People often describe bitcoin as a decentralized payment system. Erik Voorhees has said that “one of Bitcoin’s most important features—and perhaps its true core innovation—is its decentralized structure.”
Dividing the world into “centralized” and “decentralized” obscures important features of the bitcoin protocol. A more sophisticated lexicon would leave scope for “distributed” processes.
To understand the differences, let’s take a look at some familiar payment mechanisms.
Reference for this section:
J. Luther, W. (2018). Centralized,
Decentralized, and Distributed Payment Mechanisms. [online] AIER. Available
[Accessed 26 Oct. 2020]