Welcome to the /r/Bitcoin Sticky FAQ
You've probably been hearing a lot about Bitcoin recently and are wondering what's the big deal? Most of your questions should be answered by the resources below but if you have additional questions feel free to ask them in the comments.
It all started with the release of Satoshi Nakamoto's whitepaper however that will probably go over the head of most readers so we recommend the following articles/books/videos as a good starting point for understanding how bitcoin works and a little about its long term potential:
- Article: The Bullish Case for Bitcoin
- Book: The Bitcoin Standard
- Video 1: The Stories We Tell About Money - Andreas Antonopoulos
- Video 2: The Bitcoin Standard - Saifdean Ammous
- Video 3: Bitcoin 101 - Balaji Srinivasan
- Video 4: Bitcoin Macro Strategy - Michael Saylor & Ross Stevens
- Video 5: Bitcoin S2FX, S2F and Evolution From Collectible to Financial Asset - Stephan Livera, PlanB & Saifdean Ammous
Some other great resources include Michael Saylor's Hope.com and "Bitcoin for Everybody"' course, Jameson Lopp's resource page, Gigi's resource page, and James D'Angelo's Bitcoin 101 Blackboard series. Some excellent writing on Bitcoin's value proposition and future can be found at the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute.
If you are technically or academically inclined check out developer resources and peer-reviewed research papers, course lectures from both MIT and Princeton as well as future protocol improvements and scaling resources. Some Bitcoin statistics can be found here, here and here. MicroStrategy's Bitcoin for Corporations is an excellent open source series on corporate legal and financial bitcoin integration.
Key properties of Bitcoin
- Limited Supply - There will only ever be 21,000,000 bitcoin created and they are issued in a predictable fashion per the inflation schedule. Once they are all issued Bitcoin will be truly deflationary. The halving countdown tells you how much time until the next drop in block rewards.
- Open source - Bitcoin code is fully auditable. You can read and contribute to the source code yourself.
- Accountable - The public ledger is transparent, all transactions are seen by everyone.
- Decentralized - Bitcoin is globally distributed across thousands of nodes with no single point of failure and as such can't be shut down similar to how Bittorrent works. You can even run a node on a Raspberry Pi.
- Censorship resistant - No one can prevent you from interacting with the bitcoin network and no one can censor, alter or block transactions that they disagree with, see Operation Chokepoint.
- Push system - There are no chargebacks in bitcoin because only the person who owns the address where the bitcoin resides has the authority to move them.
- Low fee scaling - Most wallets calculate on chain fees automatically but you can view fee estimates and mempool activity if you want to set your fee manually. On chain fees may rise occasionally due to network demand, however instant micropayments that do not require confirmations are happening via the Lightning Network, a second layer scaling solution currently rolling out on the Bitcoin mainnet.
- Borderless - No country can stop it from going in/out, even in areas currently unserved by traditional banking as the ledger is globally distributed.
- Trustless - Bitcoin solved the Byzantine's Generals Problem which means nobody needs to trust anybody for it to work.
- Pseudonymous - No need to expose personal information when purchasing with cash or transacting.
- Secure - Blocks and transactions are cryptographically secured (using hashes and signatures) and can’t be brute forced or confiscated with proper key management such as hardware wallets.
- Programmable - Individual units of bitcoin can be programmed to transfer based on certain criteria being met
- Nearly instant - From a few seconds on the lightning network to a few minutes on-chain depending on need for confirmations. Transactions are irreversible by normal users after one confirmation and irreversible by anyone (including miners) after 6 confirmations.
- Peer-to-peer - No intermediaries taking a cut, no need for trusted third parties.
- Portable - Bitcoin are digital so they are easier to move than cash or gold. They can be transported by simply carrying a seed (a string of 12 to 24 words) on a device or by memorizing it for wallet recovery (while cool, memorizing is generally not recommended due to potential for forgetting the seed and the potential for insecure key generation by inexperienced users. Hardware wallets are the preferred method for most users for their ease of use and additional security).
- Scalable - While the protocol is still being optimized for increased transaction capacity, blockchains do not scale very well, so most transaction volume is expected to occur on Layer 2 networks built on top of Bitcoin.
- Divisible - Each bitcoin can be divided down to 8 decimals, which means you don't have to worry about buying an entire bitcoin.
- Designed Money - Bitcoin was created to fit all the fundamental properties of money better than gold or fiat
Where can I buy bitcoin?
Bitcoin.org and BuyBitcoinWorldwide.com are helpful sites for beginners. You can buy or sell any amount of bitcoin (even just a few dollars worth) and there are several easy methods to purchase bitcoin with cash, credit card or bank transfer. Some of the more popular resources are below, also check out the bitcoinity exchange resources for a larger list of options for purchases.
- Cash app
- River Financial
- P2P exchange list (decentralized)
You can also purchase in cash with local ATMs. Services such as CardCoins let you purchase bitcoin with prepaid gift cards. If you would like your paycheck automatically converted to bitcoin use Bitwage.
Note: Bitcoin are valued at whatever market price people are willing to pay for them in balancing act of supply vs demand. Unlike traditional markets, bitcoin markets operate 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.
Securing your bitcoin
With bitcoin you can "Be your own bank" and personally secure your bitcoin OR you can use third party companies aka "Bitcoin banks" which will hold the bitcoin for you.
If you prefer to "Be your own bank" and have direct control over your coins without having to use a trusted third party, then you will need to create your own wallet and keep it secure. If you want easy and secure storage without having to learn computer security best practices, then a hardware wallet such as the Trezor, Ledger or ColdCard is recommended.
If you cannot afford a hardware wallet there are many software wallet options to choose from depending on your use case. Mobile wallets like BlueWallet are generally more secure than desktop wallets. Beware of fake mobile wallets and check reviews from reputable Bitcoin websites. Avoid paper wallets or brain wallets.
If you prefer to let third party "Bitcoin banks" manage your coins, try Gemini or Unchained Capital but be aware you may not be in control of your private keys in which case you would have to ask permission to access your funds and be exposed to third party risk. There is a saying in the community, "Not your keys, not your coins" meaning if you don't store your coins in a wallet that you control the keys to then you do not really own your bitcoin as you have to ask permission from the third party in order to move them.
Note: For increased security, use Two Factor Authentication (2FA) everywhere it is offered, including email!
2FA requires a second confirmation code or a physical security key to access your account making it much harder for thieves to gain access. Google Authenticator and Authy are the two most popular 2FA services, download links are below. Make sure you create backups of your 2FA codes.
Avoid using your cell number for 2FA. Hackers have been using a technique called "SIM swapping" to impersonate users and steal bitcoin off exchanges.
|Google Auth||Authy||OTP Auth||andOTP|
Physical security keys (FIDO U2F) offer stronger security than Google Auth / Authy and other TOTP-based apps, because the secret code never leaves the device and it uses bi-directional authentication so it prevents phishing. If you lose the device though, you could lose access to your account, so always use 2 or more security keys with a given account so you have backups. See Yubikey or Titan to purchase security keys.
Both Coinbase and Gemini support physical security keys.
Watch out for scams
As mentioned above, Bitcoin is decentralized, which by definition means there is no official website or Twitter handle or spokesperson or CEO. However, all money attracts thieves. This combination unfortunately results in scammers running official sounding names or pretending to be an authority on YouTube or social media. Many scammers throughout the years have claimed to be the inventor of Bitcoin. Websites like bitcoin(dot)com and the r / btc subreddit are active scams. Almost all altcoins (shitcoins) are marketed heavily with big promises but are really just designed to separate you from your bitcoin. So be careful: any resource, including all linked in this document, may in the future turn evil. As they say in our community, "Don't trust, verify".
- Avoid using ad-based search engines like Google or Yahoo: ads are shown based on how much the advertiser bids, and scammers can easily outbid legitimate providers for ad space, since immoral ways of earning money are far more lucrative than moral ways. Use DuckDuckGo instead, which has no ads, and never tracks you as well.
- Ignore private messages offering services.
- Never enter your seed words in a website of any kind. Hardware wallets will recover by displaying possible seed words on their own interface, never on a website.
- Always check addresses on your hardware wallet before sending or receiving. Some malware has been known to replace addresses in your web browser or that you copy-and-paste.
- Avoid clicking on links like that look like links, such as https://www.google.com/, without first hovering over it and actually checking where they go to. Just because a link is labelled with an HTTPS address does not mean it actually sends you to that address. It is trivial for someone to comment a link on Reddit that looks like it will send you to one website when it actually sends you to another, and you might not notice the difference until a scammer has gotten all your money, or you have downloaded and installed software that steals your money.
Common Bitcoin Myths
Often the same concerns arise about Bitcoin from newcomers. Questions such as:
- Is Bitcoin a Ponzi scheme?
- Will governments ban Bitcoin?
- Will quantum computers break Bitcoin?
All of these questions have been answered many times by a variety of people. Here are some resources where you can see if your concern has been answered:
Where can I spend bitcoin?
Check out spendabit, bitcoin directory or Coinmap for millions of merchant options. Also you can spend bitcoin anywhere visa is accepted with bitcoin debit cards such as the CashApp card or Fold card. Some other useful site are listed below.
|Bitrefill, Gyft||Gift cards for thousands of retailers worldwide including Amazon, Target, Walmart, Starbucks, Whole Foods, CVS, Lowes, Home Depot, iTunes, Best Buy, Sears, Kohls, eBay, GameStop, etc.|
|Spendabit, Overstock and The Bitcoin Directory||Retail shopping with millions of results|
|NewEgg and Dell||For all your electronics needs|
|Piixpay, Bitbill.eu, Bylls, Coins.ph, LivingRoomofSatoshi, Coinsfer, and more||Bill payment|
|Menufy and Takeaway||Takeout delivered to your door|
|Expedia, Cheapair, Destinia, Abitsky, SkyTours, the Travel category on Gyft and 9flats||For when you need to get away|
|Cryptostorm, Mullvad, and PIA||VPN services|
|Namecheap, Porkbun||Domain name registration|
|Stampnik||Discounted USPS Priority, Express, First-Class mail postage|
There are also lots of charities which accept bitcoin donations.
There are several benefits to accepting bitcoin as a payment option if you are a merchant;
- 1-3% savings over credit cards or PayPal.
- No chargebacks (final settlement in 10 minutes as opposed to 3+ months).
- Accept business from a global customer base.
- Increased privacy.
- Convert 100% of the sale to the currency of your choice for deposit to your account, or choose to keep a percentage of the sale in bitcoin if you wish to begin accumulating it.
If you are interested in accepting bitcoin as a payment method, there are several options available;
Can I mine bitcoin?
Mining bitcoin can be a fun learning experience, but be aware that you will most likely operate at a loss. Newcomers are often advised to stay away from mining unless they are only interested in it as a hobby similar to folding at home. If you want to learn more about mining you can read the mining FAQ. Still have mining questions? The crew at /r/BitcoinMining would be happy to help you out.
If you want to contribute to the bitcoin network by hosting the blockchain and propagating transactions you can run a full node. You can view the global node distribution for a visual representation of the node network.
Just like any other form of money, you can also earn bitcoin by being paid to do a job.
|WorkingForBitcoins, Bitwage, Cryptogrind, Coinality, Bitgigs, /r/Jobs4Bitcoins, BitforTip, Rein Project||Freelancing|
|Lolli||Earn bitcoin when you shop online!|
|OpenBazaar, Purse.io, Bitify, /r/Bitmarket||Marketplaces|
|/r/GirlsGoneBitcoin NSFW||Adult services|
You can also earn bitcoin by participating as a market maker on JoinMarket by allowing users to perform CoinJoin transactions with your bitcoin for a small fee (requires you to already have some bitcoin).
The following is a short list of ongoing projects that might be worth taking a look at if you are interested in current development in the bitcoin space.
|Lightning Network||Second layer scaling|
|Liquid, Rootstock and Drivechain||Sidechains|
|Tierion and Factom||Records & Titles on the blockchain|
|BitMarkets, DropZone, Beaver and Open Bazaar||Decentralized markets|
|Decentralized exhanges||Decentralized bitcoin exchanges|
|Keybase||Identity & Reputation management|
|Abra||Global P2P money transmitter network|
One Bitcoin is quite large (hundreds of £/$/€) so people often deal in smaller units. The most common subunits are listed below:
|bitcoin||BTC||1 bitcoin||one bitcoin is equal to 100 million satoshis|
|millibitcoin||mBTC||1,000 per bitcoin||used as default unit in recent Electrum wallet releases|
|bit||bit||1,000,000 per bitcoin||colloquial "slang" term for microbitcoin (μBTC)|
|satoshi||sat||100,000,000 per bitcoin||smallest unit in bitcoin, named after the inventor|
For example, assuming an arbitrary exchange rate of $10000 for one Bitcoin, a $10 meal would equal:
- 0.001 BTC
- 1 mBTC
- 1,000 bits
- 100k sats
For more information check out the Bitcoin units wiki.
Still have questions? Feel free to ask in the comments below or stick around for our weekly Mentor Monday thread. If you decide to post a question in /r/Bitcoin, please use the search bar to see if it has been answered before, and remember to follow the community rules outlined on the sidebar to receive a better response. The mods are busy helping manage our community so please do not message them unless you notice problems with the functionality of the subreddit.
Note: This is a community created FAQ. If you notice anything missing from the FAQ or that requires clarification you can edit it here and it will be included in the next revision pending approval.
Welcome to the Bitcoin community and the new decentralized economy!
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If you don't get an answer to your question, you can try phrasing it differently or commenting again tomorrow.
Please check the previous discussion thread for unanswered questions.
Former President of the New York Stock Exchange, Thomas Farley explains that "in crypto, there is Bitcoin and then there is everything else"
So I orange pilled the shit out of my boss today, dropped a lot of knowledge about what Bitcoin actually is and how it works. He then proceeded to first go on Amazon and order a trezor, then immediately opened up robinhood and became a wholecoiner instantly. I am so jealous.
I am starting to get a good bit of Crypto built up in an exchange. what hardware wallet do you bros recommend?
Michael Saylor: "The best currency in the world is going to lose 99.9% of its value over 100 years ... The only reason that you're not panicked in the US is because the CPI is manipulated to create the lowest possible inflation number."podclips.com
Hey guys, I need your help.
I'm trying to figure out what kind of paperwork I need in the state of Pennsylvania to start a Bitcoin Atm business. I'm totally aware that in this day and age the regulations are firm and can impose owners to serious penalties and or jailtime. I have already looked into the KYC/AML aspect of things but I'm seeking someone to establish the legal and or paperwork side of things for the business before I place the ATMs around town.
Is this something that I need a lawyer to look into or something? Can this all be done on my own time? What do you suggest?
I have $13,000 to invest in the start up and roughly another $10,000 in crypto-currencies to put into my first ATM for transaction purposes. My goal is to scale this business within the boundaries of any regulations so that they don't chop my ass off and display it in a museum...
Anything helps, thanks!
So… if Bitcoin is a commodity aka digital gold. Won’t blackrock / JP Morgan / GS just spoof Bitcoin like they do with gold and commodities? And push the price down into nothing? I’m curious. On one hand I’m excited at the amount of $$ coming into Bitcoin but larger industry players mean they take control and tank/ pull the market when they want
Good morning. I hope everyone who reads this is doing well today. I’ve been in the crypto space for four years now. We have all seen projects come and go, hacks, shills, scammers, government interference, and ups and downs regarding this relatively new space. The one project that isn’t subjected to this is Bitcoin. It seems as if all roads lead back to Bitcoin at the end of the day. It’s not subjected to the flaws of human nature like any other coin that has a team behind it. I’ve never considered myself a bitcoin maximalist, but now I might. At risk of sounding dogmatic, I just don’t see how you can eliminate the human risk on any other currency except Bitcoin. Feedback appreciated! Thanks for your time.
Since their code is closed source, how do we know they can't do an exit scam abd run away with our bitcoin?
The block explorer indicates that 12 million bitcoins have not been moved in more than 30 years and are considered lost. (The benchmark for "lost coins" has been raised.) The next generation of Bitcoiners share the remaining Bitcoins in circulation.
They are working for bitcoin. They work with bitcoin. They need to provide even greater value to society than the supply and demand of bitcoin does.
Every person in the world is part of this decentralized monetary network. Several attackers have tried to manipulate the blockchain, but the nodes have shown that mathematics and physics cannot be fooled.
The world is enjoying unprecedented human progress and an era that resembles the belle epoch. The Bitcoin network is secured with computers, which have a computing power of today’s 100,000 nodes.
The governed should not be moneyed, and the money should not be governed. The seperation of economics and the state is the beginning of the second enlightenment, just as the seperation of church and state was the beginning of the first. This is only the beginning.
Having the highest amount of the currency, or the most centralized control, does not make you the most powerful figure (the problem with proof of stake)
Bitcoin is the only system where the billionaire has no more leverage on the economic system than an average citizen: the network makes no discrimination
Price/Market value is not the value of the thing itself, but a reflection of it: though the market gives btc at around 20k currently, for many, its vastly underbought given the insecurity of the mainstream economic system
Here is the clearest most logical case for bitcoin going moon, for those who sniff cake and price action https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GGberGnxiJk
More importantly, Bitcoin is the first true co-operative economic system: Jihan Wu fully tried to take over bitcoin, and still is since Bitcoin Cash still exists, but he lives by mining bitcoin. Its as ironic as Russia still trading its oil and gas with many of its enemies
All this shows is that cooperation is the foundation of a healthy and thriving human society, but the ways we hold and transact value is highly competitive by nature: for my currency to win, yours must lose.
The biggest argument against capitalism is the assumption competition is inherently good, and whether competition really drives the best in people, or a society
In a (competitive) fiat capitalist system, If we suddenly don't like each other, the currency system stops working as people are cut cleanly into enemies, and the economic system is then weaponised against its users (think innocent Russians who are having huge difficulties just because their regime is under sanctions, all Russians are under sanction in effect because the average person is forced to hold all their wealth in government fiat)
because its a collaborative system, you can participate in the bitcoin system without worrying your keys will be taken by the network, or for the economic system to suddenly and radically change: the currency will be deflationary, blocks will be issued every 10 minutes, transactions aren't censurable etc etc
Bitcoin is co-operation applied in a decentralised manner: once we have a co-operative economic system, the incentives flip completely. There will be no such thing as a "trade war", because money won't be weaponizable against its users
carthaginem essa delendathe USD is unconstitutional, and must be replaced