Big Businesses Are Using Bitcoin -- Should You?

After a century of paying bills through the mail, an increasing number of Americans have made the switch to online bill payment systems.

Banks love the system because it reduces their transaction costs, but they now have a new competitor: Bitcoin.

Satellite TV provider Dish Networks (Nasdaq: DISH) has just announced plans to start accepting bitcoin. (Nasdaq: OSTK) and Virgin America also initiated a bitcoin payment option in the past year, and other major corporations may soon follow. That means you're likely to start hearing a lot more about this virtual currency.

For non-techies like me, two quick questions arose: How does bitcoin actually work? And is it a good idea, or just a flavor of the month? To find out, I did a little digging.

Controversial, But Gaining Acceptance
Bitcoin was launched in 2009 as an alternative to traditional payment systems. While digital payment systems such as PayPal conduct transactions in hard currencies (such as the dollar), bitcoin is an entirely new form of currency. Continue reading "Big Businesses Are Using Bitcoin -- Should You?"