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It is the first decentralized digital currency, as the system works without a central bank or single administrator. The system works as a peer-to-peer network, in which transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes through cryptography and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment.
The word bitcoin was first used and defined in a white paper published on 31 October 2008. There is no uniform convention for bitcoin capitalization. Some sources use Bitcoin, capitalized, to refer to the technology and network and bitcoin, lowercase, to refer to the unit of account. The unit of account of the bitcoin system is a bitcoin. Ticker symbols used to represent bitcoin are BTC and XBT.