What is bitcoin: how to mine, buy, and use it
4 mins read

What is bitcoin: how to mine, buy, and use it

Bitcoin often comes with a whirlwind of hype, speculation, and misinformation, making it seem indecipherable to newcomers. I’m here to guide you through de-mystifying the original and largest cryptocurrency, along with how to navigate a Crypto Exchange.

So, what exactly is Bitcoin? At its essence, Bitcoin is a purely digital currency that operates independently of any government, bank, or third-party institution. Instead of relying on traditional monetary policies and centralized control, Bitcoin transactions are conducted through a decentralized peer-to-peer network using blockchain technology.


To understand Bitcoin, we must first grasp the concept of cryptocurrency. These are digital forms of money that exist solely in electronic form, with transactions tracked via encrypted computer networks instead of physical bank ledgers.

The “crypto” in cryptocurrency guides the complex mathematical encryption that secures these networks, ensuring anonymity for transacting parties. Bitcoin, the trailblazer in this domain, was introduced to the world in 2009 by an unknown creator (or group) under the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto.”

This initial working version of a blockchain-powered digital currency introduced several groundbreaking features:

  1. It operated independently of banks and governments, preventing shutdowns or devaluation through excessive supply creation.
  2. Transactions were transparently and immutably recorded on a public, decentralized ledger known as the blockchain.
  3. The total supply was capped at 21 million coins, with new BTC issued algorithmically based on a predictable inflation schedule.
  4. Users could earn, transfer, and participate in the Bitcoin network without their real identities being tracked or disclosed.

How Is Bitcoin Created?

Bitcoin is a digital currency created to serve as an alternative to government-issued fiat currencies. Its creation hinges on an innovative consensus mechanism known as “proof-of-work” mining, a fascinatingly complex yet understandable system.

New bitcoins are essentially “minted” by a global network of individual computers running specialized mining software. These computers compete to validate the next set of Bitcoin transactions by repeatedly guessing strings of letters and numbers to solve a cryptographic puzzle. Successfully solving the puzzle allows the miner to add a new “block” of transactions to Bitcoin’s blockchain. As a reward for this computationally intensive task, the miner receives newly issued bitcoins.


This competitive mining process requires significant computing power. Industrial-scale Bitcoin mining farms, equipped with thousands of specialized rigs, engage in a digital “arms race” to win block rewards. Now, the reward for solving a block is 6.25 BTC, issued approximately every 10 minutes. Bitcoin’s code is designed to halve this reward every four years, with the final Bitcoin expected to be mined around 2140.

How to Buy Bitcoin

If mining isn’t appealing, buying bitcoins via online exchanges like Bitcoin Bank, Coinbase, Gemini, Kraken, and Binance is a simpler option. These platforms allow you to convert standard currency into BTC easily. Start small, diversify your portfolio to manage volatility, and use digital wallets to store and spend your Bitcoin securely.

Use Cases and How to Spend Bitcoin

Bitcoin can be used as both a store of value and a payment method. Beyond holding it for potential appreciation, Bitcoin allows for purchasing everyday goods and services, with varying adoption by major retailers. It can be used online for gift cards, e-commerce, travel bookings, and more. Brands like Microsoft, AT&T, Home Depot, and some fast-food franchises accept Bitcoin. Crypto debit cards also enable the use of BTC as a traditional currency.

Risks and Downsides

Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper introduced a revolutionary concept, but Bitcoin carries inherent risks and challenges. Despite improvements, the ecosystem still faces security vulnerabilities, extreme volatility, fraud, and regulatory uncertainties. Key risks include potential total loss from hacking, significant price fluctuations, disruptive regulation, environmental impact of mining, and limited legal protections. Cryptocurrency remains an evolving experiment in creating a new global financial system.