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12/4/2017 Bitcoin - Wikipedia

Bitcoin
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and worldwide payment system.[8]:3 It is the
first decentralized digital currency the system works without a central Bitcoin
repository or single administrator.[8]:1[9] The network is peer-to-peer and
transactions take place between users directly through the use of
cryptography, without an intermediary.[8]:4 These transactions are verified
by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a Prevailing bitcoin logo
blockchain. Bitcoin was invented by an unknown person or group of people ISO 4217
under the name Satoshi Nakamoto[10] and released as open-source Code XBT[a]
software in 2009.[11]
Denominations
Bitcoins are created as a reward for a process known as mining. They can Subunit
be exchanged for other currencies,[12] products, and services. As of
11000 millibitcoin[1]
February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as
1100000000 satoshi[4]
payment.[13] Research produced by Cambridge University estimates that in
2017, there are 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency Symbol [b]
wallet, most of them using bitcoin.[14] satoshi[4] sat
Coins Unspent outputs of
transactions[3]:ch. 5
Demographics
Contents
Date of 3 January 2009
1 Terminology introduction
1.1 Units
User(s) Worldwide
2 History
Issuance
3 Design
3.1 Blockchain Administration Decentralized[5][6]
3.2 Transactions
Valuation
3.3 Transaction fees
3.4 Ownership Supply growth 12.5 bitcoins per block
3.5 Mining (approximately every
3.6 Supply ten minutes) until mid
3.7 Wallets 2020,[7] and then
3.8 Reference implementation afterwards 6.25
3.9 Decentralization bitcoins per block for 4
3.10 Privacy
years until next
3.11 Fungibility
halving. This halving
3.12 Governance
3.13 Scalability
continues until 2110
40, when 21 million
4 Economics
4.1 Classification
bitcoins will have been
4.2 General use issued.
4.3 Acceptance by merchants
a. Unofficial.
4.4 Payment service providers
4.5 Financial institutions

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4.6 As an investment b. The symbol was encoded in Unicode


4.7 Venture capital version 10.0 at position U+20BF
4.8 Price and volatility BITCOIN SIGN in the Currency Symbols
4.9 Ponzi scheme and pyramid scheme concerns block in June 2017.[2]
4.10 Speculative bubble dispute
5 Legal status, tax and regulation
6 Energy consumption
7 Susceptibility to criminal activity
8 In academia
8.1 Journals
9 See also
10 Notes Bitcoin explained in 3 minutes
11 References
12 External links

Terminology
The word bitcoin first occurred and was defined in the white paper[15] that was published on 31 October 2008.[16] It is a
compound of the words bit and coin.[17] The white paper frequently uses the shorter coin.[15]

There is no uniform convention for bitcoin capitalization. Some sources use Bitcoin, capitalized, to refer to the technology
and network and bitcoin, lowercase, to refer to the unit of account.[18] The Wall Street Journal,[19] The Chronicle of
Higher Education,[20] and the Oxford English Dictionary[17] advocate use of lowercase bitcoin in all cases, a convention
which this article follows.

Units
The unit of account of the bitcoin system is bitcoin. As of 2014, tickers used to represent bitcoin are BTC[a] and XBT.[b] Its
Unicode character is .[25]:2 Small amounts of bitcoin used as alternative units are millibitcoin (mBTC)[1] and satoshi.
Named in homage to bitcoin's creator, a satoshi is the smallest amount within bitcoin representing 0.00000001 bitcoin,
one hundred millionth of a bitcoin.[4] A millibitcoin equals to 0.001 bitcoin, one thousandth of a bitcoin or 100,000
satoshis.[26]

History
On 18 August 2008, the domain name bitcoin.org was registered.[27] In November that year, a link to a paper authored by
Satoshi Nakamoto titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System[15] was posted to a cryptography mailing list.[27]
Nakamoto implemented the bitcoin software as open source code and released it in January 2009.[28][11] The identity of
Nakamoto remains unknown, though many have claimed to know it.[10]

In January 2009, the bitcoin network came into existence after Satoshi Nakamoto mined the first ever block on the chain,
known as the genesis block, for a reward of 50 bitcoins.[29][30] Embedded in the coinbase of this block was the following
text:

The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.[11]

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One of the first supporters, adopters, and contributors to bitcoin was the receiver of the first bitcoin transaction,
programmer Hal Finney. Finney downloaded the bitcoin software the day it was released, and received 10 bitcoins from
Nakamoto in the world's first bitcoin transaction.[31][32] Other early supporters were Wei Dai, creator of bitcoin
predecessor b-money, and Nick Szabo, creator of bitcoin predecessor bit gold.[33]

In the early days, Nakamoto is estimated to have mined 1 million bitcoins.[34] Before disappearing from any involvement
in bitcoin, Nakamoto in a sense handed over the reins to developer Gavin Andresen, who then became the bitcoin lead
developer at the Bitcoin Foundation, the 'anarchic' bitcoin community's closest thing to an official public face.[35]

The value of the first bitcoin transactions were negotiated by individuals on the bitcointalk forums with one notable
transaction of 10,000 BTC used to indirectly purchase two pizzas delivered by Papa John's.[29]

On 6 August 2010, a major vulnerability in the bitcoin protocol was spotted. Transactions were not properly verified
before they were included in the blockchain, which let users bypass bitcoin's economic restrictions and create an indefinite
number of bitcoins.[36][37] On 15 August, the vulnerability was exploited; over 184 billion bitcoins were generated in a
single transaction, and sent to two addresses on the network. Within hours, the transaction was spotted and erased from
the transaction log after the bug was fixed and the network forked to an updated version of the bitcoin protocol.[38][36][37]

A documentary film, The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin, was released in 2014, featuring interviews with bitcoin users, such as a
computer programmer and a drug dealer.[39]

On 1 August 2017 bitcoin split into two derivative digital currencies, the classic bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). The
split has been called the Bitcoin Cash hard fork.[40]

Design

Blockchain
The blockchain is a public ledger that records bitcoin transactions.[41] A novel
solution accomplishes this without any trusted central authority: the
maintenance of the blockchain is performed by a network of communicating
nodes running bitcoin software.[8] Transactions of the form payer X sends Y
bitcoins to payee Z are broadcast to this network using readily available
software applications.[42] Network nodes can validate transactions, add them
to their copy of the ledger, and then broadcast these ledger additions to other
Number of unspent transaction
nodes. The blockchain is a distributed database to achieve independent outputs
verification of the chain of ownership of any and every bitcoin amount, each
network node stores its own copy of the blockchain.[43] Approximately six
times per hour, a new group of accepted transactions, a block, is created, added to the blockchain, and quickly published
to all nodes. This allows bitcoin software to determine when a particular bitcoin amount has been spent, which is
necessary in order to prevent double-spending in an environment without central oversight. Whereas a conventional
ledger records the transfers of actual bills or promissory notes that exist apart from it, the blockchain is the only place that
bitcoins can be said to exist in the form of unspent outputs of transactions.[3]:ch. 5

Transactions

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Transactions are defined using a Forth-like scripting language.[3]:ch. 5

Transactions consist of one or more inputs and one or more outputs. When a
user sends bitcoins, the user designates each address and the amount of bitcoin
being sent to that address in an output. To prevent double spending, each
input must refer to a previous unspent output in the blockchain.[45] The use of
multiple inputs corresponds to the use of multiple coins in a cash transaction.
Since transactions can have multiple outputs, users can send bitcoins to
Number of bitcoin transactions per
multiple recipients in one transaction. As in a cash transaction, the sum of
month (logarithmic scale)[44]
inputs (coins used to pay) can exceed the intended sum of payments. In such a
case, an additional output is used, returning the change back to the payer.[45]
Any input satoshis not accounted for in the transaction outputs become the transaction fee.[45]

Transaction fees
Paying a transaction fee is optional.[45] Miners can choose which transactions
to process[45] and prioritize those that pay higher fees. Fees are based on the
storage size of the transaction generated, which in turn is dependent on the
number of inputs used to create the transaction. Furthermore, priority is given
to older unspent inputs.[3]:ch. 8

Ownership
In the blockchain, bitcoins are registered to bitcoin addresses. Creating a
An actual bitcoin transaction
bitcoin address is nothing more than picking a random valid private key and
including the fee from a webbased
computing the corresponding bitcoin address. This computation can be done cryptocurrency exchange to a
in a split second. But the reverse (computing the private key of a given bitcoin hardware wallet.
address) is mathematically unfeasible and so users can tell others and make
public a bitcoin address without compromising its corresponding private key.
Moreover, the number of valid private keys is so vast that it is extremely
unlikely someone will compute a key-pair that is already in use and has funds.
The vast number of valid private keys makes it unfeasible that brute force
could be used for that. To be able to spend the bitcoins, the owner must know
the corresponding private key and digitally sign the transaction. The network
verifies the signature using the public key.[3]:ch. 5

If the private key is lost, the bitcoin network will not recognize any other Simplified chain of ownership.[15] In
evidence of ownership;[8] the coins are then unusable, and effectively lost. For reality, a transaction can have more
example, in 2013 one user claimed to have lost 7,500 bitcoins, worth $7.5 than one input and more than one
million at the time, when he accidentally discarded a hard drive containing his output.

private key.[46] A backup of his key(s) might have prevented this.[47]

Mining
Mining is a record-keeping service done through the use of computer processing power.[d] Miners keep the blockchain
consistent, complete, and unalterable by repeatedly verifying and collecting newly broadcast transactions into a new group
of transactions called a block.[41] Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block,[41] using the SHA-256
hashing algorithm,[3]:ch. 7 which links it to the previous block,[41] thus giving the blockchain its name.

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To be accepted by the rest of the network, a new block must contain a so-called
proof-of-work.[41] The proof-of-work requires miners to find a number called a
nonce, such that when the block content is hashed along with the nonce, the
result is numerically smaller than the network's difficulty target.[3]:ch. 8 This
proof is easy for any node in the network to verify, but extremely time-
consuming to generate, as for a secure cryptographic hash, miners must try
many different nonce values (usually the sequence of tested values is 0, 1, 2, 3,
Semi-log plot of relative mining
...[3]:ch. 8) before meeting the difficulty target.
difficulty.[c][44]
Every 2,016 blocks (approximately 14 days at roughly 10 min per block), the
difficulty target is adjusted based on the network's recent performance, with
the aim of keeping the average time between new blocks at ten minutes. In this way the system automatically adapts to the
total amount of mining power on the network.[3]:ch. 8

Between 1 March 2014 and 1 March 2015, the average number of nonces miners had to try before creating a new block
increased from 16.4 quintillion to 200.5 quintillion.[49]

The proof-of-work system, alongside the chaining of blocks, makes modifications of the blockchain extremely hard, as an
attacker must modify all subsequent blocks in order for the modifications of one block to be accepted.[50] As new blocks
are mined all the time, the difficulty of modifying a block increases as time passes and the number of subsequent blocks
(also called confirmations of the given block) increases.[41]

Supply
The successful miner finding the new block is rewarded with newly created
bitcoins and transaction fees.[51] As of 9 July 2016,[52] the reward amounted to
12.5 newly created bitcoins per block added to the blockchain. To claim the
reward, a special transaction called a coinbase is included with the processed
payments.[3]:ch. 8 All bitcoins in existence have been created in such coinbase
transactions. The bitcoin protocol specifies that the reward for adding a block
will be halved every 210,000 blocks (approximately every four years).
Total bitcoins in circulation.[44]
Eventually, the reward will decrease to zero, and the limit of 21 million
bitcoins[e] will be reached c. 2140; the record keeping will then be rewarded by
transaction fees solely.[53]

In other words, bitcoin's inventor Nakamoto set a monetary policy based on artificial scarcity at bitcoin's inception that
there would only ever be 21 million bitcoins in total. Their numbers are being released roughly every ten minutes and the
rate at which they are generated would drop by half every four years until all were in circulation.[54]

Wallets
A wallet stores the information necessary to transact bitcoins. While wallets are often described as a place to hold[55] or
store bitcoins,[56] due to the nature of the system, bitcoins are inseparable from the blockchain transaction ledger. A better
way to describe a wallet is something that "stores the digital credentials for your bitcoin holdings"[56] and allows one to
access (and spend) them. Bitcoin uses public-key cryptography, in which two cryptographic keys, one public and one
private, are generated.[57] At its most basic, a wallet is a collection of these keys.

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There are several types of wallets. Software wallets connect to the network and
allow spending bitcoins in addition to holding the credentials that prove
ownership.[58] Software wallets can be split further in two categories: full
clients and lightweight clients.

Full clients verify transactions directly on a local copy of the blockchain


(over 136 GB as of October 2017),[59] or a subset of the blockchain
(around 2 GB).[60] They are the most secure and reliable way of using the
Electrum bitcoin wallet
network, as trust in external parties is not required. Full clients check the
validity of mined blocks, preventing them from transacting on a chain that
breaks or alters network rules.[61] Because of its size and complexity,
storing the entire blockchain is not suitable for all computing devices.
Lightweight clients on the other hand consult a full client to send and
receive transactions without requiring a local copy of the entire blockchain
(see simplified payment verification SPV). This makes lightweight clients
much faster to set up and allows them to be used on low-power, low-
bandwidth devices such as smartphones. When using a lightweight wallet,
however, the user must trust the server to a certain degree, as it can
report faulty values back to the user. Lightweight clients follow the longest
blockchain and do not ensure it is valid, requiring trust in miners. Bitcoin paper wallet generated at
With both types of software wallets, the users are responsible for keeping their bitaddress.org
private keys in a secure place.[62]

Besides software wallets, Internet services called online wallets offer similar
functionality but may be easier to use. In this case, credentials to access funds
are stored with the online wallet provider rather than on the user's
hardware.[63][64] As a result, the user must have complete trust in the wallet
provider. A malicious provider or a breach in server security may cause
entrusted bitcoins to be stolen. An example of such security breach occurred
with Mt. Gox in 2011.[65] Trezor hardware wallet

Physical wallets store the credentials necessary to spend bitcoins offline.[56]


Examples combine a novelty coin with these credentials printed on metal.[66] Paper wallets are simply paper printouts.
Another type of wallet called a hardware wallet keeps credentials offline while facilitating transactions.[67]

Reference implementation
The first wallet program simply named "Bitcoin" was released in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto as open-source code.[11]
Sometimes referred to as the "Satoshi client", this is also known as the reference client because it serves to define the
bitcoin protocol and acts as a standard for other implementations.[58] In version 0.5 the client moved from the wxWidgets
user interface toolkit to Qt, and the whole bundle was referred to as Bitcoin-Qt.[58] After the release of version 0.9, the
software bundle was renamed Bitcoin Core to distinguish itself from the underlying network.[68][69] Today, other forks of
Bitcoin Core exist such as Bitcoin XT, Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Unlimited,[70][71] Parity Bitcoin,[72] and BTC1.[73]

Decentralization
Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto designed bitcoin not to need a central authority.[15] According to the academic Mercatus
Center,[8] US Treasury,[5] IEEE Communications, Surveys & Tutorials,[9] The Washington Post,[74] The Daily Herald,[75]
The New Yorker,[76] and others, Bitcoin is decentralized.

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Because the transactions on the networks are controlled by miners, the network decentralization depends on no single
miner or mining pool obtaining 51% of the hashing power, because this would allow them to fully control the blockchain
including double-spending of coins, preventing chosen transactions from being verified and preventing other miners from
earning income.[77]

In 2014 mining pool GHash.io obtained 51% hashing power which raised significant controversies about the safety of the
network. The pool has voluntarily capped their hashing power at 39.99% and called other pool to act responsibly for the
benefit of the whole network.[78]

Security researcher Egor Homakov pointed out that while the Bitcoin network was designed as decentralized, it gradually
tends towards centralization as result of miners maximizing their gain and as of 2017 majority of the nodes are located in
one country China.[79] As of March 2017 four of the five biggest mining pools (AntPool, F2Pool, BTCC, BW) were based
in China. Allegedly, a number of other pools (ViaBTC, BTC.com, GBMiners, CANOE) are also run by AntPool to disguise
its true hash rate. In total, Chinese pools account for 72% of global hashing power.[80]

Privacy
Bitcoin is pseudonymous, meaning that funds are not tied to real-world entities but rather bitcoin addresses. Owners of
bitcoin addresses are not explicitly identified, but all transactions on the blockchain are public. In addition, transactions
can be linked to individuals and companies through "idioms of use" (e.g., transactions that spend coins from multiple
inputs indicate that the inputs may have a common owner) and corroborating public transaction data with known
information on owners of certain addresses.[81] Additionally, bitcoin exchanges, where bitcoins are traded for traditional
currencies, may be required by law to collect personal information.[82]

To heighten financial privacy, a new bitcoin address can be generated for each transaction.[83] For example, hierarchical
deterministic wallets generate pseudorandom "rolling addresses" for every transaction from a single seed, while only
requiring a single passphrase to be remembered to recover all corresponding private keys.[84] Researchers at Stanford
University and Concordia University have also shown that bitcoin exchanges and other entities can prove assets, liabilities,
and solvency without revealing their addresses using zero-knowledge proofs.[85]

Fungibility
Wallets and similar software technically handle all bitcoins as equivalent, establishing the basic level of fungibility.
Researchers have pointed out that the history of each bitcoin is registered and publicly available in the blockchain ledger,
and that some users may refuse to accept bitcoins coming from controversial transactions, which would harm bitcoin's
fungibility.[86] Projects such as CryptoNote, Zerocoin, and Dark Wallet aim to address these privacy and fungibility
issues.[87][88]

Governance
Bitcoin was initially led by Satoshi Nakamoto. Nakamoto stepped back in 2010 and handed the network alert key to Gavin
Andresen.[89] Andresen stated he subsequently sought to decentralize control stating: "As soon as Satoshi stepped back
and threw the project onto my shoulders, one of the first things I did was try to decentralize that. So, if I get hit by a bus, it
would be clear that the project would go on."[89] This left opportunity for controversy to develop over the future
development path of bitcoin.[70]

Scalability
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The blocks in the blockchain are limited to one megabyte in size, which has created problems for bitcoin transaction
processing, such as increasing transaction fees and delayed processing of transactions that cannot be fit into a block.[90]
On 24 August 2017 (at block 481,824), Segregated Witness went live, increasing maximum block capacity and making
transaction IDs immutable.[91][92] SegWit also allows implementation of the Lightning Network, a second-layer proposal
for scalability with instantaneous transactions and near-zero fees.[93][94]

Economics

Classification
Bitcoin is a digital asset[95] designed by its inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, to work as a currency.[15][96] It is commonly
referred to with terms like digital currency,[8]:1 digital cash,[97] virtual currency,[4] electronic currency,[18] or
cryptocurrency.[98]

The question whether bitcoin is a currency or not is still disputed.[98] Bitcoins have three useful qualities in a currency,
according to The Economist in January 2015: they are "hard to earn, limited in supply and easy to verify".[99] Economists
define money as a store of value, a medium of exchange, and a unit of account and agree that bitcoin has some way to go to
meet all these criteria.[100] It does best as a medium of exchange; as of February 2015 the number of merchants accepting
bitcoin had passed 100,000.[13] As of March 2014, the bitcoin market suffered from volatility, limiting the ability of bitcoin
to act as a stable store of value, and retailers accepting bitcoin use other currencies as their principal unit of account.[100]

General use
According to research produced by Cambridge University, there were between
2.9 million and 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, as of
2017, most of them using bitcoin. The number of users has grown significantly
since 2013, when there were 300,000 to 1.3 million users.[14]

Acceptance by merchants
Liquidity (estimated, USD/year,
In 2015, the number of merchants accepting bitcoin exceeded 100,000.[13]
logarithmic scale).[44]
Instead of 23% typically imposed by credit card processors, merchants
accepting bitcoins often pay fees under 2%, down to 0%.[101] Firms that
accepted payments in bitcoin as of December 2014 included PayPal,[102] Microsoft,[103] Dell,[104] and Newegg.[105]

Payment service providers


Merchants accepting bitcoin ordinarily use the services of bitcoin payment service providers such as BitPay or Coinbase.
When a customer pays in bitcoin, the payment service provider accepts the bitcoin on behalf of the merchant, converts it
to the local currency, and sends the obtained amount to merchant's bank account, charging a fee for the service.[106]

Financial institutions
Bitcoin companies have had difficulty opening traditional bank accounts because lenders have been leery of bitcoin's links
to illicit activity.[107] According to Antonio Gallippi, a co-founder of BitPay, "banks are scared to deal with bitcoin
companies, even if they really want to".[108] In 2014, the National Australia Bank closed accounts of businesses with ties to

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bitcoin,[109] and HSBC refused to serve a hedge fund with links to bitcoin.[110] Australian banks in general have been
reported as closing down bank accounts of operators of businesses involving the currency;[111] this has become the subject
of an investigation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.[111] Australian banks have run hypothetical
tests with the blockchain technology on which bitcoin is based.[112]

In a 2013 report, Bank of America Merrill Lynch stated that "we believe bitcoin can become a major means of payment for
e-commerce and may emerge as a serious competitor to traditional money-transfer providers."[113] In June 2014, the first
bank that converts deposits in currencies instantly to bitcoin without any fees was opened in Boston.[114]

Plans were announced to include a bitcoin futures option on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in 2017.[115]

As an investment
Some Argentinians have bought bitcoins to protect their savings against high inflation or the possibility that governments
could confiscate savings accounts.[82] During the 20122013 Cypriot financial crisis, bitcoin purchases in Cyprus rose due
to fears that savings accounts would be confiscated or taxed.[116]

The Winklevoss twins have invested into bitcoins. In 2013 The Washington Post claimed that they owned 1% of all the
bitcoins in existence at the time.[117]

Other methods of investment are bitcoin funds. The first regulated bitcoin fund was established in Jersey in July 2014 and
approved by the Jersey Financial Services Commission.[118] Forbes started publishing arguments in favor of investing in
December 2015.[119]

In 2013 and 2014, the European Banking Authority[120] and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), a
United States self-regulatory organization,[121] warned that investing in bitcoins carries significant risks. Forbes named
bitcoin the best investment of 2013.[122] In 2014, Bloomberg named bitcoin one of its worst investments of the year.[123] In
2015, bitcoin topped Bloomberg's currency tables.[124]

According to bitinfocharts.com, in 2017 there are 9,272 bitcoin wallets with more than $1 million worth of bitcoins.[125]
The exact number of bitcoin millionaires is uncertain as a single person can have more than one bitcoin wallet.

Venture capital
Venture capitalists, such as Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, which invested US$3 million in BitPay, do not purchase bitcoins
themselves, instead funding bitcoin infrastructure like companies that provide payment systems to merchants, exchanges,
wallet services, etc.[126] In 2012, an incubator for bitcoin-focused start-ups was founded by Adam Draper, with financing
help from his father, venture capitalist Tim Draper, one of the largest bitcoin holders after winning an auction of 30,000
bitcoins,[127] at the time called 'mystery buyer'.[128] The company's goal is to fund 100 bitcoin businesses within 23 years
with $10,000 to $20,000 for a 6% stake.[127] Investors also invest in bitcoin mining.[129] According to a 2015 study by
Paolo Tasca, bitcoin startups raised almost $1 billion in three years (Q1 2012 Q1 2015).[130]

Price and volatility


According to Mark T. Williams, as of 2014, bitcoin has volatility seven times greater than gold, eight times greater than the
S&P 500, and 18 times greater than the US dollar.[131] According to Forbes, there are uses where volatility does not
matter, such as online gambling, tipping, and international remittances.[132]

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The price of bitcoins has gone through various cycles of appreciation and
depreciation referred to by some as bubbles and busts.[133][134] In 2011, the
value of one bitcoin rapidly rose from about US$0.30 to US$32 before
returning to US$2.[135] In the latter half of 2012 and during the 201213
Cypriot financial crisis, the bitcoin price began to rise,[136] reaching a high of
US$266 on 10 April 2013, before crashing to around US$50.[137] On 29
November 2013, the cost of one bitcoin rose to a peak of US$1,242.[138] In
Price[f] (left vertical axis, logarithmic
2014, the price fell sharply, and as of April remained depressed at little more
scale) and volatility[g] (right vertical
than half 2013 prices. As of August 2014 it was under US$600.[139]
axis).[44]
In January 2015, noting that the bitcoin price had dropped to its lowest level
since spring 2013 around US$224 The New York Times suggested that "
[w]ith no signs of a rally in the offing, the industry is bracing for the effects of a prolonged decline in prices. In particular,
bitcoin mining companies, which are essential to the currency's underlying technology, are flashing warning signs."[140]
Also in January 2015, Business Insider reported that deep web drug dealers were "freaking out" as they lost profits
through being unable to convert bitcoin revenue to cash quickly enough as the price declined and that there was a
danger that dealers selling reserves to stay in business might force the bitcoin price down further.[141]

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, as of 19 April 2016, bitcoin had been more stable than gold for the
preceding 24 days, and it was suggested that its value might be more stable in the future.[142] On 3 March 2017, the price
of a bitcoin surpassed the market value of an ounce of gold for the first time as its price surged to an all-time high of
$1,268.[143][144] A study in Electronic Commerce Research and Applications, going back through the network's historical
data, showed the value of the bitcoin network as measured by the price of bitcoins, to be roughly proportional to the
square of the number of daily unique users participating on the network. This is a form of Metcalfe's law and suggests that
the network was demonstrating network effects proportional to its level of user adoption.[145]

On 28 November 2017, Bitcoin for the first time hit $10,000 USD.[146][147][148]

Ponzi scheme and pyramid scheme concerns


Various journalists,[75][149] economists,[150][151] and the central bank of Estonia[152] have voiced concerns that bitcoin is a
Ponzi scheme. In 2013, Eric Posner, a law professor at the University of Chicago, stated that "a real Ponzi scheme takes
fraud; bitcoin, by contrast, seems more like a collective delusion."[153] In 2014 reports by both the World Bank[154]:7 and
the Swiss Federal Council[155]:21 examined the concerns and came to the conclusion that bitcoin is not a Ponzi scheme. In
July 2017, billionaire Howard Marks referred to bitcoin as a pyramid scheme.[156]

On 12 September 2017, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, called bitcoin a "fraud" and said he would fire anyone in
his firm caught trading it. Zero Hedge claimed that the same day Dimon made his statement, JP Morgan also purchased a
large amount of bitcoins for its clients.[157]

Speculative bubble dispute


Bitcoin has been labelled a speculative bubble by many including former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan[158] and
economist John Quiggin.[159] Nobel Memorial Prize laureate Robert Shiller said that bitcoin "exhibited many of the
characteristics of a speculative bubble".[160] On 14 March 2014, the American business magnate Warren Buffett said, "Stay
away from it. It's a mirage, basically."[161] Two lead software developers of bitcoin, Gavin Andresen[162] and Mike
Hearn,[163] have warned that bubbles may occur. David Andolfatto, a vice president at the Federal Reserve Bank of St.
Louis, stated, "Is bitcoin a bubble? Yes, if bubble is defined as a liquidity premium." According to Andolfatto, the price of

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bitcoin "consists purely of a bubble," but he concedes that many assets "have bubble component to their price".[48]:21
Speculation in Bitcoin has been compared to the tulip mania of seventeenth-century Holland. Comparisons have been
made by the vice-president of the European Central Bank, Vtor Constncio, by JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon,[164]
by hedge fund manager Ken Griffin of Citadel,[165] and by former president of the Dutch Central Bank, Nout Wellink.[166]
In 2013, Wellink remarked, "This is worse than the tulip mania [...] At least then you got a tulip [at the end], now you get
nothing."[167] On 13 September 2017, Jamie Dimon compared bitcoin to a bubble, saying it was only useful for drug
dealers and countries like North Korea.[168] On 22 September 2017, a hedge fund named Blockswater subsequently
accused JP Morgan of market manipulation and filed a market abuse complaint with Financial Supervisory Authority
(Sweden).[169]

Comparisons have also been made with other bubbles, including the South Sea Bubble, the Wall Street Crash, the sub-
prime mortgage crisis and the Dot-com bubble.[170][171][172][173]

Journalist Matthew Boesler rejects the speculative bubble label and sees bitcoin's quick rise in price as nothing more than
normal economic forces at work.[174] The Washington Post pointed out that the observed cycles of appreciation and
depreciation don't correspond to the definition of speculative bubble.[135]

Legal status, tax and regulation


Because of bitcoin's decentralized nature, restrictions or bans may be difficult to enforce.[175][176] The legal status of
bitcoin varies substantially from country to country and is still undefined or changing in many of them. While some
countries have explicitly allowed its use and trade, others have banned or restricted it. Regulations and bans that apply to
bitcoin probably extend to similar cryptocurrency systems.[177]

Energy consumption
Bitcoin has been criticized for the amounts of electricity consumed by mining.

In 2013, Mark Gimein estimated electricity use to be about 40.9 megawatts


(982 megawatt-hours a day).[178] In 2014, Hass McCook estimated 80.7
megawatts (80,666 kW).[179] As of 2015, The Economist estimated that even if
all miners used modern facilities, the combined electricity consumption would
be 166.7 megawatts (1.46 terawatt-hours per year).[99]"The magic of mining" (h
ttps://www.economist.com/news/business/21638124-minting-digital-currenc A mining farm in Iceland
y-has-become-big-ruthlessly-competitive-business-magic). The Economist. 13
January 2015. Retrieved 13 January 2015.</ref> The Guardian mentioned
that as of November 2017, the global bitcoin mining activity was estimated to consume 3.4 gigawatts.[180]

Journalist Matt O'Brien opined that it is not obvious whether bitcoin is lowering transaction costs, since the costs are
transformed into pollution costs, which he characterizes as "environmental spillovers on everyone else, or what
economists call negative externalities."[75]

To lower the costs, bitcoin miners have set up in places like Iceland where geothermal energy is cheap and cooling Arctic
air is free.[75] Chinese bitcoin miners are known to use hydroelectric power in Tibet to reduce electricity costs.[181]

Susceptibility to criminal activity

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The use of bitcoin by criminals has attracted the attention of financial regulators, legislative bodies, law enforcement, and
the media.[182] The FBI prepared an intelligence assessment,[183] the SEC has issued a pointed warning about investment
schemes using virtual currencies,[182] and the US Senate held a hearing on virtual currencies in November 2013.[74]

Several news outlets have asserted that the popularity of bitcoins hinges on the ability to use them to purchase illegal
goods.[96][184] In 2014, researchers at the University of Kentucky found "robust evidence that computer programming
enthusiasts and illegal activity drive interest in bitcoin, and find limited or no support for political and investment
motives."[185]

In academia

Journals
In September 2015, the establishment of the peer-reviewed academic journal Ledger (ISSN 2379-5980 (https://www.worl
dcat.org/search?fq=x0:jrnl&q=n2:2379-5980)) was announced. It will cover studies of cryptocurrencies and related
technologies, and is published by the University of Pittsburgh.[186][187] The journal encourages authors to digitally sign a
file hash of submitted papers, which will then be timestamped into the bitcoin blockchain. Authors are also asked to
include a personal bitcoin address in the first page of their papers.[188][189]

See also
Alternative currency List of bitcoin forks
Base58 List of bitcoin organizations
Crypto-anarchism SHA-256 crypto currencies
List of bitcoin companies

Notes
a. As of 2014, BTC is a commonly used code.[21] It does not conform to ISO 4217 as BT is the country code of Bhutan,
and ISO 4217 requires the first letter used in global commodities to be 'X'.
b. As of 2014, XBT, a code that conforms to ISO 4217 though is not officially part of it, is used by Bloomberg L.P.,[22]
CNNMoney,[23] and xe.com.[24]
c. Relative mining difficulty is defined as the ratio of the difficulty target on 9 January 2009 to the current difficulty target.
d. It is misleading to think that there is an analogy between gold mining and bitcoin mining. The fact is that gold miners
are rewarded for producing gold, while bitcoin miners are not rewarded for producing bitcoins; they are rewarded for
their record-keeping services.[48]
e. The exact number is 20,999,999.9769 bitcoins.[3]:ch. 8
f. The price of 1 bitcoin in US dollars.
g. Volatility is calculated on a yearly basis.

References
1. Siluk, Shirley (2 June 2013). "June 2 "M Day" promotes millibitcoin as unit of choice" (http://www.coindesk.com/june-2
-m-day-promotes-millibitcoin-as-unit-of-choice/). CoinDesk. Archived (https://web.archive.org/web/20170807154739/h
ttps://www.coindesk.com/june-2-m-day-promotes-millibitcoin-as-unit-of-choice/) from the original on 7 August 2017.
Retrieved 25 May 2017.

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