If you're here, there's a good chance you've heard of Bitcoin. What exactly is Bitcoin, what does it do, and what's with all of these other cryptocurrencies? These are common questions for people who are new to this space.
Bitcoin was created in 2008-2009 by a mysterious entity known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Nobody knows who this is - maybe one person, maybe a group of people.
Bitcoin was the first digital, decentralized, global, peer-to-peer digital currency. It was designed with a very specific purpose: to enable people to transact directly with one another, securely, without needing to rely on a centralized third-party institution like a bank. Bitcoin is a form a money, just like dollars or euros. And, just like national fiat currencies, Bitcoin has value because enough people assign value to it. (After all, fiat currency is just paper without the social consensus that it is worth something).
Since 2008, many other digital currencies have been developed around the underlying technological innovations of Bitcoin. Today, there are hundreds of cryptocurrencies, cryptographic tokens, and digital assets with different values, use cases, and features. Some of them do a lot more than operate as an alternative to cash. Some of them are tied to specific underlying assets, micro-markets or operate like owning shares in a company.
Today the digital asset economy is home to some of the most cutting edge technology and innovative projects in the world. As major industries and institutions ranging from finance to governmental structures begin to explore the possibilities for blockchain technology, new opportunities continue to emerge in this space.