Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer payment system and digital currency introduced as open source software in 2009 by pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto . It is a cryptocurrency, so-called because it uses cryptography to control the creation and transfer of money. Users send payments by broadcasting digitally signed messages to the network. Participants known as miners verify and timestamp transactions into a shared public database called the block chain, for which they are rewarded with transaction fees and newly minted bitcoins. Conventionally “Bitcoin” capitalized refers to the technology and network whereas “bitcoins” lowercase refers to the currency itself. Bitcoins can be obtained by mining or in exchange for products, services, or other currencies.