Satoshi's anonymity often raises unjustified concerns because of a misunderstanding of Bitcoin's open-source nature. Everyone has access to all of the source code all of the time and any developer can review or modify the software code. As such, the identity of Bitcoin's inventor is probably as relevant today as the identity of the person who invented paper.
But while cryptocurrencies are more used for payment, its use as a means of speculation and a store of value dwarfs the payment aspects. Cryptocurrencies gave birth to an incredibly dynamic, fast-growing market for investors and speculators. Exchanges like Okcoin, poloniex or shapeshift enables the trade of hundreds of cryptocurrencies. Their daily trade volume exceeds that of major European stock exchanges.
Since prices are based on supply and demand, the rate at which a cryptocurrency can be exchanged for another currency can fluctuate widely. However, plenty of research has been undertaken to identify the fundamental price drivers of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin has indeed experienced some rapid surges and collapses in value, reaching as high as $19,000 per bitcoin in December of 2017 before returning to around $7,000 in the following months. Cryptocurrencies are thus considered by some economists to be a short-lived fad or speculative bubble. There is concern especially that the currency units, such as bitcoins, are not rooted in any material goods. Some research has identified that the cost of producing a bitcoin, which takes an increasingly large amount of energy, is directly related to its market price.
However, bitcoin is not subject to the supply uncertainty created by international central banks. Bitcoins are mined at a predictable rate, while unexpected shifts in monetary policy, like the Swiss National Bank’s decision to unpeg its currency from the euro earlier this year, can create significant swings in currency prices. Bitcoin value is linked to the fundamentals of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, while forex matters are tied to the economic decisions and conditions of an individual nation and its currency.
Btc exchanges are a somewhat safer place for your bitcoins compared to online wallets because they keep most coins in what is known as ”cold storage”. Usually over 90% of the bitcoins deposited on an exchange are kept offline. A small 5 to 10% reserve is kept onsite for immediate redemption purposes. There are plenty of guides online on how to store/secure bitcoins, go over them. It’s always safer to take care of this process yourself then to trust a third party with a substantial amount of bitcoins.
Direct trading websites like LocalBitcoins and Paxful connect buyer and seller directly without any additional third parties. The buyer deposits money into the seller's bank account and, upon showing proof, the seller can send the bitcoins from their wallet to the buyer's. Some direct trading sites offer other methods of paying or accepting money, including gift cards and gift card codes, PayPal and Venmo.
When discussing ways to invest in bitcoin, I mentioned bitcoin futures contracts. With these, you could essentially bet on the market and what the price of bitcoin will be in the future. These contracts are cash settled, and are certainly one way to trade bitcoin. There is also a different type of derivative that some prefer to use when trading: A bitcoin contract for difference, more commonly known as a CFD.
It’s decentralized and brings power back to the people. Launched just a year after the 2008 financial crises, Bitcoin has attracted many people who see the current financial system as unsustainable. This factor has won the hearts of those who view politicians and government with suspicion. It’s no surprise there is a huge community of ideologists actively building, buying, and working in the cryptocurrency world.
Bloomberg reported that the largest 17 crypto merchant-processing services handled $69 million in June 2018, down from $411 million in September 2017. Bitcoin is "not actually usable" for retail transactions because of high costs and the inability to process chargebacks, according to Nicholas Weaver, a researcher quoted by Bloomberg. High price volatility and transaction fees make paying for small retail purchases with bitcoin impractical, according to economist Kim Grauer. However, bitcoin continues to be used for large-item purchases on sites such as Overstock.com, and for cross-border payments to freelancers and other vendors.