لضمان صحّة عمليات التحويل، يقوم نظام البيتكوين بالاحتفاظ بسجل حسابات تُسجل فيه جميع الإجراءات التي تتم على الشبكة يُطلق عليه اسم سلسلة الكُتل (بالإنجليزية: block chain). تتشارك جميع العُقد المتواجدة على شبكة البيتكوين هذا السجل عبر نظام يعتمد على بروتوكول بِتكُيِن. تحتوي سلسلة الكُتل على جميع الإجراءات التي تمت باستخدام بِتكُيِن، وهو ما يُمكن من معرفة الرصيد الذي يملكه كل عنوان على هذه الشبكة. يُطلق على هذا المفهوم وصف السلسلة للترابط المتواجد ما بين الكُتل، حيث تحتوي كل كُتلة على هاش الكُتلة التي تسبقها ويتواصل الأمر إلى غاية الوصول إلى الكُتلة الأولى التي يُطلق عليها اسم "كتلة التكوين" (بالإنجليزية: genesis block) . تكوين السلسلة بهذه الطريقة يجعل من مهمة تغيير أي كُتلة بعد مرور مُدة مُعينة على إنشائها في غاية الصعوبة، حيث أن تغيير أي كُتلة يتطلب تغيير كل الكُتل التي تليها بسبب الحاجة إلى إعادة حساب هاش كل كُتلة لتحديث قيمة هاش الكُتلة السابقة فيها. هذه الخاصية هي ما يجعل من مُشكل الإنفاق المُتكرر لنفس العُملات في غاية الصعوبة على بِتكُيِن، بل ويُمكن اعتبار سلسلة الكُتل العمود الفقري الذي لا يُمكن لعُملة بِتكُيِن الوقوف من دونه[10].
Transactions are defined using a Forth-like scripting language.[7]:ch. 5 Transactions consist of one or more inputs and one or more outputs. When a user sends bitcoins, the user designates each address and the amount of bitcoin being sent to that address in an output. To prevent double spending, each input must refer to a previous unspent output in the blockchain.[77] The use of multiple inputs corresponds to the use of multiple coins in a cash transaction. Since transactions can have multiple outputs, users can send bitcoins to multiple recipients in one transaction. As in a cash transaction, the sum of inputs (coins used to pay) can exceed the intended sum of payments. In such a case, an additional output is used, returning the change back to the payer.[77] Any input satoshis not accounted for in the transaction outputs become the transaction fee.[77]
Network nodes can validate transactions, add them to their copy of the ledger, and then broadcast these ledger additions to other nodes. To achieve independent verification of the chain of ownership each network node stores its own copy of the blockchain.[76] About every 10 minutes, a new group of accepted transactions, called a block, is created, added to the blockchain, and quickly published to all nodes, without requiring central oversight. This allows bitcoin software to determine when a particular bitcoin was spent, which is needed to prevent double-spending. A conventional ledger records the transfers of actual bills or promissory notes that exist apart from it, but the blockchain is the only place that bitcoins can be said to exist in the form of unspent outputs of transactions.[7]:ch. 5
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.[32]:220–222 Bitcoin miners join large mining pools to minimize the variance of their income.[32]:215, 219–222[115]:3[116] 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.[117] As of 2013 just six mining pools controlled 75% of overall bitcoin hashing power.[117] 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.[118] Between 2017 and 2019 over 70% of the hashing power and 90% of transactions were operating from China.[119]
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