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5 Most Confusing Things About Bitcoin

Bitcoin Terminology is Broken — Does it need to be fixed?

By Richard Black on ALTCOIN MAGAZINE

Bitcoin and the entire cryptocurrency space needs a branding makeover! This is no understatement. Bitcoin terminology is broken and it’s hampering widespread adoption as it’s metaphors are often misleading, confusing or down right wrong.

It’s not just about re-branding a cryptocurrency…It’s re-branding a whole industry. If it’s even possible?

Why such an extreme statement?

— Let’s delve into why is so wrong in the first place.

1. The Name: “Bitcoin”

What’s wrong with the name you ask?

For starters, there are no actual “coins” in cryptocurrency.

Here we have the newest and most abstract form of money the world has ever seen and for some reason it is associated with the oldest and most tangible representation of money our culture has ever known — A Coin.

There are no coins — it’s a horrible misnomer.

BitLedger would have been much more representative, although not as catchy.

2. Bitcoin is a “Gold Coin”

How many times have we all seen a picture like this?

Is this what a Gold Bitcoin looks like?

The internet is littered with them.

Every time we publish images of Gold Bitcoins we are all reinforcing the metaphor that Bitcoin is both a physical object and a coin.

The media doesn’t help but reinforce this image and metaphor. Everywhere you search for Bitcoin, you see this gold coin.

No wonder people are confused.

There is even a segment of the population that believes they can buy and sell gold bitcoins.

Side Note: Props to the developers and marketing team for the branding of their cryptocurrency: Bitcoin Gold.

3. Bitcoin Wallet

A wallet is where you store your Bitcoins, Right?

This is what many people believe - a Bitcoin wallet is similar to a leather wallet and is where the money is stored.

In cryptocurrency, there is no money in the wallet.

The money is on the network and the “wallet” contains keys which are used to transfer the money on the network.

Sadly, the word “wallet” is yet another poor choice of metaphor linking back to known artifacts of our existing monetary system.

More appropriately, it should have been called a key chain.


A key chain has keys on it.

These keys give you access to the accounts on the network. Keys can also be duplicated and transferred.

But it seems that Key Chain just didn’t catch on and word Wallet has stuck.

4. Convertibility

That will be 0.00043 Bitcoins for your Coffee, Sir!

Is that too confusing for you?

How about,

That will be 43,137 Satoshi’s for your Coffee, Sir!

Does that make any more sense?

In general most of us are not good with numbers, they challenge us. For the most part, we like the decimal system: 1, 10, 100 — it all makes sense.

We are comfortable with numbers between 0.01 to 10,000.

These the number we use in everyday life.

But Bitcoin — the numbers make no sense to our everyday world and it’s causing problems with adoption.

5. Bitcoin Mining

A miner Digs for Bitcoin like this?

Not exactly… No wonder the general public is confused.

The role of a bitcoin miner is to validate transactions on the network. It requires solving a mathematical problem for which a reward will be provided to the fastest one to solve the problem with a bit of chance thrown in for good measure.

Maybe a better metaphor would be visualizing students competing to win rewards for solving complex math problems.

Getting paid to solve math questions

Covering the topic of Bitcoin Mining is generally reserved for advanced conversations. This shouldn’t have to be if we just start using the correct terminology.

How to Enact Change?

Bitcoin terminology will never fix itself. Right now we are kicking the same can down the same road and one of two things will happen:

  • The public at large will come to terms with this terminology and just accept the confusion. Just like we need to learn irregular verbs in language class. They don’t make sense — it just is. Or,
  • We can as a community can enact change.

Will it Change?

I guess the answer to that question is up to you — the users, the community. Is Bitcoin terminology broken enough to garner enough support to change it?

How to start a movement in less than 3-minutes

Or shall we just let it evolve naturally; warts and all?

Let me know in the comments below.

Trade Safe,



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The purpose of Altcoin Magazine is to post and repost stories, announcements, and tech explanations from within the topics of cryptocurrency and blockchain. This article was composed and written by Richard Black for Altcoin Magazine.

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