How Bitcoin Works

Some things you need to know

If you’re getting started with Bitcoin, there are a few things you should know. Bitcoin lets you exchange money and transact in a different way than you normally do. As such, you should take time to inform yourself before using Bitcoin for any serious transaction. Bitcoin should be treated with the same care as your regular wallet, or even more in some cases!

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Choose your wallet

Free bitcoin wallets are available for all major operating systems and devices to serve a variety of your needs. For example, you can install an app on your mobile device for everyday use or you can have a wallet only for online payments on your computer. In any case, choosing a wallet is easy and can be done in minutes.

Get Bitcoin

You can get Bitcoin by accepting it as a payment for goods and services. There are also several ways you can buy Bitcoin.

Spend Bitcoin

There are a growing number of services and merchants accepting Bitcoin all over the world. Use Bitcoin to pay them and rate your experience to help them gain more visibility.

Securing your wallet

Like in real life, your wallet must be secured. Bitcoin makes it possible to transfer value anywhere in a very easy way and it allows you to be in control of your money. Such great features also come with great security concerns. At the same time, Bitcoin can provide very high levels of security if used correctly. Always remember that it is your responsibility to adopt good practices in order to protect your money. Read more about securing your wallet.

Bitcoin price is volatile

The price of a bitcoin can unpredictably increase or decrease over a short period of time due to its young economy, novel nature, and sometimes illiquid markets. Consequently, keeping your savings with Bitcoin is not recommended at this point. Bitcoin should be seen like a high risk asset, and you should never store money that you cannot afford to lose with Bitcoin. If you receive payments with Bitcoin, many service providers can convert them to your local currency.

Bitcoin payments are irreversible

A Bitcoin transaction cannot be reversed, it can only be refunded by the person receiving the funds. This means you should take care to do business with people and organizations you know and trust, or who have an established reputation. For their part, businesses need to keep track of the payment requests they are displaying to their customers. Bitcoin can detect typos and usually won’t let you send money to an invalid address by mistake, but it’s best to have controls in place for additional safety and redundancy. Additional services might exist in the future to provide more choice and protection for both businesses and consumers.

Bitcoin is not anonymous

Some effort is required to protect your privacy with Bitcoin. All Bitcoin transactions are stored publicly and permanently on the network, which means anyone can see the balance and transactions of any Bitcoin address. However, the identity of the user behind an address remains unknown until information is revealed during a purchase or in other circumstances. This is one reason why Bitcoin addresses should only be used once. Always remember that it is your responsibility to adopt good practices in order to protect your privacy. Read more about protecting your privacy.

Unconfirmed transactions aren’t secure

Transactions don’t start out as irreversible. Instead, they get a confirmation score that indicates how hard it is to reverse them (see table). Each confirmation takes between a few seconds and 90 minutes, with 10 minutes being the average. If the transaction pays too low a fee or is otherwise atypical, getting the first confirmation can take much longer.

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