Stephen J. 

United Kingdom

Bitcoins, what are they?
Bitcoins are an electronic currency, sometimes known as cryptocurrency. They are not connected to any specific country or any traditional bank. You can however buy Bitcoins and use them to shop or trade online and even in some physical retail outlets.The Bitcoin was developed in 2009 as a way of being able to conduct transactions outside of the usual framework of banks and other financial institutions, providing users with anonymity. It has been attributed to someone called Satoshi Nakamoto.

How do they work?
Simply speaking you install a Bitcoin wallet on an electronic device, computer, tablet or mobile phone. When you have set up your Bitcoin wallet it generates a unique address (a bit like an email address) and you can share this address with anyone who wants to send you Bitcoins, or when you purchase anything where Bitcoin is accepted. However, unlike email, the address is only used once, each transaction uses a new address. Unlike a regular bank where you would have an individual account held with a specific bank, Bitcoin uses a shared public ledger for the entire network. All transactions are included in the block chain and each individual Bitcoin wallet can calculate its balance and verify the integrity of the system.

How are transactions processed?
The verification process and order of the system are maintained by cryptography. Cryptography is simply a method for coding electronic information so that it cannot be read or understood by a third party. It is said to be totally secure and cryptography is used for secure communications, for example by the military. In each person’s Bitcoin wallet there is a unique mathematical seed or private key that is used to sign and verify transactions. This provides the proof that the transaction took place from an individual wallet and it cannot be altered in any way once processed.
The processing of the transaction is referred to as mining and each transaction is verified electronically and in chronological order. The process also ensures that each transaction is included in a chain which cannot be modified as its integrity is within the whole system, forming a chain between the previous and the next transaction.

Can I buy bitcoins without a regular bank account?
Yes, you can, there are many ways to buy them just search online, one of the biggest attractions is that there are no fees for Bitcoin transactions at all, benefitting both buyers and sellers. Also, transactions take place in real time, no clearing or waiting for funds to be transferred. TripleClicks is now accepting Bitcoins and as a bonus you get a free TCredit for every dollar equivalent spent, every time you pay with Bitcoin. 

I hope this is of interest to those who have never heard of Bitcoins, it might just be the currency of the future that can be used worldwide. It would be good to hear what you think about this?
Kind regards Stephen

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