What is all the fuss about?
Bitcoins, have you heard of them? And more importantly, if you have heard of them, do you know what they are?
This is a term that has been bandied around for the last few years, and whilst people nod their heads knowingly, pretending to be all up on the latest innovations, few truly understand exactly what they are, and what they can be used for.
Well, put simply, Bitcoins are a form of payment, just like money, but with a few subtle but notable differences, and can be exchanged and invested, just like regular cash.
Whilst money as we know it is regulated and controlled by a central organisation, e.g. the central bank for that particular country’s currency, Bitcoins are not regulated or controlled by anyone, and their primary use is for payment over the internet, however some standard businesses are slowly allowing payment for goods or services to be done by Bitcoin.
You might ask yourself what is the point of it all, if it’s simply an alternative, but the difference with Bitcoins is that if you pay for something using this new system, you won’t be charged any fees and there won’t be any delay in processing of payment, because it is instant, in real time, done through the software, the app for instance, which you use to conduct the payment. Obviously, you need to use compatible software with the person or company you’re paying, but most programmes and apps use the same platform. You could think of it as an online purse or wallet of your digital funds, which is only owned by you.
Is it safe? Well, there is an argument that using Bitcoins to send and receive payment is safer than the regular way, because no personal information is attached to the transaction, so no chance of fraudulent use of sensitive details. The other major advantage of using Bitcoins is, as we mentioned before, there is no delay with payment, no need to worry about weekends or public holidays holding up your payments – it is done there and then.
The downside is of course that not everyone knows about it, and many that do don’t fully understand the workings. Bitcoins is a hard subject to explain, and is one of those things you need to learn as you go along. Investing in Bitcoins at this time therefore could be the way forward, to ensure you don’t miss the boat, before they become increasingly popular and their value is less.
How do you get them? Well, you can buy them at a Bitcoin exchange, or obtain them through a process called ‘mining’, but for the first time user this could represent a modicum of risk. Perhaps the best way to take your first tentative steps into the world of Bitcoins is by obtaining a small amount, and buying goods or services with them, seeing how they work for you.
As the popularity of Bitcoins grows, more and more people are sure to jump on the bandwagon, especially if there is money to be made.