Bitcoin is a payments technology, decentralized ledger system and digital currency created in 2009 following turmoil in the traditional financial system known as the “Great Recession.” The concept for Bitcoin was first outlined in a white paper written by its pseudonymous (and still unknown) creator Satoshi Nakamoto. Per this outline, Bitcoin is intended to be a medium of exchange that is free of all middlemen and gatekeepers, which offers lower transaction fees than the traditional system and allows anyone to transact with anyone else that they like, anywhere in the world.
Bitcoin is completely digital and balances are maintained on a public and transparent ledger (called a “blockchain”), so there are no physical bitcoin anywhere in existence and bitcoin cannot be directly secured in a physical location. Transactions are also made public, so while the technology can be used pseudonymously, it is not anonymous.
Though Bitcoin does not have a central authority in control, the “double spending” of bitcoin is made virtually impossible due to the energy required to verify transactions, thus ensuring trust in the network.
In summary, Bitcoin is: