Perfect Choice For Beginners!
Free Demo Account!
Free Trading Education!
Get Your Sing-Up Bonus Now!
Only For Experienced Traders!
Enjoyed the article? Share:
Cryptocurrency is a type of digital currency, the issuing and accounting of which are based on cryptographic methods such as Proof-of-work – which assures that coins are mined only by users putting computing power to work in solving complicated mathematical problems – and asymmetric or public key encryption – which assures that the network that the currency runs on remains safe, by making transaction requests secret, verifying and protecting identities, and making double-spending virtually impossible. The system functions in a decentralized fashion on a distributed computer network.
In case of cryptocurrency blockchain it is impossible to cancel or return the funds sent to the recipient. Nevertheless, there are opportunities for transactions involving the intermediary, when the consent of all three or any two parties is required to complete or cancel the transaction. The funds cannot be forcibly frozen or recovered without access to the owner’s private key, although the parties of the transaction may volunteer to temporarily block their funds as collateral.
Explaining the definition of cryptocurrency, as a rule, there is an upper limit to the total volume of coins to be issued. However, some cryptocurrencies do not have such fixed upper limit for the total volume of coins to be issued. They are emitted in function of the available savings and demissioned by mandatory destruction of a small fixed amount in each transaction.
All currently existing cryptocurrencies are used pseudonymously – all transactions are public, but there is no default binding to a particular person, although the user’s identity can be established if the necessary additional information is known. All big cryptocurrency exchange houses ask for some sort of identification. Documents that such exchange houses usually ask are: ID, a banking statement, proof of residency, and/or a picture showing the user’s face.
Cryptocurrency analysis [ edit ]
Cryptography for the purpose of confidential payments began to be used since 1990, in the DigiCash system of David Chom, whose company went bankrupt in 1998. However, his payment system was centralized, and the term “crypto currencies” was used for the first time after the appearance of the Bitcoin payment system, which was developed in 2009 by a person or a group of individuals under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin uses SHA-256 hashing under a Proof-of-work system.
Later, other Bitcoin-based cryptocurrencies (called forks) appeared. Some relevant examples are:
- Namecoin (decentralized DNS using a cryptocurrency of the same name for registering internal .bit domains)
- Litecoin (uses Scrypthashing, the upper limit of total issuing is increased, time for confirmation of transaction is reduced)
- PPCoin (uses a hybrid proof-of-work/proof-of-stake mechanism, does not have an upper limit for the total volume of issuing)
- Novacoin (similar to PPCoin, but uses scrypt and the emission-related factors are reduced).
How to buy cryptocurrency [ edit ]
Before starting trading the cryptocurrency, a special wallet must be created. Users have an array of wallets from where they can choose one, some of them may even store more than one type of cryptocurrency. They can be downloaded on the appropriate sites, bought to store the coins in a hardware device, stored online, amongst other methods. Wallets that users may acquire can be found on (amongst other sites):
Some of the wallets found here are suitable for storing several coins, called “multi-wallets” . Some others, do not allow for exchange with other cryptocurrencies, which may cause users to have to acquire another one that supports his needs. For a newcomer, the best way is to go through an online cryptocurrency exchange house.
On such sites it is possible to buy, sell or exchange a currency conveniently. Wallets on this sites are more often used by people who just want to buy some coins, make purchases on the Internet, gamble or invest in crypto.
Criticism [ edit ]
- The developer of the Bitcoin client, Gavin Andrisen expressed concern about the fact that some cryptocurrencies may be fraudulent. This is mainly because a lot of them are being used to create Ponzi schemes and because they are not backed up by a company or a sustainable product
- The Central Bank of Russia warned citizens not to use the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.
- Some economists predict that the bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in general are part of a financial cryptocurrency bubble, that may burst at any time.
Cryptocurrency market capitalization [ edit ]
The market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies in the world was $375 449 753 727 on May 19, 2020. Bitcoin dominance on the market is 37%. Some specialists predict that cryptocurrency is a great way to make investments and earn money as the trading is not as difficult as it looks like, but it is important to know what is cryptocurrency, how to buy it, be able to make analysis and understand the difference between cryptocurrencies.
Perfect Choice For Beginners!
Free Demo Account!
Free Trading Education!
Get Your Sing-Up Bonus Now!
Only For Experienced Traders!
What is Cryptocurrency? [Everything You Need To Know!]
What Is Cryptocurrency: 21st-Century Unicorn – Or The Money Of The Future?
- Cryptocurrency is an internet-based medium of exchange which uses cryptographical functions to conduct financial transactions. Cryptocurrencies leverage blockchain technology to gain decentralization, transparency, and immutability.
- The most important feature of a cryptocurrency is that it is not controlled by any central authority: the decentralized nature of the blockchain makes cryptocurrencies theoretically immune to the old ways of government control and interference.
- Cryptocurrencies can be sent directly between two parties via the use of private and public keys. These transfers can be done with minimal processing fees, allowing users to avoid the steep fees charged by traditional financial institutions.
Today cryptocurrencies (Buy Crypto) have become a global phenomenon known to most people. In this guide, we are going to tell you all that you need to know about cryptocurrencies and the sheer that they can bring into the global economic system.
Nowadays, you‘ll have a hard time finding a major bank, a big accounting firm, a prominent software company or a government that did not research cryptocurrencies, publish a paper about it or start a so-called blockchain-project. (Take our blockchain courses to learn more about the blockchain)
“Virtual currencies, perhaps most notably Bitcoin, have captured the imagination of some, struck fear among others, and confused the heck out of the rest of us .” – Thomas Carper, US-Senator
But beyond the noise and the press releases the overwhelming majority of people – even bankers, consultants, scientists, and developers – have very limited knowledge about cryptocurrencies. They often fail to even understand the basic concepts.
So let‘s walk through the whole story. What are cryptocurrencies?
Understanding Cryptocurrency Basics 101
- Where did cryptocurrency originate?
- Why should you learn about cryptocurrency?
- And what do you need to know about cryptocurrency?
How cryptocurrency works?
Few people know, but cryptocurrencies emerged as a side product of another invention. Satoshi Nakamoto, the unknown inventor of Bitcoin , the first and still most important cryptocurrency, never intended to invent a currency.
In his announcement of Bitcoin in late 2008, Satoshi said he developed “A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.“
His goal was to invent something; many people failed to create before digital cash.
Announcing the first release of Bitcoin, a new electronic cash system that uses a peer-to-peer network to prevent double-spending. It’s completely decentralized with no server or central authority. – Satoshi Nakamoto, 09 January 2009, announcing Bitcoin on SourceForge.
The single most important part of Satoshi‘s invention was that he found a way to build a decentralized digital cash system. In the nineties, there have been many attempts to create digital money, but they all failed.
… after more than a decade of failed Trusted Third Party based systems (Digicash, etc) , they see it as a lost cause. I hope they can make the distinction, that this is the first time I know of that we’re trying a non-trust based system. – Satoshi Nakamoto in an E-Mail to Dustin Trammell
After seeing all the centralized attempts fail, Satoshi tried to build a digital cash system without a central entity. Like a Peer-to-Peer network for file sharing.
This decision became the birth of cryptocurrency. They are the missing piece Satoshi found to realize digital cash. The reason why is a bit technical and complex, but if you get it, you‘ll know more about cryptocurrencies than most people do. So, let‘s try to make it as easy as possible:
To realize digital cash you need a payment network with accounts, balances, and transaction. That‘s easy to understand. One major problem every payment network has to solve is to prevent the so-called double spending : to prevent that one entity spends the same amount twice. Usually, this is done by a central server who keeps record about the balances.
In a decentralized network , you don‘t have this server. So you need every single entity of the network to do this job. Every peer in the network needs to have a list with all transactions to check if future transactions are valid or an attempt to double spend.
But how can these entities keep a consensus about these records?
If the peers of the network disagree about only one single, minor balance, everything is broken. They need an absolute consensus. Usually, you take, again, a central authority to declare the correct state of balances. But how can you achieve consensus without a central authority?
Nobody did know until Satoshi emerged out of nowhere. In fact, nobody believed it was even possible.
Satoshi proved it was. His major innovation was to achieve consensus without a central authority. Cryptocurrencies are a part of this solution – the part that made the solution thrilling, fascinating and helped it to roll over the world.
What is cryptocurrency?
If you take away all the noise around cryptocurrencies and reduce it to a simple definition, you find it to be just limited entries in a database no one can change without fulfilling specific conditions . This may seem ordinary, but, believe it or not: this is exactly how you can define a currency.
Take the money on your bank account: What is it more than entries in a database that can only be changed under specific conditions? You can even take physical coins and notes: What are they else than limited entries in a public physical database that can only be changed if you match the condition than you physically own the coins and notes? Money is all about a verified entry in some kind of database of accounts, balances, and transactions.
So, to give a proper definition – Cryptocurrency is an internet-based medium of exchange which uses cryptographical functions to conduct financial transactions. Cryptocurrencies leverage blockchain technology to gain decentralization, transparency, and immutability.
How miners create coins and confirm transactions
Let‘s have a look at the mechanism ruling the databases of cryptocurrencies. A cryptocurrency like Bitcoin consists of a network of peers. Every peer has a record of the complete history of all transactions and thus of the balance of every account.
A transaction is a file that says, “Bob gives X Bitcoin to Alice“ and is signed by Bob‘s private key. It‘s basic public key cryptography, nothing special at all. After signed, a transaction is broadcasted in the network, sent from one peer to every other peer. This is basic p2p-technology.
Blockchain and Cryptocurrency
The transaction is known almost immediately by the whole network. But only after a specific amount of time it gets confirmed.
Confirmation is a critical concept in cryptocurrencies. You could say that cryptocurrencies are all about confirmation.
As long as a transaction is unconfirmed, it is pending and can be forged. When a transaction is confirmed, it is set in stone. It is no longer forgeable, it can‘t be reversed, it is part of an immutable record of historical transactions: of the so-called blockchain.
Only miners can confirm transactions. This is their job in a cryptocurrency-network. They take transactions, stamp them as legit and spread them in the network. After a transaction is confirmed by a miner, every node has to add it to its database. It has become part of the blockchain.
For this job, the miners get rewarded with a token of the cryptocurrency, for example with Bitcoins. Since the miner‘s activity is the single most important part of the cryptocurrency-system we should stay for a moment and take a deeper look at it.
What is cryptocurrency mining?
Principally everybody can be a miner. Since a decentralized network has no authority to delegate this task, a cryptocurrency needs some kind of mechanism to prevent one ruling party from abusing it. Imagine someone creates thousands of peers and spreads forged transactions. The system would break immediately.
So, Satoshi set the rule that the miners need to invest some work of their computers to qualify for this task. In fact, they have to find a hash – a product of a cryptographic function – that connects the new block with its predecessor. This is called the Proof-of-Work. In Bitcoin, it is based on the SHA 256 Hash algorithm.
Image Credit: https://privacycanada.net
You don‘t need to understand the details about SHA 256. It‘s only important you know that it can be the basis of a cryptologic puzzle the miners compete to solve. After finding a solution, a miner can build a block and add it to the blockchain. As an incentive, he has the right to add a so-called coinbase transaction that gives him a specific number of Bitcoins. This is the only way to create valid Bitcoins.
Train to Become A Blockchain Developer
Bitcoins can only be created if miners solve a cryptographic puzzle. Since the difficulty of this puzzle increases the amount of computer power the whole miner’s invest, there is only a specific amount of cryptocurrency token that can be created in a given amount of time. This is part of the consensus no peer in the network can break.
If you really think about it, Bitcoin, as a decentralized network of peers that keep a consensus about accounts and balances, is more a currency than the numbers you see in your bank account. What are these numbers more than entries in a database – a database which can be changed by people you don‘t see and by rules you don‘t know?
Basically, cryptocurrencies are entries about token in decentralized consensus-databases. They are called CRYPTOcurrencies because the consensus-keeping process is secured by strong cryptography. Cryptocurrencies are built on cryptography . They are not secured by people or by trust, but by math. It is more probable that an asteroid falls on your house than that a bitcoin address is compromised.
Describing the properties of cryptocurrencies we need to separate between transactional and monetary properties. While most cryptocurrencies share a common set of properties, they are not carved in stone.
Understanding cryptocurrency properties
1) Irreversible: After confirmation, a transaction can‘t be reversed. By nobody. And nobody means nobody. Not you, not your bank, not the president of the United States, not Satoshi, not your miner. Nobody. If you send money, you send it. Period. No one can help you, if you sent your funds to a scammer or if a hacker stole them from your computer. There is no safety net.
2) Pseudonymous: Neither transactions nor accounts are connected to real-world identities. You receive Bitcoins on so-called addresses, which are randomly seeming chains of around 30 characters. While it is usually possible to analyze the transaction flow, it is not necessarily possible to connect the real-world identity of users with those addresses.
3) Fast and global: Transactions are propagated nearly instantly in the network and are confirmed in a couple of minutes. Since they happen in a global network of computers they are completely indifferent of your physical location. It doesn‘t matter if I send Bitcoin to my neighbor or to someone on the other side of the world.
4) Secure: Cryptocurrency funds are locked in a public key cryptography system. Only the owner of the private key can send cryptocurrency. Strong cryptography and the magic of big numbers make it impossible to break this scheme. A Bitcoin address is more secure than Fort Knox.
5) Permissionless : You don‘t have to ask anybody to use cryptocurrency. It‘s just a software that everybody can download for free. After you installed it, you can receive and send Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies. No one can prevent you. There is no gatekeeper.
What is Cryptocurrency: Monetary properties
1) Controlled supply : Most cryptocurrencies limit the supply of the tokens. In Bitcoin, the supply decreases in time and will reach its final number sometime around the year 2140. All cryptocurrencies control the supply of the token by a schedule written in the code. This means the monetary supply of a cryptocurrency in every given moment in the future can roughly be calculated today. There is no surprise.
2) No debt but bearer : The Fiat-money on your bank account is created by debt , and the numbers, you see on your ledger represent nothing but debts. It‘s a system of IOU. Cryptocurrencies don‘t represent debts, they just represent themselves.
To understand the revolutionary impact of cryptocurrencies you need to consider both properties. Bitcoin as a permissionless, irreversible, and pseudonymous means of payment is an attack on the control of banks and governments over the monetary transactions of their citizens. You can‘t hinder someone to use Bitcoin, you can‘t prohibit someone to accept a payment, you can‘t undo a transaction.
As money with a limited, controlled supply that is not changeable by a government, a bank or any other central institution, cryptocurrencies attack the scope of the monetary policy. They take away the control central banks take on inflation or deflation by manipulating the monetary supply.
“While it’s still fairly new and unstable relative to the gold standard, cryptocurrency is definitely gaining traction and will most certainly have more normalized uses in the next few years. Right now, in particular, it’s increasing in popularity with the post-election market uncertainty. The key will be in making it easy for large-scale adoption (as with anything involving crypto) including developing safeguards and protections for buyers/investors. I expect that within two years , we’ll be in a place where people can shove their money under the virtual mattress through cryptocurrency, and they’ll know that wherever they go, that money will be there.” – Sarah Granger, Author, and Speaker.
Understanding cryptocurrency: Dawn of a new economy
Mostly due to its revolutionary properties cryptocurrencies have become a success their inventor, Satoshi Nakamoto, didn‘t dare to dream of it. While every other attempt to create a digital cash system didn‘t attract a critical mass of users, Bitcoin had something that provoked enthusiasm and fascination. Sometimes it feels more like religion than technology.
Cryptocurrencies are digital gold. Sound money that is secure from political influence. Money promises to preserve and increase its value over time. Cryptocurrencies are also a fast and comfortable means of payment with a worldwide scope, and they are private and anonymous enough to serve as a means of payment for black markets and any other outlawed economic activity.
But while cryptocurrencies are more used for payment, its use as a means of speculation and a store of value dwarfs the payment aspects. Cryptocurrencies gave birth to an incredibly dynamic, fast-growing market for investors and speculators. Exchanges like Okcoin, Poloniex or shapeshift enable the trade of hundreds of cryptocurrencies. Their daily trade volume exceeds that of major European stock exchanges.
At the same time, the praxis of Initial Coin Distribution (ICO), mostly facilitated by Ethereum‘s smart contracts, gave life to incredibly successful crowdfunding projects, in which often an idea is enough to collect millions of dollars. In the case of “The DAO,” it has been more than 150 million dollars.
In this rich ecosystem of coins and token, you experience extreme volatility. It‘s common that a coin gains 10 percent a day – sometimes 100 percent – just to lose the same the next day. If you are lucky, your coin‘s value grows up to 1000 percent in one or two weeks.
While Bitcoin remains by far the most famous cryptocurrency and most other cryptocurrencies have zero non-speculative impact, investors and users should keep an eye on several cryptocurrencies. Here we present the most popular cryptocurrencies of today.
The one and only, the first and most famous cryptocurrency. Bitcoin serves as a digital gold standard in the whole cryptocurrency-industry, is used as a global means of payment and is the de-facto currency of cyber-crime like darknet markets or ransomware. After seven years in existence, Bitcoin‘s price has increased from zero to more than 650 Dollar, and its transaction volume reached more than 200.000 daily transactions.
There is not much more to say – Bitcoin is here to stay.
The brainchild of young crypto-genius Vitalik Buterin has ascended to the second place in the hierarchy of cryptocurrencies. Other than Bitcoin its blockchain does not only validate a set of accounts and balances but of so-called states. This means that Ethereum can not only process transactions but complex contracts and programs.
This flexibility makes Ethereum the perfect instrument for blockchain -application. But it comes at a cost. After the Hack of the DAO – an Ethereum based smart contract – the developers decided to do a hard fork without consensus, which resulted in the emerge of Ethereum Classic. Besides this, there are several clones of Ethereum, and Ethereum itself is a host of several Tokens like DigixDAO and Augur. This makes Ethereum more a family of cryptocurrencies than a single currency.
While Ripple has a native cryptocurrency – XRP – it is more about a network to process IOUs than the cryptocurrency itself. XRP, the currency, doesn‘t serve as a medium to store and exchange value, but more as a token to protect the network against spam.
Ripple, unlike Bitcoin and Ethereum, has no mining since all the coins are already pre-mined. Ripple has found immense value in the financial space as a lot of banks have joined the Ripple network.
Litecoin was one of the first cryptocurrencies after Bitcoin and tagged as the silver to the digital gold bitcoin. Faster than bitcoin, with a larger amount of token and a new mining algorithm, Litecoin was a real innovation, perfectly tailored to be the smaller brother of bitcoin. “It facilitated the emerge of several other cryptocurrencies which used its codebase but made it, even more, lighter“. Examples are Dogecoin or Feathercoin.
While Litecoin failed to find a real use case and lost its second place after bitcoin, it is still actively developed and traded and is hoarded as a backup if Bitcoin fails.
Monero is the most prominent example of the CryptoNight algorithm. This algorithm was invented to add the privacy features Bitcoin is missing. If you use Bitcoin, every transaction is documented in the blockchain and the trail of transactions can be followed. With the introduction of a concept called ring-signatures, the CryptoNight algorithm was able to cut through that trail.
The first implementation of CryptoNight, Bytecoin, was heavily premined and thus rejected by the community. Monero was the first non-premined clone of bytecoin and raised a lot of awareness. There are several other incarnations of cryptonote with their own little improvements, but none of it did ever achieve the same popularity as Monero.
Monero‘s popularity peaked in summer 2020 when some darknet markets decided to accept it as a currency. This resulted in a steady increase in the price, while the actual usage of Monero seems to remain disappointingly small.
Besides those, there are hundreds of cryptocurrencies of several families. Most of them are nothing more than attempts to reach investors and quickly make money, but a lot of them promise playgrounds to test innovations in cryptocurrency-technology.
What is Cryptocurrency: Conclusion
The market of cryptocurrencies is fast and wild. Nearly every day new cryptocurrencies emerge, old die, early adopters get wealthy and investors lose money. Every cryptocurrency comes with a promise, mostly a big story to turn the world around. Few survive the first months, and most are pumped and dumped by speculators and live on as zombie coins until the last bagholder loses hope ever to see a return on his investment.
“In 2 years from now, I believe cryptocurrencies will be gaining legitimacy as a protocol for business transactions, micropayments, and overtaking Western Union as the preferred remittance tool. Regarding business transactions – you’ll see two paths: There will be financial businesses that use it for it’s no fee, nearly-instant ability to move any amount of money around, and there will be those that utilize it for its blockchain technology. Blockchain technology provides the largest benefit with trustless auditing, single source of truth, smart contracts, and color coins.”
– Cody Littlewood, and I’m the founder and CEO of Codelitt
Markets are dirty. But this doesn‘t change the fact that cryptocurrencies are here to stay – and here to change the world. This is already happening. People all over the world buy Bitcoin to protect themselves against the devaluation of their national currency. Mostly in Asia, a vivid market for Bitcoin remittance has emerged, and the Bitcoin using darknets of cybercrime are flourishing. More and more companies discover the power of Smart Contracts or token on Ethereum, the first real-world application of blockchain technologies emerge.
The revolution is already happening. Institutional investors start to buy cryptocurrencies. Banks and governments realize that this invention has the potential to draw their control away. Cryptocurrencies change the world. Step by step. You can either stand beside and observe – or you can become part of history in the making.
Категории и разделы
Are you a new member? Introduce yourself to the community. say hi.
Discussions about Cryptocurrencytalk, announcements, and questions from Cryptocurrencytalk members.
Cryptocurrrency launch announcements and official cryptocurrency announcement threads.
Cryptocoin and Cryptocurrency general discussions.
Дешевая распродажа, капли, награды, краны и другие акции по криптовалюте.
Learn to pronounce
Ленты новостей из различных источников информации о криптовалютах.
Дискуссии о биржах, торговле и экономике криптовалют.
CRYPTOCURRENCY GOODS / SERVICES
Обсуждение вопросов покупки, продажи и продвижения криптовалютных товаров или услуг.
Обсуждение оборудования и программного обеспечения для майнинга криптовалют.
CRYPTOCURRENCY GAMES / GAMBLING
Дискуссии о криптовалюте и азартных играх.
Open forum for all discussions which don’t relate to any other forum on Cryptocurrencytalk.com.
Общая дискуссия на тему криптовалют
Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
Thảo luận chung về crypto
Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
Membahas Seputar Cryptocoin/Cryptocurrency.
Los debates generales sobre Cryptocoins y .Monedas Criptograficas
CRYPTO CLUB FORUMS
BITCOIN FORUM (1 153 перехода по ссылке)
Discussions about Bitcoin the cryptocurrency created by Satoshi Nakamoto.
ETHEREUM FORUM (934 перехода по ссылке)
A decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.
DASH FORUM (782 перехода по ссылке)
X11 based cryptocurrency with re-target using Kimoto’s Gravity Well, block reward controlled by moores law, and 84 total coins.
GRIDCOIN FORUM (869 переходов по ссылке)
A Proof-of-Research Cryptocurrency that compensates users for BOINC contributions in science, math and technology for the benefit of humanity with a variable block reward based on the share of network contribution plus a base 10 GRC stake reward. Target Block Time: 90 seconds.
ALL CRYPTO CLUBS (1 004 перехода по ссылке)
Check out all of the crypto clubs. You can join a club or start a club of your own.
Switching to some #TheyAreBillions
OMG! A different game? I know right!
I’m #live on #twitch playing more #stellaris
Today I’m started a new game with the new beta patch!
I’ll be #live in 30 mins with more #stellaris
What Is a Cryptocurrency?
A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology—a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers. A defining feature of cryptocurrencies is that they are generally not issued by any central authority, rendering them theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.
- A cryptocurrency is a new form of digital asset based on a network that is distributed across a large number of computers. This decentralized structure allows them to exist outside the control of governments and central authorities.
- The word “cryptocurrency” is derived from the encryption techniques which are used to secure the network.
- Blockchains, which are organizational methods for ensuring the integrity of transactional data, is an essential component of many cryptocurrencies.
- Many experts believe that blockchain and related technology will disrupt many industries, including finance and law.
- Cryptocurrencies face criticism for a number of reasons, including their use for illegal activities, exchange rate volatility, and vulnerabilities of the infrastructure underlying them. However, they also have been praised for their portability, divisibility, inflation resistance, and transparency.
Cryptocurrencies are systems that allow for the secure payments online which are denominated in terms of virtual “tokens,” which are represented by ledger entries internal to the system. “Crypto” refers to the various encryption algorithms and cryptographic techniques that safeguard these entries, such as elliptical curve encryption, public-private key pairs, and hashing functions.
Types of Cryptocurrency
The first blockchain-based cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, which still remains the most popular and most valuable. Today, there are thousands of alternate cryptocurrencies with various functions and specifications. Some of these are clones or forks of Bitcoin, while others are new currencies that were built from scratch.
Bitcoin was launched in 2009 by an individual or group known by the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto.” As of Nov. 2020, there were over 18 million bitcoins in circulation with a total market value of around $146 billion.
Some of the competing cryptocurrencies spawned by Bitcoin’s success, known as “altcoins,” include Litecoin, Peercoin, and Namecoin, as well as Ethereum, Cardano, and EOS. Today, the aggregate value of all the cryptocurrencies in existence is around $214 billion—Bitcoin currently represents more than 68% of the total value.
Some of the cryptography used in cryptocurrency today was originally developed for military applications. At one point, the government wanted to put controls on cryptography similar to the legal restrictions on weapons, but the right for civilians to use cryptography was secured on grounds of freedom of speech.
Central to the appeal and functionality of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is blockchain technology, which is used to keep an online ledger of all the transactions that have ever been conducted, thus providing a data structure for this ledger that is quite secure and is shared and agreed upon by the entire network of individual node, or computer maintaining a copy of the ledger. Every new block generated must be verified by each node before being confirmed, making it almost impossible to forge transaction histories.
Many experts see blockchain technology as having serious potential for uses like online voting and crowdfunding, and major financial institutions such as JPMorgan Chase (JPM) see the potential to lower transaction costs by streamlining payment processing. However, because cryptocurrencies are virtual and are not stored on a central database, a digital cryptocurrency balance can be wiped out by the loss or destruction of a hard drive if a backup copy of the private key does not exist. At the same time, there is no central authority, government, or corporation that has access to your funds or your personal information.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrencies hold the promise of making it easier to transfer funds directly between two parties, without the need for a trusted third party like a bank or credit card company. These transfers are instead secured by the use of public keys and private keys and different forms of incentive systems, like Proof of Work or Proof of Stake.
In modern cryptocurrency systems, a user’s “wallet,” or account address, has a public key, while the private key is known only to the owner and is used to sign transactions. Fund transfers are completed with minimal processing fees, allowing users to avoid the steep fees charged by banks and financial institutions for wire transfers.
The semi-anonymous nature of cryptocurrency transactions makes them well-suited for a host of illegal activities, such as money laundering and tax evasion. However, cryptocurrency advocates often highly value their anonymity, citing benefits of privacy like protection for whistleblowers or activists living under repressive governments. Some cryptocurrencies are more private than others.
Bitcoin, for instance, is a relatively poor choice for conducting illegal business online, since the forensic analysis of the Bitcoin blockchain has helped authorities to arrest and prosecute criminals. More privacy-oriented coins do exist, however, such as Dash, Monero, or ZCash, which are far more difficult to trace.
Criticism of Cryptocurrency
Since market prices for cryptocurrencies are based on supply and demand, the rate at which a cryptocurrency can be exchanged for another currency can fluctuate widely, since the design of many cryptocurrencies ensures a high degree of scarcity.
Bitcoin has experienced some rapid surges and collapses in value, climbing as high as $19,000 per Bitcoin in Dec. of 2020 before dropping to around $7,000 in the following months. Cryptocurrencies are thus considered by some economists to be a short-lived fad or speculative bubble.
There is concern that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are not rooted in any material goods. Some research, however, has identified that the cost of producing a Bitcoin, which requires an increasingly large amount of energy, is directly related to its market price.
Cryptocurrency blockchains are highly secure, but other aspects of a cryptocurrency ecosystem, including exchanges and wallets, are not immune to the threat of hacking. In Bitcoin’s 10-year history, several online exchanges have been the subject of hacking and theft, sometimes with millions of dollars worth of “coins” stolen.
Nonetheless, many observers see potential advantages in cryptocurrencies, like the possibility of preserving value against inflation and facilitating exchange while being more easy to transport and divide than precious metals and existing outside the influence of central banks and governments.
Perfect Choice For Beginners!
Free Demo Account!
Free Trading Education!
Get Your Sing-Up Bonus Now!
Only For Experienced Traders!