How Math Can Be Used To Solve Real-World Situations Bitcoin: What Is It, and Is It Right for Your Business?

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Bitcoin: What Is It, and Is It Right for Your Business?

Ok, so what is Bitcoin?

It is not a real currency, it is a “cryptocurrency”, a form of digital payment that is produced (“mined”) by many people around the world. It enables peer-to-peer transactions instantly, worldwide, for free or at very low cost.

Bitcoin was invented after decades of cryptographic research by software developer Satoshi Nakamoto (believed to be a pseudonym), who designed the algorithm and introduced it in 2009. Its true identity remains a mystery.

This currency is not backed by a tangible commodity (such as gold or silver); Bitcoins are traded online, making them a commodity in themselves.

Bitcoin is an open source product, accessible to any user. All you need is an email address, internet access and money to get started.

where does it come from

Bitcoin is mined on a distributed computer network of users running specialized software; the network solves certain mathematical proofs and searches for a particular sequence of data (“block”) that produces a particular pattern when applied to it by the BTC algorithm. A match produces one bitcoin. It is complex and requires time and energy.

Only 21 million bitcoins are mined (about 11 million are currently in circulation). Mathematical problems solved by networked computers become increasingly difficult to keep mining operations and supply under control.

This network also validates all transactions using cryptography.

How does Bitcoin work?

Internet users transfer digital assets (bits) to each other on a network. There is no online banking; rather, Bitcoin has been described as a distributed ledger over the Internet. Users buy Bitcoin with cash or by selling a product or service for Bitcoin. Bitcoin wallets store and use this digital currency. Users can sell themselves from this virtual ledger by exchanging their Bitcoin with someone else who wants to enter. Anyone can do it, anywhere in the world.

There are smartphone apps for making mobile Bitcoin transactions, and Bitcoin exchanges are populating the Internet.

How is Bitcoin valued?

Bitcoin is not maintained or controlled by a financial institution; it is completely decentralized. Unlike money in the real world, it cannot be devalued by governments or banks.

Instead, Bitcoin’s value lies simply in its acceptance among users as a form of payment and because its supply is limited. Their global currency values ​​fluctuate according to supply and demand and market speculation; as more people create wallets and hold and spend bitcoin, and more businesses accept it, the value of Bitcoin will increase. Banks are now trying to value Bitcoin, and some investment websites predict that the price of one bitcoin will be several thousand dollars in 2014.

What are its benefits?

There are advantages for consumers and merchants who want to use this payment option.

1. Fast Transactions – Bitcoin is transferred instantly over the Internet.

2. No fees/low fees: Unlike credit cards, Bitcoin can be used for free or with very low fees. Without the centralized institution as an intermediary, no authorizations (and fees) are required. This improves sales profit margins.

3. Eliminates the risk of fraud – Only the Bitcoin owner can send the payment to the intended recipient, who is the only one who can receive it. The network knows that the transfer has occurred and the transactions are validated; they cannot be challenged or recovered. This is important for online merchants who are often subject to credit card processors’ assessments of whether or not a transaction is fraudulent, or for businesses that pay the high price of credit card chargebacks.

4. Data is safe: As we’ve seen with the recent hacks into the payment processing systems of national retailers, the Internet isn’t always a safe place for private data. With Bitcoin, users don’t give up private information.

a. They have two keys: a public key that serves as a bitcoin address and a private key with personal data.

b. Transactions are digitally “signed” by combining public and private keys; a mathematical function is applied and a certificate is generated proving that the user initiated the transaction. Digital signatures are unique for each transaction and cannot be reused.

c. Your secret information (name, number, physical address) is never seen by the merchant/recipient, so it is somewhat anonymous, but traceable (back to the bitcoin address in the public key).

5. Convenient Payment System: Merchants can fully use Bitcoin as a payment system; they don’t have to have any Bitcoin currency as Bitcoin can be converted into dollars. Consumers or traders can trade Bitcoin and other currencies at any time.

6. International payments – Bitcoin is used worldwide; E-commerce merchants and service providers can easily accept international payments, which opens up new potential markets for them.

7. Easy to Track: The network permanently tracks and records all transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain (the database). In the case of potential crimes, it is easier for law enforcement officials to trace these transactions.

8. Micropayments are possible: Bitcoins can be divided up to a hundred-millionth, so making small payments of a dollar or less becomes a free or near-free transaction. This could be a real boon for convenience stores, coffee shops, and subscription-based websites (videos, posts).

Still a little confused? Here are some examples of transactions:

Bitcoin in the retail environment

At checkout, the payer uses a smartphone app to scan a QR code with all the necessary transaction information to transfer the bitcoin to the retailer. Tapping the “Confirm” button completes the transaction. If the user does not own any Bitcoins, the network converts the dollars in their account into the digital currency.

The retailer can convert this Bitcoin into dollars if they want, there were no or very low processing fees (instead of 2-3%), no hacker can steal the consumer’s personal information, and there is no risk of fraud. very smooth

Bitcoins in hospitality

Hotels can accept Bitcoin to pay for room and dining on premises for guests who want to pay with Bitcoin using their mobile wallets or from a PC to a website to pay for an online reservation. A third-party BTC merchant processor can help manage the transactions it clears through the Bitcoin network. These processing clients are installed on tablets at the reception of establishments or in restaurants for users with BTC smartphone applications. (These payment processors are also available for desktops, in retail POS systems, and embedded in foodservice POS systems.) No credit cards or money need to change hands.

These cashless transactions are fast and the processor can convert bitcoins into currency and make a daily direct deposit into the establishment’s bank account. In January 2014, it was announced that two hotel-casinos in Las Vegas will accept Bitcoin payments at the front desk, in their restaurants and in the gift shop.

Sounds good, so what’s the catch?

Business owners should consider engagement, security and cost issues.

• A relatively small number of ordinary consumers and merchants currently use or understand Bitcoin. However, adoption is increasing globally and tools and technologies are being developed to facilitate participation.

• It’s the Internet, so hackers are threats to exchanges. The Economist reported that a Bitcoin exchange was hacked in September 2013 and $250,000 in bitcoins were stolen from users’ online vaults. Bitcoins can be stolen like any other currency, so network, server and database security is paramount.

• Users must carefully protect their bitcoin wallets containing their private keys. Backups or secure prints are crucial.

• Bitcoin is not regulated or insured by the US government, so there is no insurance for your account if the exchange goes up for sale or is stolen by hackers.

• Bitcoins are relatively expensive. Current rates and sale prices are available on online exchanges.

Virtual currency is not yet universal, but it is gaining market awareness and acceptance. A business may decide to try Bitcoin to save on bank and credit card fees, as a customer convenience, or to see if it helps or hinders sales and profitability.

Thinking of accepting Bitcoin? Do you already use it? Share your thoughts and experiences with us.

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