For starters, breaches like that of Bitstamp and the much larger (valued at about $400 million at the time) 2011 hack of the exchange Mt. Gox are often misconstrued as security issues with the currency itself. But they are only signs of flaws in those particular exchanges and not a sign of an issue with the underlying technology. And it is the underlying technology behind bitcoin that most excites. As we wrote in the “Shape the Future” package of our January 2015 issue, most of the vocal enthusiasts so bullish on bitcoin—from big-name entrepreneurs like Marc Andreessen to the developers and miners who spend their days refreshing the bitcoin Reddit page—are more interested in the applications that can be built on bitcoin’s “block chain,” the currency’s foundational backbone, than they are in bitcoin as a monetary system. The block chain allows the secure exchange of any form of value between two entities.
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