Bitcoin was invented in 2009 by an unknown person with the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin’s inventor “buried” millions of bitcoins online, and computers can virtually mine for the currency by solving very complicated problems. Federal institutions don’t have anything to do with its circulation.
Bitcoin exists only online, and lacks any ties to governments or regulatory agencies. People instead buy and sell bitcoins using different currencies on Bitcoin exchanges. Mt. Gox is the largest of those exchanges, and made news recently when a theft there led to the loss of hundreds of thousands of bitcoins.
Like cash, Bitcoin is anonymous. While that’s helped land it in the news for less-than savory reasons, like its use on Silk Road, it’s also appealing for many people. Bitcoin transactions, once made, cannot be traced back to a spender.
Although the currency does have a certain amount of volatility – its value can swing dramatically – businesses are embracing it. While at first mostly smaller retailers were pioneering the acceptance of Bitcoin, Overstock.com made news earlier this year when it announced that in just two months it had made sold more than $1 million worth of goods with Bitcoin. The number of businesses accepting it has jumped dramatically, from about 1,000 in 2012 to more than 26,000 worldwide today.
It’s not just for online retailers, either. About 20 percent of the roughly 26,000 businesses worldwide that accept Bitcoin have brick and mortar stores.
Businesses have discovered that it attracts a demographic that might not have shopped with them previously – males 18 to 34 are one of the biggest groups interested in Bitcoin – and it reduces processing fees that businesses normally pay to credit card companies.
If you’re a business owner interested in learning more about using Bitcoin, you can check out this website.
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