Lightning Round: What is Bitcoin?

July 13, 2020
3 minutes

Now that we've started to grasp blockchain, what the heck is Bitcoin? They're not the same thing?

Nope. Bitcoin runs on blockchain technology, but the two are not interchangeable.

Bitcoin is a digital currency that's not owned or backed by any entity. It exists on blockchain technology, which makes it more secure and cheaper to use than traditional government-backed currencies.

Another attractive thing about Bitcoin is its pseudo-anonymity. Individual transactions are transparent, but knowing who took part in those transactions is difficult to trace. This emphasis on security and privacy drives many people to invest in cryptocurrency.

Cybercurrency is well-suited to our increasingly digital lifestyle because it's cheaper to use, insure, protect, and store than the government-backed currencies we currently use. Unfortunately, bitcoin's not easy to spend—yet. We're still in the infancy stages of cryptocurrency, with clunky software and hard-to-navigate or few-and-far-between usage options.

Not a lot of places in the Western world accept bitcoin right now, but think in terms of the progress of the internet—it's changed the world in just a few years. Cryptocurrency has the potential to change our world and influence our lives just as greatly.

“So why do I want bitcoin?”

Well, maybe you don't, but there are people around the world in countries or situations where their safety or health can be compromised just by having accessible, trackable currency. As Anne Connelly says,

“For many around the world, bitcoin is a lifeline to access rights and freedoms we take for granted.”

Imagine a North Korean citizen in 2009 who had saved for years, only to have all of their savings wiped out in the government's surprise redenomination.

Imagine a woman in Saudi Arabia making a donation to a women's rights organization, then the government seizing the information. That woman could be jailed or killed for trying to support women's rights.

That's a real danger of traditional currency versus Bitcoin, which allows the North Korean to save money safely, and the Saudi woman to make an untraceable donation. The freedom that Bitcoin offers will be transformative in ways we can only imagine.

Want to get in on Bitcoin? Anne suggests a pretty revolutionary starting point: buy $1 in bitcoin.


Antonopoulos, A., 2018. Bitcoin Q&A: Explain Bitcoin To My Mother?. [video] [Accessed 7 July 2020].

Bitcoin 101.” CoinDesk, CoinDesk, 20 Aug. 2013.

Connelly, Anne. “How to Buy Bitcoin - Beginner.” Medium, Medium, 5 Sept. 2019.

TEDxOttawa, 2018. Blockchain And The Future Of Freedom. [video] [Accessed 7 July 2020].

Yellin, Tal, et al. “What Is Bitcoin?” CNNMoney, Cable News Network, Dec. 2013.

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