تُعتبر بيتكوين عُملة معمّاة (بالإنجليزية: cryptocurrency) ويُقصد بذلك أنها تعتمد بشكل أساسي على مبادئ التشفير في جميع جوانبها، كما أنها تُعتبر أيضا العُملة الأولى من نوعها والأكثر شهرة وانتشارًا لكن رغم ذلك ليست العُملة التشفيرية الوحيدة الموجودة على شبكة الإنترنت حاليًا. حيث يتوفر ما يزيد عن 60 عُملة تشفيرية مُختلفة منها 6 عُملات يُمكن وصفها بالرئيسية  وذلك اعتمادًا على عدد المُستخدمين وبنية كل شبكة، إضافة إلى الأماكن التي يُمكن استبدال وشراء هذه العُملات التشفيرية مُقابل عُملات أخرى. جميع العُملات التشفيرية الحالية مبنية على مبدأ عمل عُملة بيتكوين نفسها باستثناء عُملة Ripple ، وبما أن عُملة بيتكوين مفتوحة المصدر فإنه من المُمكن استنساخها وإدخال بعض التعديلات عليها ومن ثم إطلاق عُملة جديدة.
^ Iansiti, Marco; Lakhani, Karim R. (January 2017). "The Truth About Blockchain". Harvard Business Review. Harvard University. Retrieved 17 January 2017. The technology at the heart of bitcoin and other virtual currencies, blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.
حاليا لا يُملك مالكو عملات بيتكوين خيارات كثيرة لإنفاق أموالهم من خلالها، وهو ما يدفع ببعضهم إلى استبدالها مقابل العملات التقليدية. يتم ذلك عادة عبر منصات خاصة بذلك حيث يتم استبدال البيتكوينات مع مُستخدمين آخرين لها. يبدو أنه وفي حال ما إذا رغبت الحكومات في معرفة هويات أصحاب بعض الحسابات فما عليها سوى أن تقوم بتقنين عمليات التحويل بدل منعها، حيث سيصبح بالإمكان معرفة اسم صاحب كل حساب بُمجرد أن يرغب في استبدال ما بحوزته مقابل عملات تقليدية، وهو ما يُمثل نقطة انطلاق لتتبع الأموال المسروقة.
Full clients verify transactions directly by downloading a full copy of the blockchain (over 150 GB As of January 2018). They are the most secure and reliable way of using the network, as trust in external parties is not required. Full clients check the validity of mined blocks, preventing them from transacting on a chain that breaks or alters network rules.:ch. 1 Because of its size and complexity, downloading and verifying the entire blockchain is not suitable for all computing devices.
This dramatic volatility attracted global attention with the mainstream media running near-daily reports on the price of Ether. The publicity generated has been a major boon for the ecosystem, attracting thousands of new developers and business ventures alike. In 2018 the amount raised through Ethereum-enabled ICOs reached almost $8bn, increasing from just $90m in 2016. While the price of Ethereum has faced extreme volatility over the years, it is this volatility which has driven interest. After every boom and bust cycle, Ethereum comes out the other side with a fundamentally stronger platform and a broader developer community backing it. These fundamental improvements would suggest a positive long-term outlook on the price of Ethereum.
The "Metropolis Part 1: Byzantium" soft fork took effect on 16 October 2017, and included changes to reduce the complexity of the EVM and provide more flexibility for smart contract developers. Byzantium also added supports for zk-SNARKs (from Zcash), with the first zk-SNARK transaction occurring on testnet on September 19, 2017.
As with other cryptocurrencies, the validity of each ether is provided by a blockchain, which is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. By design, the blockchain is inherently resistant to modification of the data. It is an open, distributed ledger that records transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum operates using accounts and balances in a manner called state transitions. This does not rely upon unspent transaction outputs (UTXOs). State denotes the current balances of all accounts and extra data. State is not stored on the blockchain, it is stored in a separate Merkle Patricia tree. A cryptocurrency wallet stores the public and private "keys" or "addresses" which can be used to receive or spend ether. These can be generated through BIP 39 style mnemonics for a BIP 32 "HD Wallet". In Ethereum, this is unnecessary as it does not operate in a UTXO scheme. With the private key, it is possible to write in the blockchain, effectively making an ether transaction.
Wallets and similar software technically handle all bitcoins as equivalent, establishing the basic level of fungibility. Researchers have pointed out that the history of each bitcoin is registered and publicly available in the blockchain ledger, and that some users may refuse to accept bitcoins coming from controversial transactions, which would harm bitcoin's fungibility. For example, in 2012, Mt. Gox froze accounts of users who deposited bitcoins that were known to have just been stolen.
While it’s still early days, Mist, MetaMask and a variety of other browsers look set to make blockchain-based applications accessible to more people than ever before. Even people without a technical background can now potentially build blockchain apps. This is a revolutionary leap for blockchain technology that could bring decentralized applications into the mainstream.
Nigel Dodd argues in The Social Life of Bitcoin that the essence of the bitcoin ideology is to remove money from social, as well as governmental, control. Dodd quotes a YouTube video, with Roger Ver, Jeff Berwick, Charlie Shrem, Andreas Antonopoulos, Gavin Wood, Trace Meyer and other proponents of bitcoin reading The Declaration of Bitcoin's Independence. The declaration includes a message of crypto-anarchism with the words: "Bitcoin is inherently anti-establishment, anti-system, and anti-state. Bitcoin undermines governments and disrupts institutions because bitcoin is fundamentally humanitarian."
The overwhelming majority of bitcoin transactions take place on a cryptocurrency exchange, rather than being used in transactions with merchants. Delays processing payments through the blockchain of about ten minutes make bitcoin use very difficult in a retail setting. Prices are not usually quoted in units of bitcoin and many trades involve one, or sometimes two, conversions into conventional currencies. Merchants that do accept bitcoin payments may use payment service providers to perform the conversions.
Another type of physical wallet called a hardware wallet keeps credentials offline while facilitating transactions. The hardware wallet acts as a computer peripheral and signs transactions as requested by the user, who must press a button on the wallet to confirm that they intended to make the transaction. Hardware wallets never expose their private keys, keeping bitcoins in cold storage even when used with computers that may be compromised by malware.:42–45
Here’s why. Ethereum is based on blockchain technology where all transactions are meant to be irreversible and unchangeable. By executing a hard fork and rewriting the rules by which the blockchain executes, Ethereum set a dangerous precedent that goes against the very essence of blockchain. If the blockchain is changed every time a large enough amount of money is involved, or enough people get negatively impacted, the blockchain will lose its main value proposition – secure, anonymous, tamper proof & unchangeable.
Venture capitalists, such as Peter Thiel's Founders Fund, which invested US$3 million in BitPay, do not purchase bitcoins themselves, but instead fund bitcoin infrastructure that provides payment systems to merchants, exchanges, wallet services, etc. In 2012, an incubator for bitcoin-focused start-ups was founded by Adam Draper, with financing help from his father, venture capitalist Tim Draper, one of the largest bitcoin holders after winning an auction of 30,000 bitcoins, at the time called "mystery buyer". The company's goal is to fund 100 bitcoin businesses within 2–3 years with $10,000 to $20,000 for a 6% stake. Investors also invest in bitcoin mining. According to a 2015 study by Paolo Tasca, bitcoin startups raised almost $1 billion in three years (Q1 2012 – Q1 2015).
The U.S. federal investigation was prompted by concerns of possible manipulation during futures settlement dates. The final settlement price of CME bitcoin futures is determined by prices on four exchanges, Bitstamp, Coinbase, itBit and Kraken. Following the first delivery date in January 2018, the CME requested extensive detailed trading information but several of the exchanges refused to provide it and later provided only limited data. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission then subpoenaed the data from the exchanges.
Bitcoin is a digital asset designed to work in peer-to-peer transactions as a currency. Bitcoins have three qualities useful in a currency, according to The Economist in January 2015: they are "hard to earn, limited in supply and easy to verify." Per some researchers, as of 2015, bitcoin functions more as a payment system than as a currency.