What’s Bitcoin & do I need it?

Samantha Avotch

I have Paypal. Skrill. Credit cards. Cash. Why do I need Bitcoin, and what use is it?

Bitcoin’s a currency. Much like the above. At its most basic currency is a medium of exchange. A way to pay for goods and services. You can do that with Bitcoin. Physical forms do exist, but mostly it exists in the form of data that’s traded online, usually by using some form of “wallet” like Coin.Space.

What’s the benefit of Bitcoin to me? What are the advantages over other options out there?

1. It’s cheap.

Actually, in many cases transactions involving Bitcoin are free. The Bitcoin fee, when required, is less than 40c US. Contrast this with Credit Cards or Paypal, which have transaction fees of 2-5% of the value of the transaction.

2. It’s transferable.

You can buy Bitcoin with regular currency, and sell it back for lawful money. It’s not a case of once you have Bitcoin, you cannot exchange it for other currency, you can. It's used as a legitimate way of sending and receiving regular money payments.

3. It’s fast.

Cheques take days to clear. Wire transfers also take time. A Bitcoin transfer is much more quickly. It takes around ten minutes to confirm the transaction

4. A company does not own it.

Banks are companies. Paypal is a corporation. Companies own most financial sector institutions. It’s a fact of life. But wait a minute, Bitcoin is different. It’s not owned by anyone and is monitored and processed by the community that uses it. You own your Bitcoins, and no one can take them away from you.

5. It’s secure.

Credit cards were invented in the 1930s. They’re antiquated technology that was never meant to be used online in a digital age. There is little wonder why there is so much credit card fraud.

Bitcoin transactions, on the other hand, were designed with full knowledge of what’s required regarding online security. They have a private and a public key, and it’s only the public key that’s visible online. Don’t do anything silly like publishing your private key online and your Bitcoins will be safe.

Okay, I admit that sounds useful, but where can I spend Bitcoin?

There’s more places than you might imagine. Still largely it’s online and tech related industries that are supporting Bitcoin, but a lot more bricks and mortar stores are popping up, like the Paralelní Polis café in Prague, which ONLY accepts payment by Bitcoin.

There is a list of all business that accept bitcoin here, but five key players who are happy for you to spend Bitcoin with them are: