It’s a virtual currency that travels beyond the reach of banks and centralized regulatory institutions and allows you to transfer money to anyone with an Internet connection, anywhere at any time.
“Bitcoin is to banks what email was to postal offices,” says Mihai Alisie, editor of Bitcoin Magazine. “Instead of going through a bank, respecting their schedule, paying their fees, I can transfer money to Ethiopia, India or China without anyone knowing who’s behind address B and address A.” It is currently being used, for example, to surmount the funding block on WikiLeaks, in which American and European credit card companies have cooperated with government requests to prevent any money from being donated to the whistle-blowing organization.
In the introductory video by The Guardian below, Alisie and Bitcoin developer, Amir Taaki, can be seen in hooded sweatshirts and beanies, walking the brightly lit halls of the deserted London office where they live and work, talking eloquently and enthusiastically about what they’re creating.
Bitcoin is the fastest growing currency in the world. It has been criticized for facilitating the sale of drugs on unregulated websites. Alisie responds by explaining that Bitcoin is a tool. “You have a knife, and with that knife you can put butter on your bread or you can kill someone. But you make the tool bad or good.”