Bitcoin is a crypto currency, held only in digital form. It is not centrally controlled like conventional currencies, which are usually issued by a national government (the Euro is an obvious exception) and regulated by government authorised central banks. Instead, bitcoins are issued and stored via a peer to peer, open source network.
This is achieved via a unique and innovative software solution called a blockchain. Instead of controlling and storing the currency centrally, the maintenance of the register of ownership and transactions is accomplished by a network of computers running the free open source bitcoin software. Bitcoin users responsible for maintaining this blockchain and verifying transactions are rewarded by the ability to receive processing transaction fees, or by being issued new bitcoins (a process known as mining).
The total amount of bitcoin available is strictly controlled by the software. Unlike conventional currencies, which are vulnerable to loss of value by inflation, bitcoin’s supply growth is strictly controlled with a maximum total of 21 million already set. This maximum figure is not expected to be reached until the middle of the 22nd century. Bitcoins can also be divided to help maintain a consistent value.
You can buy them online using conventional currency. They are then stored securely in a digital wallet for you to use them to buy goods or services online, or simply to transfer money to someone else. This digital wallet can be accessed on your PC or via an app on your mobile. Making a payment or transferring your bitcoins is as simple as pressing a button or sending an e-mail.
Many online casinos are now accepting this novel new currency. There are many advantages for both the player and the casino. From the player’s point of view, the currency is largely anonymous, with ownership virtually impossible to trace from outside: there is no centrally controlled storage facility or database to search for example. Furthermore, no personal information such as names, addresses or account details are required to make a transaction. Payments or money transfers are sometimes completed free of charge. In any case, fees will almost always be much lower than for conventional banking, simply because there is no bank involved to make charges in the first place. There is also the advantage that you can often decide for yourself how large a fee to pay. The advantage of paying more is that your transaction will be processed faster (because there is more of an incentive for the network to verify your payment quickly).
From the receiving business or casino’s point of view, accepting bitcoin is a great way of minimising transaction fees. It is easy get started, and unlike conventional banking and credit payments, it doesn’t cost anything to set up the payment system. There is no fee for accepting bitcoin and there are no ongoing regular merchant fees to pay. Plus of course the more flexible payment options available for players are, the more new players are likely to be attracted.
As bitcoin becomes better known and more widely accepted, its low costs, confidentiality and ease of use make it increasingly attractive as a payment option for both casinos and players. Already there are plenty of casinos around who offer bitcoin as a method of payment and doubtless more will be offering this option in the future.