Bitcoins have leapt in value during the last year and now more and more people are scrambling to get their hands on some – virtually that is.
In a nutshell, this is done in two ways, either by mining them through sophisticated software programmes or by purchasing them from someone who has done that already.
It sounds relatively simple, and in essence it is, but the sheer number of people trying to get them is making the process more difficult.
For those wondering how it works, a computer will crunch through mathematical problems and success will return bitcoins.
However, the software involved is highly technical and is certainly not for the faint-hearted – this is all before one of the largest hurdles presents itself.
Only 21 million bitcoins can ever be created, meaning that as more and more people try to mine them, the only way to access them is via increased computing power.
Gone are the days when a normal household computer was capable of creating dozens at a time, as it is now likely that only expensive specialised hardware would be capable of mining.
And that process wouldn’t come cheap either – the cost of energy bills would eat a considerable chunk of your income.
The lengths that some people will go to can be seen by the fact that a bitcoin mining start-up moved to Iceland to use cheap geothermal energy – a move that is feasible for only a select few.
So if mining is not an option, that leaves buying them from elsewhere, but this can also drain your finances.
Prepaid cards can provide a level of control on spending and have additional security that can present the risk of losing money should something go wrong.
Most can be replaced and re-credited if lost or stolen, meaning your expenditure can be carefully managed with the minimum of fuss.
Buying bitcoins involves the creation of a wallet to store them in, which is essentially just a computer file that holds your digital currency.
Bitware client software is needed for this but should a computer be hit by any issues then the bitcoins could be lost.
Alternatively there are plenty of online wallets that can be found that keep bitcoins stored in the cloud, but this depends on the levels of trust towards a third party.
Then it’s a case of accessing markets and completing exchanges via the various bitcoin websites that can be found all over the web.