Bitcoin seems to be everywhere these days. What was once an esoteric topic discussed only by mathematicians, cryptographers, end-of-the-world doomsday predictors, and the occasional conspiracy theorist has grabbed front-page headlines around the world and become a leading topic presented at financial services industry events. Regulators, journalists, bankers, consultants, and venture capitalists have poured time, money, and energy into understanding what a bitcoin is and trying to determine how the virtual currency fits into the global payments landscape.

The bitcoin payment mechanism emerged in 2008 under extremely mysterious circumstances. The term “bitcoin” was supposedly coined by someone named Satoshi Nakamoto, who wrote a paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” As of this writing, no known individual, organization, agency, or government has ever maintained that it created the bitcoin infrastructure or technology platform. Various theories have been floated, and a few mainstream publications—including The New York Times and Fast Company—have launched serious investigations, but so far no one really knows how bitcoin payments got their start.


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