Bitcoin or BTC (not to get confused with BCH or Bitcoin Cash) is a completely distributed decentralized digital currency.
It does not require third parties to operate it. A record or a Ledger of all the transactions and accounts that hold Bitcoin is stored on thousands of individual computers and servers around the world.
The ledgers check one another constantly for fraudulent activity. This effectively decentralizes the technology ( Decentralized is removing the power from one single authority). The network is distributed and ensures fair play.
The Bitcoin transactions are verified by people who use their computing power towards keeping the entire system running, we call these miners.
Miners are rewarded with newly created Bitcoins for their work. The rate at which a bitcoin is created slows down over time and there will only ever be a total of 21 million of them.
Bitcoin allows us to utilise a distributed protocol where we can send money cheaply and quickly anywhere around the world in a manner we call Peer to Peer (P2P). As long as you have a secure internet connection, you can use Bitcoin no matter which country you are in, what time it is and regardless of how much you want to send.
The price of Bitcoin has increased dramatically over the last few years with 2017 being one of the more historic booms from $1000 all the way up to $20,000.
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Since the inception of Bitcoin, many other Cryptocurrencies have been created with each operating in a different way. You have likely heard of some of the popular ones due to media. Ethereum (ETH) Ripple (XRP) and Litcoin (LTC). These are the just some of the top marketcap Cryptocurrencies available today.
To learn more about distributed ledgers and the technology behind them, please see our What is Blockchain article.