Infographic: eToro’s simple guide to Bitcoin

Bitcoin remains the big boy of blockchain technology, the undisputed king of cryptocurrencies. It is the forerunner and category- defining originator of all things blockchain – the groundbreaking new way of managing data and payment transfer, from which countless other exciting digital currency initiatives and start-up projects have since been born.

The eToro team has put together an infographic to help simplify this seemingly complicated financial asset:

Blockchain essentially enables data to be distributed rather than copied. Bitcoin became the first real-life manifestation of the blockchain concept in 2009 when a group of programmers unveiled the open- source software under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. This quickly had the global tech community frothing with excitement. The many potential benefits for the future of digital transfers, particularly regarding payments, was now clear to see.

The very essence of Bitcoin – and indeed blockchain per se – is that transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. The transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public ledger, again available for all to see – and this is the ‘blockchain’. Because of this, Bitcoin is also referred to as a decentralized digital currency – and is the first of many!

Nobody owns the Bitcoin network much like no one owns the technology behind email or the Internet. Bitcoin transactions are verified by Bitcoin miners. All users need to work to the same software and operational rules, making Bitcoin a true democracy.

Bitcoin is no longer a scientific, technological brainwave. Far from it. Bitcoin has genuine, transferable value. It can be exchanged for other currencies, products and services in legal markets. There are thousands of ATMs across the world. In some places you can use Bitcoin to pay for your groceries and even your university fees.

Bitcoin has also been arguably the investment sensation of the past decade. Available for just a few cents in 2009 it has been trading for thousands of US dollars this year.

There’s no doubt Bitcoin has earned some people a lot of money. It has become the centre of many an online trader’s strategy in recent years. Its volatility as an investment asset and explosive growth as a technical innovation make it incredibly attractive to day-traders.

Cryptocurrencies can fluctuate widely in prices and are therefore not appropriate for all investors. Trading cryptocurrencies is not supervised by any EU regulatory framework. Your capital is at risk.