If you’re just getting started with Bitcoin, you may be asking yourself what the benefits really are. Here are the most popular reasons people choose to use bitcoins:
Peer to Peer
When you send bitcoins to someone else, there is no required involvement from a payment processor. This means the fee for each transaction is very small — from zero to negligible.
Being peer to peer also means that there’s no central entity controlling the network. There’s no need to trust or receive permission from any specific person or organization to participate in the Bitcoin network. For this reason, Bitcoin is global and resilient to problems that have plagued traditional currencies.
Effortless online payments
In many cases, using bitcoin is the easiest and quickest way to make a payment on the internet. When making a donation, or buying a digital item that doesn’t require shipping, Bitcoin doesn’t require any personal information. The merchant doesn’t need any information, because they aren’t charging you (like a credit card), rather you are sending them the payment (like cash).
Reduced risk for merchants
Accepting traditional credit card payments is not only expensive for merchants, it also leaves them open to fraudulent payment reversals and chargebacks. Since Bitcoin payments are not reversible, once a merchant has received payment, they can be sure that the payment will not be cancelled fraudulently. If a merchant doesn’t have access to traditional credit card or payment networks, Bitcoin enables them access to the global economy instantly, and with negligible fees.
Complete control over your money
Bitcoin enables the freedom to store and control your money in an unprecedented manner. Free from restrictions, penalties and fees commonly imposed by banks, you are empowered to make decisions about your finances that were previously the domain of financial institutions and governments.
Bitcoin enables you to take personal responsibility for your savings. Money without the need to trust a third party is something Bitcoin enables that has never existed before. Trusting third parties isn’t necessarily bad, but having the option is important.
As an investment
Whether or not to invest in bitcoin is something everyone must decide for themselves. Common advice is not to invest more than you can afford to lose.
In its short life and as of this writing, the value of a bitcoin has been measured at everything from less than one penny, to over a thousand US Dollars. It is clearly a risky investment, with the possibility of significant financial gain for some, but not all.
Many compare the Bitcoin network at its current stage of development to the internet 20 years ago. There are still many questions about how it will be used, and about the scale of its impact as the network matures. Bitcoin is considered a store of value like gold, but it can also serve as a method of transferring funds internationally. The future value of a bitcoin will depend on what role(s) the Bitcoin network assumes over time in the global economy.
Be part of a movement, and a community
Bitcoin is exciting, and bitcoin users are interesting people! Whether you want to use bitcoins to buy something online, accept Bitcoin payments for your business, or even develop your own software on top of the Bitcoin network, there’s a vibrant community of motivated people that would love to help you. Since Bitcoin is such a new concept, there are many new applications and use cases that have yet to be realized.