At the time when this guide was written, January 2014, the price of one bitcoin stood at $913, down slightly after reaching an all-time high of over $1,200 earlier in December. The new cryptocurrency came a long way from trading below $4 just two years ago. Major online and offline retailers are starting to add the new currency as a payment method. But what exactly is bitcoin?
CEX is one of those international bitcoin exchanges accepting euros, British pounds, US dollars, Russian Rubles, Ethereum, Zcash, and Dash. Needless to say, CEX is very popular within those currency regions. There is a no-nonsense landing page, giving you the option to buy or sell 100, 200, 500, or 1000 USD worth of Bitcoin. I like the transparency given to users about how much they will actually pay - even before they sign up. Good security practices, a modern and simple user interface, and both bank transfer & credit card purchases are available. CEX is indeed a good beginner-optimized alternative to Coinbase. Read the comprehensive Cex review for more details including fees, verification, & security.
For us non-miners, getting Bitcoin is now easier than it was a year ago. Now, one only needs to be in a right country to purchase and sell Bitcoins, where exchanges legally act as intermediaries for currency transactions — something that also protects your funds from being mismanaged by external and internal attacks. These exchanges instantly convert your Bitcoin into USD or other fiat currency, and based on the price fluctuations between these two, one can simultaneously sell and purchase their holdings and make good profits — a process we know as arbitrage (explained further below)
In January 2009, the bitcoin network was created when Nakamoto mined the first block of the chain, known as the genesis block. Embedded in the coinbase of this block was the following text: "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks." This note has been interpreted as both a timestamp and a comment on the instability caused by fractional-reserve banking.:18