Released as open-source software in 2009, Bitcoin is often credited with being the world's first cryptocurrency and is best defined as a digital currency that only exists electronically.
Bitcoin is decentralized, meaning it doesn't have a central issuing authority or political institution that controls the number of bitcoins in circulation. But the Bitcoin platform is far from anarchy.
The whole process is quite simple and organized: Bitcoin holders can transfer bitcoins via the peer-to-peer network. These transfers are tracked on the "blockchain," which is what is known as the giant ledger. This ledger records every bitcoin transaction that has ever been made. Every "block" on the blockchain is built from a data structure based on the Merkle Trees that was encrypted. This is very useful for detecting scams or corrupted files. If one file in the chain is corrupted or fraudulent, the blockchain prevents it from tampering with the rest of the ledger.
Instead of relying on the government to print new currency, Bitcoins blockchain programming takes care of when bitcoins are created and how much is produced. It also keeps track of where the bitcoins are and ensures accurate transactions.
There are currently around 17 million bitcoins in circulation. No central regulatory agency or government controls the supply of bitcoin, meaning supply is controlled by design. The total supply ever created is limited to 21 million bitcoins.
This raises the argument that Bitcoin could experience scaling problems. However, because Bitcoin is very limited by nature (meaning users can transfer as little as 0.00000001 bitcoins), this doesn't create any scaling issues.