Bitcoin is about to have a big year. The crypto-currency, used for making online peer-to-peer transactions has soared in popularity since it's creation in 2009, yet it's taken it awhile to break into the mainstream. However, after the first day of trading for 2017, Bitcoin's share value exceeded $1,000. This means the worth of the currency has risen 125% in the past year alone. This all sounds great if you're a trader or heavily invested in bitcoin, but what does it mean for the average mobile casino player? Should you expect to see it as a payment service in more casinos? Should you invest in it? We're here to tell you everything you need to know about bitcoin, from how it works to whether it's really worth your time.
Bitcoin was created in 2008, and launched to the public in 2009, by a programmer (or group of programmers) using the fake name Satoshi Nakamoto. The true creator of the currency remains a mystery; several people have since claimed to be the programmer, yet none have been able to conclusively prove it. Bitcoin was designed to be a decentralized currency, meaning there's no government, bank or company in charge, and was intended to eliminate the middle-man from online transactions. This means that payments are sent peer-to-peer, from the payee to the recipient, with no need for an outside service, no transaction fees and no need to exchange any personal information.
Bitcoins are created through a process called ‘mining'. Mining uses a mathematical formula to produce bitcoins and, as the software is freely available, you can mine bitcoins from your own computer. However, bitcoin is not unlimited. The ‘bitcoin protocol' dictates that a maximum of 21 million bitcoins can be created, to prevent inflation. At the current rate of production, this amount will be in circulation by 2140.
To spend bitcoins you need to create a bitcoin ‘wallet', which stores the information needed to complete transactions. Every single bitcoin transaction is registered on a huge online ledger, known as the blockchain. This shows the time and amount of each transaction, but will not show any personal information. When you have a bitcoin wallet, the bitcoins remain part of the blockchain, but the wallet allows you to see and spend your own bitcoins.
Bitcoin has several important characteristics and features that set it apart from normal currencies and therefore, arguably more appealing.
Every currency and payment method has its own disadvantages. As bitcoin is relatively new, it's important to understand its flaws before investing.
2017 will be a huge year for bitcoin, and telling in what it's worth and if it's a viable investment. The biggest bitcoin markets, like China, the US and Europe are responsible for it's dramatic rise in both popularity and value. External factors, like the US elections, have contributed to bitcoin's increase in value. Users see bitcoin as a new gold, a safe financial investment that, as it's decentralized, isn't affected by politics and fear and will continue to grow.
Experts say that Bitcoin could reach a share value of $2,000 by the end of 2017, which would be an incredible increase. This would also mean that more investors would buy into the currency, upping it's value even more, and forcing retailers to take the currency more seriously and help it to become more universally accepted.
iGaming is a market that has been instrumental in the growth of Bitcoin and, in 2017, there's now a record amount of Bitcoin casinos and Bitcoin sportsbooks out there. Whether you decide to invest in the virtual currency is up to you, but it's definitely worth keeping an eye on this year.