Now that we have seen a brief overview of what bitcoin is, we can better understand how this leading cryptocurrency provides potential benefits to its users.
1. User Autonomy
The primary draw of bitcoin for many users, and indeed one of the central tenets of cryptocurrencies more generally, is autonomy. Digital currencies allow users more autonomy over their own money than fiat currencies do, at least in theory. Users are able to control how they spend their money without dealing with an intermediary authority like a bank or government.
Bitcoin purchases are discrete. Unless a user voluntarily publishes his Bitcoin transactions, his purchases are never associated with his personal identity, much like cash-only purchases, and cannot easily be traced back to him. In fact, the anonymous bitcoin address that is generated for user purchases changes with each transaction. This is not to say that bitcoin transactions are truly anonymous or entirely untraceable, but they are much less readily linked to personal identity than some traditional forms of payment.
3. Peer-to-Peer Focus
The bitcoin payment system is purely peer-to-peer, meaning that users are able to send and receive payments to or from anyone on the network around the world without requiring approval from any external source or authority.
4. Elimination of Banking Fees
While it is considered standard among cryptocurrency exchanges to charge so-called "maker" and "taker" fees, as well as occasional deposit and withdrawal fees, bitcoin users are not subject to the litany of traditional banking fees associated with fiat currencies. This means no account maintenance or minimum balance fees, no overdraft charges and no returned deposit fees, among many others.
5. Very Low Transaction Fees for International Payments
Standard wire transfers and foreign purchases typically involve fees and exchange costs. Since bitcoin transactions have no intermediary institutions or government involvement, the costs of transacting are kept very low. This can be a major advantage for travelers. Additionally, any transfer in bitcoins happens very quickly, eliminating the inconvenience of typical authorization requirements and wait periods.
6. Mobile Payments
Like with many online payment systems, bitcoin users can pay for their coins anywhere they have Internet access. This means that purchasers never have to travel to a bank or a store to buy a product. However, unlike online payments made with U.S. bank accounts or credit cards, personal information is not necessary to complete any transaction.
Because users are able to send and receive bitcoins with only a smartphone or computer, bitcoin is theoretically available to populations of users without access to traditional banking systems, credit cards and other methods of payment.