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[6] منها 6 عُملات يُمكن وصفها بالرئيسية [7] 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 [8]، وبما أن عُملة بيتكوين مفتوحة المصدر فإنه من المُمكن استنساخها وإدخال بعض التعديلات عليها ومن ثم إطلاق عُملة جديدة.

The bitcoin blockchain is a public ledger that records bitcoin transactions.[75] 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.[32]:215–219 Transactions of the form payer X sends Y bitcoins to payee Z are broadcast to this network using readily available software applications.
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.
On 3 January 2009, the bitcoin network was created when Nakamoto mined the first block of the chain, known as the genesis block.[21][22] Embedded in the coinbase of this block was the text "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks".[11] This note references a headline published by The Times and has been interpreted as both a timestamp and a comment on the instability caused by fractional-reserve banking.[23]:18
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]
On 3 January 2009, the bitcoin network was created when Nakamoto mined the first block of the chain, known as the genesis block.[21][22] Embedded in the coinbase of this block was the text "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks".[11] This note references a headline published by The Times and has been interpreted as both a timestamp and a comment on the instability caused by fractional-reserve banking.[23]:18
Third-party internet services called online wallets offer similar functionality but may be easier to use. In this case, credentials to access funds are stored with the online wallet provider rather than on the user's hardware.[97] As a result, the user must have complete trust in the online wallet provider. A malicious provider or a breach in server security may cause entrusted bitcoins to be stolen. An example of such a security breach occurred with Mt. Gox in 2011.[98]

البيتكوين عملة رقمية ذات مجهولية، حيث أن عملية التحويل عبرها يتطلب فقط معرفة رقم محفظة الشخص المحول إليه ويتم تخزين عملية التحويل في سلسلة الكتل برقم تسلسلي خاص ولا يتضمن هذا اسم المرسل او المتلقي او اي بيانات اخرى خاصة بهما، مما يجعل منها فكرة رائجة لدى كل من المدافعين عن الخصوصية، أو بائعي البضائع غير المشروعة (مثل المخدرات) عبر الإنترنت على حد سواء.[9] 
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