Bitcoin Uses, Users and Their Stories

Bitcoin is a technology, but it expresses money which is fundamentally a language for exchanging value between people. Let’s look at the people who are using bitcoin and some of the most common uses of the currency and protocol through their stories. We will re-use these stories throughout the book to illustrate the real-life uses of digital money and how they are made possible by the various technologies that are part of bitcoin. 

Introduction North American Low Value Retail Alice lives in Northern California’s Bay Area. She has heard about bitcoin from her techie friends and wants to start using it. We will follow her story as she learns about bitcoin, acquires some and then spends some of her bitcoin to buy a cup of coffee at Bob’s Cafe in Palo Alto. This story will introduce us to the software, the exchanges and basic transactions from the perspective of a retail consumer. North American High Value Retail Carol is an art gallery owner in San Francisco. She sells expensive paintings for bitcoin. 

This story will introduce the risks of a “51%” consensus attack for retailers of high-value items. Offshore Contract Services Bob, the cafe owner in Palo Alto is building a new website. He has contracted with an Indian web developer, Gopesh, who lives in Bangalore, India. Gopesh has agreed to be paid in bitcoin. This story will examine the use of bitcoin for outsourcing, contract services and international wire transfers. Charitable Donations Eugenia is the director of a children’s charity in the Philippines. 

Recently she has discovered bitcoin and wants to use it to reach a whole new group of foreign and domestic donors to fundraise for her charity. She’s also investigating ways to use bitcoin to distribute funds quickly to areas of need. This story will show the use of bitcoin for global fundraising across currencies and borders and the use of an open ledger for transparency in charitable organizations. Import/Export Mohammed is an electronics importer in Dubai. He’s trying to use bitcoin to buy electronics from the USA and China for import into the U.A.E. to accelerate the process of payments for imports. This story will show how bitcoin can be used for large business-to-business international payments tied to physical goods. 

Mining for Bitcoin Jing is a computer engineering student in Shanghai. He has built a “mining” rig to mine for bitcoins, using his engineering skills to supplement his income. This story will examine the “industrial” base of bitcoin, the specialized equipment used to secure the bitcoin network and issue new currency. Each of the stories above is based on real people and real industries that are currently using bitcoin to create new markets, new industries and innovative solutions to global economic issues.

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