of tragic political and cultural events that led to unsustainable debt, forcing the government to create massive piles of worthless money.
Dozens of countries have followed the same monetary strategies, and today there are numerous nations that are recklessly driving their nations into record-breaking debt. We attempt to gain a deeper understanding of the cycles that currencies follow while we watch these countries come and go.
The most recent instance of how Bitcoin can be used to move any amount of money borderless and also help people was seen in the recent Ukraine-Russia war, where Bitcoin lived up to its reputation for easily moving money across international borders, as sympathizers with the Ukrainian cause raised the equivalent of more than $54 million through Bitcoin donations. (source: https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/03/ukraine-raises-54-million-as-bitcoin-donations-surge-amid-russian-war.html)
Who Created Bitcoin?
Bitcoin is a decentralized digital currency created in 2009. It’s accepted almost all over the world by all major countries except China. It’s even traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as well as specific trade platforms dedicated to cryptocurrencies such as BitFinance.
In 2008, the first whitepaper published on the cryptocurrency’s source code was presented by Satoshi Nakamoto on a mailing list. He then began appearing in forums discussing the code and assisting in its development.
He made all the changes to the protocols himself until 2010. He then distributed access to the code and all his other online holdings related to Bitcoin to others in the community. In 2011, he disappeared from online life completely.hen there is another group of people not often recognized or talked about and these are the billions of people who don’t have access to a banking system
Who is Satoshi Nakamoto?
The man himself claims to be a Japanese man living in Japan. He claims to have been born in 1945. Except for his age, the other claims have been brought into question due to his speech and his sleep patterns. Both suggest he is actually English living in the United Kingdom. Part of the code for the Genesis block seems to support this.
Examination of the source code and the underlying protocols associated with Bitcoin, researchers have begun to speculate he is really a group of people using the name as an umbrella for their work.
It’s been shown, through his many posts, as well as from his work, Mr. Nakamoto is:
• Smart, practically a genius
• Well educated
• Obsessed with encryption and privacy
Who is he really though? It’s better to ask who isn’t Satoshi Nakamoto. The following is a list of men proposed to be him from least likely to most likely.
- Craig S. Wright
He has proven to be a liar and a fake with all of the “proof” he’s provided to prove his identity as Nakamoto shown to be falsified.
- Dorian Nakamoto
He’s from California and just has the same last name.
- Nick Szabo
Created source code similar to Bitcoin in 2005.
- Hal Finney
Received the first 10 bitcoins mined after Satoshi
- Paul Le Roux
His life parallels Nakamoto’s in most instances, and he holds the same ideologies. He has also created the coding for the digital vault holding the one million bitcoins Nakamoto mined himself.
Whoever Satoshi Nakamoto is, person or persons, they released into the world an innovation that has changed the face of the finance world and its economy forever
How are Bitcoins used?
Other than mining Bitcoins, there are several other ways to make money with Bitcoins.
To begin with, you can accept bitcoins as payment for goods or services. It’s as easy as opening a PayPal account to create a Bitcoin wallet, which is where you store, track, and spend your digital currency. They’re free and can be obtained through a service like Uphold.
While it may take longer than it is worth, there are websites that will pay you in bitcoins if you complete certain tasks. After you’ve earned bitcoins, you can lend them out and earn interest on them.
Another method of earning from Bitcoin is through Bitcoin futures. Bitcoin futures give investors the opportunity to bet on the future price of bitcoin without having to actually own or handle it. Bitcoin futures were recently launched as a legitimate asset class, and there are even ways to earn bitcoins through trading.
Furthermore, you can exchange your regular fiat currency for bitcoins at bitcoin exchanges, one of the most notable being the Binance exchange. Bitcoin is accepted by over 100,000 merchants for everything from gift cards to pizza, and even Overstock.com accepts it.
These transactions take place on a publicly available, yet anonymous ledger that permanently records the data. This ledger is called the blockchain.
Bitcoin is sent peer-to-peer (decentralized), using the blockchain, and rather than a banking institution (centralized) verify the transaction, a network of computers (each representing a node) will simultaneously check and confirm, and then process the transaction.
A really simple way you can easily picture this is by comparing the Google servers to Blockchain and Gmail to Bitcoin. The main difference is Google is operated and controlled by humans that can make changes anytime they want. With Blockchain, you have a network of computers that verify transactions and confirm accuracy with other computers and no people are actually needed, once the equipment and networks are setup.
Anyone can own and run one of these computers and you will be rewarded in Bitcoin for contributing your resources to maintain the network and ensure the validity of the transactions. The process is called Bitcoin Mining.
To create more Bitcoins, people—or more accurately, extremely powerful, energy-intensive computers—”mine” them. There are currently about 19 million bitcoins in circulation, with only two million more available to mine due to the 21 million limit set by Bitcoin’s developers.
In the end, each Bitcoin can be broken down into smaller pieces, with the smallest fraction being one hundred millionths of a Bitcoin, known as a “Satoshi” after its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto.
The mining process entails computers solving an extremely difficult mathematical problem that becomes increasingly difficult over time. When a problem is solved, one Bitcoin block is processed, and the miner receives a new Bitcoin.
To receive the Bitcoins they mine, a user creates a Bitcoin address, which is similar to a virtual mailbox with a string of 27–34 numbers and letters. Unlike a mailbox, it is not linked to the user’s identity.
Proof of Work
Proof of Work aka PoW is the consensus protocol first used by cryptocurrencies. It is the core protocol for validating blockchain transactions, but as with most technologies, especially disruptors like Bitcoin, new protocols are being developed that are more evolved and upgraded to fill the gaps BTC might have some shortcomings with. Let’s look a little bit deeper into this mechanism.
Proof of Work (PoW) is used to make sure all transactions are validated and added to the blockchain permanently. This makes all transactions final, and the cryptocurrency used in the transactions successfully changes hands. This keeps people from cheating others out of what they’re owed or double-spending their funds.
Scalability is basically how much can this protocol do. Can it be used with large transactions? Can it be used on a global scale? That sort of thing. Unfortunately, Proof of Work is very costly in terms of computational power and the energy it takes to create that power. Cryptocurrencies are still using the protocol, but none of them have been accepted globally. Many, especially the newer ones, are looking for better validation solutions.
The original name of Proof of Work (PoW) was pricing function. It was introduced by Cynthia Dwork and Moni Naor in 1993. They presented a science paper presenting a way to combat spam emails. The function was used to make the sender prove they’d spent so much time on each mail they sent out and thus, weren’t involved in spam.
In 1999, six short years later, Proof of Work, in its current form, and paired with notation, were introduced by Marcus Jakobsson, along with his partner, Ari Juels. The function became a protocol, but it did the same thing as the function had.
In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto used the protocol as the main part of his cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, and the protocol gained almost instant popularity in this budding sector, becoming the springboard for more complex protocols.
Proof of Work (PoW) is used to validate transactions and add them to blockchains. It does this by making the validators (mining nodes) prove they’ve done the required computations to validate all the transactions in the block thus allowing the block to permanently join the blockchain.
- In Math, the student is given a problem – the transactions.
- The student comes up with the answer – validates all transactions.
- The student has to show the teacher they’ve done the work to get the answer and didn’t just guess – use of protocol.
- The teacher accepts the answer as correct – validated block is added to blockchain.
How to buy Bitcoins from an ATM?
You may have already seen a Bitcoin ATM at your local grocery store or mall because they are starting to pop up everywhere. You can easily check for the closest Bitcoin ATM. If you find any around you follow these steps:
- Click to buy Bitcoins.
- Input your mobile number or ID for verification.
- you should receive a prompt with options on where to send them.
- Simply scan your mobile wallet if you have one or you generate a paper wallet with the private and public keys on the spot.
- Next, you need to insert the notes and wait for the receipt.
- When you get the receipt you are all set!
Some ATMs are designed to send bitcoins to your address in exchange for cash payments.
Buying from ATMs usually come slightly higher than the regular price, about 5-10% higher.
Alternatively, you can buy bitcoins on major exchanges such as Coinbase, Paxful, Localbitcoins or CashApp.
About CashApp, they are a convenient channel to buy, sell or send bitcoins. They are also a peer-to-peer payment channel, enabling you to receive money from friends and easily convert to bitcoins. You can then send it to a secure external wallet.
When to Buy Bitcoin
There is no perfect time to buy Bitcoin, especially if you plan on buying for the long haul investment. Any successful trader will tell you to buy low and sell high but for those that don’t know to read the markets and charts, it feels like you are gambling on Red and hoping for the best.
There are massive swings that occur and the obvious answer would be to tell you to buy when the coin price drops but the challenging part is knowing when to sell so you don’t get stuck with a loss in profits.
The best advice we can give you is to learn the basics of trading Bitcoin. Understand the fundamentals and follow what the successful traders are doing. Check out the free training videos covering some of these essentials that are needed to be an effective trader.
Is Bitcoin Mining Profitable?
It depends on how you define “profitable.” In the past, your laptop had the capacity to produce Bitcoins daily. As of now, the same computing power from your laptop would take over a year to produce one coin.
Mining Bitcoin requires a substantial investment into mining equipment in order to scale your Bitcoin mining production.
There are numerous Bitcoin and cryptocurrency miners and we have found these to be the most popular for several reasons.
In order to keep up with the competition, it makes sense to invest into the best mining equipment. There are additional options for mining Bitcoin if you don’t have the capital required.
Here are a few important facts to know. There is a finite number of Bitcoins (21 million) that can ever exist on the blockchain. Interestingly, not all of these bitcoins are in circulation.
Putting this into perspective…
There are an estimated 122 billion metric tons of Gold in the earth crust but an estimated 170,000 Metric tons are in circulation.
Out of the 21 million Bitcoin to ever be mined, 18 million has been mined today. When you look at supply vs. demand in this scenario, and availability of each asset, we can see that 90% of Bitcoins have already been produced while only a fraction of a percent of Gold has been mined.
Miners are responsible for mining Bitcoin, along with a variety of other cryptocurrencies. Approximately 1.25 Bitcoins are mined every minute but that’s expected to be cut in half in July 2020.
This is where you have an opportunity to collect Bitcoin through mining.
What is Bitcoin Halving?
Bitcoin Halving means the same mining efforts remain with costs increasing while energy production of cryptocurrency is half what it is today.
Simply put, when the reward for mining Bitcoin transactions is cut in half, it is known as a “Bitcoin halving event.” As a result of the bitcoin halving event, inflation and the rate at which new bitcoins enter circulation are both cut in half.
In other terms, 1800 coins were being created every day on average before July 2020 when Bitcoin experienced it’s third halving. The production was cut to around 900 coins, using the same computer power that is used today.
Although previous halvings have been linked to intense boom and bust cycles, prices end up higher than they were before the event.
Bitcoin’s block reward was last halved on May 11, 2020, around 3 p.m. EST, resulting in a 6.25 BTC block reward. The next bitcoin halving date is expected to be March 2024.
Wondering how you can start mining?
Well, the process is straightforward. All you need is a supercomputer running the open-source bitcoin software. The rewards come from validating blocks on the blockchain by solving complex puzzles. The solution to the puzzle is finding a specific number when merged with data in the block and passes through the hash function falls within a range.
This number is called a cryptographic nonce and falls within 0 and 4,294,967,296.
Well, theoretically it is simple as the supercomputer should make it easier, but it’s still a highly active market place with billions of supercomputers across the globe competing per second. Some having extraordinary mining operations:
Back in the day (2009), mining on your laptop/desktop computer could yield up to 200 bitcoins per day. Nowadays, you will spend 100 years just to mine 1 bitcoin one the same machine.
In reality, the amount of investment needed to keep a “crypto farm” running is almost equal to the profits it generates. Hence, people are looking to cloud mining alternatives as they offer a more affordable way to mine without having to deal with heavy mining equipment.
Cloud mining is a method of mining cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin using rented cloud computing power rather than installing and directly running the hardware and related software.
Cloud mining companies allow people to open an account and remotely participate in the process of cryptocurrency mining for a small fee, making mining more accessible to people all over the world. Because this type of mining is done through the cloud, it eliminates issues such as equipment maintenance and direct energy costs.
There is no harm in trying, though hopefully, you can get some bitcoins. This leads us to the next question:
Where Do You Store Your Bitcoins?
If you had bought 100 Bitcoins in April 2011, they were barely worth $100 at the time. If you sold this same volume of bitcoin (100 BTC) in December 2017, at the peak of the crypto bull market run, that would have added $2 million in your bank account.
If you have only $100 in Bitcoin right now, you don’t need to spend $100 on a wallet to protect it, but just keep in mind of the long-term potential. A $100 purchase today could be worth hundreds, or thousands down the road and it would be wise to have some type of hardware wallet or method to secure your assets.
Due to people neglecting to plan properly and have a solid way to store their coins, an estimated 3-4 million bitcoins are permanently lost. They are still in circulation but their is no real ownership or possession because the owners probably lost access. This is why it’s vital you use a device that can protect your Bitcoins.
How’s this possible?
In most cases, you can rely on a bank to store your money, but if you keep cash in your wallet and lose it, the cash is gone. Cryptocurrency is not any different, other than there are ways to digitally back up your assets, and store them offline, so even if you lose your cryptocurrency wallet, you can still access your funds if you have the private keys or passwords to restore access to the account.
There are, however, two main types of cryptocurrency wallets: cold wallets and hot wallets.
Hot wallets are cryptocurrency wallets that are connected to the Internet (e.g., smartphone and desktop wallets). Hot wallets are considered to be more convenient when it comes to sending, receiving, and trading bitcoin. Examples include Metamask, Coinbase Wallet, etc.
However, convenience frequently comes at the expense of security, as hot wallets are more vulnerable to malicious attacks due to their internet connectivity.
Cold wallets, such as paper wallets and hardware wallets, generate and store your private keys offline, and therefore offer significantly greater security than hot wallets. Examples of cold wallets include LedgerX, Trezor, etc.
There is a trade-off in usability, however, since both paper wallets and hardware wallets need to be used in conjunction with a device connected to the internet in order to send funds.
Bitcoin wallet storage solutions
While it’s most recommended for anyone who has at least $500 of cryptocurrency, to buy a hardware wallet, there are different choices depending on your needs.
You got a ton of options ranging from:
- Electronic Wallet.
- Software Wallet.
- Online Wallet.
- Mobile wallet.
- Hardware wallet.
- Paper Wallet.
Bitcoin hardware wallet
You probably have used one of these if you have ever transacted with Bitcoin. The wallet you get on web/mobile platforms is not as secure as the other hardware wallets discussed above.
The reason being, a wallet, in this case, does not actually hold your bitcoin, rather, it holds privates keys which gives access to your bitcoins.
Using private keys (keeping coins on exchange) to store your funds is highly risky and only experienced cryptocurrency users should even attempt this method, as you can be vulnerable in a wide variety of ways to having your coins stolen.
We really can’t stress enough how many benefits you get using a hardware wallet vs. an online option that is not as secure and full of security traps.
Benefits of a hardware wallet
Banks use hardware tokens to authenticate transactions, especially when transacting large amounts. The same is applied here. You store your coins on one of the best bitcoin wallets then you can transfer bitcoins to the address and have it locked in a vault or safe deposit box for as long as you desire.
This is highly encouraged as the bitcoins can be passed to loved ones in case of a demise.
Where Do You Sell Your Bitcoins?
Selling bitcoins are relatively easy and you just need to use one of the many exchanges or brokers available.
You can conveniently convert your bitcoins to fiat using services such as Gemini, Coinbase, or CashApp. These services usually have both wallets (fiat and crypto), it makes it super easy to convert and withdrawal to watch of choice.
Another way to go about selling is by trading your bitcoins on peer-to-peer escrow services such as Uphold or Crypto.com. These platforms are designed to not only trade your bitcoins for fiat but also convert it to other digital assets such as Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin to mention a few.
You can save on exchange/escrow fees by selling to family and close relatives. You also make more profit as you can determine the price.
Whichever be the case, always ensure you trade safe and try not to take a loss unless you absolutely have to.
One more thing: After seeing this article, you must be just as convinced as us this is the most exciting investment over the past decade. There are a number of concerns, one of which hinges on scalability which we are going to cover in the next section.
Is Bitcoin Scalable?
I remember when I sent my first Bitcoin in 2014, it was super fast and appeared in the wallet almost immediately. But nowadays, when sending bitcoins (Externally) it could take anywhere between 10-60 mins before it is delivered to the recipient. In rare cases, even longer.
Worthy of note, the average volume of transactions in 2016 stood at 200,000 transactions per day, however, today that number has more than doubled reaching well over 500,000 transactions daily. This naturally bogs down the blockchain network and slows transactions.
Wrapping up, hopefully you now have a better understanding of Bitcoin and how it can disrupt our entire economic system. It may not be Bitcoin but it may very well be an underlying blockchain technology that moves us all towards a global payment network.
2020 and beyond
In the first month of 2020, the world was faced with enormous upheaval and financial uncertainty. There is no crystal ball to tell you what is going to happen but it is important to note that Bitcoin was created in after the 2009 recession, largely due to the necessity for an alternative monetary system.
We saw Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies explode in value following that last collapse and there is much talk lately we are likely to experience a massive bull run, leading Bitcoin and other coins to reach all new highs.
We also can look forward to the Bitcoin price increasing based on the halving history which will decrease production of coins on each block.
Each halving period has exponentially increased the value of Bitcoin. First halving positioned BTC for 100x gains, second halving was 64x gains. Are we to expect 33x gains from this most recent halving?
This is another reason people believe Bitcoin is going to skyrocket.
Time will only tell….
For now, we are very bullish on Bitcoin.
Continue your education and keep learning as much as you can. Even if you aren’t fully wrapping your head around it yet, don’t worry, I haven’t met a single person that fully understood Bitcoin in a day.
Right now, a seed is being planted and you are familiarizing yourself with the industry while not getting overwhelmed with complex terms and crypto jargon.
We like to keep it simple so everyone can pick up and start getting involved with crypto.
If you have not already seen our crypto trading course, a free course so you can dip your toes in the water and proceed with learning the basics of crypto trading, make sure to visit our How to trade Bitcoin page to learn more. This is the next best step for those who want to start making money with Bitcoin.
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