Bitcoin Basics

You don’t need to be a techie to use Bitcoin. The world of cryptocurrency is rapidly growing and one day in the near future, it will be as common as traditional currency. It has already been adopted by mobile payment giants like Venmo, Paypal, and Cash App meaning anybody can conduct transactions now. In terms of investing, Square and Microstrategy have added Bitcoin to their assets in an effort to stay ahead of the curve. As Bitcoin grows in popularity it’s crucial that you know the basics so that you can make smart decisions whether your investing or spending. Below, we’ve answered your biggest questions about Bitcoin:

“We see bitcoin as potentially the greatest social network of all.” – Tyler Winklevoss

What is Bitcoin?

In the simplest terms, Bitcoin is a shared public ledger of transactions. It was launched in 2009 by an anonymous individual who goes by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. Since Bitcoin is a daily new form of digital currency, there are very few regulations surrounding it and it is both open and open-sourced. This means that you can program with or on top of the code that runs the system.

How is it stored?

The cryptographic keys of Bitcoin are stored in either hot or cold wallets. Hot wallets are found on desktop or mobile devices that are connected to the internet. This includes applications like Venmo and Cash App. Cold wallets are physical paper or hardware wallets that are offline, making them more secure than hot wallets, which have the risk of being compromised by hackers. Devices like USBs and actual pieces of paper with private and public device keys written out both allow for more security.

What are the benefits of bitcoin over traditional currency?

As it is fairly new to the financial landscape Bitcoin offers many benefits that traditional currency lacks. For example, it is accessible 24x7x365 since it is not connected to a banking system and transactions are fairly fast. The system allows for privacy but not anonymity and transactions are automatically embedded into the database. Some of the biggest pros of using Bitcoin are that it is disinflationary making it a great investment, and it is transnational allowing users to send it around the world without intermediaries.

Where can I use bitcoin?

Recently PayPal and Venmo adapted Bitcoin into their systems now making it readily available for anyone to use on mobile payment applications. Large companies are also starting to accept Bitcoin from major retailers to fast food chains. Flashstarts also accepts Bitcoin now. You can use the code below to now transfer Bitcoin payments to us.

Having a basic understanding of Bitcoin is just the beginning. As we look to the future, Bitcoin is expected to have a major impact on how we conduct daily transactions and make business deals and investments. We also have an upcoming crypto governance webinar on November 12th at 2 pm EST where we will review how to set up a wallet and lay out fundamental guidelines for handling cryptocurrency for your organization. Register here!

“I do think Bitcoin is the first [encrypted money] that has the potential to do something like change the world.” – Peter Thiel (Co-Founder of Paypal)

Bitcoin Lightning Network Online Courses

There are not yet many online courses strictly focused on the lightning network. But here are a few Bitcoin courses that we recommend that provide an excellent background for understanding lightning.

Payment Channels and Lightning Network, MIT, 2018, Lectures 13 and 14, Tadge Dryja (leading expert). Great graduate-level lectures. Part of a very good bitcoin course entitled Cryptocurrency Engineering and Design. Very technical (It is a graduate-level MIT course), but interesting and relevant. Really shows the deep complexity lurking behind the Lightning Network.

Blockchain and Bitcoin Fundamentals, Udemy, $11.00. 3 hours of video instruction and a nice pdf glossary.

Introduction to Digital Currencies, University of Nicosia, Andreas Antonopoulos, MOOC on Moodle platform, Self-study with live weekly lecture/Q&A Thursdays 10-11 EST. 12 weeks, weekly quizzes and exam, superb integrated bibliography. Great practical exercises. Week 5 covers the Lightning Network. Certificate program (on a blockchain). Available as part of an MSc in Digital Currency. MOOC 13 started Jan 20, 2020.

Lightning Network 101, iCEX. A text-based short course covering basics, some basic use cases, hands-on, and 10 question quiz.

Lighting Network Explained, Aug 2019, 3,000-word summary. A good high-level overview of how LN addresses the limitations of Bitcoin. NOT really a course

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies, Coursera/Princeton, 18-hour, 11-week course. 2015. Four lecturers. Very well produced course. Great motivational details and google calendar integration. Early sections are quite technical but necessary. Dated but highly recommended. Videos are also available on YouTube.

Bitcoin Whitepaper

The original 2009 white paper by Satoshi Nakamoto that launched Bitcoin. The most important line in the entire white paper is: “The network is robust in its unstructured simplicity. “