If you’re getting started with Bitcoin, there are a few things you should know. Bitcoin lets you exchange money and transact in a different way than you normally do. As such, you should take time to inform yourself before using Bitcoin for any serious transaction. Bitcoin should be treated with the same care as your regular wallet, or even more in some cases!
Like in real life, your wallet must be secured. Bitcoin makes it possible to transfer value anywhere in a very easy way and it allows you to be in control of your money. Such great features also come with great security concerns. At the same time, Bitcoin can provide very high levels of security if used correctly. Always remember that it is your responsibility to adopt good practices in order to protect your money. Read more about securing your wallet.
The price of a bitcoin can unpredictably increase or decrease over a short period of time due to its young economy, novel nature, and sometimes illiquid markets. Consequently, keeping your savings with Bitcoin is not recommended at this point. Bitcoin should be seen like a high risk asset, and you should never store money that you cannot afford to lose with Bitcoin. If you receive payments with Bitcoin, many service providers can convert them to your local currency.
A Bitcoin transaction cannot be reversed, it can only be refunded by the person receiving the funds. This means you should take care to do business with people and organizations you know and trust, or who have an established reputation. For their part, businesses need to keep track of the payment requests they are displaying to their customers. Bitcoin can detect typos and usually won’t let you send money to an invalid address by mistake, but it’s best to have controls in place for additional safety and redundancy. Additional services might exist in the future to provide more choice and protection for both businesses and consumers.
Transactions don’t start out as irreversible. Instead, they get a confirmation score that indicates how hard it is to reverse them (see table). Each confirmation takes between a few seconds and 90 minutes, with 10 minutes being the average. If the transaction pays too low a fee or is otherwise atypical, getting the first confirmation can take much longer.
Bitcoin is not an official currency. That said, most jurisdictions still require you to pay income, sales, payroll, and capital gains taxes on anything that has value, including bitcoins. It is your responsibility to ensure that you adhere to tax and other legal or regulatory mandates issued by your government and/or local municipalities.