Bitcoins were originally used for online gambling through various casino games and sites. You could play Poker or Satoshi Slot and receive bitcoins as winnings. You can also obtain bitcoins through the competitive process of mining. Mining is a process through which you can solve math problems and receive bitcoins as the result. There are no guarantees you will always get coins because if someone else solves the problem faster, the coins are awarded to that other person.
All transactions are confirmed and shared in a public ledger called a block chain. There is some debate regarding bitcoin as real currency, but it is considered a decentralized virtual currency. Other virtual currencies, such as frequent flier miles and loyalty reward points, have been redeemed online for decades. The difference with those currencies is that they are controlled by the companies that issue them. They are centralized currency and have a consistent value. The value of bitcoins is volatile, as it is still in developmental stages. It is increasing in acceptance as more and more places allow them to be used as payment for goods and services. You can use bitcoins to purchase items online.
You can use then in exchange for services with bitcoin businesses. You ca also use them to purchase tickets on some major airlines. Some businesses and physical restaurants are also starting to accept bitcoins as payment as well. You can save bitcoins in a virtual wallet if you wish, but you should be cautious. You need to remember your security key. If you forget it, you will not be able to get your bitcoins and you will lose them. Hackers have stolen bitcoins from wallets in the past and that is still a very real possibility. Security measures are continually added as the currency progresses and matures, but the system is not there yet.
The Bitcoin.org website advices users to consider bitcoin a “high risk asset” and indicates that this virtual currency is still in experimental stages. It remains to be seen if it will survive as a virtual currency, but for now, there are many uses for your bitcoins.