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Other fans point to the expansion in novel cryptocurrencies. Due to bitcoins maturity, and its focus on finance, if you want to get some Ether, some Filecoins or any other cryptocurrency, its usually easiest to buy bitcoin together with your conventional currency and then trade bitcoin for the cryptocurrency of your choice.

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Then theres the bubble argument. There, individuals argue that the vast majority of the price increase is due only to individuals buying bitcoin in the expectation that they can sell it later for a profit. A classic speculative bubble, a few individuals will create a great deal of money while others will lose everything. .

Few would argue that there isnt a lot of speculation in the cryptocurrency market. There are commercials on the London underground, and around Instagram and Facebook, encouraging audiences to invest in cryptocurrencies and, judging from the amount of money flowing in to the ecosystem, a great deal of individuals are taking up the offer. .

At some point, those people will get flighty and attempt to cash out their gains. If enough do at once, the purchase price of bitcoin will require such a fall that it is going to prompt a run and nicely observe the timeless crash.

But the real question is not if this will happen, however, when and how large the crash is. Three days now, bitcoin has had boom-and-bust cycles that have seen enormous amounts of value destroyed, but have still left the currency valued greater than it was before the prior boom began.

After the crash which followed, one coin was worth $120.) Its not only a smooth ride up, but that doesnt mean its a entire bubble. .

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As the bitcoin network has grown, its hit issues. For dull, technical reasons, the network as it had been initially designed struggles to manage the amount of traffic which flows through it these days, leaving huge delays in the amount of time it takes for a transaction to be confirmed.

In a normal, centralised, business, which wouldnt be a problem: just update the software and move on. But a bitcoin upgrade requires convincing every single miner to accept the new software otherwise, the miners who take on running the older version are effectively running an entirely different currency from those who have upgraded. .

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This can be known as a challenging fork, and for the first six years of bitcoins life, it had been the nightmare each programmer tried to avoid. But recently, divisions among the community have become so fractious that numerous hard forks have happened, all around the way to deal with this traffic slowdown.

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With names like Bitcoin Classic, Bitcoin Unlimited, and Bitcoin Gold, every claims that it's the genuine heir to the original vision but using every branch, the playing field becomes more crowded.

Nothing is destroyed with each branch: if you had 100 bitcoin before Bitcoin Cash split , after the split you still had 100 bitcoin and you'd 100 Bitcoin Cash. But with every branch, the playing field gets more crowded, more confusing for newcomers, and the total reputation for (relative) stability this link becomes more eroded.

It varies greatly. Some, like JP Morgan Chase mind, Jamie Dimon, are really dismissive of the whole thing, arguing that the most properties of bitcoin that make it so appealing as a form of electronic gold will be why its doomed to remain a niche prospect. For Dimon and co, the volatility of its exchange rate, absence of any economic oversight to control monetary policy and absence of support from leading nation states mean bitcoin cant truly replace pounds and dollars and is consequently a failure. .

Few disagree with this conclusion, but a few bankers point to additional advantages of the technology. The blockchain concept, they say, could be useful in conventional banking also. Forget bitcoin itself and focus instead on the value of a distributed ledger. What if all the significant banks substituted their normal book-keeping with one mutual, but still closed, database May that help cut down on fraud and ensure a higher playing field.

And then, of course, there are the advantages of bitcoin that conventional banking cant expect to compete with - and doesnt want to. Can a shadow currency exist only on the rear of drug dealing and cybercrime Quite possibly: Both are big businesses, and neither shows any sign of going away. .

Craig Wright, who promised to be Satoshi Nakamoto, the elusive bitcoin inventor. Photograph: Mark Harrison/PA

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Hes still a puzzle. The pseudonymous founder of bitcoin, Nakamoto appeared out of nowhere in 2008 when he published the white paper that clarified his proposed digital currency would work. While he was active in the online community around bitcoin for the first couple of years of the currencies lifetime, he published less and less, making his last ever post on 12 December 2010. .

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