Online currency Bitcoin gains attention

A new alternative online currency called Bitcoin is gaining attention.

Many like it because it is all digital and decentralized, so there are no banks over government running it. 

Some merchants in the Fresno area take it just like cash, but there are some big differences between a buck and a Bitcoin.

Even at the base of the foothills in rural east Fresno County there is someone hoping it will take off.

"I thought it was sort of a message to support the Bitcoin community," says Brian Wall. 

Brian Wall owns Natasia's Boarding House near Reedley. 

He is one of just a handful of businesses in the Central Valley accepting Bitcoin as payment. 

"I like what it does, I like that it is a decentralized currency," he says. 

Bitcoin is a fiat currency which means there is no legal tender and no physical backing.

It is all online so transfer fees are much lower. 

All transactions are public as well, but who makes the transactions is coded, this way all Bitcoins are accounted for.

The currency can be used between people around the world on a computer or an app. 

In 2012 a Bitcoin was worth less than 10 cents, today a Bitcoin is worth about $4,000.

When you spend it you end up spending a fraction of a Bitcoin. 

Every month in Fresno Bitcoin enthusiast Kurt Arisohn throws up a projecter and tries to break down what this currency is.

"A peer to peer electronic cash system," says Kurt Arisohn.

Arisohn says this it appeals to people for a reason. 

"The first time in history that we can essentially exchange digital currency without any authority," he says.

It has a record value of about $74 billion, according to Coindesk. 

Today you can use Bitcoin instead of cash at some places or online markets.

"When it first got started about 50 coins were issued every 10 minutes through the process of what is called Bitcoin mining, and every four years it halves so it went from 50 to 25 and now we are at 12.5 Bitcoins are released every ten minutes on average," he says. 

People participating in this online currency can do what is called "mining".

In simple terms mining is when a computer is hooked up to the Bitcoin system, it constantly runs and at random it is picked to verify a block or group of Bitcoin transactions.

In return the owner of that "mine" is rewarded Bitcoin, essentially getting paid. 

"In order to increase your chances to win the next block you have to bring on more mining power more computers to hash all this data," says Arisohn.  

Enthusiasts say this is the gold of the internet, to some it is an investment.

"In my experience here people have maybe heard of Bitcoin or heard of block chain or cryptocurrencies, but nobody really fully understands what it is," says Brian Ullman. 

Brian Ullman from Ford Financial Group in Fresno says the idea of online transfers isn't unfamiliar.

"When you are exchange Bitcoin you are exchanging a different type of currency and there is some question as to how much value that currency should have."

"It is more of a statement right now," says Wall. 

Wall is hopefull more valley residents will catch on as he think a global currency will be a way of the future as well. 

"Through a lot of up and downs it has continued to hold its value," he says. 

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