What is bitcoin?

CMC Markets

Bitcoin is a type of digital currency which operates outside the mandate of a central authority. There are several variants of bitcoin which have resulted from forks. These include bitcoin cash, bitcoin gold and bitcoin diamond. 

Bitcoin is credited as the original and most well-known cryptocurrency. It was created by a person or group of people under the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 and was intended to be used as a method of payment free from government supervision, transfer delays or transactions fees. However, bitcoin is not yet widely accepted for all transactions as some consider them too volatile to be a suitable method of payment. 

How does bitcoin work?

Bitcoin relies on two underlying mechanisms in order to function – the blockchain and the mining process. 

What is the blockchain?

The blockchain is a shared digital ledger which holds a record of all bitcoin transactions. Each cryptocurrency transactions are grouped together into ‘blocks’ by miners. The transactions are then cryptographically secured before they are added to the existing blockchain. Each ‘node’ or computer connected to the network automatically downloads a copy of the blockchain which allows everyone to track transactions without the need for central record keeping.

The blockchain is accessible to everybody at any time. The shared record can’t be changed without the agreement of the rest of the network. 

What is mining?

Mining is the process of attaching new transaction records as blocks to the existing blockchain. Once a block is secured, new units of cryptocurrency known as ‘block rewards’ get credited to the miner. Miners can inject these units directly back into the market. Due to their crucial role in the process, miners can exert ownership of their bitcoin within the blockchain. 

How does leveraged bitcoin trading work?

When you buy bitcoin on an exchange, the price of one bitcoin is usually quoted against the US dollar (USD). In other words, you are selling USD in order to buy bitcoin. If the price of bitcoin rises you will be able to sell for a profit, because bitcoin is now worth more USD than when you bought it. If the price falls and you decide to sell, then you would make a loss.

With CMC Markets, you can trade bitcoin via a CFD account. This allows you to speculate on bitcoin price movements without owning the actual cryptocurrency. You aren’t taking ownership of bitcoin. Instead, you’re opening a position which will increase or decrease in value depending on bitcoin’s price movement against the dollar.

Why trade bitcoin with CMC Markets?

Open a long or short position

CFDs allow you to trade on both rising and falling prices.

Efficient use of capital

Leveraged trading means you only deposit a small percentage of the full value of a trade in order to open a position. Remember that both profits and losses will be magnified, and you could lose more than your deposit.

No exchange account or bitcoin wallet

Unlike trading the underlying bitcoin, there is no need to open an exchange account or bitcoin wallet to hold the bitcoin you have bought. This means no waiting for approval from the exchange, no concerns about keeping your wallet secure, and no fees if you want to withdraw funds later.

Trade with an established provider

CMC Markets is a regulated provider. We have over 28 years of experience in the industry and also offer support for all our clients whenever the markets are open.

What factors affect bitcoin’s price?

Bitcoin’s volatility is driven by many factors, including:

  • Forks: if the software of different miners disagree over the best way forward for the currency then a split or ‘fork’ may occur in the blockchain. It’s up to miners to decide which blockchain to continue using – if there isn’t a unanimous decision then this can result in the creation of  two different blockchains. Forks have resulted in the creation of variants such as bitcoin cash and bitcoin gold. Find out more about forks
  • Regulation: bitcoin is currently unregulated by governments and central banks. There are questions about how this may change over the next few years and what impact this could have on its value.
  • Supply: As of December 2017, there were around 16.7 million bitcoins in circulation (there may be a finite number of 21 million available) which are expected to be mined by 2040. Plus, availability fluctuates depending on the rate at which they enter the market.
  • Press: prices can be affected by public perception, security and longevity.
  • Adoption: currently it hasn’t yet been widely adopted by some businesses or consumers as a method of payment as some consider them too volatile to be suitable methods of payment.

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