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If you’re like most Americans, you’ve heard about Bitcoin and are downright confused by it. If you’re from my generation, you may be envisioning men with very thick glasses hunched over an IBM mainframe beaming money up to the Battlestar Galactica. But if you read my columns, you likely love innovation and are eager to learn.

So, in terms earthlings can understand, here are five things to know about Bitcoin:

1) It’s e-mail for money. Just like e-mail, no one owns the system on which Bitcoin sits. And just like Google built Gmail or Microsoft built Hotmail on top of the e-mail system, certain companies have made Bitcoin easier to use by building platforms on top of the system.

2) It removes the middle-man. Did you know that every time you use your credit card to buy an ice cream cone there are multiple companies taking a lick before the merchant gets his piece? Bitcoin has no middle-man, hence you don’t have to pay one.

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