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What Is Bitcoin, Exactly? [+ Is It This Cryptocurrency The “New Gold”?]

How Does Bitcoin Work? and Other Common Questions
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In this guide, we’ll teach you some of the basics you need to know about Bitcoin, including live price data, and Bitcoin’s relationship to Bitcoin Cash.

We also list Bitcoin brokers and exchanges that allow you to buy coin outright or speculate on Bitcoin prices.

Interested trading Bitcoin? Here are brokers and exchanges available in that offer Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies:

Disclaimer: Availability subject to regulations.
Between 74-89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs.

What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin (BTC) is a cryptocurrency with multiple world records: the highest trading volume, the highest price per coin, and the highest market capitalization.

Learning about Bitcoin is easy with the right information. First, it’s important to distinguish Bitcoin from fiat currencies.

Fiat currency is money that a government has declared to be legal tenders like the US dollar or the Japanese yen.

Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash

Be aware that Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) are two completely different cryptocurrencies.

BCH is a “fork” of BTC, which means that the BCH developers used the original BTC blockchain code, but updated some of the nodes.

When a cryptocurrency is forked, the original blockchain is unchanged, but the new blockchain becomes a separate entity (in this case, it became BCH). Those holding BTC when the blockchain was forked automatically got the same amount of BCH.

The term altcoin is used to describe any cryptocurrency that isn’t Bitcoin. For example, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum are altcoins.

BCH was designed to address some of the issues that might occur with widespread BTC. For example, BCH has faster transfer times and can handle more transactions per second. BCH also charges a smaller transaction fee.

Check out our Crypto Broker’s Guide to start trading today.

Bitcoin Exchanges vs Bitcoin Brokers

When you first explore ways to trade or purchase Bitcoin, the difference between exchanges and brokers can be confusing. Here is some clarity around the matter so you can distinguish the two.

Bitcoin Exchanges

Bitcoin exchanges allow you to purchase the cryptocurrency and own it outright. You can store it in your exchange wallet, or a separate wallet outside the exchange.

Here is a list of Bitcoin exchanges in :

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Bitcoin Brokers

Bitcoin brokers make it possible to trade cryptocurrency instruments like derivatives (CFDs, options, futures) without owning the asset, in this case, Bitcoin.

It’s important to note that some Bitcoin exchanges like OKEx and BitMex also offer derivatives alongside their standard and decentralized spot trading choices.

This chart shows historical Bitcoin prices, leading up to today’s price of $64,744.22. Find out more in our Bitcoin Price Guide.

Where Can I Trade Bitcoin?

See our full guide to trading Bitcoin, or start your research with reviews of these regulated crypto brokers available in .

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CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. Between 74%-89% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs. You should consider whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Cryptoassets are volatile instruments which can fluctuate widely in a very short time frame and, therefore, are not appropriate for all investors. Other than via CFDs, trading cryptoassets is unregulated and, therefore, is not supervised by any EU regulatory framework. Your capital is at risk. Past performance is not an indication of future results. eToro USA LLC does not offer CFDs and makes no representation and assumes no liability as to the accuracy or completeness of the content of this publication, which has been prepared by our partner utilizing publicly available non-entity specific information about eToro. 

IMPORTANT: CFDs are not available in the USA due to local regulation, and regulated brokers do not accept US citizens or US residents as clients.

Please Note: Availability subject to regulations. Cryptocurrency CFDs are not available to UK retail traders.


Here are some common questions and answers about Bitcoin.

What is an e-wallet?

An e-wallet is the digital equivalent of a physical wallet. Just as you would place physical currency, credit cards, and debit cards into a physical wallet, you store your cryptocurrency in an e-wallet. E-wallets allow you to track your crypto balances and execute transactions.

What other cryptocurrencies are there?

Other cryptocurrencies include Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency but since its launch, over 2000 additional cryptos have come into existence. These alternative cryptocurrencies are sometimes referred to as altcoins.

What is blockchain?

Blockchain is the technology behind Bitcoin that allows for tracking all activity that occurs on the Bitcoin network. At its core, it is a chain of programmatic blocks. Each block contains information about transactions – including dates, times, amounts, participants, etc. The sum of these blocks is called a chain that you can think of as a publicly accessible database.

Further Reading

We also have several other altcoin guides like:

Credits: Original article written by Katie Horne. Updates and additions by Natalie Mootz with contributions from the Commodity.com editorial team.

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