Bitcoin glossary

Bitcoin Cash is changing the way people think about money. In order to help you learn about this revolutionary electronic cash system we have compiled a list of frequently used Bitcoin terms below. Note: the majority of these terms apply to both Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin (BTC). Read more about the differences between Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin.

Address: A string of letters and numbers that people use to send bitcoin to or from. A bitcoin address is shared from one user to another user so that they can send you Bitcoin. Likewise, if you want to send bitcoin to someone you will need their address (obtained from their wallet).

BCH: The most used and accepted abbreviation and exchange ticker symbol for the Bitcoin Cash digital currency.

BCC: A ticker symbol for Bitcoin Cash that was once used but no longer and is deprecated; used on some outdated Asian exchanges.

BTC: An abbreviation and exchange ticker symbol for the Bitcoin settlement system.

Bitcoin: An electronic peer-to-peer cash system. There are two main versions of Bitcoin: Bitcoin Cash (BCH) and Bitcoin (BTC). BCH is digital money and offers very quick transaction times with low fees. BTC is no longer useful as money because of extremely high fees and slow transaction times.

Block: A group of Bitcoin transactions that have taken place during a specific time period. The average is around 10 minutes. Miners process Bitcoin transactions not one-by-one but in groups or "blocks".

Block Reward: An amount of Bitcoin that miners earn upon creating a block (of pending transactions). The reward is equal to the sum of 1) the block subsidy (newly 'minted' satoshis) plus all transactions fees attached to transactions included in that block. The subsidy reward is halved every four years.

Blockchain: The decentralized, public ledger of each and every Bitcoin transaction that has ever occurred. As blocks are verified by miners, they are added to the chain of previous blocks, hence the name.

Centralized: A form of organization whereby a single party, group, authority is in control. These systems have single points of failure. VISA, Paypal, ApplePay are examples of centralized payment systems. Centralized organizations are contrasted by decentralized systems.

Coinbase: A unique type of Bitcoin transaction with no inputs that is created by miners after finding new blocks. This type of transaction is, in most cases, the first transaction within new a block. Coinbase transactions reward miners for their work.

Cold Storage: A way to hold or store a digital asset offline—without connection to the internet.  Typical cold storage includes USB drives, offline computers, or paper wallets. Cold storage is the safest method of storing your cryptocurrency especially for wallet balances that you plan to keep untouched for a significant period of time.

Confirmation(s): A bitcoin transaction is confirmed once it has been included in a block on the blockchain by a miner. Each subsequent block added to the blockchain is another confirmation for that transaction. 6+ confirmations is generally accepted for a transaction to be finalized although 99.99% of the time Bitcoin Cash transactions can be considered final with 0 or 1 confirmation.

Cosigner: A person or entity that has partial control over a multi-signature Bitcoin wallet. To complete a send of bitcoin, a multi-sig wallet requires authorization from a certain amount of all cosigners on the wallet. The amount of authorizing cosigners required is known as 'M of N'.

Cryptocurrency: A digital currency that uses cryptography to provide security and verify transactions on its network. Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency. Unlike traditional fiat currencies, a cryptocurrency does not require a central bank or any other centralized authority to ensure security or to maintain control of money supply.

Cryptography: The practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties. Bitcoin and other currencies are related to cryptography insofar as they use mathematics to secure information. Within Bitcoin, cryptography creates and secures wallets, signs all transactions, and verifies each and every transaction on the blockchain.

Decentralized: A form of organization which does not require any single party, group, or authority to control services. Bitcoin is a decentralized network because no company, government, or individual created or is in control of it. Bitcoin's governance relies on the community and its code is open-source.

Distributed: Also know as peer-to-peer (p2p). A distributed network does require users to connect to any central server or entity. In a distributed network, users connect directly to each other. Bitcoin is a distributed network that does not have any central processing entity.

Encryption/Encrypt: The Bitcoin network uses cryptography to secure wallets so that only those in control of the private key associated with that wallet may access it to send Bitcoin from that address.

Exchange: A service, usually a website, that allows users to buy, sell, and trade cryptocurrencies.

Hash: A mathematical process miners use on blocks to secure the network and maintain network security. "Hash" also refers to the unique identifier of a Bitcoin transaction.

Hot Wallet: Any Bitcoin wallet running on an internet-connected device is considered "hot" (as opposed to an offline or "cold" wallet). Hot wallets should be secured by users since the funds on these wallets are subject to security compromise from hostile users on the network.

Ledger: A list of IDs, transactions, time-stamps, balances, and other data related to a financial account. The Bitcoin blockchain is unique ledger in that it is distributed, decentralized, and public.

M of N: The requisite number of cosigners needed to provide signatures (M) out of the total amount of cosigners (N) within a multi-signature wallet. A common M of N value is "2 of 3". This means of the three cosigners, any two are needed to authorize a signature.

Miner: A specialized Bitcoin user comprised of a computer or group of computers that 1) collect pending transactions into blocks in order to process them and 2) verify blocks created by other miners. Miners are incentivized to perform this work because they collect all transaction fees (attached to transactions within blocks) and are rewarded with new bitcoins as part of the block reward.

Multi-Signature: Also known as 'multisig'. These are bitcoin transactions that require authorizing signatures from multiple parties. wallets offer the multisig feature.

Node: A special participant on the Bitcoin network. Nodes hold a copy of the blockchain ledger and relay new transactions to other nodes.

Open Source: Freely distributed software the code of which is available to the public to edit, use, and share. The Bitcoin code is open source.

Paper Wallet: An offline, cold storage, wallet where private key(s) are printed onto a piece of paper or manually attached to some other physical medium for offline storage. This is one of the most secure ways of holding a cryptocurrency.

Peer to Peer: A type of network where participants communicate directly with each other rather than through a centralized server. The Bitcoin network is a peer to peer network.

Private Key: A string of numbers and letters that is be used to spend bitcoins held on a specific Bitcoin address.

Proof of Work: Refers to a portion of data which is difficult (i.e., high in resource cost and time-consuming) to produce yet easy for others to verify and which satisfies some requirements. Producing a proof of work can be a random process with low probability so that a lot of trial and error is required on average before a valid proof of work is generated.

Protocol: A set of official rules which govern how participants on a given network must communicate. Bitcoin's protocol dictates how each node connects with the others, the supply of Bitcoins at a certain time, and also defines other aspects of the network.

Public Key: A string of letters and numbers that is mathematically derived from a private key. Public keys allow one to receive bitcoins from other users.

QR Code: An image, usually square, that digitally represents a bitcoin public or private key.  QR codes are similar to barcodes found on physical products and can be scanned by digital cameras on smartphones or computers.

Signature: A portion of a Bitcoin transaction that proves that the owner of the private key has approved the transaction.

satoshi: The smallest divisible unit of one bitcoin. There are 100 million satoshis (8 decimal places) in one bitcoin. One satoshi = 0.0000001 bitcoins.

Satoshi Nakamoto: Author of the Bitcoin Whitepaper, published in 2008. Nakamoto is consider the founder and creator of Bitcoin. SHA-256: The specific hash function used in the process of mining to secure bitcoin transactions.

Transaction: An entry in the blockchain that describes a transfer of bitcoins from address to another. Bitcoin transactions may contain several inputs and outputs. Abbreviated as 'tx' e.g, Usually, the first tx within a block is the coinbase.

Transaction Fee: Sometimes called the "miner's fee". The transaction fee is an amount of bitcoin included in each transaction by users and collected by miners. These fees are used to incentivize miners to add the transaction to a block. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) fees are considerably lower than Bitcoin (BTC) fees.

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