According to BitPay, a Bitcoin Payment Service Provider, as of November 2013 there are over 14,000 merchants currently accepting bitcoins. Two years ago this number stood at few hundred. The number of transactions facilitated by Bitpay increased tenfold in 2014 and crossed the 50,000 mark in November. The payment processor said that 6,296 bitcoin transactions occurred on Black Friday last year, up from only 99 transactions the year prior.

Conversely, if one were to take the super-long view and, say, bought a few shares in 2012 at a sub-$100 price point, even with Bitcoin dropping half its peak value, that investor would still theoretically make over a 600 percent return on his investment just by waiting. Granted, the sub $100 days are likely now over, what with the currency's new-found stardom so we'll have to wait and see how the market plays out.
Another reason many choose Bitcoin over traditional stocks and fiat currencies is because of its fantastic volatility. To a long term investor, volatility might be a bad idea and promotes instability. However, day to day traders can benefit enormously with the amount of volatility which is seen in Bitcoin every day. We are all aware of the reason for this volatility as well, as all new currencies experience it. This is especially true when knowledge of the currency is low alongside the relatively low network effect. But this doesn’t mean the currency is bound to fail, and all it means is that Bitcoin needs more time to mature. For a day to day trader, those are golden words.

Bitcoin is a digital currency, also known as a cryptocurrency, and is created or mined when people solve complex math puzzles online. These bitcoins are then stored in a digital wallet that exists on the cloud or the user’s computer. Because bitcoins are not housed in bank accounts, brokerage, or futures accounts, they are not insured by the FDIC or SIPC.

According to The New York Times, libertarians and anarchists were attracted to the idea. Early bitcoin supporter Roger Ver said: "At first, almost everyone who got involved did so for philosophical reasons. We saw bitcoin as a great idea, as a way to separate money from the state."[120] The Economist describes bitcoin as "a techno-anarchist project to create an online version of cash, a way for people to transact without the possibility of interference from malicious governments or banks".[123]
A very widely used type of price graph, Japanese candlesticks are based on an ancient Japanese method of technical analysis, used in trading rice in 1600’s. Each “candle” represents the opening, lowest, highest, and closing prices of the given time period. Due to that, Japanese Candlesticks are sometimes referred to as OHLC graph (Open, High, Low, Close).
In a recent report, Goldman Sachs explained that the Chinese yuan is the most popular currency on which bitcoin trades are based. According to the investment bank, 80% of bitcoin volume is exchanged into and out of Chinese yuan. Meanwhile, says that nearly 78% of all bitcoin trading volume is happening on China-based exchanges OKCoin, BTC China, or Huobi. Which suggests that frequent trading between bitcoin and rival fiat currencies would be a common practice. 
Localbitcoins is quite a popular for p2p (person to person) transactions all over the world. Simply put, you interact directly with the guy selling to you. Out of all the bitcoin sites listed here, this is one of the first and most reputed. Escrow and dispute resolution is provided by the site. See my thorough review of Localbitcoins, I personally use it to cash out of positions quite often.
Another area ‘’ripe’’ for disruption is the money transfer market. The market is currently dominated by large players like Western Union and MoneyGram, WU for example can earn upwards of 10 percent per transaction on international remittances. By comparison, a bitcoin transaction shouldn’t cost more than 5 percent even after accounting for all exchange and bank wire fees for both the buyer and the seller on each side of the remittance. If no fiat currency is involved, sending and receiving bitcoins is almost free and costs 0.0001 btc regardless of the amount. This is around 9 cents at current btc prices.
You don‘t need to understand details about SHA 256. It‘s only important you know that it can be the basis of a cryptologic puzzle the miners compete to solve. After finding a solution, a miner can build a block and add it to the blockchain. As an incentive, he has the right to add a so-called coinbase transaction that gives him a specific number of Bitcoins. This is the only way to create valid Bitcoins.

Though each bitcoin transaction is recorded in a public log, names of buyers and sellers are never revealed – only their wallet IDs. While that keeps bitcoin users’ transactions private, it also lets them buy or sell anything without easily tracing it back to them. That’s why it has become the currency of choice for people online buying drugs or other illicit activities.
Simply put, whenever a user sends a certain amount of Bitcoins to another user, a third user verifies this transaction and publicly notates it in a ledger which is accessible by anyone. This ledger is called the “blockchain.” As time goes on, more and more users see the transaction in the blockchain and are able to verify it again. The more times each transaction is verified, the more secured it becomes.

Bitcoin is a currency much like any other, albeit digital. It can be saved, spent, invested, and even stolen. The rise of Bitcoin, the most widely circulated cryptocurrency, began in 2009 by someone (or someones) using the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. It came to prominence earlier this year when its value suddenly jumped 10-fold from $2 to $266 between February and April, with a peak market valuation of more than $2 billion.
Depending on a jurisdiction you live in, once you’ve made a profit or a loss investing in cryptocurrencies, you might need to include it in your tax report. In terms of taxation, cryptocurrencies are treated very differently from country to country. In the US, the Internal Revenue Service ruled that Bitcoins and other digital currencies are to be taxed as property, not currency. For investors, this means that accrued long-term gains and losses from cryptocurrency trading are taxed at each investor’s applicable capital gains rate, which stands at a maximum of 15 percent.
Cryptocurrencies are digital gold. Sound money that is secure from political influence. Money that promises to preserve and increase its value over time. Cryptocurrencies are also a fast and comfortable means of payment with a worldwide scope, and they are private and anonymous enough to serve as a means of payment for black markets and any other outlawed economic activity.
Jump up ^ Beikverdi, A.; Song, J. (June 2015). "Trend of centralization in Bitcoin's distributed network". 2015 IEEE/ACIS 16th International Conference on Software Engineering, Artificial Intelligence, Networking and Parallel/Distributed Computing (SNPD): 1–6. doi:10.1109/SNPD.2015.7176229. ISBN 978-1-4799-8676-7. Archived from the original on 26 January 2018.

Americ, your insights were very informative! A few months ago I didn’t even know what blockchain is, only heard about cryptocurrencies. My friend suggested me to start an investigation on crypto-mining, there was a boom of articles, but in most cases highly generic ones. Thus my friend found BitDegree publishing lots of good stuff about the crypto world, and especially the whole tutorials about mining that helped us to our Litecoin mining career step-by-step!

Every 2,016 blocks (approximately 14 days at roughly 10 min per block), the difficulty target is adjusted based on the network's recent performance, with the aim of keeping the average time between new blocks at ten minutes. In this way the system automatically adapts to the total amount of mining power on the network.[3]:ch. 8 Between 1 March 2014 and 1 March 2015, the average number of nonces miners had to try before creating a new block increased from 16.4 quintillion to 200.5 quintillion.[81]