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Announced in a white paper in October 2008 and then officially released in 2009 by the pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin (BTC) was the first and original cryptocurrency. Ultimately, Bitcoin was the first successful application of a decentralized digital currency, or cryptocurrency.
Built on the Bitcoin blockchain, bitcoin was designed as a store of wealth and is frequently compared to gold in that respect. Bitcoin is earned as a reward from mining but can also be traded on most popular exchanges, and has become the default digital currency to exchange fiat currencies like USD, EUR and GBP into.
There is a controlled supply of Bitcoin, with a maximum of 21,000,000 that will ever be in circulation. On top of this, the amount of Bitcoin released per block will reduce by 50% every 210,000 blocks, or approximately four years. When Bitcoin was officially released back in 2009, the reward given to miners was 50 BTC, but by 2017 this was already down to 12.5 BTC (and it reduces further from there).
The rate at which new Bitcoins are released cannot be changed by any individual or entity as it is written into the software. As well as this, the proportion of Bitcoin rewarded to miners is distributed evenly based on the amount of CPU power utilized by each node.
Bitcoin payments are securely made through the utilization of public key cryptography and a proof-of-work verification system. Every transaction made using Bitcoin is displayed publicly within the public ledger, further adding to the overall security of the network. Another major benefit of all of this is that it removes the need for expensive and time-consuming intermediaries to process transactions; enabling one person to trade directly with another with as little friction as possible.