Bitcoin Explained with Emoji

Part 2: Making Money Trustworthy

Tess Rinearson

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In Part 1, we learned that Bitcoin is a decentralized currency, not generated or owned by any government or financial institution, and what hashing is. Now, we’ll learn how Bitcoin miners use hashing to literally make money, and how cryptography allows bitcoins to be trustworthy, unique and impervious to copying even though they are completely (and irreversibly) transferrable.

Bitcoin, like the United States dollar, fluctuates in value. People trust currencies even when their value floats — which just means a currency’s value that’s dependent on supply and demand in comparison to other currencies, as opposed to it being “fixed” and determined by a government or other centralized body.

When U.S. dollars were backed by gold, people trusted the money because it could be exchanged for a precious metal. Now people trust the dollar largely because of the credibility of the U.S. government. They also trust the government to back the banks, in case anything goes awry.

Bitcoin is designed to be highly trustworthy, but not because of gold or any government. Instead it relies on mathematics — specifically, the clever use of two technologies: hashing and public-key encryption.

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Tess Rinearson

VP of Engineering, Tendermint Core. (Previously: @Chain, @Medium.)