From paper to bits; All over again.

Many years ago, we humans were dependent on human capabilities and limitations for all our work. Everything was done manually and if the work was ‘heavy’ or complex then it was definitely time consuming, erroneous or just not worth it. But all of that changed when computers were born. Where the work was erroneous it became accurate; where it was tedious or time consuming, it became efficient and quick. Our lives were changed immensely because of that shift from paper to bits back then, and now we are possibly in the middle of another such revolution thanks to Satoshi Nakamoto.

In a world alive with trade, money has come into the spotlight. But we have probably been depending on paper money for too long now which is as unreliable and inefficient as were our manual documenting ways back in the bit-less days.

Hence, bitcoins are becoming a thing now.

Bitcoins are the first decentralized digital currency and are sent through the internet directly from a person to a person without going to a bank. These can be used anywhere around the world, your account will not be frozen, the fees are much lower and there are no arbitrary limits. The transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a ‘blockchain’. The blockchain is maintained by a network of nodes that run a bitcoin software. About six times an hour, a fresh group of transactions (a block), is created, added to the blockchain and the published to the nodes. This prevents double-spending and allows the bitcoin software to determine when a coin has been spent.

A Bitcoin wallet is almost the equivalent of a physical wallet on the Bitcoin network. The wallet actually contains your private key(s) which allow you to spend the bitcoins allocated to it in the block chain. Each wallet can show you the total balance of all bitcoins it controls and lets you pay a specific amount to a specific person, just like a real wallet.

Your private keys allow you to spend bitcoins for their respective Bitcoin wallet and hence, must never be revealed.

This is as simple a concept as sending an email with a lot of complex calculations.

Bitcoins may be used successfully and safely used as an investment or for savings. They may also prove to be a very important spark in the world of business. You don’t have to give away your personal identification to be able to make transactions with bitcoins. Even the person who invented them never gave away his true identity and we only know him by the alias, Satoshi Nakamoto.

This whole system has become so popular that the price for a bitcoin has gone up to nearly 6000 USD (though they do keep fluctuating). It has also become popular for black-market uses like ransomware because of the way it can conceal your identity.

Since, everything comes with a good and a bad side, bitcoins are no exception. Where they will provide us with ease and comfort in many areas, there will be problems when people will misuse the bits to rob or blackmail.

With time we will meet new solutions, and with new solutions we will jump into new problems. The challenge is to keep moving forward.


Image Credit: Bitcoin by typographyimages under a Creative Commons CC0 License.

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