Visa vs bitcoin

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Get Our NewsletterWIRED’s biggest stories delivered to your inbox. 900 last week, an enormous surge in value that arrived amidst Congressional hearings where top U. The spike was big news across the globe, from Washington to Tokyo to China, and it left many asking themselves: “What the hell is a bitcoin? The spike was big news across the globe, from Washington to Tokyo to China, and it left many asking themselves: ‘What the hell is a bitcoin? Bitcoin is a digital currency, meaning it’s money controlled and stored entirely by computers spread across the internet, and this money is finding its way to more and more people and businesses around the world. With that in mind, we give you this: an idiot’s guide to bitcoin.

And there’s no shame in reading. Nowadays, as bitcoin is just beginning to show what it’s capable of, we’re all neophytes. Bitcoin isn’t just a currency, like dollars or euros or yen. It lets you hold money, but it also lets you spend it and trade it and move it from place to place, almost as cheaply and easily as you’d send an email. As the press so often points out, Bitcoin lets you do all this without revealing your identity, a phenomenon that drove its use on The Silk Road, an online marketplace for illegal drugs.

But at the same time, it’s a system that operates completely in the public view. Bitcoin is much more than a money service for illegal operations. It’s a re-imagining of international finance, something that breaks down barriers between countries and frees currency from the control of federal governments. The software runs on thousands of machines across the globe, but it can be changed. In short, Bitcoin is kind of like the internet, but for money. About five years ago, using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, an anonymous computer programmer or group of programmers built the Bitcoin software system and released it onto the internet. This distributed software seeded the new currency, creating a small number of bitcoins.