The pseudonymous Satoshi Nakamoto published the Bitcoin whitepaper in 2008, which proposed a solution to the problem of making secure online money transfers without relying on a trusted intermediary, such as a bank or payment processor. The Bitcoin network was launched in 2009, with its native “bitcoin” (BTC) introduced as the world’s first cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin relies on blockchain technology, cryptography, and a distributed ledger mechanism to solidify itself as a provably scarce digital asset—the source of its perceived value. These technologies prevent the “double spend” problem, which prevents a digital asset from being spent twice. A finite supply of 21 million BTC is hard-coded into the Bitcoin protocol, with nearly 19 million already mined.
Since its introduction, bitcoin has experienced a meteoric rise in price, with a total market cap of over $800 billion at the time of writing.1 The Bitcoin network is older, slower, and more secure than other cryptocurrency projects, and the network itself has never been hacked. Many investors considered bitcoin to be a potential store of value, akin to “digital” gold.
1 Source: Coinmarketcap, as of September 27, 2021