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Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and an electronic payment system invented by an unidentified programmer, or group of programmers, under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. Nakamoto introduced bitcoin on 31 October 2008 to a cryptography mailing list, and released as open-source software in 2009. The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the blockchain, which uses bitcoin as its unit of account. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, bitcoin is called the first decentralized digital currency. Bitcoin is the largest of its kind in terms of total market value.
Bitcoins are created as a reward in a competition in which users offer their computing power to verify and record bitcoin transactions into the blockchain. This activity is referred to as mining and successful miners are rewarded with transaction fees and newly created bitcoins. Besides being obtained by mining, bitcoins can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services. When sending bitcoins, users can pay an optional transaction fee to the miners. This may expedite the transaction being confirmed.
As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accept bitcoin as payment. Instead of a 2–3% fee typically imposed by credit card processors, merchants accepting bitcoins often pay fees of 0% to less than 2% of the total purchase. Despite the fourfold increase in the number of merchants accepting bitcoin in 2014, the cryptocurrency did not have much momentum in retail transactions. The European Banking Authority and other sources have warned that bitcoin users are not protected by refund rights or chargebacks.
According to a research produced by Cambridge University in 2017, there are between 2.9 million and 5.8 million unique users actively using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin. The number of active users has grown significantly since 2013 (there were 0.3 to 1.3 million unique users at the time).
The use of bitcoin by criminals has attracted the attention of financial regulators, legislative bodies, law enforcement, and media. Criminal activities are primarily focused on darknet markets and theft, though officials in countries such as the United States also recognize that bitcoin can provide legitimate financial services.
The unit of account of the bitcoin system is bitcoin. As of 2014, symbols used to represent bitcoin are BTC, XBT, and BitcoinSign.svg. Small amounts of bitcoin used as alternative units are millibitcoin (mBTC), microbitcoin (µBTC, sometimes referred to as bit), and satoshi. Named in homage to bitcoin's creator, a satoshi is the smallest amount within bitcoin representing 0.00000001 bitcoin, one hundred millionth of a bitcoin. A millibitcoin equals to 0.001 bitcoin, one thousandth of a bitcoin. One microbitcoin equals to 0.000001 bitcoin, one millionth of a bitcoin.
A proposal was submitted to the Unicode Consortium in October 2015 to add a codepoint for the symbol. As of November 2016, it is in the pipeline for position 20BF (₿) in the Currency Symbols block.
The Unidad de Fomento (UF) is a Unit of account that is used in Chile. The exchange rate between the UF and the Chilean peso is now (today) constantly adjusted for inflation so that the value of the Unidad de Fomento remains constant on a daily basis during low inflation.
It was created on January 20, 1967, for the use in determining principal (monetary item) and interest (constant real value non-monetary item) in international secured loans (monetary items) for development, subject to revaluation according to the variations of inflation. Afterwards it was extended to all types of bank loans (monetary items), private or special financing (monetary items), purchases (trade debtors/trade creditors being constant real value non-monetary items) or investments on installments, contracts (constant real value non-monetary items), and some special situations. Also it is used in legal standards such as the par value of stock/capitalization (constant real value non-monetary items) of companies, fines (payables being constant real value non-monetary items), etc.
It has become the preferred and predominant measure to determine the cost of Real Estate (variable items valued at Historical Cost being updated), values of housing (historical variable real value non-monetary items being updated) and any secured loan (monetary item), either private or of the Chilean government. Individual payments are made in Chilean pesos (the country's legal tender), according to the daily value of the UF.
For historical and current values of the Chilean Unidad de Fomento (UF), see government's Central Bank of Chile.
A similar currency unit for use generally in payment of taxes, fines, or customs duty is the Unidad Tributaria Mensual (UTM) (literally: monthly tax unit).