Bitcoin: grandeur and decadence of an energy-consuming cryptocurrency :

Bitcoin intrigues and questions. After flirting with the $ 20,000, his value suddenly dropped. Presentation of the most famous virtual currencies.

Is Bitcoin a real currency?
Yes, but. It is a decentralized electronic money. In other words, it does not go through the banks and it is not regulated, organized by public authorities (central banks, etc.). There are currently 16.7 million bitcoins in circulation. A number that will not eventually exceed 21 million. Bitcoin is a very special currency. It can be divided up to 8 digits after the decimal point. Clearly, you can buy 0.00000001 bitcoin. Its exchange value with other currencies, its course, fluctuates enormously. Today, count about 12 500 euros to offer you a bitcoin.

Are Bitcoin exchanges secure?
Yes, in principle. Created between 2008 and 2010 by a computer scientist or a group of engineers taking the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, this currency is manufactured by a network of computers. A bitcoin is ultimately just a series of encrypted lines of code. Hence its name of cryptocurrency. The problem is that in computer everything is easily copied. A little clever could by simple copy and paste to multiply his bitcoins. A transaction verification system was therefore invented to ensure that when Marcel gives his bitcoin to Jeanine to buy him a table, he does not refourgue, in parallel, a copy of his bitcoin Antoine to buy him a car. This is the "block chain". Basically, transactions, grouped in blocks of 1,000, are verified and validated by computers. They make sure the bitcoin has gone from one wallet to another. All exchanges, at any time, are thus recorded on a gigantic register.

Can we buy and sell them easily?
Yes. There are exchange scholarships. To hold a bitcoin, you must first have an electronic purse. Attention, the concept of levy does not exist in this world. It is only possible to make transfers. You will receive two types of keys: one, called public, is a kind of RIB (bank account) where you can send your money; the other, private, is your bitcoin access code. Be careful not to lose it ...

Is it risky to invest in bitcoin?
Yes. "It's definitely the riskiest asset on the market. At any moment, everything can be lost, "says CNRS researcher Nicolas Houy. Moreover, many flash crashes, huge tumbles of course, have marked the young history of this currency. In case of a glitch, you can not use the laws that usually protect savers (deposit guarantee, etc.).

Can we pay in bitcoins?

Yes. But, the transaction costs, sometimes over 15 euros, and the yo-yo incessant of its value discourage more than one. Thus, the video game site Steam has decided, recently, to stop accepting them as a means of payment. The site even publishes a list of merchants who accept cryptocurrency. There are restaurants, hotels, travel agencies and digital service companies (creation of sites, web hosts, software providers ...). For the time being, in France, major merchant sites and banks do not allow bitcoin transactions. Only the NeoBanque Revolut recently added this option to its app.

Is it the currency of the mafias?
Not necessarily. "By anonymizing transactions, bitcoin would promote illegal trade": an assertion that makes the connoisseurs laugh about the subject. "Transactions are recorded for life. So, if you had to have an illegal activity, do not use bitcoin! "Smiles Nicolas Houy.

Is it true that transactions are extremely energy intensive?

Yes. To validate transactions, exchanges of bitcoins, computers - minors - are running at full speed around the world. According to the website, bitcoin consumes as much electricity as 3 million US households. A transaction in bitcoins would require the equivalent of eight days of electricity for a family!