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The Slate

What Is Bitcoin and Where Is It Going?

What Is Bitcoin and Where Is It Going?

Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency, first appeared in 2009 when it was created by an unknown person working under an alias. Transferred directly from person to person, Bitcoins don’t require a middleman and leave the holder virtually anonymous. There are no prerequisites or arbitrary limits and because there is no need to go through a bank, fees are much lower. Also, they can be used in every country. People are attracted to Bitcoins for many reasons, but one of the biggest perks is that merchandise can be purchased anonymously. In addition, it’s a fast and easy way to exchange currencies between countries because Bitcoin isn’t tied to any specific region. Small business enjoy using it because there are no credit card fees and others invest in the hope that Bitcoin’s value will increase over time. 

But there’s a flip side. Former US congressman Ron Paul told CNN he believes that if people start using Bitcoin more frequently, “it’ll go down in history as the destroyer of the dollar.” While this is unlikely, because the US government will always need monetary sources, Bitcoin could be the answer to people concerned about the dollar’s inflation. The system was designed to release bitcoins at a slow and steady rate, in order to avoid losing value because of inflation. Rather than fight Bitcoins, governments should be coming up with their own version, to allow for a competition between two virtual currencies. At this point in time, no other virtual currency comes close to offering all that Bitcoin does. In the beginning of 2010, they were worth mere cents whereas now, at the close of 2013, a single Bitcoin is worth more than $1,000. Some are even using their Bitcoins to purchase cars. Although some economists believe that Bitcoin is stuck in a bubble, the reality is that it could grow into the next big currency for consumers to use worldwide.

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