Whether you are a skeptic or an avid believer it’s the future, Bitcoin is fast becoming the newest form of payment. Following the recent news that Google have added Bitcoin to their currency conversion tool, I decided to delve a little deeper and find out what exactly is Bitcoin and how many businesses are actually accepting digital currency. The answer: quite a few.
To my surprise, here in London, one is now able to purchase a number of things using Bitcoin. You can lease a car (Intelligent Car Leasing), make a withdrawal (The Old Shoreditch Station cafe and bar) and more importantly, buy a pint (The Pembury Tavern).
Great, but what exactly is it?
Bitcoin is often referred to as a new kind of currency. But it may be better to think of its units as being virtual tokens that have value because enough people believe they do and there is a finite number of them. Each Bitcoin is represented by a unique online registration number. To receive a Bitcoin, a user must also have a Bitcoin address – a randomly generated string of 27 to 34 letters and numbers – that acts as a kind of virtual postbox to and from which the Bitcoins are sent. Since there is no registry of these addresses, people can use them to protect their anonymity when making a transaction. These addresses are in-turn stored in Bitcoin wallets, which are used to manage savings.
Bitcoin isn't going to change the world tomorrow, but it is apparent that it is on it’s way to becoming something big by revolutionising the way we make and receive payments (there’s an expanding network of digital currencies like Bitcoin, such as Litecoin, Dogecoin, Namecoin, Darkcoin and Peercoin, there’s even CoinyeWest…). It could change the way we store money; it even has the potential to change the actual money we use.