What is Bitcoin, and how you can mine it at your home in Dubai (but shouldn’t)

Worth less than $1,000 on Jan 1, 2017, Bitcoin flirted with $20,000 this week

You'll be needing some really special - and a bit costly - equipment to get started with mining Bitcoins. (Reuters file)

If you’ve seen this ad below somewhere on the Web – or anything similar to it, both in the factors of message it wants to bring across and annoyance – congratulations; you’re in the real world.

Now, on to the unreal stuff.

Bitcoin, as you may know, has been in the headlines for quite some time now, thanks to its meteoric rise. As we write, it’s actually down 20 per cent at $13,482 on Luxembourg-based Bitstamp after rocketing 40 per cent in the 48 hours before that.

And it actually flirted with $20,000, touching a ridiculous $19,500 on the US-based GDAX.

Bitcoin’s roller-coaster ride is making a real roller-coaster look like your garden-variety merry-go-round. And it’s so divisive; Japan recognises it as legal tender. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon says it’s a ‘fraud’. And investus maximus Warren Buffett dismisses it as a ‘mirage’.

But for all its ups and downs, many are still mesmerised by the thought of investing in Bitcoin – in cryptocurrencies, generally speaking – because of the mouth-watering and tempting value it gives. It was worth $997 on January 1 this year, with a 2017 low at $752 in mid-January – so with that peak figure above, it’s up an eye-popping 2,493 per cent.

If you’re ready to give in to the temptation (or to those clickbait ads), we’ve prepared a little guide for you, in the hope you’d better understand what in the world this craze is all about. And we’ll try to make it as simple as possible.

What exactly is Bitcoin?

As we said, it’s a type of cryptocurrency that can be used for payments, one that aims – and actually can – replace cash, cards, online payments and every other payment method you already know. It’s a decentralised currency, meaning it has no central bank nor someone or group controlling it.

How does it work?

As they are not real money, you can consider them as credits – ‘tokens’, as it is widely called by its users – which you can exchange for goods and services. Think of it as an in-game purchase in a video game using the currencies in it, to a certain extent.

Is it secure and reliable?

That’s what Bitcoin touts so much because it uses blockchain technology (quite sure you’ve heard of that). Simply put, when you pay using Bitcoins, it’s sent via an encrypted way, guaranteeing it won’t be hacked.

By Alvin R. Cabral  khaleejtimes.com