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Bitcoin backers say it’s the future of money. Gox bankruptcy and FBI Silk Road shakedown, many are still trying their wrap their minds around Bitcoin. Bitcoins are decentralized, purely digital virtual coins exchanged directly between two parties online with no middle man. Bitcoins are pieces of computer code — mathematical algorithms, actually — that represent monetary units. There are currently approximately 11 million Bitcoins in existence. In all, only about 21 million Bitcoin will ever be generated through the year 2140. No, contrary to popular belief, they aren’t.

While Bitcoin users don’t have to divulge certain pieces of identifying information, like their bank account and Social Security numbers or physical addresses, a traceable trail of each of transaction is left behind in a public log known as the blockchain. The public record prevents people from spending the same bitcoins more than once. Bitcoin exchanges that operate in the U. Some of the more popular Bitcoin exchanges include Bitstamp and Coinbase, though there are dozens to choose from around the globe. How can I start using Bitcoin?