Bitcoin is both a cryptocurrency and an electronic payment system : invented by an unidentified programmer, or group of programmers, under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin was introduced on 31 October 2008 to a cryptography mailing list,and released as open-source software in 2009. The identity of Nakamoto remains unknown, though many have claimed to know it. The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary.: These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called the blockchain, which uses bitcoin as its unit of account. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, the U.S. Treasury categorizes bitcoin as a decentralized virtual currency. Bitcoin is often called the first cryptocurrency, although prior systems existed, and it is more correctly described as the first decentralized digital currency. Bitcoin is the largest of its kind in terms of total market value.