Bitcoin is a open-source payment system released in 2009. The system is peer-to-peer; users can transact directly without needing an intermediary. Transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the block chain. The ledger uses its own unit of account, also called bitcoin. The big advandage is that the system works without a central repository or single administrator making it the largest of its kind in terms of total market value. Bitcoin is an instrument of alternative finance, which has emerged outside of the traditional financial system.

Bitcoins are created as a reward for payment processing work in which users offer their computing power to verify and record payments into the public ledger. This activity is called mining and the miners are rewarded with transaction fees and newly created bitcoins. Besides mining, bitcoins can be obtained in exchange for different currencies, products, and services. Users can send and receive bitcoins for an optional transaction fee.

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