The world of bitcoin

Find out more about the bitcoin digital currency


A decentralised currency

Digital currencies are more than just a payment system. They embody the revolutionary idea that a decentralised currency outside the influence of state and banks could be possible. As the first and best known representative of the new “cryptocurrencies”, bitcoin is consistently digital, decentralised and forgery-proof.

Bitcoin combines the advantages of online payment systems and a decentralised currency such as gold, after whose example bitcoin was modelled. Bitcoin debunks all centralised currency systems because it offers an alternative to today’s monetary systems.
Bitcoin is based on mathematics, cryptography and the innovative blockchain technology, which many consider to be the most important technological discovery since the internet.

The bitcoin network is independent of individual market participants and thus does not depend on the existence or availability of individual companies, organisations or states, and is freely accessible for everyone throughout the world. Its value rests on concrete, transparent rules such as a fixed, limited amount of money that cannot be arbitrarily increased and voluntary acceptance by its users rather than decree by political protagonists.

Whereas the Damoclean swords of “zero interest” and “cash ban” hang over the heads of the citizens of the industrial nations, the vast majority of people in the developing nations have no access to a bank account of their own and are thus completely cut off from the global economy.

Bitcoin, in contrast, is freely available to all, irrespective of origin, income, religion and gender. All that is required is an internet connection and some software, and the network can be used to effect payments worldwide beyond all borders.

Points of acceptance for bitcoin

Here you’ll find a map of all points of acceptance for bitcoin, organised by land, city and area:

What is bitcoin?

Bitcoin – a remarkable achievement

Bitcoin is a remarkable achievement. The ability to create something which is not duplicable in the digital world has enormous value.

Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO

Digital currencies like bitcoin have the potential to radically transform our financial system, away from a closed system controlled by a few centralised institutions and towards an open, decentralised one. Just as the internet has revolutionised our lives and our society, bitcoin will lead to further revolution – for the financial system and for our lives.

A global currency

Bitcoin is a decentralised, digital currency and the first truly global payment system. You can send money worldwide, directly from person to person, in the blink of an eye and without the need of a middle man (e.g. a bank). A payment from, for example, Austria to Indonesia, is just as quick and easy as paying in the café around the corner.

Bitcoin knows no border and can also be used by people who have no conventional bank account. Bitcoin thus offers people all over the world a common platform for undertaking financial transactions with each other. Bitcoin is therefore often described as the first world currency.

In contrast to conventional money, bitcoin is not issued centrally but rather is managed by a peer-to-peer network. Everyone can participate and no central body can control bitcoin. This makes bitcoin independent of the availability or existence of individual companies, banks, organisations or states.

Bitcoin is digital gold

Bitcoin is often described as “digital gold” because the supply of bitcoin is limited and cannot be increased arbitrarily. Gold has been used for millennia as the ultimate value storage and a secure means of payment, and has outlasted many nations and currencies.

This is primarily due to some important properties that gold possesses, including quantitative limitation, integrity and divisibility. Bitcoin carries these properties and more into the digital world and by these means has developed into a new form of value-storing in the digital age. The assets are secured through the stringent use of cryptography in connection with the blockchain technology.

The bitcoin markets are very liquid, meaning that bitcoin can be traded worldwide on hundreds of trading platforms and online markets in euro, US dollars and other international currencies. Moreover there are some 300,000 retailers around the globe that accept bitcoin as a means of payment.

Advantages of bitcoin

Bitcoin is freely accessible to all, with the only condition being an access to the internet. Transfers are viewable within seconds and are concluded after approximately 10 minutes. Bitcoin can be sent and received worldwide and at any time. The bitcoin network is not subject to borders or public holidays. Bitcoin is independent of state control and of the traditional monetary system.

Bitcoin users have full control over their money. Bitcoin cannot be sent or withdrawn by third parties. Bitcoin is limited to a maximum aggregate of 21 million units.

The quantitative limitation offers potential for capital growth, making bitcoin an interesting investment medium. Bitcoin transactions work without the transmission of sensitive data and private information. Bitcoin is “open source”; the entire set of rules is transparent and visible to everyone.

The generation of money in the bitcoin system is not undertaken by a central body (e.g. a central bank), but rather in a decentralised way, and is thus less susceptible to manipulation. Neither states, corporate groups, nor politics can interfere in the system and devalue the currency by putting more cash into circulation. The limitation of the amount of bitcoin ensures protection against monetary-supply inflation to the greatest possible extent.

Bitcoin offers a possible hedge against potential financial crises. A bitcoin credit balance is unaffected by interventions, negative interest or excessive cash generation. No-one aside from the title bearer himself has access to his bitcoin credit. The number of daily bitcoin transactions is steadily increasing. If bitcoin continues to develop as a technology, demand for bitcoin will continue to grow. The exchange rate over the last years underlines this trend.

„I think it's a technical tour de force but that it is an area where governments are going to maintain a dominant role.“

– Bill Gates

„Bitcoin is exciting because it shows how cheap it can be. Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient.“

– Warren Buffet

„Bitcoin is a remarkable cryptographic achievement and the ability to create something that is not duplicable in the digital world has enormous value“

– Dr. Eric Schmidt

„I think the fact that within the bitcoin universe an algorithm replaces the functions of [the government] … is actually pretty cool. I am a big fan of Bitcoin. Regulation of money supply needs to be depoliticized.“

– Al Gore

„I do think Bitcoin is the first [encrypted money] that has the potential to do something like change the world.“

– Peter Thiel

„[Virtual Currencies] may hold long-term promise, particularly if the innovations promote a faster, more secure and more efficient.“

– Ben Bernanke

„Bitcoin actually has the balance and incentives right, and that is why it is starting to take off.“

– Julian Assange

„Bitcoin will do to banks what email did to the postal industry.“

– Rick Falkvinge