What are bitcoins, how are they used, where do you get them, and what are the legal issues or ethics behind their use and acceptance? These are among several of the questions we will try to understand at this meetup.
According to Wikipedia: “Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer payment system and digital currency introduced as open source software in 2009 by pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto. It is a cryptocurrency, so-called because it uses cryptography to control the creation and transfer of money.” Bitcoin is a free market, decentralized, global currency meaning that there is no government control, and that banks or intermediaries are not involved. They can be acquired through mining or in exchange for products, services, or other currencies. Many governments have made laws to govern their use like normal currency but these regulations vary from country to country and help contribute to the overall uncertainty of these as currency. There are 11 million bitcoins on circulation with a plan to release 21 million by the year 2140, emulating the release of gold.
Aside from confusion surrounding regulation issues this currency has met with other controversies. Bitcoins have been tied to illicit activity with groups such as the Silk Road online black market, unauthorized mining, and theft. American Internet entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, among others, has stated that “bitcoin may be the most dangerous technological project since the internet itself.” The use of Bitcoins in Spain has been linked to the recent financial crisis, meaning that the citizens are using bitcoins over regular currency and that was not being tracked in the same way as typical currency. There is also a correlated use of bitcoins among those who have a general mistrust of financial institutions.
We hope to learn more about what bitcoins are, how they are being used for currency, what risk they pose to current forms of currency. We will also discuss a variety of potential pros and cons related to their use including but not limited to the following:
- If you forget your private key, you lose your bitcoins forever
- Your bitcoins can be hacked and online marketplaces have been compromised before
- Bitcoin is the riskiest investment one can make
- Does not rely on central bankers to control money supply
- Allows parts of the world that don't have access to banking to be involved in this market
- Protects from identity theft because no 3rd party had your personal info
- Speed of transactions is a few minutes
- Paper money is considered outdated, this could be a replacement
To find out more visit Andreas Antonopoulos website (He is considered the world's leading expert on Bitcoin) http://antonopoulos.com/