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From squirrel pelts and euros to bitcoins

“Cufflinks and a tie from a handicrafts entrepreneur in western Finland, dinner in Budapest,” Mika Impola, Software Engineer, lists his bitcoin purchases.

Impola, who is working on the development of the cell controller software at Cimcorp’s Ulvila facility, got into virtual money by accident five years ago.

“I was buying some server space from an online shop, which offered the chance to pay in bitcoins. No commission, without your own identity, like sharing contact information. Later, I came across the definition of bitcoin and I became interested.”

Cryptocurrencies operate in a decentralized computer network database.

They are not regulated by any national bank, nor can the currency be inflated by producing more of it at will. The receiving of bitcoins does not incur brokerage fees, as in the use of online payment messaging services like Paypal or Western Union. The value of the currency is determined by supply and demand. It is issued as a geometric series - the maximum amount is 21 million, of which 14.6 million have been issued to date.

Bitcoin takes advantage of an asymmetric encryption method. Different keys are used for encryption than those for decryption. All transfers are public. The same money cannot be spent twice, thanks to the distributed time-server mechanism. The entire transaction history is saved.

Bitcoins have been labelled as the currency of nerds, but according to Impola, banks have started to pilot the use of bitcoins for monetary transactions between banks.

Doesn’t the existence of an organization only specialized in money transfer seem unnecessary to a bitcoin user?

“In Finland there is no problem paying by debit card, and there’s no need necessarily to change something that works.”

Impola believes that the virtual currency will encourage inventions, create new business and revolutionize the distribution of profits.

”When you link automation to easy value transfer, you could even develop a vending machine for drinks, which informs you of the need for replenishment and can order a repairman itself. Anybody can fill and service a vending machine and get paid in bitcoins.”

Rate of exchange: 1 BTC = 214.50 EUR, 240.10 USD / Date Sept 11, 2015

Squirrel pelts were used for payment in Finland in the Middle Ages.

Squirrel pelts were used for payment in Finland in the Middle Ages