Physical wallets can also take the form of metal token coins[102] with a private key accessible under a security hologram in a recess struck on the reverse side.[103]:38 The security hologram self-destructs when removed from the token, showing that the private key has been accessed.[104] Originally, these tokens were struck in brass and other base metals, but later used precious metals as bitcoin grew in value and popularity.[103]:80 Coins with stored face value as high as ₿1000 have been struck in gold.[103]:102–104 The British Museum's coin collection includes four specimens from the earliest series[103]:83 of funded bitcoin tokens; one is currently on display in the museum's money gallery.[105] In 2013, a Utahn manufacturer of these tokens was ordered by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to register as a money services business before producing any more funded bitcoin tokens.[102][103]:80
طرح شخص أطلق على نفسه الاسم الرمزي ساتوشي ناكاموتو فكرة بيتكوين للمرة الأولى في ورقة بحثية في عام 2008،[2] ووصفها بأنها نظام نقدي إلكتروني يعتمد في التعاملات المالية على مبدأ الند للند (بالإنجليزية: Peer-to-Peer) ، وهو مصطلح تقني يعني التعامل المباشر بين مستخدم وآخر دون وجود وسيط (كالتورنت). يقول القائمون على بيتكوين إن الهدف من هذه العملة التي طرحت للتداول للمرة الأولى سنة 2009 [3] هو تغيير الاقتصاد العالمي بنفس الطريقة التي غيرت بها الويب أساليب النشر.[4] وفي عام 2016 أعلن رجل الأعمال الأسترالي كريغ رايت أنه هو ساتوشي ناكاموتو مقدما دليلا تقنيا على ذلك ولكن تم كشف زيف أدلّته بسهولة.[5] 

In 2014, researchers at the University of Kentucky found "robust evidence that computer programming enthusiasts and illegal activity drive interest in bitcoin, and find limited or no support for political and investment motives".[134] Australian researchers have estimated that 25% of all bitcoin users and 44% of all bitcoin transactions are associated with illegal activity as of April 2017. There were an estimated 24 million bitcoin users primarily using bitcoin for illegal activity. They held $8 billion worth of bitcoin, and made 36 million transactions valued at $72 billion.[225][226]
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.

Blockchain analysts estimate that Nakamoto had mined about one million bitcoins[28] before disappearing in 2010, when he handed the network alert key and control of the code repository over to Gavin Andresen. Andresen later became lead developer at the Bitcoin Foundation.[29][30] Andresen then sought to decentralize control. This left opportunity for controversy to develop over the future development path of bitcoin, in contrast to the perceived authority of Nakamoto's contributions.[31][30]
Ethereum was initially described in a white paper by Vitalik Buterin,[10] a programmer involved with Bitcoin Magazine, in late 2013 with a goal of building decentralized applications.[11][12] Buterin had argued that Bitcoin needed a scripting language for application development. Failing to gain agreement, he proposed development of a new platform with a more general scripting language.[4]:88
Physical wallets store the credentials necessary to spend bitcoins offline and can be as simple as a paper printout of the private key;[7]:ch. 10 a paper wallet. A paper wallet is created with a keypair generated on a computer with no internet connection; the private key is written or printed onto the paper[g] and then erased from the computer. The paper wallet can then be stored in a safe physical location for later retrieval. Bitcoins stored using a paper wallet are said to be in cold storage.[99]:39 In a 2014 interview, QuadrigaCX founder Gerald Cotten explained that the company stored customer funds on paper wallets in safe deposit boxes: "So we just send money to them, we don’t need to go back to the bank every time we want to put money into it. We just send money from our Bitcoin app directly to those paper wallets, and keep it safe that way."[100]

Bitcoin is a digital currency, sometimes referred to as a cryptocurrency, best known as the world's first truly decentralized digital currency. Bitcoin is traded on a peer-to-peer basis with a distributed ledger called the Blockchain, and the Bitcoin exchange rate to the US Dollar and other major currencies is determined by supply and demand as with other global exchange rates. The traded value of Bitcoin has proven volatile through various booms and busts in demand. Ultimately, however, many see Bitcoin as a store of value against government-backed fiat currencies.

Full clients verify transactions directly by downloading a full copy of the blockchain (over 150 GB As of January 2018).[95] 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.[7]:ch. 1 Because of its size and complexity, downloading and verifying the entire blockchain is not suitable for all computing devices.

Ethereum is also being used as a platform to launch other cryptocurrencies. Because of the ERC20 token standard defined by the Ethereum Foundation, other developers can issue their own versions of this token and raise funds with an initial coin offering (ICO). In this fundraising strategy, the issuers of the token set an amount they want to raise, offer it in a crowdsale, and receive Ether in exchange. Billions of dollars have been raised by ICOs on the Ethereum platform in the last two years, and one of the most valuable cryptocurrencies in the world, EOS, is an ERC20 token.