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What is bitcoin?

Bitcoin (abbreviated Btc) is a decentralized digital currency (also known as crypto currency) and is used as a payment system which allows instant payments/transfer of funds to anyone, anywhere in the world, with very little or no fees. Bitcoin is decentralized because all payments are peer-to-peer and it operates without any bank or form of central authority. Bitcoins cannot be mass produced by governments, unlike regular currency and no one person controls it. Bitcoin was introduced in 2009 as open source software and it was originally developed by Satoshi Nakamoto, which is an alias as the creator still remains unknown.

Bitcoins are created electronically, by a community of “miners” in which anyone can be a part of. The miners receive bitcoin as a reward for the computing power used to solve complex algorithms. Users can send and receive bitcoins digitally by using various forms of wallet software which can be utilized by a computer, mobile device, or websites (which usually charge a small fee).

The use of bitcoin as payment for goods and services is growing worldwide and many merchants are incentivized to accept it as a form of payment due to the almost non-existent processing fee. Regular payment processors and bank merchant accounts usually charge amounts ranging from 2.5-5% in fees while bitcoin fees are a set amount, typically just over a penny ($0.01 USD) regardless of the size of the transaction. Another motivation for merchants is that the payments are irreversible. Bitcoin cannot be stolen (unless a user is granted access to your wallet) and chargebacks cannot occur. This eliminates credit card fraudulent activity which is often responsible for the closure of many small businesses due to losses.

While many of the larger merchants have not yet adopted this payment option, there are many ways to indirectly purchase from them with bitcoin. Popular gift card sites like gyft and egifter allow users to purchase gift cards for multiple online stores including ebay and amazon, the two largest ecommerce websites in the US. The gift card sites mentioned above make it even more enticing to purchase with bitcoin, by offering a 3% refund as additional gift card credit for all btc purchases. Utilizing the low payment processing fees and zero risk of charge back, btc is quickly becoming the choice method of receiving payment for online transactions.