Because Bitcoin has no repository or single administrator, and since all of the code used for its own functionally is open source, it is considered to be a truly decentralized system. The Bitcoin community itself makes decisions on what needs to be implemented in the code and what needs to be rectified. In order for Bitcoin to work correctly, each version of the Bitcoin Core software has to be compatible with each other, so everyone has to make the decision regarding all updates to the software, otherwise those who do not agree with the update will not be able to be a part of the Bitcoin network. Since the computing power of the users on the network is needed to keep Bitcoin alive, it is in the developers’ interest to keep everyone happy with the decision that they make. Furthermore, since all of the code is open source, it is practically impossible to shift any power over Bitcoin to a single user or a group of users because this part of the code would be identified quickly and brought to light, making most of the users very unhappy with an attempt to centralize the currency.
But Coinbase is ultimately tied to the future performance of cryptocurrencies. Coinbase claims it will use the $300 million it recently raised to expand global links between fiat currencies and cryptocurrencies, and to add more cryptocurrencies to its exchange. Coinbase is also working to attract more financial institutions to cryptocurrency trading.
Please note that virtual currency is a digital representation of value that functions as a medium of exchange, a unit of account, or a store of value, but it does not have legal tender status. Virtual currencies are sometimes exchanged for U.S. dollars or other currencies around the world, but they are not currently backed nor supported by any government or central bank. Their value is completely derived by market forces of supply and demand, and they are more volatile than traditional fiat currencies. Profits and losses related to this volatility are amplified in margined futures contracts.
Researchers have pointed out at a "trend towards centralization". Although bitcoin can be sent directly to the bitcoin network, 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.
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer virtual currency. This means that in order for a transaction to occur, no middle men or central authority is needed. You can send any amount of bitcoins to anyone living anywhere in the world, completely eliminating the need for traditional third parties like banks or money transmitters. The cryptocurrency also allows the bypassing of capital and AML restrictions.
Dangers of volatility – Bitcoin is the most volatile of all assets, including the stock and gold markets. Whilst volatility brings with it opportunity to day trade bitcoin for a profit, it also brings with it doubt and unpredictability. For example, in June 2017 bitcoin was being traded at $2,983. It then lost 30% in value and crashed down to $1,992, only to climb up to $4,764 in September, boasting a 139% gain. You must ensure your bitcoin day trading strategies take into account the uncertainty.
According to the European Central Bank, the decentralization of money offered by bitcoin has its theoretical roots in the Austrian school of economics, especially with Friedrich von Hayek in his book Denationalisation of Money: The Argument Refined, in which he advocates a complete free market in the production, distribution and management of money to end the monopoly of central banks.:22
“If the trend continues, the average person will not be able to afford to purchase one whole bitcoin in 2 years. As global economies inflate and markets exhibit signs of recession, the world will turn to Bitcoin as a hedge against fiat turmoil and an escape against capital controls. Bitcoin is the way out, and cryptocurrency as a whole is never going away, it’s going to grow in use and acceptance as it matures.”
It is interesting to note that a major bitcoin rally started right after the Silk Road shutdown, somewhat dispelling critics arguments that the virtual currency was mainly used as a tool for facilitating drug trafficking. In the months following the site’s closure, several major online and offline businesses started accepting bitcoins. These include major US retailers like Overstock.com and Tiger Direct. The CEO of Overstock.com reported that the company logged more than 800 purchases using Bitcoin on the first day they started offering the new payment solution, totalling $130,000. The company estimates that Bitcoin buyers have made $500,000 in purchases in the first 14 days since the new payment option was offered.
The receiver of the first bitcoin transaction was cypherpunk Hal Finney, who created the first reusable proof-of-work system (RPOW) in 2004. Finney downloaded the bitcoin software on its release date, and on 12 January 2009 received ten bitcoins from Nakamoto. Other early cypherpunk supporters were creators of bitcoin predecessors: Wei Dai, creator of b-money, and Nick Szabo, creator of bit gold. In 2010, the first known commercial transaction using bitcoin occurred when programmer Laszlo Hanyecz bought two Papa John's pizzas for 10,000 bitcoin.