What Is Bitcoin, And Does It Matter?

Bitcoin and other digital currencies, also called cryptocurrencies, are having a moment right now. But outside the tech world, plenty of people are clueless about what the technology does and how it could impact their lives in the near future.

By Alain StephensMarch 29, 2018 2:22 pm| ,

Did you know that the first U.S. $1 bill was issued in 1862? It didn’t have a president’s picture on it. Instead, it featured the face of Salmon P. Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury under President Abraham Lincoln. Today, some say dollar bills – and even dollars themselves – are old, and that digital currency, like Bitcoin, should be the future.

But this can be a divisive topic. Critics say Bitcoin and other similar currencies represent a speculative bubble that will eventually burst. Others say it’s the future of money itself. Helping us get up to speed is Digital Savant Omar Gallaga of the Austin American-Statesman’s 512 Tech. He says Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies work by relying on what’s called a distributed, secure ledger. That’s called the blockchain, and being distributed means that no one person, entity, or computer server controls the whole thing. No one can delete or alter the ledger, meaning that transactions can’t be tampered with after the fact.

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– Why people are excited about Bitcoin, specifically

– What the blockchain can do, beyond digital currency

Written by Shelly Brisbin.