|Bitcoin moves beyond mere money|
|Thursday, 21 November 2013 16:03|
Bitcoin is money – people can use it to buy anything from pizza to plastic surgery. The meteoric rise of the online currency has caused everyone from financial regulators to law enforcement to the US Senate to stand up and take notice. But a growing group of computer scientists think this is just the beginning. They are convinced that Bitcoin's real value is not in providing the world with a currency free from government intervention, but in the technology which underpins it, a secure system of verifying transactions that they believe has the potential to vastly disrupt the way we exchange goods and services around the world.
The secret to Bitcoin's rampant success is the "block chain" – a secure digital ledger that tracks coins across the internet. It records every single transaction of the currency, and those transactions are then mathematically verified by the computers of Bitcoin users around the world. Anyone who holds bitcoins also has an exact copy of the block chain, making it virtually impossible to create a forgery. This eliminates the need for trusted third parties, like PayPal and Visa, to take part in financial transactions.