Bitcoin is the first decentralized digital currency that was created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto. The creator’s true identity has yet to be verified. Bitcoin is also referred to as a virtual currency or a cryptocurrency, which allows cheaper, faster, and anonymous transactions done over the internet.

Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet allowing transactions on the web to be further facilitated. Its decentralization makes it impenetrable from the control of any central government or other intermediary financial institutions like banks, thus, it is considered by most users as beneficial in ensuring anonymous yet secured operations online.

Users usually rely on Bitcoin exchanges when it comes to the purchase of bitcoins, which have grown rapidly to cater to a wider range of market. Such exchanges sell bitcoins where users from all around the world can pay for cash, check, wire transfer, credit/debit card, and numerous other ways.

Mt. Gox used to the biggest Bitcoin exchange before it suspended all its operations and filed for bankruptcy in February 2014 after it lost $450 million worth of bitcoins at the time. Though it affected the Bitcoin community tremendously, it did not last long as more Bitcoin exchanges came to existence and used Mt. Gox’s security mishaps as a lesson to further solidify their security mechanisms.

As of now, there are Bitstamp and Coinbase as two of the most well-known Bitcoin exchanges in the world. Both deal with the selling and buying of bitcoins, though each one differs in principle and overall dynamics. Bitstamp, however, has also encountered security dilemmas in the beginning of 2015 when $5 million worth of bitcoins were stolen, but this security flaw has since been fixed.

Additionally, the Bitcoin community looks forward to the launching of the first US-based Bitcoin exchange by Coinbase, which recently launched on January 26, 2015. Being the first licensed U.S. Bitcoin exchange, Coinbase promises to offer a tighter security to individuals and institutions. Other Bitcoin exchanges include Bitfinex, Cryptsy, BTC-e, Kraken, BTCChina, and Bitcoin Source, among others.