Researchers have pointed out at a "trend towards centralization". Although bitcoin can be sent directly from user to user, in practice intermediaries are widely used.[31]:220–222 Bitcoin miners join large mining pools to minimize the variance of their income.[31]:215, 219–222[111]:3[112] Because transactions on the network are confirmed by miners, decentralization of the network requires that no single miner or mining pool obtains 51% of the hashing power, which would allow them to double-spend coins, prevent certain transactions from being verified and prevent other miners from earning income.[113] As of 2013 just six mining pools controlled 75% of overall bitcoin hashing power.[113] In 2014 mining pool Ghash.io obtained 51% hashing power which raised significant controversies about the safety of the network. The pool has voluntarily capped their hashing power at 39.99% and requested other pools to act responsibly for the benefit of the whole network.[114]
On 3 January 2009, the bitcoin network was created when Nakamoto mined the first block of the chain, known as the genesis block.[19][20] Embedded in the coinbase of this block was the following text: "The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks."[10] This note has been interpreted as both a timestamp and a comment on the instability caused by fractional-reserve banking.[21]:18
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