Bitcoin is a form of digital money that allows people to make secure and direct peer-to-peer transactions over the Internet. It was created in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonymous person or team, in response to the financial crisis and the reliance on banks as intermediaries in the world of financial transactions.

One of the key features of Bitcoin is its decentralized, publicly accessible blockchain ledger, which tracks all Bitcoin transactions and ownership information. It’s designed to be as transparent and accurate as a bank’s accounting system, but more importantly, no single party can manipulate it in any way or control its growth.

The technology is based on a network of computers that constantly verify and update the ledger. Each computer is known as a “node,” and it’s responsible for ensuring that all of the transactions in the blockchain are legitimate. Miners use their computer’s collective processing power to check each and every transaction against the ledger, ensuring that it isn’t fraudulent or altered.

When a miner solves a complex mathematical puzzle, they broadcast the answer to the network, and it’s verified by other miners. If the answer is correct, that miner gets rewarded with newly created bitcoins.

A cryptographic process – which is similar to how a security code is generated – is used to verify the transaction’s authenticity. This process is called “mining,” and it’s what makes Bitcoin a cryptocurrency. The software used to verify and maintain the blockchain also limits how many coins can be created, so that it’s difficult for hackers to create counterfeit bitcoins.

As a result, it’s important for each wallet to have unique codes that follow a certain encryption pattern. These codes are long random numbers, which makes it extremely difficult for hackers to fake them. The blockchain has been linked to criminal activity, but in reality, it’s a tool for law enforcement, as it records all transactions in a public database.

There are also several different narratives about the history and future of Bitcoin. One is that it’s an alternative form of digital gold that could be used to replace the gold standard, and could serve as a global standard for monetary exchange. The other is that it’s a means of economic freedom.

Another popular narrative is that it’s an ideal tool for fighting terrorism and other forms of corruption. Critics argue that it’s an easy way for black markets to operate and is a convenient way to make illegal transactions, but in reality, cash has served this purpose for centuries.

The other major concern about using Bitcoin as a currency is that it’s volatile. Its value can fluctuate up and down by up to 10 percent. This can be dangerous for an economy.

This volatility makes it hard for consumers to decide whether they want to spend the currency, because they’re not sure what they can buy with it. This also poses a serious problem during times of recession, when the currency may be devalued as more and more people hoard it.