Bitcoin is a digital currency that is designed for global commerce in the modern age, with the ease of a credit card but without the high fees.
Bitcoin can be used at the same value anywhere in the world where Bitcoins are authorized, thus becoming the first truly global currency.
The nature of Bitcoin means that, compared to credit cards or other financial tools, your identity is safer from theft. Your level of privacy is up to you, and in the online world privacy and protection are an asset.
Most currencies are created and controlled by a central authority that ultimately has power over prices. Bitcoin is decentralized and generated through open-source software, so the system is transparent, priced on the free market, and belongs to no one person or organization.
Financial systems take a lot of power to run. With Bitcoin, individuals and groups willing to dedicate computer processing power to support the network are rewarded with Bitcoins. This process is known as mining, and it's how every Bitcoin comes into existence.
All newly mined Bitcoins, along with every transaction, are publicly recorded and verified through the network. This record is known as the Blockchain and is one of the features that helps keep the system secure from fraud and abuse. Bitcoins cannot be duplicated or forged.
There are several ways to store and manage your Bitcoins. An online web wallet is an easy way to get started with storing Bitcoin, and more and more wallets are offering the ability to buy Bitcoin in your local currency.
You can acquire Bitcoins by buying or trading for them from local vendors, or accepting them for your business instead of cash or credit.
To use Bitcoin at a more advanced level, an exchange connects you to people all around the world buying and selling Bitcoins. Exchanges offer both a web wallet for storage and management, and an easy way to trade using major currencies.