Your 74 most burning questions about cryptocurrencies. From Wip at theburningplatform.com:
It’s hard to think of something so complicated that has become so popular as fast as bitcoin.
With the price of the cryptocurrency soaring—and mainstream interest surging—Yahoo Finance recently invited readers to send us their top questions regarding bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. We condensed questions from nearly 3,500 respondents into the list below, and enlisted a team of Yahoo Finance reporters to answer them, including Daniel Roberts, who’s been covering bitcoin since 2012, and Jared Blikre, our authority on trading. Ethan Wolff-Mann and Julia LaRoche contributed as well. Here’s everything you want to know about bitcoin:
1. What the hell is it? In the most general sense, bitcoin is software that forms a decentralized, peer-to-peer payment system with no central authority like the Federal Reserve or U.S. Treasury. It’s fair to call it a digital currency or cryptocurrency, but at the moment, most investors aren’t really using it as currency to pay for things. Instead, they’re using it as a speculative investment to buy in the hope of turning a profit. Maybe a big profit. (And maybe a big loss).
2. What backs or supports it? Bitcoin runs on something called blockchain, which is a software system often described as an immutable digital “ledger.” It resides on thousands of computers, all over the world, maintained by a mix of ordinary people and more sophisticated computer experts, known collectively as miners. Yahoo Finance’s Jared Blikre dabbles as a bitcoin miner, running mining software in the background on his laptop. Here’s how much bitcoin he has generated so far: 0.000000071589. At the current rate, it would take him about 1,200 years to mine one complete bitcoin. That gives you a sense of how complex it is to mine bitcoin, and how much processing power it takes: These computerized mining rigs throw off so much energy that they can heat your home.
All bitcoin transactions are permanently recorded by miners, who upload bundles of transactions, or “blocks,” to the chain, maintained on all those computers. Blockchain as a technology has become popular among banks and other big financial institutions, who want to use it to settle payments on their back-end systems. But they’re mostly interested in blockchain without bitcoin.
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