David Golumbia says that the ideas influencing bitcoin advocates emerge from right-wing extremist movements such as the Liberty Lobby and the John Birch Society and their anti-Central Bank rhetoric, or, more recently, Ron Paul and Tea Party-style libertarianism.[132] Steve Bannon, who owns a "good stake" in bitcoin, considers it to be "disruptive populism. It takes control back from central authorities. It's revolutionary."[133]
Because of bitcoin's decentralized nature and its trading on online exchanges located in many countries, regulation of bitcoin has been difficult. However, the use of bitcoin can be criminalized, and shutting down exchanges and the peer-to-peer economy in a given country would constitute a de facto ban.[167] The legal status of bitcoin varies substantially from country to country and is still undefined or changing in many of them. Regulations and bans that apply to bitcoin probably extend to similar cryptocurrency systems.[168]
Ethereum blockchain applications are usually referred to as DApps (decentralized application), since they are based on the decentralized Ethereum Virtual Machine, and its smart contracts.[46] Many uses have been proposed for Ethereum platform, including ones that are impossible or unfeasible.[47][33] Use case proposals have included finance, the internet-of-things, farm-to-table produce, electricity sourcing and pricing, and sports betting. Ethereum is (as of 2017) the leading blockchain platform for initial coin offering projects, with over 50% market share.
The unit of account of the bitcoin system is a bitcoin. Ticker symbols used to represent bitcoin are BTC[a] and XBT.[b][72]:2 Its Unicode character is ₿.[1] Small amounts of bitcoin used as alternative units are millibitcoin (mBTC), and satoshi (sat). Named in homage to bitcoin's creator, a satoshi is the smallest amount within bitcoin representing 0.00000001 bitcoins, one hundred millionth of a bitcoin.[2] A millibitcoin equals 0.001 bitcoins; one thousandth of a bitcoin or 100,000 satoshis.[73]

Full clients verify transactions directly by downloading a full copy of the blockchain (over 150 GB As of January 2018).[95] They are the most secure and reliable way of using the network, as trust in external parties is not required. Full clients check the validity of mined blocks, preventing them from transacting on a chain that breaks or alters network rules.[7]:ch. 1 Because of its size and complexity, downloading and verifying the entire blockchain is not suitable for all computing devices.

طرح شخص أطلق على نفسه الاسم الرمزي ساتوشي ناكاموتو فكرة بيتكوين للمرة الأولى في ورقة بحثية في عام 2008،[2] ووصفها بأنها نظام نقدي إلكتروني يعتمد في التعاملات المالية على مبدأ الند للند (بالإنجليزية: Peer-to-Peer) ، وهو مصطلح تقني يعني التعامل المباشر بين مستخدم وآخر دون وجود وسيط (كالتورنت). يقول القائمون على بيتكوين إن الهدف من هذه العملة التي طرحت للتداول للمرة الأولى سنة 2009 [3] هو تغيير الاقتصاد العالمي بنفس الطريقة التي غيرت بها الويب أساليب النشر.[4] وفي عام 2016 أعلن رجل الأعمال الأسترالي كريغ رايت أنه هو ساتوشي ناكاموتو مقدما دليلا تقنيا على ذلك ولكن تم كشف زيف أدلّته بسهولة.[5]

Another type of physical wallet called a hardware wallet keeps credentials offline while facilitating transactions.[106] The hardware wallet acts as a computer peripheral and signs transactions as requested by the user, who must press a button on the wallet to confirm that they intended to make the transaction. Hardware wallets never expose their private keys, keeping bitcoins in cold storage even when used with computers that may be compromised by malware.[99]:42–45

Blockchain analysts estimate that Nakamoto had mined about one million bitcoins[28] before disappearing in 2010, when he handed the network alert key and control of the code repository over to Gavin Andresen. Andresen later became lead developer at the Bitcoin Foundation.[29][30] Andresen then sought to decentralize control. This left opportunity for controversy to develop over the future development path of bitcoin, in contrast to the perceived authority of Nakamoto's contributions.[31][30]