Bitcoin, the world's foremost digital currency, has finally made it to Miami, and this week Planet Linux Caffe in Coral Gables will become the first business in the city to accept the decentralized digital currency as payment for items on its menu, says owner Daniel Mery.
If this news means nothing to you, maybe you should attend the Day of Bitcoin Secrets seminar hosted by HackMiami and Miami-Coral Gables Open Source Group at Planet Linux Caffe Thursday, June 27, at 6:30 p.m.
What exactly is a bitcoin? It is a piece of digital currency that is essentially created out of thin air when your computer solves a complex mathematical problem over a bitcoin network.
You are competing with other users -- or "miners," or groups of miners called "pools" -- with faster computers over who can solve the problem first.
There are only a finite number of bitcoins in the world, so like real currency, there's a problem with resources.
The miners who score bitcoins are able to cash them out for real money via currency exchange. Or they can be deposited directly into other users' bitcoin accounts.
Bitcoins have increasingly emerged as an alternative to commodities such as paper currency and gold. Some law enforcement agencies have charged that bitcoin exchanges have become money-laundering operations because transactions are virtually anonymous.
With the rising popularity of bitcoins, the U.S. government is attempting to curb the flow of transactions across the globe by shutting down exchanges.
But that's not stopping Mery, who sees the bitcoin as a possible solution to a global financial crisis.
"Bitcoin is a very good currency," he says. "In a global world, we need a global currency. The world is in a crisis. To exit the crisis, we need new ideas."