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Can you remember the world before the computer, Internet and smartphones? Well the world is about to be completely changed once again, but this time it’s going to revolutionize money.

Bitcoin is Internet money. It is created, stored and transmitted on the Internet in digital form similar to the way text messages are created, stored and transmitted on your phone’s wireless network, except that each bitcoin incorporates a unique digital code that makes it impossible to fake.

What gives it value? The increasing number of people who are willing to pay for it because of its ability to:

  1. transmit money easily at no or very little cost,
  2. cross national borders,
  3. resist inflation, unlike dollars, pesos, or other paper money and
  4. be a store of value, like gold or silver.

Two months ago, my wife and went to the movies and paid for our tickets with Bitcoin. There is now a mobile app that permits paying for Starbucks coffee with Bitcoin. Microsoft is adding Bitcoin support into its Office software (Excel, Word, etc.) The world’s largest financial exchange that trades interest rates, stocks, foreign currency, energy, agricultural commodities, rare and precious metals and real estate, added a Bitcoin index November 14, 2016 calling it a new investment asset class! In the first quarter of 2017, the government of Japan passed a law making Bitcoin legal payment in Japan. (Japan is the 3rd largest economy in the world.)

Why would you want to own it? The first Bitcoin was created January 3, 2009. The next month, the first Bitcoin exchange (the place where people buy and sell Bitcoin) was created on the Internet. By July 17, 2010, the value of a Bitcoin had increased to 8 cents, an increase of 10 times in about 6 months, and a second online exchange was created. On November 6, 2010, the value of a Bitcoin had risen to 50 cents, an increase of a little over 600% in 5 months and the number of Bitcoins had risen to 2 million.

By February 9, 2011, the value of a Bitcoin was $1. The value doubled in 3 months. In March, the value of a Bitcoin dropped to 70 cents. Later that month, the first British Bitcoin exchange opened online offering trades to and from the British Pound. Within days, similar exchanges opened for Brazilian, European, Polish and other currencies.

In April 2011, another online exchange opened. By June of 2011, the value of a Bitcoin had risen to $31.91 and the bitcoin market was more than $200 million. Four days later, the value of a Bitcoin crashed to $10. Later that month, the first smartphone app permitted storing and spending Bitcoins on mobile phones.

In August 2011, the first international Bitcoin conference was held in NY city. In November, the first European conference was held in Prague, Czech Republic. In December 2012, the first Bitcoin bank was licensed in Europe.

By February 2013, the value of Bitcoin reached $30. In March 2013, it hit $74.90 and the value or all Bitcoins broke 1 billion dollars! This was a 10,000 time increase from the beginning eight tenths of a cent. In April, it’s value passed $100 and the following month, the first real-world ATM machine for converting dollars to Bitcoin was put into service in San Diego. In March 2017, the number of Bitcoin ATMs exceeded 1000 with more than 700 in the US alone.

In August 2013, the German Federal Ministry of Finance announced it recognized Bitcoin for commercial and private sales. In October, the largest Chinese search engine, Baidu, began accepting Bitcoin. In November 2013:

  • The value of a Bitcoin hit $263, then doubled to $500.
  • A Subway store began accepting Bitcoin.
  • Bitcoin officially transferred more money that month than Western Union!
  • A university in Cyprus began accepting Bitcoin as payment for tuition.
  • Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic began accepting Bitcoin for space travel.
  • Shopify, an Internet shopping cart service, integrated bitcoin as a payment option for its 70,000+ merchants.

Large fortunes are made when unstoppable trends are discovered early and invested in before most people understand them.

An unpublished 2016 paper by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and MIT revealed that the 2014- 2015 Survey of Consumer Payment Choice found that only about half of U.S. consumers have heard of Bitcoin and that most of these consumers who are aware of it are unfamiliar with it. In fact, at that time, only about 1 percent or less of U.S. consumers have ever owned it.

Definitions

  • Currency – Currency is something you are certain will be accepted in trade for things you want at a later time, for example, dollar bills for food at the grocery store. It was invented to make trading and bartering easier. The word currency comes from current which means to flow [from one person to another]. Before currency, eggs might spoil before they could be traded for clothing or a wagon. The first currency in the Western world was made from coins of gold and silver.
    Currency 1) is widely and easily accepted, 2) holds its value, 3) endures over time, 4) can be broken into smaller units and 5) is easily verified.
  • Digital Currency – Currency that is represented digitally. Until Bitcoin, digital currency was authorized and controlled by banks, for example credit cards, Paypal or wire transfers.  This management led to restrictions and expensive charges. With the invention of Bitcoin, central authorization and control by banks was eliminated along with inflation and expensive charges to transfer it. Central control was replaced with independent verification of a unique, hidden computer code in each Bitcoin which prevents counterfeits and fraudulent transactions. Because it relies on a hidden code, Bitcoin is referred to as Cryptocurrency. Crypto meaning hidden or secret.
  • Bitcoin – The first and most widely known Digital Currency that relied on a secret, hidden code that prevents counterfeits and fraudulent transactions. The first Bitcoin was created in 2009 and now (May 2017) numbers roughly 21 million Bitcoins valued at more than 28 Billion dollars. In addition to being widely and easily accepted, holding its value, enduring over time, being divisible and easily verified; Bitcoin is not limited by national borders.
  • Cryptocurrency – Because it relies on a hidden code, Bitcoin is referred to as Cryptocurrency. Crypto meaning hidden or secret. Although Bitcoin was the first, there are now more than 700 other cryptocurrencies.
  • Altcoins – After Bitcoin, hundreds more cryptocurrencies have been created. Altcoin refers to any other cryptocurrency.
  • Wallet – A software program for computers or or an app smartphones that fulfills 3 functions: Receiving, Storing and Sending digital currency. There are also hardware wallets that combine physical hardware with a software program to fulfill those same 3 functions.
    Popular software wallets are: Breadwallet and Blockchain,
    Popular hardware wallets are: Ledger and TREZOR
  • Exchange – A website that provides 6 functions: Buying, Selling, Trading as well as Receiving, Storing and Sending digital currency. All Exchanges incorporate Wallets. This is just like a “Stock” Exchange for digital currency.
    Popular exchanges include: Coinbase, Kraken and Gemini.
  • Bitcoin Address or Wallet Address – The Blockchain doesn’t contain the name of the owner of the Bitcoin. Rather, it contains the sending and receiving addresses of the Bitcoin. Each address is 34 characters: upper or lower case letters and numbers, but no spaces or special characters (!@#$%^&*).
    If I want to send you Bitcoin, I will get your deposit or receiving address and send my Bitcoin to that address. Since they are long and make no sense, it is always best to copy and paste these addresses because Bitcoin sent to a wrong address is either lost forever or sent to someone who has no idea who sent it and can’t find that information!
  • Blockchain – A chain from the beginning of Bitcoin to the present containing blocks of data with that Bitcoin’s secret hidden code, when it was originated, which Bitcoin Addresses have owned it. All the computers running Bitcoin software share the same Blockchain data so that any deviation from it, for example an attempt to “counterfeit” a Bitcoin, is easily discovered and rejected as not a valid Bitcoin.
  • Market Cap(italization) – A financial measure of how big a company or digital currency is. For example, Apple Inc. has roughly 5 and 1/4 Billion shares. Since each one is worth roughly $150 each, Apple Inc. has a market cap of over 800 Billion dollars. There are roughly 16 million Bitcoins. Each one is worth roughly $1,930 each. So the market cap of Bitcoin is roughly 30 Billion dollars. Apple has been around since 1976. Bitcoin has only been around since 2009.
  • Mining – New Bitcoins are still being made and will be until the maximum number of 21 million is reached. To create a new Bitcoin, a computer must solve a very complex mathematical problem. Once it finds a solution to that problem, it submits the answer it found to the other computers on the Internet running Bitcoin software. If that answer is confirmed by 6 other computers, the computer (owner) that found the answer is rewarded with a certain number of Bitcoins. At this time, the reward is 12.5 Bitcoins.

 

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