Bitcoin, it seems, is everywhere. It’s in the news. It’s on phones. It’s even available at ATMs across the globe. Its fast rate of growth and adoption are attracting a lot of attention. And like any interesting, fast-growing business, it is attracting the interest of investors. All of which leads to the question, since Bitcoin is not a company and therefore does not have a publicly traded stock, how can you invest in it?
Bitcoin is a virtual currency that uses cryptographic encryption system to facilitate secure transfers and storage. Unlike a fiat currency, bitcoin is not printed by a central back, nor is it backed by any. Bitcoins are generated by what is called mining—a process wherein high-powered computers, on a distributed network, use an open source mathematical formula to produce bitcoins. It takes real high-tech hardware and hours or even days to mine bitcoins. One can either mine bitcoins or buy them from someone by paying cash, using a credit card, or even a PayPal account. Bitcoins can be used like a fiat world currency to buy goods and services.