The father of Bitcoin was able to not only code an exceptionally well built system, but also found clever ways to ensure his work was validated and not misunderstood for some sort of a scheme by others. For example, Nakamoto left a message inside this first manually altered code. When the first block of Bitcoin was mined, it read ‘The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.’ This quote is the headline for The Times newspaper which was published on January 3rd, 2009. The clever use of this simple message is overlooked by many, and it dictates that the first block was mined no earlier than January 3rd, 2009. This is extremely important because the whole Bitcoin system is designed to run and validate itself from the previously mined blocks, so giving a valid timestamp which can be authenticated by a simple headline title to the first block was genius. Afterwards, all blocks used the previous block for reference.
Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer virtual currency. This means that in order for a transaction to occur, no middle men or central authority is needed. You can send any amount of bitcoins to anyone living anywhere in the world, completely eliminating the need for traditional third parties like banks or money transmitters. The cryptocurrency also allows the bypassing of capital and AML restrictions.
Most cryptocurrencies are designed to gradually decrease production of that currency, placing a cap on the total amount of that currency that will ever be in circulation. Compared with ordinary currencies held by financial institutions or kept as cash on hand, cryptocurrencies can be more difficult for seizure by law enforcement. This difficulty is derived from leveraging cryptographic technologies.
Bitfinex’s high volume is key for traders as it ensures a low spread. More than 5.77 million bitcoins traded through it from April 2017 to October 2017 alone, which is double the volume of Kraken (3.6M BTC) and Coinbase (3.06M BTC). For newcomers, the complicated interface makes costly mistakes more probable while the lack of fiat funding options makes it impossible to use regular money to buy cryptocurrencies. However, experienced crypto traders will find everything they need at Bitfinex.
When discussing ways to invest in bitcoin, I mentioned bitcoin futures contracts. With these, you could essentially bet on the market and what the price of bitcoin will be in the future. These contracts are cash settled, and are certainly one way to trade bitcoin. There is also a different type of derivative that some prefer to use when trading: A bitcoin contract for difference, more commonly known as a CFD.
Trading requires daily technical analysis and a sound understanding of trading platforms. I wouldn't recommend this unless you're experienced with eToro or an MT4 platform. That said, there are benefits to bitcoin trading. It gives you the option to quickly scale in and out of positions, and take profits at a desired price. When you trade bitcoin, you can take advantage of daily fluctuations in price. The CFD brokers used for trading are regulated, and your funds are arguably more secure than at an exchange like Coinbase. You will be charged spread (fee) on each trade, but you can execute a buy or sell order quicker. The biggest benefit to trading bitcoin is the limit - it's far easier to open a $100,000 position at a CFD broker than go through stringent checks and buy an equivalent amount on Coinbase.
Bitcoin prices were negatively affected by several hacks or thefts from cryptocurrency exchanges, including thefts from Coincheck in January 2018, Coinrail and Bithumb in June, and Bancor in July. For the first six months of 2018, $761 million worth of cryptocurrencies was reported stolen from exchanges. Bitcoin's price was affected even though other cryptocurrencies were stolen at Coinrail and Bancor, as investors worried about the security of cryptocurrency exchanges.