Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 03.51.26

A Student Guide to Bitcoin

Bitcoin is an online kind of currency that replaces cash and even the kind of digital currency you may be used to when making online purchases. It’s a cryptocurrency, which means it’s unique to things like British pounds or foreign currencies, like the kinds you use when you go on holiday. But why does it matter to students? Well, some say it’s the currency of the future, so it’s time to get some of that jargon explained!

What is Cryptocurrency, Anyway?

Bitcoin is a form of cryptocurrency that dates back to early 2009, so in terms of money that you might be used to, it’s still relatively new. It relies on encryption techniques, which basically means it’s really safe, and doesn’t rely at all on the banks.

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 03.48.21

Cash” (CC BY 2.0) by BlatantWorld.com

This means that you can’t just rock up at an ATM and withdraw any given amount; because everything with Bitcoin is done as part of online exchanges, you can’t physically hold it. Bitcoins are digital assets, and they’re really trustworthy because you can see all the transactions on a public ledger – see why they’re gaining popularity?

Unless you’re studying finance (and even then you might not know, since it’s not exactly traditional), you probably won’t be aware of the intricacies. But one thing that is very easy to understand is that unlike traditional currencies, factors such as the political upheaval of a nation won’t have any effect on the value of these units. That means that they’re good for anyone to get into.

Where Can You Spend Bitcoin?

What’s the point in understanding Bitcoin if it’s not something you can use? Fair point. Student staples like takeaways are actually starting to take Bitcoin when you shop online. You can also find health outlets, such as BeachBody, which are willing to accept them as well, if that’s more your thing.

Screen Shot 2017-08-09 at 03.48.13
Takeout” (CC BY 2.0) by 松林L

A particularly interesting one to accept Bitcoin is CeX, the entertainment retailer – but retail stores aren’t the only places where entertainment fans can spend Bitcoin. Gamers can also find a variety of games at VegasCasino that take the modern unit, and you’ll find Bitcoin information on the operator’s blog detailing exactly how to use it securely to play their games.

Will Everyone Start Using it?

It’s hard to tell, but it’s definitely popular. Of course, our currency will probably always exist to some extent, so don’t go closing that bank account just yet!

Most of us are online now, and as more and more young people come up through the ranks, in a generation or two, this will be literally everyone. It’s convenient for those of us who live such digital lives, because as the world gets smaller and we’re more connected, it allows us to pay for things anywhere and everywhere, without fluctuating rates depending on where we’re based. In fact, all you need is a web connection.

As people start to question tradition and want more security, they’re looking for alternatives. Bitcoin transactions are accountable and transparent, and what’s more, they’re peer-to-peer, cutting out the middle man. They may well not replace our notes and coins, but they’re likely to stick around for a while – so don’t rule out that graduate job requiring that you’re paid that way!