Bitcoin is a digital asset[12] and a payment system invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, who published the invention in 2008[13] and released it as open-source software in 2009.[14] The system is peer-to-peer and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary.[15]:4 These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the block chain,[16] which uses bitcoin as its unit of account. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, the U.S. Treasury categorizes bitcoin as a decentralized virtual currency.[1] Bitcoin is often called the first cryptocurrency,[17][18][19] although prior systems existed[note 5] and it is more correctly described as the first decentralized digital currency.[15][22] Bitcoin is the largest of its kind in terms of total market value.[23]



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