What is Bitcoin?


We’re excited you want to learn about Bitcoin! Bitcoin is a digital currency (or cryptocurrency) which was designed to be sent via the internet. It was introduced in 2008 in a white paper published by an unknown person or group using the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. As explained in this white paper, there will only ever be 21 million bitcoins in existence (it has a limited and finite supply).

Here's our guide to Bitcoin and what you can do with it.

Bitcoins are digital coins you can send via the internet

Bitcoins are created through a process called mining. Mining is done by miners (real people!) who use special computer software to solve mathematical problems. These people oversee the Bitcoin network, helping to confirm financial transactions (e.g. you sending Bitcoin to a friend), and creating new Bitcoins.

Miners are given small amounts of bitcoin as a reward for their work in helping to develop the digital currency. The entire process takes a lot time. To date, about 17 million bitcoins have been mined. As time goes on, they become harder and harder to mine.

This is because the calculations are getting more difficult and the job of mining has become very competitive.

Bitcoin binary code

How does Bitcoin work

Bitcoin binary code

Where to buy Bitcoin

You can buy Bitcoin at an exchange like CoinStep by signing up for a free account and depositing funds in GBP or EUR. Once you’ve funded your account with your chosen fiat currency, you’ll be able to use the balance to buy Bitcoin.

Store your Bitcoin in a digital wallet

When you sign up for a CoinStep account, you’ll be automatically given a digital wallet. This means your bitcoin can be stored online and you can access it 24/7. If you would prefer, you can send your bitcoin balance to an external or offline wallet. The choice is yours!

CoinStep Laptop Wallet
Sending Bitcoins and making payments

How to send Bitcoin

You can make payments in bitcoin to friends and family, participating stores and online retailers anywhere in the world. We’ve made this even easier to do on the CoinStep App.

What are the advantages of using Bitcoin transactions?

  • It's simple - Unlike when you use a credit card, Bitcoin has no card number, expiration date, name or CVV and you don’t have to fill these details out anywhere.
  • Low transactions fees - Typically bitcoin transactions cost a fraction of a percent compared to the 2 - 3% for card transaction fees.
  • International currency - Bitcoin transactions are instant overseas payments as bitcoin holds the same value in every country.

Advantages of Bitcoin

Bitcoin Decentralized Network

Bitcoin is a decentralised currency

As a decentralised currency, Bitcoin isn’t controlled by any authority, government or financial institution. This means that bitcoin can be transferred (or sent) from person to person, no matter where they are located in the world. There is no need for a ‘middle man’ - all you need to buy and send Bitcoin is an internet connection and a wallet address.

Bitcoin has lower fees

Another perk of Bitcoin being decentralised is that as it doesn’t rely on banks or card companies, the fees to transfer it are much lower than traditional payment and remittance services. This makes it a more cost-efficient way to send money to family and friends.

Price Tag Label

Bitcoin is a global currency

Bitcoin is a borderless currency. It has the same value in every jurisdiction around the world which means that people you transfer Bitcoin to will receive the same amount that you had. Overseas payments are made much simpler when using Bitcoin.

Bitcoin lets you be your own bank

When people say you can ‘be your own bank’, they’re referring to the many storage options Bitcoin has. After buying Bitcoin you can choose where to store it, either digitally or offline. This gives people much more opportunity to manage their money how they want to (compared to traditional banking). You make the decisions on where to keep your Bitcoin.