(HealthNewsDigest.com) - If you think that paying online with your credit card is convenient, wait till you start paying with bitcoins. While this groundbreaking currency has been the centre of attention among investors since its conception, bitcoins are increasingly being accepted by a lot of merchants from all over the globe and used as “money”; and consumers might actually enjoy this more than the traditional funds we have gotten used to spending.
What is Bitcoin?
The simplest way to have bitcoins explained is, it is digital currency that can be used as payment online. Bitcoin was invented back in 2008 by a mystery man, or team, under the alias Satoshi Nakamoto. It is decentralised, meaning it is not controlled by a central bank or by the government. Unlike traditional printed money that is withdrawn from a bank, this cryptocurrency uses blockchain technology to solve mathematical problems that, when solved, release a bitcoin. This process of solving the mathematical problems is also called “mining”.
Bitcoin is accepted by several merchants worldwide. In South Africa, tens of thousands of merchants that accept credit card or Payfast payments also accept bitcoins. In India, over 500 merchants have started accepting bitcoins as payments since 2016 in part because of the lower transaction fees. And in Japan, 4,500 retails stores are currently accepting bitcoins as currency, but this number is expected to rise to more than 260,000 this year.
Clinics and Pharmacies Accepting Bitcoin as Payment
While there are more retailers accepting bitcoin as method of payment than healthcare facilities, the industry seems to be on its way to embracing this technology. For one, there is Rapid Med Urgent Care Center in Texas, the first facility in Denton County to allow patients to pay using bitcoins. According to one of their staff, Anton Appelgvitst, "Bitcoin is a new money. Banks are taken away from the formula. It allows direct transactions between the end user and the person providing the service."
Faster Online Transactions
Unlike checks, wire transfers, and bank transfers which susceptible to delays and human error, bitcoin transactions are relatively much faster and error free. With bitcoin payments, a user can select ‘zero confirmations’ from their options and this will prompt the payment to be processed in just a few minutes. Transactions involving more confirmations would require more time, but will only take a few hours.
Where to Buy Bitcoins
You can buy, or sell, bitcoins from bitcoin exchanges using various currencies. Mt Gox, which is based in Japan, is the largest bitcoin exchange at present. Launched in July 2010, Mt Gox was already processing 70 percent of all bitcoin transactions three years later. Bitcoins can also transact using bitcoins digitally on their computer or mobile app, similar to transferring monetary funds online. You can also buy bitcoins at bitcoin ATMs. Similar in appearance to the usual automated teller machines that spew cash, a bitcoin ATM will print out a receipt with a bitcoin QR code that, when scanned, loads the appropriate amount into the user’s wallet.
In this highly technological world that we live in, the emergence of bitcoin technology is proof that humanity can never run out of ideas and innovations. In just less than a decade, the bitcoin’s overwhelming growth and success leaves us to speculate what else can happen in its very promising future.