There are a variety of ways to acquire bitcoins:
- You can buy bitcoins from Coinbase, BIPS Market or Celery .
- Accept bitcoins as payment for goods or services.
- The most common way to buy bitcoins are the Bitcoin Exchanges
- Visit bitcoinx.io for peer-to-peer ratings and reviews of bitcoin exchanges to see where to buy bitcoins
- There are several services where you can trade them for traditional currency.
- Find someone to trade cash for bitcoins in-person through a local directory.
- Participate in a mining pool.
- If you have a lot of mining hardware, you can solo mine and attempt to create a new block (currently yields 25 bitcoins plus transaction fees).
- Visit sites that provide free samples and offers.
- Visit WhereToBuyCryptoCoins.com to get a guide how to start with bitcoins and cryptocurrency in general. Shows a list of markets, faucets, exchanges, miner’s pools and more.
Since Bitcoin is a new technology, what it is and how it works may be initially unclear. Bitcoin is sometimes presented as being one of three things:
- Some sort of online ‘get-rich-quick’ scam.
- A loophole in the market economy, the installation of which guarantees a steady influx of cash.
- A sure investment that will almost certainly yield a profit.
In fact, none of the above are true. Let’s look at them independently.
- If you’ve spent much time on the Internet, you’ve probably seen ads for many ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes. These ads usually promise huge profits for a small amounts of easy work. Such schemes are usually pyramid/matrix-style schemes that make money from their own employees and offer nothing of any real value. Most convince one to buy packages that will make them earn hundreds a day, which in fact have the buyer distribute more such ads, and make minute profits.
- Bitcoin is in no way similar to these schemes. Bitcoin doesn’t promise windfall profits. There is no way for the developers to make money from your involvement or to take money from you. That bitcoins are nearly impossible to acquire without the owner’s consent represents one of its greatest strengths. Bitcoin is an experimental, virtual currency that may succeed or may fail. None of its developers expect to get rich off of it.
- A more detailed answer to this question can be found here.
It is possible to buy physical bitcoins with PayPal but it is otherwise difficult and/or expensive to do so for non-physical bitcoins, because of significant risk to the seller.
While it is possible to find an individual who wishes to sell Bitcoin to you via Paypal, (perhaps via #bitcoin-otc ) most exchanges do not allow funding through PayPal. This is due to repeated cases where someone pays for bitcoins with Paypal, receives their bitcoins, and then fraudulently complains to Paypal that they never received their purchase. PayPal often sides with the fraudulent buyer in this case, which means any seller needs to cover that risk with higher fees or refuse to accept PayPal altogether.
Buying Bitcoins from individuals this way is still possible, but requires the seller to have some trust that the buyer will not file a claim with PayPal to reverse the payment.
Blocks are mined every 10 minutes, on average and for the first four years (210,000 blocks) each block included 50 new bitcoins. As the amount of processing power directed at mining changes, the difficulty of creating new bitcoins changes. This difficulty factor is calculated every 2016 blocks and is based upon the time taken to generate the previous 2016 blocks. See Mining.
Unlike most currencies, Bitcoin amounts are highly divisible. This has led to a desire to create names for smaller denominations of bitcoin amounts, especially since transactions involving whole bitcoins are no longer quite so common. Bitcoin is decentralized, so there is no organization that can set official names for units. Therefore, there are many different units with varying degrees of popularity. As of 2014, the most common units are bitcoins, bits, and satoshi: 1 bitcoin = 1 000 000.00 bits = 100 000 000 satoshi.
The bitcoin (abbreviated BTC or XBT) is the unit that was used in the original Bitcoin wallet software created by Satoshi Nakamoto. There is nothing particularly special about this unit, but it is by far the most common unit due to tradition.
The smallest value that the Bitcoin network supports sending is the satoshi (sometimes abbreviated sat), one hundred-millionth (0.000 000 01) of a bitcoin. In other words, the network does not support sending fractions of a satoshi. Since it is a hard limit, it seems natural to use it as a unit, though it currently has very little value. The unit was named in honor of Bitcoin’s creator after he left — he was not so vain as to name a unit after himself. The plural of satoshi is satoshi: “Send me 100 satoshi”.
Another common unit is the bit, one millionth (0.000 001) of a bitcoin. This unit is the same as a microbitcoin (μBTC). Bits are seen by some as especially logical because they have two-decimal precision like most fiat currencies. You can send 1.23 bits, but not 1.234 bits due to the network’s limited precision.
It is also fairly common to use SI prefixes:
- 0.01 BTC = 1 cBTC = 1 centibitcoin (also referred to as bitcent)
- 0.001 BTC = 1 mBTC = 1 millibitcoin (also referred to as mbit (pronounced em-bit) or millibit or even bitmill)
- 0.000 001 BTC = 1 μBTC = 1 microbitcoin (also referred to as ubit (pronounced yu-bit) or microbit)
For an overview of all proposed units of Bitcoin (including less common and niche units), see Units.
Further discussion on this topic can be found on the forums here:
Eventually the reward will go from 0.00000001 BTC to zero and no more bitcoins will be created.
The block reward calculation is done as a right bitwise shift of a 64-bit signed integer, which means it is divided by two and rounded down. The integer is equal to the value in BTC * 100,000,000 since internally in the reference client software, all Bitcoin balances and values are stored as unsigned integers.
With an initial block reward of 50 BTC, it will take many 4-year periods for the block reward to reach zero.
The last block that will generate coins will be block #6,929,999 which should be generated at or near the year 2140. The total number of coins in circulation will then remain static at 20,999,999.9769 BTC.
Even if the allowed precision is expanded from the current 8 decimals, the total BTC in circulation will always be slightly below 21 million (assuming everything else stays the same). For example, with 16 decimals of precision, the end total would be 20,999,999.999999999496 BTC.
Because of the law of supply and demand, when fewer bitcoins are available the ones that are left will be in higher demand, and therefore will have a higher value. So, as Bitcoins are lost, the remaining bitcoins will eventually increase in value to compensate. As the value of a bitcoin increases, the number of bitcoins required to purchase an item decreases. This is a deflationary economic model. As the average transaction size reduces, transactions will probably be denominated in sub-units of a bitcoin such as millibitcoins (“Millies”) or microbitcoins (“Mikes”).
The Bitcoin protocol uses a base unit of one hundred-millionth of a Bitcoin (“a Satoshi”), but unused bits are available in the protocol fields that could be used to denote even smaller subdivisions.
The Bitcoin protocol allows lightweight clients that can use Bitcoin without downloading the entire transaction history. As traffic grows and this becomes more critical, implementations of the concept will be developed. Full network nodes will at some point become a more specialized service.
With some modifications to the software, full Bitcoin nodes could easily keep up with both VISA and MasterCard combined, using only fairly modest hardware (a single high end server by todays standards). It is worth noting that the MasterCard network is structured somewhat like Bitcoin itself – as a peer to peer broadcast network.
Learn more about Scalability.