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What is Bitcoin?

The best way to think about bitcoin is that it is like digital gold. Bitcoin has all the properties of gold that make it good money: durability, portability, divisibility, and consistency (fungibility).

  • Durability - Bitcoin is more durable than gold. Bitcoins can never be destroyed. They can be lost or sent to a place they can't be spent from, but there is nothing that can destroy bitcoins. Gold while very hard to destroy it can be rendered worthless through chemical reactions.
  • Portability - Bitcoin is much more portable than gold. Since it is digital bitcoin can be transferred to anyone in the universe almost instantly. Gold needs to be moved via physical mechanisms.
  • Divisibility - Bitcoin is more easily divisible than gold. Bitcoins are divisible up to 8 decimal places and anyone can precisely send any fraction of bitcoin to anyone else. With gold it is hard to accurately create small divisions. For example how do give 1/100th of a penny's worth of gold? With bitcoin it is just as easy as sending a whole bitcoin.
  • Consistency / Fungibility - Bitcoin is more fungible than gold. Each bitcoin is by definition equal in value to another bitcoin. While this is true with gold, in practice it is hard to know if a gold bar is 100% gold, just gold plated lead, or something else.

Why would I want bitcoins?

If you don't have any issues with credit cards, banks, or cash then the only reason to buy bitcoins today is as an investment. Bitcoin has the potential to change every financial transaction in the world. If it only achieves a fraction of it's potential bitcoin will still be worth many times more than it is today. Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist Chris Dixon believes even as much as $100,000 per bitcoin.

Why wouldn't I want to own bitcoins?

Bitcoin was invented in 2009. No one knows if bitcoin will succeed or not, so a bitcoin investment could end up worthless. The other downside to holding bitcoins is that they are digital and today's computer security is not where it needs to be for everyone to store large amounts of bitcoin. Bitcoin is a high risk high reward investment today.

Where do I get bitcoins?

If you live in the U.S. Coinbase is an easy, safe way to buy and store your bitcoins. Here is a 3 minute video showing how to buy $0.77 worth of bitcoin.

I'm a big believer in bitcoin. If you are interested here are some of the resources I use to keep on top of the bitcoin world.

A quick plug for my project. I think the biggest barrier to bitcoin adoption is that everyone doesn't have some. To fix that I recommend giving bitcoin as gifts and as payment to your friends. To easily give as gifts I made Go Give Coin to mail a package explaining what bitcoin is and giving the recipient bitcoin.

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