Currency Of The Revolution, Or Tool For Online Vendors? The Many Faces Of Bitcoin
It’s become an annual event: the fall of Bitcoin. You’ve probably read about it multiple times, and maybe even believe that the online, decentralized currency is already gone forever.
Created by a mysterious, anonymous entity back in 2009 – when the recession was at its worst – Bitcoin is a completely digital currency with no central servers. Transactions are distributed across the network of users, and developers claim counterfeiting to be impossible.
Anyone who wishes can mine Bitcoins by putting their computer to work solving complex math problems, but the total number of Bitcoins that can be created is capped. The currency is designed to increase in value as demand for Bitcoins go up, and it has – occasionally too quickly to be sustainable. By the summer of 2011, for example, one Bitcoin was worth as much as $30 USD. Within weeks it fell as low as $5 – just one incident the media has called the death of Bitcoin.
These spikes and drops – accelerated by speculators – haven’t stopped Bitcoin’s value from rising over time. Outliers aside, the currency’s been trending upwards since it’s creation in 2009. While I’m writing this a single Bitcoin is worth over $48 USD – the most it’s ever been worth. This just days after a glitch temporarily brought the price down to $37.
It’s unclear whether the current value will hold, but major online companies – including Reddit and WordPress – are starting to accept the currency, increasing its legitimacy.
Around the world organizations shut out by traditional merchant processors – Wikileaks, lulzsec and the creator of a 3D printable gun, for example – are turning to the digital currency for donations. And online casinos based entirely around Bitcoin are bringing in serious revenue. A vibrant community of developers, users and enthusiasts surround Bitcoin, and more than a few exchanges around the world allow anyone to trade a conventional currency for the digital one.
So yeah: Bitcoin’s not dead.