The use of bitcoin by criminals has attracted the attention of financial regulators, legislative bodies, law enforcement, and the media. In the United States, the FBI prepared an intelligence assessment, the SEC issued a pointed warning about investment schemes using virtual currencies, and the U.S. Senate held a hearing on virtual currencies in November 2013. The U.S. government claimed that bitcoin was used to facilitate payments related to Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections.
Researchers have pointed out at a "trend towards centralization". Although bitcoin can be sent directly from user to user, in practice intermediaries are widely used.:220–222 Bitcoin miners join large mining pools to minimize the variance of their income.:215, 219–222:3 Because transactions on the network are confirmed by miners, decentralization of the network requires that no single miner or mining pool obtains 51% of the hashing power, which would allow them to double-spend coins, prevent certain transactions from being verified and prevent other miners from earning income. As of 2013 just six mining pools controlled 75% of overall bitcoin hashing power. In 2014 mining pool Ghash.io obtained 51% hashing power which raised significant controversies about the safety of the network. The pool has voluntarily capped their hashing power at 39.99% and requested other pools to act responsibly for the benefit of the whole network. Between 2017 and 2019 over 70% of the hashing power and 90% of transactions were operating from China.
Izabella Kaminska, the editor of FT Alphaville, has pointed out that criminals are using Ethereum to run Ponzi schemes and other forms of investment fraud. The article was based on a paper from the University of Cagliari, which placed the number of Ethereum smart contracts which facilitate Ponzi schemes at nearly 10% of 1384 smart contracts examined. However, it also estimated that only 0.05% of the transactions on the network were related to such contracts.
The proof-of-work system, alongside the chaining of blocks, makes modifications of the blockchain extremely hard, as an attacker must modify all subsequent blocks in order for the modifications of one block to be accepted. As new blocks are mined all the time, the difficulty of modifying a block increases as time passes and the number of subsequent blocks (also called confirmations of the given block) increases.
Bitcoin has been criticized for the amount of electricity consumed by mining. As of 2015, The Economist estimated that even if all miners used modern facilities, the combined electricity consumption would be 166.7 megawatts (1.46 terawatt-hours per year). At the end of 2017, the global bitcoin mining activity was estimated to consume between one and four gigawatts of electricity. Politico noted that the even high-end estimates of bitcoin's total consumption levels amount to only about 6% of the total power consumed by the global banking sector, and even if bitcoin's consumption levels increased 100 fold from today's levels, bitcoin's consumption would still only amount to about 2% of global power consumption.
لنفرض بأن أغلب المُنقبين يستخدمون أجهزة تقارب في كفاءتها Radeon 5870 video card والتي يتم اعتبارها كإحدى أعلى البطاقات مردودية على هذا الموقع. بإمكان بطاقة Radeon 5870 أن تُنفذ 402 ميجا هاش في الثانية وتُكلف حوالي 1.2 دولار لليوم الواحد إن تم استخدامها على جهاز يحتوي بطاقتين من نفس النوع في الولايات المُتحدة أين يُمكن القول بأن سعر الكهرباء رخيص نسبيا. للوصول إلى النتيجة آنفة الذكر نحتاج إلى استخدام 14,164,898 جهاز بتكلفة $16,997,877 وهو ما يُمثل خسارة تُقدر بـ $13,072,014 يوميا للمُنقبين.
Ethereum was initially described in a white paper by Vitalik Buterin, a programmer involved with Bitcoin Magazine, in late 2013 with a goal of building decentralized applications. 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.:88
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."
تسمح تطبيقات بيتكوين والتي يُطلق عليها أحيانا اسم عميل بيتكوين للمُستخدمين بالتعامل مع شبكة بيتكوين. في شكله القاعدي يسمح التطبيق بتوليد وحفظ مفاتيح خاصة بالمُستخدم والاتصال بشبكة الند للند الخاص بالعُملة. تم إطلاق أول تطبيق بيتكوين سنة 2009 من طرف ساتوشي ناكاموتو مُؤسس عُملة بيتكوين كتطبيق مجاني ومفتوح المصدر. يُستخدم هذا التطبيق -والذي يُطلق عليه عادة اسم تطبيق ساتوشي- كمحفظة على الحواسيب الشخصية للقيام بعمليات دفع إلكترونية أو كخادوم لاستقبال تلك المدفوعات ولخدمات أخرى مُتعلقة بالدفع. أما تطبيق Bitcoin-Qt فيتم اعتباره كتطبيق مرجعي بحكم أنه يُمثل الآلية التي يعمل من خلالها بروتوكول بيتكوين ويُعتبر مثالا يُحتذى به لغيره من التطبيقات. لدى القيام بعمليات شراء باستخدام الهواتف الذكية فإنه عادة ما يتم استخدام تطبيقات بيتكوين تقوم بتوليد و/أو قراءة QR codes لتسهيل مهمة التحويل والدفع. كما تتوفر حاليا عدة تطبيقات تعمل كخواديم تقوم بتأكيد الإجراءات التي تتم على الشبكة وتقوم بإضافتها كتلة تحويلات.
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.
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.
Vitalik Buterin picked the name Ethereum after browsing Wikipedia articles about elements and science fiction, when he found the name, noting, "I immediately realized that I liked it better than all of the other alternatives that I had seen; I suppose it was the fact that sounded nice and it had the word 'ether', referring to the hypothetical invisible medium that permeates the universe and allows light to travel."
Mining is a record-keeping service done through the use of computer processing power.[e] Miners keep the blockchain consistent, complete, and unalterable by repeatedly grouping newly broadcast transactions into a block, which is then broadcast to the network and verified by recipient nodes. Each block contains a SHA-256 cryptographic hash of the previous block, thus linking it to the previous block and giving the blockchain its name.:ch. 7
J. P. Morgan Chase is developing JPM Coin on a permissioned-variant of Ethereum blockchain dubbed "Quorum". It's designed to toe the line between private and public in the realm of shuffling derivatives and payments. The idea is to satisfy regulators who need seamless access to financial goings-on, while protecting the privacy of parties that don't wish to reveal their identities nor the details of their transactions to the general public.