A Bitcoin Improvement Proposal (BIP) is a design document, typically describing a new feature for Bitcoin with a concise technical specification of the feature and the rationale for it. This is broadly similar to the way in which Internet "Request for Comments" (RFCs) and the Python computer language's "Python Enhancement Proposals" (PEPs) are used.
On August 25, 2017, Bitcoin XT published Release G, which was a Bitcoin Cash client by default. Subsequently, Release H was published, which supported the November 2017 Bitcoin Cash protocol upgrade, followed by Release I, which supported the May 2018 Bitcoin Cash protocol upgrade.
Bitcoin Gold claims to be ‘for everyone, for everything’. But the main ethos behind it is fair mining. The main idea – one CPU, one vote,” Bitcoin Gold is not in competition with Bitcoin. Bitcoin Gold is a hardfork that is not competing with Bitcoin or other forks. The project started as an experiment, with a decentralized team of six developers from Spain, Bulgaria, USA, China, and Colombia. As of today, December 02, 2019, the team stays the same and continues working towards development.
The split originated from what was described as a "civil war" in two competing bitcoin cash camps. The first camp, supported by entrepreneur Roger Ver and Jihan Wu of Bitmain, promoted the software entitled Bitcoin ABC (short for Adjustable Blocksize Cap) which would maintain the block size at 32MB. The second camp led by Craig Steven Wright and billionaire Calvin Ayre put forth a competing software version Bitcoin SV, short for "Bitcoin Satoshi's Vision," that would increase the block size limit to 128MB.
On 15 November 2018, a hard fork chain split of Bitcoin Cash occurred between two rival factions called Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV. On 15 November 2018 Bitcoin Cash traded at about $289 and Bitcoin SV traded at about $96.50, down from $425.01 on 14 November for the un-split Bitcoin Cash.
Litecoin, an early bitcoin spin-off or altcoin, appeared in October 2011. Many altcoins have been created since then.
David Golumbia says that the ideas influencing bitcoin advocates emerge from right-wing extremist movements such as the Liberty Lobby and the John Birch Society and their anti-Central Bank rhetoric, or, more recently, Ron Paul and Tea Party-style libertarianism. Steve Bannon, who owns a "good stake" in bitcoin, considers it to be "disruptive populism. It takes control back from central authorities. It's revolutionary."
Per researchers, "there is little sign of bitcoin use" in international remittances despite high fees charged by banks and Western Union who compete in this market. The South China Morning Post, however, mentions the use of bitcoin by Hong Kong workers to transfer money home.
Because of bitcoin's decentralized nature and its trading on online exchanges located in many countries, regulation of bitcoin has been difficult. However, the use of bitcoin can be criminalized, and shutting down exchanges and the peer-to-peer economy in a given country would constitute a de facto ban. The legal status of bitcoin varies substantially from country to country and is still undefined or changing in many of them. Regulations and bans that apply to bitcoin probably extend to similar cryptocurrency systems.
Sites where users exchange bitcoins for cash or store them in "wallets" are also targets for theft. Inputs.io, an Australian wallet service, was hacked twice in October 2013 and lost more than $1 million in bitcoins. GBL, a Chinese bitcoin trading platform, suddenly shut down on 26 October 2013; subscribers, unable to log in, lost up to $5 million worth of bitcoin. In late February 2014 Mt. Gox, one of the largest virtual currency exchanges, filed for bankruptcy in Tokyo amid reports that bitcoins worth $350 million had been stolen. Flexcoin, a bitcoin storage specialist based in Alberta, Canada, shut down on March 2014 after saying it discovered a theft of about $650,000 in bitcoins. Poloniex, a digital currency exchange, reported on March 2014 that it lost bitcoins valued at around $50,000. In January 2015 UK-based bitstamp, the third busiest bitcoin exchange globally, was hacked and $5 million in bitcoins were stolen. February 2015 saw a Chinese exchange named BTER lose bitcoins worth nearly $2 million to hackers.
In a community interview with social media site Reddit on May 3, 2014, in response to a question to the Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne about the percentage of revenue and transactions paid for in bitcoin, Byrne responded that the percentage was "Tiny. <.1%". In mid-2014 Overstock.com announced that bitcoin sales were averaging $300,000 per month and that the company expected bitcoin sales to add 4 cents to the company's 2014 earnings per share.
In December 2013, Woo argued that Bitcoin "can become a major means of payment for e-commerce and may emerge as a serious competitor to traditional money transfer providers", an opinion that Joe Weisenthal said "represents a top-fligh kappat mind at a major financial institution assessing it in a serious way, and coming to the conclusion that it could be the real deal." However, Woo put the upper bound of Bitcoin’s fair value at $1300, stating that "Bitcoin is highly volatile, the result of speculation activities, and that's hindering its general acceptance as a form of payment."
Bitcoin is decentralized:
If the private key is lost, the bitcoin network will not recognize any other evidence of ownership; the coins are then unusable, and effectively lost. For example, in 2013 one user claimed to have lost 7,500 bitcoins, worth $7.5 million at the time, when he accidentally discarded a hard drive containing his private key. About 20% of all bitcoins are believed to be lost. They would have a market value of about $20 billion at July 2018 prices.
According to bitinfocharts.com, in 2017 there are 9,272 bitcoin wallets with more than $1 million worth of bitcoins. The exact number of bitcoin millionaires is uncertain as a single person can have more than one bitcoin wallet.
The 2014 documentary The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin portrays the diversity of motives behind the use of bitcoin by interviewing people who use it. These include a computer programmer and a drug dealer. The 2016 documentary Banking on Bitcoin is an introduction to the beginnings of bitcoin and the ideas behind cryptocurrency today.
Bitcoin has been criticized for its use in illegal transactions, its high electricity consumption, price volatility, and thefts from exchanges. Some economists, including several Nobel laureates, have characterized it as a speculative bubble. Bitcoin has also been used as an investment, although several regulatory agencies have issued investor alerts about bitcoin.
The domain name "bitcoin.org" was registered on 18 August 2008. On 31 October 2008, a link to a paper authored by Satoshi Nakamoto titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System was posted to a cryptography mailing list. Nakamoto implemented the bitcoin software as open-source code and released it in January 2009. Nakamoto's identity remains unknown.
Regarding ownership distribution, as of 16 March 2018, 0.5% of bitcoin wallets own 87% of all bitcoins ever mined.
The unit of account of the bitcoin system is a bitcoin. Ticker symbols used to represent bitcoin are BTC and XBT. Its Unicode character is ₿. Small amounts of bitcoin used as alternative units are millibitcoin (mBTC), and satoshi (sat). Named in homage to bitcoin's creator, a satoshi is the smallest amount within bitcoin representing 0.00000001 bitcoins, one hundred millionth of a bitcoin. A millibitcoin equals 0.001 bitcoins; one thousandth of a bitcoin or 100,000 satoshis.