What is Bitcoin?
A cryptocurrency (or crypto currency) is a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure the transactions and to control the creation of new units. Cryptocurrencies are a subset of alternative currencies, or specifically of digital currencies. Bitcoin became the first decentralized cryptocurrency in 2009. Since then, numerous cryptocurrencies have been created. These are frequently called altcoins, as a blend of bitcoin alternative. Cryptocurrencies typically feature decentralized control (as opposed to a centralized electronic money system, such as PayPal) and a public ledger (such as bitcoin's block chain) which records transactions.
What is a block chain?
A block chain is a transaction database shared by all nodes participating in a system based on the Bitcoin protocol. A full copy of a currency's block chain contains every transaction ever executed in the currency. With this information, one can find out how much value belonged to each address at any point in history. Every block contains a hash of the previous block. This has the effect of creating a chain of blocks from the genesis block to the current block. Each block is guaranteed to come after the previous block chronologically because the previous block's hash would otherwise not be known. Each block is also computationally impractical to modify once it has been in the chain for a while because every block after it would also have to be regenerated. These properties are what make double-spending of bitcoins very difficult. The block chain is the main innovation of Bitcoin.
According BitInstant, "We are moving forward and the arrangement with MasterCard will be handled in due time at the proper stage of the process by the partners who work directly with that company." "BitInstant's partners, who are issuing the card, have been working with MasterCard for many years, and the specific relationship will be between these partners and MasterCard (not directly between MasterCard and BitInstant)". American Express, Visa, PayPal and Discover are not being named as potential partners. "All balances for the purposes of the card will be held and collateralized in USD (or the cardholder's native currency)", said the BitInstant Team. "BitInstant will fund the cards in USD, after receiving a user's Bitcoins. These will not be 'anonymous' debit cards, but rather a highly convenient means for verified customers to spend Bitcoin value around the world."