An Actual Idiot’s Guide to Bitcoins
I have to admit, I thought bitcoins were those gold coins you get in Super Mario. But it turns out they're a virtual online currency that you can use to pay for things and absolutely nothing to do with Princess Peach or Bowser. Who knew?
Actually, nobody knows who originally created the bitcoin, and nobody really knows whether it’s a lot of toss, but let’s assume it’s going to stand up against real currency because that’s not really worth anything either.
A bitcoin is a complex piece of code that you can buy from a bitcoin provider online, for real money. There are 11m bitcoins in existence right now, and a set limit of 21 million that can be mined (ie, created).
When you buy bitcoins, you can keep them in a ‘virtual wallet’ and use them to buy anything you want online. But get this. Because of the collapse of the Cypriot banks and the miserable state of the global economy in general, bitcoins have been skyrocketing in value from $10 a coin to a high of $147. Which makes them as valuable as GOLD. In fact, some investors are turning to bitcoins instead of the shiny stuff.
With Bitcoins, you don’t need banks or bankers either, which is great news for those with a low tolerance for besuited City bastards called Sebastian with second homes in Gstaad.
If money is just a nebulous series of zeroes on a spreadsheet and crumpled paper IOUs, technically there's no reason why it shouldn't become a genuine global currency. But is there really electronic gold in them thar Internet hills, or are bitcoins a flash in the pan?