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.
Until relatively recently, building blockchain applications has required a complex background in coding, cryptography, mathematics as well as significant resources. But times have changed. Previously unimagined applications, from electronic voting & digitally recorded property assets to regulatory compliance & trading are now actively being developed and deployed faster than ever before. By providing developers with the tools to build decentralized applications, Ethereum is making all of this possible.
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 bitcoin blockchain is a public ledger that records bitcoin transactions. It is implemented as a chain of blocks, each block containing a hash of the previous block up to the genesis block[c] of the chain. A network of communicating nodes running bitcoin software maintains the blockchain.:215–219 Transactions of the form payer X sends Y bitcoins to payee Z are broadcast to this network using readily available software applications.
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.
If the private key is lost, the bitcoin network will not recognize any other evidence of ownership; the coins are then unusable, and effectively lost. For example, in 2013 one user claimed to have lost 7,500 bitcoins, worth $7.5 million at the time, when he accidentally discarded a hard drive containing his private key. About 20% of all bitcoins are believed to be lost. They would have a market value of about $20 billion at July 2018 prices.
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.