In case you have been living under a rock for the past five years, and you only heard about Bitcoin now, you are in for quite a ride. Depending on where you are getting your information from, Bitcoin is either the devil that plans to ruin the economy or is a sure-fire way for you to get rich quickly, while in fact, it is neither of those. That begs the question, What is Bitcoin then?
A Short History of Bitcoin
It all started in 2008 when a person under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper called Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. It is an extremely interesting read, although a bit scientific, that outlines exactly how Bitcoin works.
In case you want to read it, you can access it by following this link. In any case, reading this paper and understanding it is not necessary for using Bitcoin, but I am a firm believer that you should be acquainted with some of the basic terminology concerning cryptocurrency and economics if you plan on dabbling in this field.
And this article is hopefully going to help you get started and provide you with a few helpful plugins for your WordPress site.
At its core, Bitcoin is a type of cryptocurrency. And cryptocurrency is a type of digital currency which means that it has no physical counterpart. The biggest difference between Bitcoin and any country’s established currency is the fact that “real” currency is backed and issued by banks, while cryptocurrency isn’t. Because of this, you will often hear people saying that Bitcoin is worthless since it isn’t tangible.
Having said that, it’s important to know that most of the currency in the world is a type of fiat currency. Unlike currency in the past, which was directly linked to gold or some other commodity, fiat currency is only valuable because banks, governments, and its people agree that it holds value. Sound familiar? When you think about it, a dollar bill is just a piece of paper.
The only reason why the dollar is more valuable than your bubble-gum wrapper is that everyone agrees that it is. Knowing this, it is easy to disprove that Bitcoin is worthless or unreliable – quite the opposite. Since the dollar is backed by the US government and the Federal Reserve, it is intrinsically tied to them.
This means that you need to rely on both your bank and your government to function properly for your money to have any value. This leaves you in a bad position since you can’t directly affect what they do with your money.
How It Works
By far, its main appeal, and the reason why it became so valuable, is the fact that Bitcoins are not tied to any government or banking system. Without getting too technical, the whole Bitcoin system is simply a ledger. And just like most ledgers, this one keeps track of all the transactions that occurred using Bitcoin.
To circumvent the problem of a centralized location that holds this ledger, Bitcoin makes this ledger open to the public, with every user having a copy of the ledger. So when someone “owns” Bitcoin, they actually own the right to access a specific address record in that ledger and perform actions like transferring, receiving, or adding Bitcoin to their cryptocurrency wallet.
To illustrate this, we are going to use an example.
Let’s say that you have five Bitcoin and you want to give one to your friend Mike for fixing your car. To transfer that one Bitcoin, all that you have to do is write into the ledger that you are giving one Bitcoin to Mike.
Now that you did that, the ledger gets updated with your transaction information, and since the ledger is open to the public, everyone can see that Mike has one Bitcoin, and he can now further transfer it from the top wallet to Jake or Paul the same way that you did. Pretty simple right?
A problem that now arises is security. Since everyone has a copy of this ledger, how can we make sure no one tampers with it? This is where the crypto- parts come in. By borrowing certain principles from cryptography and employing a technique called block-chaining, we ensure that no one can tamper with the data on that ledger.
Even though I would love to keep rambling on, to the dismay of my editor, about block chaining, transaction details, mining, hash, and security key generation, it wouldn’t really be useful to most people. The main thing that you need to take away is the fact that the system of transferring Bitcoin is really secure and well thought out.
And the biggest proof of this should be the fact that so far, there have been no real security and privacy breaches concerning Bitcoin, which is saying a lot in 2021.
Now that you have a basic grasp of Bitcoin, we can get into the fun part, and that is using it on your website. To help you start, we compiled a list of Bitcoin-related plugins for your WordPress site.
1. Coinbase Commerce
If you have an online shop and you want to receive Bitcoin as payment, look no further than Coinbase Commerce. This plugin creates a simple payment gateway that will allow users to pay with Bitcoin in your WooComerce store. With a fast installation process, this plugin is a breeze to set up. Just a quick disclaimer, you will have to create an account on their official site for this plugin to work.
2. Easy Digital Downloads
This one is for all of you that don’t plan on using Woocomerce. Easy Digital Downloads specializes in selling online products. Be it documents, photos, or software. They got you covered. And the best thing is that it allows users to pay for your products with Bitcoin, so you won’t have to go around looking for additional extensions.
3. Cryptocurrency Donation Box
If you are interested in receiving donations in the form of Bitcoin, this plugin will add a simple donation box that will allow your users to send you a tip without having to go through too many hoops. So, if this is something that tickles your fancy, give Cryptocurrency Donation Box a try.
4. Cryptocurrency Widgets Pack
Cryptocurrency Widgets Pack can prove quite useful for everyone that is running a site that has anything to do with cryptocurrency. This plugin adds many small but useful widgets like a ticker or a card to your website. And in case you find yourself liking this plugin, they offer additional widgets in the pro version.
5. Currency Converter Calculator
A simple and easy widget that does its job right and fast. And while creating a currency converter isn’t really that hard, and anyone can do it. Keeping it up to speed in a market that changes so rapidly is quite tricky. This is where Currency Converter Calculator comes in, as it is a real-time currency converter that does all of the work for you. All that you need to do is install it and attach it to your site, and you are good to go.
Since times are changing so rapidly, it would be a shame not to seize the opportunity and jump on the bandwagon while there is still room in it. Thankfully, the aforementioned WordPress plugins allow you to do this without having to go through too much trouble.
Having said that, I hope that after reading this article, you can walk away knowing a bit more about cryptocurrency and Bitcoin. If all else fails, at least you can use this knowledge to impress your friends during your next hangout.