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Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin, the original blockchain

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Bitcoin (BTC) is a cryptocurrency and worldwide payment system, the first cryptocurrency to be invented and released to the public.

Debuting in 2009, Bitcoin has grown to become a powerhouse in world financial markets due to its high value and its decentralized structure, with no controlling authority. (1)

Bitcoin is fully digital currency, utilizing blockchain technology to enable direct, peer-to-peer transactions between users, powered by “miners” who generate new Bitcoins through the use of their computers. (2) (3)

Bitcoin’s increasing popularity has led many vendors and businesses to begin accepting it as legal tender and many investors to adopt it as a means to make money. (4)

While newer cryptocurrencies have improved on Bitcoin’s basic design, Bitcoin remains the world’s leading cryptocurrency and an important part of any investor’s portfolio.

Overview

Bitcoin was first proposed in 2008 by Satoshi Nakamoto, an anonymous and possibly fictitious Japanese programmer. In a white paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System,” Nakamoto laid out the basis for a worldwide fiat currency accessible to all, cutting out the middlemen of world governments. The name “Bitcoin” is derived from this concept, combining “bit” (the smallest unit of digital storage) with “coin.” (5) (6) (7)

Nakamoto’s concept relied on a technology called the “blockchain,” a public ledger that records all transactions occurring on the network. The blockchain is fueled by “miners,” users who utilize their computers or specialized mining rigs to solve the blockchain’s complex math problems, creating new Bitcoins as a reward for success. Miners are also responsible for processing network transactions, assessing fees for doing so. (8)

There is also a hard limit of 21 million Bitcoins that can be created by miners as a means to combat inflation, though the rate at which new coins are created will naturally slow down as the number of Bitcoins in circulation increases. (9)

Bitcoin transactions take place on a peer-to-peer basis. Transactions are handled by miners, who process them in exchange for fees. Bitcoins are stored in a digital wallet which is identified by an address and can be stored on a computer. (10)

On January 3, 2009, Nakamoto released the Bitcoin client as open source software, though it wasn’t until 2011 that the currency began to gain notoriety. In that year, several major organizations, such as Wikileaks and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, began accepting donations in Bitcoin. The dark web marketplace Silk Road, only accessible through Tor, also became notable for allowing customers to purchase illegal drugs with Bitcoins. (11) (12) (13)

In 2013, Bitcoin saw major expansion, with Bitcoin-based payment processor Coinbase selling over one million dollars worth of Bitcoins in one month. Also, in October that same year, Silk Road was shut down by the FBI and administrator Ross William Ulbrecht (aka “the Dread Pirate Roberts”) was arrested, with 26,000 BTC seized by the government as part of his apprehension. (14) (15)

In 2014, Mt. Gox, one of the oldest and most popular Bitcoin exchanges, was shut down after filing for bankruptcy, with 744,000 Bitcoins going missing. Former CEO Mark Karpelès would later be arrested by Japanese police in 2015 on charges of embezzlement. (16) (17)

Despite these setbacks, Bitcoin has continued to grow as a cryptocurrency. In 2013, growth in Bitcoin spiked after residents of Cyprus began transferring their money to Bitcoin wallets in response to the European Union’s proposed “haircut” of bank accounts in the country due to the financial crisis. (18)

As of 2017, Bitcoin has exploded in popularity, value, and mainstream acceptance. Several countries, including Japan and Russia, have passed legislation legalizing Bitcoin as a form of valid tender. Countless merchants and businesses now accept Bitcoin as payment, and Bitcoin ATMs have become a major presence throughout the world. (19) (20)

However, recent problems with Bitcoin’s scale resulted in a hard fork of the blockchain on August 1, 2017, splitting the currency into two: regular Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. Bitcoin Cash is distinguished from Bitcoin by its higher block size limit, a significant bottleneck with Bitcoin because it significantly slows down transactions and has also caused transaction fees to spike. (21) (22)

Additionally, Bitcoin now faces competition from numerous other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum, Litecoin, and Dash, which have significantly cut into its market share. Many of these altcoins boast improvements over the basic Bitcoin design.

Despite this, Bitcoin’s longevity and reliability have established it as a force in the cryptocurrency markets, and one that is here to stay.

Mining

Bitcoin can be “mined,” a process that allows users to make money and also facilitate transactions on the network.

Mining is the term used to refer to using a computer or ASIC mining hardware to solve math problems on the Bitcoin blockchain, which expands the blockchain, makes transactions possible, and also allows the miner to earn Bitcoin passively. (23)

While mining was relatively easy in the early days of Bitcoin, the increasing size of the blockchain has upped the difficulty level considerably. However, it is still possible to turn a profit on the network. (24)

Mining can be done by using a computer’s CPU, its GPU, or a dedicated ASIC mining rig. However, due to the size of Bitcoin’s blockchain, CPU and GPU mining are no longer economical. It can take months, if not years to earn Bitcoin using CPU and GPU mining, and electricity costs could eat away any profits you could make. (25)

Instead, prospective miners should purchase dedicated mining rigs, which possess the horsepower necessary to mine Bitcoin in economical and profitable amounts. (26)

However, mining is costly in terms of electricity. If electricity is expensive where you live, it can significantly eat into or eliminate your profits. To ensure that you can turn a profit mining Bitcoin, make sure that electricity in your area is reasonably priced. (27)

With these caveats out of the way, Bitcoin mining can still be a profitable enterprise.

FAQ

1. What is Bitcoin? Bitcoin is a digital currency that is powered through a decentralized online system known as the blockchain. In contrast to traditional, physical currencies that are issued by the central bank of a nation, such as the U.S. dollar, Bitcoin is managed through a peer-to-peer network of computers linked together and maintaining a central ledger, ensuring its security and efficacy worldwide.

2. Who invented Bitcoin? Bitcoin is a “cryptocurrency,” a type of currency that exists on the Internet and is not controlled by any singular entity. While first theorized about in the 1990’s, Bitcoin is the first successful cryptocurrency, created according to the specifications in a 2009 white paper authored by Satoshi Nakamoto, a pseudonymous computer programmer. Nakamoto’s identity is unknown and he departed the Bitcoin project in 2010, with other programmers since taking over its maintenance and development.

3. Who controls Bitcoin? No one entity or individual controls Bitcoin. The nature of Bitcoin, along with other cryptocurrencies, is that every computer connected to the blockchain, the central network of Bitcoin, manages them collectively. Each computer is responsible for processing the central ledger of Bitcoin with every transaction that occurs on the network, with a consensus being required for any transaction to be accepted. As such, the only way for a single entity or individual to gain control of Bitcoin would be to acquire control of a majority of machines connected to the blockchain, which is virtually impossible due to the decentralized and worldwide use of the currency. While Bitcoin’s development is guided by a small group of programmers, due to the consensus-oriented nature of the blockchain, the incentive to keep Bitcoin user-friendly and avoid radical changes keeps any one group from exerting monopoly control.

4. How does Bitcoin work? For most users, Bitcoin functions superficially to regular currency. To use Bitcoin, you deposit Bitcoin into a “wallet,” a program that holds your Bitcoin. Wallets come in both software formats, such as mobile apps and website accounts, or they can come in hardware versions, physical devices that can be purchased from manufacturers. When you purchase an item or service with Bitcoin, you do so in a fashion similar to making purchases with a credit or debit card, with Bitcoins transferred from your wallet to the wallet of the merchant. You can acquire Bitcoins through purchasing them from exchanges. On a more technical level, whenever a Bitcoin transaction occurs, it is transmitted through the blockchain, a digital ledger that monitors every Bitcoin transaction and guards against fraud and abuse. Only when the blockchain verifies the integrity of the transaction is the exchange of funds completed. “Miners,” computers that create new Bitcoins through solving complex math problems, process Bitcoin transactions for a small fee.

5. How widely is Bitcoin used? Bitcoin is used very widely. From its launch in 2009, Bitcoin has become an accepted form of payment at tens of thousands of websites across the world, from small mom-and-pop operations to major names like Overstock.com. In addition to this, many physical businesses have begun accepting Bitcoin via mobile apps and hardware wallets, and many large cities around the world now have “Bitcoin ATMs,” where you can access your Bitcoin wallet remotely. As of 2018, there are more than $100 billion of Bitcoins in existence.

6. How can I get Bitcoins? Bitcoins are easiest to obtain by purchasing them through an exchange, such as Coinbase. With an exchange, you pay a certain amount of money and receive Bitcoins in return. There are numerous exchanges on the Internet today with varying degrees of reliability and usefulness. You can also obtain Bitcoins as payment for goods or services or earn them through mining, though the latter requires powerful computer hardware that can cost thousands of dollars.

7. How do I receive or send Bitcoins? It’s easy to send or receive Bitcoins, arguably easier than making a credit/debit card purchase. To send Bitcoins, all you need is a wallet of your own and the wallet address of the person you are sending them to. You enter the recipient’s address and the amount of Bitcoins you want to send them and that’s it. To receive Bitcoins, you merely need to provide your wallet address to the person who is sending them to you. Because wallet addresses can be difficult to remember (due to the fact that they consist of randomized strings of numbers and letters), many wallet applications and vendors simplify the process by allowing you to use QR codes or NFC (near-field communication) to instantly send or receive Bitcoins.

8. What are the upsides of using Bitcoin? Bitcoin offers total payment freedom, as it is not reliant on national governments, central banks, or physical notes. When you make a Bitcoin transaction, it is automatic, not reliant on any human interaction aside from the individual sending the funds. Fees for Bitcoin transactions are much lower than credit card fees or fees from payment processors such as PayPal. From a merchant’s perspective, Bitcoin is far lower risk than traditional payments, as it cannot be used to file fraudulent chargebacks and Bitcoin transactions do not contain personal information. Because a central authority does not control Bitcoin, it is free from arbitrary policy changes or fee hikes, and no one can be banned from using Bitcoin arbitrarily.

9. What are the downsides of using Bitcoin? Bitcoin’s constantly fluctuating price means that vendors and customers must constantly keep their eyes on changing valuations and adjust the prices of goods to compensate. Bitcoin transactions are slower than credit card transactions due to the fact that all transactions must be verified by the blockchain for security. While Bitcoin has become more popular in recent years, it is still not very well known among the general public, so getting some merchants or customers to accept it may be difficult. Finally, because Bitcoin is still a work in progress, it may change in the future in unpredictable ways.

10. How can Bitcoin serve as a trustworthy means of payment? The decentralized nature of Bitcoin means that it doesn’t rely on trust in the way that traditional currencies do. Currencies that are issued by a central government, such as the U.S. dollar or the euro, rely on the economic strength of their nations and the financial decision-making of their politicians. Economic turmoil and/or poor financial planning can lead to unexpected drops in the value of a fiat currency, as seen with the various economic crises of the past decade. In contrast, because all machines connected to the Bitcoin blockchain are responsible for processing and verifying transactions, there is no way for scammers or unscrupulous individuals to hijack the network and defraud people. Additionally, the open nature of Bitcoin—all transactions can be viewed publicly—means that even if there are untrustworthy users on the network, as a whole the network remains trustworthy.

11. Can I get rich with Bitcoin? In general, you should view Bitcoin like you would stocks, bonds, or any other investment: there are risks involved, but you can make money if you play your cards right. Many users have become wealthy by buying and selling Bitcoin, either through day trading or HODLing (holding on for dear life), purchasing when the value of Bitcoin is low and selling when it’s high. Still others have made money through Bitcoin mining, though this is cost-prohibitive for many people now, as mining requires tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of hardware as well as affordable electricity. There are also many business and merchant opportunities that have developed with Bitcoin. In general, if you invest wisely, don’t spend money you can’t afford to lose, and don’t treat Bitcoin as a get-rich-quick scheme, you have a strong chance of making money with it.

12. Is Bitcoin truly 100 percent digital? Yes. While it is possible to use hardware wallets to store Bitcoins and make transactions, your Bitcoins exist purely as files on the Bitcoin network. Because of the decentralized and worldwide blockchain, however, your Bitcoins cannot be fraudulently stolen or modified just because they exist as files. Bitcoin uses cryptographic security measures, the same as online banking and credit card entities, which allow you to maintain control of your funds despite their non-physical nature.

13. Can I make anonymous Bitcoin transactions? While Bitcoin transactions provide a level of privacy that is greater than credit/debit card transactions, they are not truly anonymous. Because of the public nature of the Bitcoin blockchain, all transactions on the network are logged and viewable by anyone. While Bitcoin transactions do not include any of your personal information in the way a credit/debit card transaction does, anyone who knows your wallet address will be able to track any transactions involving that address. If you are interested in a truly anonymous cryptocurrency, you should consider Monero, which functions similarly to Bitcoin but allows for 100 percent private transactions.

14. Is it possible to lose Bitcoins? Yes. If you lose access to a Bitcoin wallet, any Bitcoins within it are removed from public circulation. While they remain in the blockchain, they cannot be accessed, spent, or transferred without access to the wallet containing them. This has the effect of increasing the value of remaining Bitcoins due to the law of supply and demand.

15. Is it legal to use Bitcoin? No country in the world to our knowledge has outlawed Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, though many have passed laws governing their use. A common type of Bitcoin regulation is requiring exchanges to be licensed; for example, in the United States, New York requires that Bitcoin exchanges obtain licenses before they can serve residents of that state. Due to Bitcoin’s youth and uncertainty over how it and other cryptocurrencies will develop, many national governments have adopted a hands-off approach when it comes to the technology, though this will likely change in the future as Bitcoin becomes more popular and widespread.

16. Can I use Bitcoin for illegal transactions? Bitcoin is a currency and individuals have found ways to use it for illegal purposes, just like any other currency. However, there is nothing inherent to Bitcoin that makes it easier to use for illegal transactions. Indeed, because Bitcoin transactions are not anonymous, using Bitcoin to commit crimes can make it easy for law enforcement to track you. While we don’t have the power to control how you use Bitcoin, we do not recommend or support its use for illegal activities.

17. How are Bitcoins made? “Miners,” high-powered computers connected to the Bitcoin network, generate new Bitcoins by solving complex math problems. Miners are rewarded with a small share of new Bitcoins created. To prevent inflation, Bitcoin mining will automatically halt when 21 million Bitcoins are created, halving the number of Bitcoins created every year.

18. Where does Bitcoin’s value come from? Bitcoin derives its value from the same place that the U.S. dollar and other currencies derive it: from trust and utility. Millions of people around the world trust the Bitcoin blockchain to safeguard their transactions and allow them to conduct business, which gives the currency its value.

19. How is the price of Bitcoin determined? Bitcoin’s price is determined by supply and demand, like any other currency. Because there are a relatively small number of Bitcoins in circulation compared to traditional currencies, this makes the price of Bitcoin more volatile, with frequent dips and peaks.

20. Could Bitcoin ever become worthless? Yes. No currency has eternal, unfixed value, with numerous currencies over the years becoming valueless for various reasons. While Bitcoin has shown staying power for the past decade, there is no guarantee of what will happen in the future.

21. Is Bitcoin a scam? No. Bitcoin’s decentralized nature and transparent operations mean that it is impossible for any one group or individual to take control of the network and defraud other users. While Bitcoin users can lose money due to price fluctuations and other economic considerations, these are no different from stock price falls or issues in the traditional economy.

Recap

As the oldest and most recognized cryptocurrency, Bitcoin played an integral role in shaping the current cryptocurrency scene and revolutionizing money.

While it has its flaws and is not as technologically advanced as some of its newer competitors, Bitcoin’s stability and popularity with traders and businesses make it a strong player on the cryptocurrency markets.

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Cryptocurrencies

Stellar, the protocol for the future of money

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Stellar (XLM) is an open-source value exchange protocol and cryptocurrency designed to make exchanging money simple and easy.

Founded in 2014 and based on Ripple, Stellar has since forked into its own project with an entirely separate network and modus operandi. Stellar’s primary purpose is to function as a real-time gross settlement and remittance system, making financial transactions simple and easy and backing them with the power of the blockchain.

Since its founding, Stellar has taken its place alongside Ripple, Ethereum, and other similar cryptocurrencies to provide an all-in-one network for exchanging money and value, giving it a stability and resiliency that many cryptocurrencies lack.

For these reasons, Stellar is a worthwhile investment for your crypto portfolio.

Overview

Stellar was founded in 2014 by Jeb McCaleb, one of the creators of Ripple and the creator of eDonkey, an early peer-to-peer file sharing protocol that preceded Napster, LimeWire and similar services. McCaleb is also known as the founder of the now-shuttered Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, though he sold it to Mark Karpelès not long after creating it. Stellar’s development is headed by the nonprofit Stellar Development Foundation. (1) (2)

Initially based on the Ripple protocol, Stellar introduced a number of changes to its code that fundamentally diverged it from Ripple. Not long after Stellar’s foundation, it was forked from Ripple and became its own entity. In response, the Stellar Development Foundation created a new consensus algorithm for the network, bringing it online in 2015. Stellar and Ripple have since diverged so much that there is no compatibility and almost no code shared between the two platforms. (3) (4)

Similarly to Ripple, Stellar is not simply a cryptocurrency, but is designed as an all-in-one network for financial transactions. Stellar exists as a software protocol on financial servers and uses the Internet to form a global network for exchanging money. Unlike Ripple, which is centralized and proprietary, Stellar is an open-source platform that utilizes an open ledger which anyone can view and contribute to. (5)

Stellar’s central ledger is changed whenever users on the network engage in transactions. Utilizing Stellar’s central consensus protocol, transactions are monitored and changes to the ledger are made according to agreement among all servers connected to the Stellar network. This is a fundamental difference from Ripple in that no one entity or individual can take control of the Stellar network, since agreement on ledger changes must be obtained from all parties involved in Stellar. (6) (7)

This open-source approach to transaction validation gives Stellar more flexibility than Ripple, since any machine connected to the Stellar network can participate in the validation of transactions, though not all machines will be treated equally. Additionally, Stellar is much friendlier towards third-party developers than Ripple, encouraging creators to design their own add-ons and projects for the Stellar network and helping to raise money for their work. (8)

Stellar’s open-source nature has made it a hit among financial institutions in the developing world who are seeking stable and reliable platforms to build on. For example, the banking software company Oradian has begun using the Stellar network to connect and coordinate operations between microfinance institutions in Nigeria, while other similar partnerships have since been unveiled in India, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Philippines. (9) (10)

Stellar has also gained traction in the developed world as an alternative to Ripple and traditional banking mechanisms. In 2017, Stellar and IBM formed a partnership designed to increase the speed of the Stellar network and improve the efficiency of transactions. IBM also seeks to use Stellar to develop a new “cross-borders payment solution” to make transferring money around the world an easy and painless process. (11) (12)

Stellar is also distinguished from Ripple by its inflationary structure. While Ripple works to keep the amount of currency in circulation stable, Stellar automatically increases its money supply by one percent each year. This rate of increase is hard-coded into the system and cannot be modified by miners or any other entity. (13)

It’s because of all this that Stellar has become a worthwhile investment option for cryptocurrency traders interested in “smart contract” currencies. Like Ethereum and Ripple, Stellar’s framework for financial transactions gives it a strength that gives it extra credibility in the world of traditional finance.

Mining

Like Ripple, it is not possible for individuals to mine Stellar.

At the inception of the Stellar network, 100 billion Stellars were created. The only way that additional Stellars can be made is through the aforementioned inflationary structure, which caps the increase by one percent each year. This inflation happens automatically on a weekly basis, with the new Stellars created distributed throughout the network via direct voting. (14)

Because of this, mining Stellar is impossible; the only way to obtain Stellar is to buy it via an exchange, buy it via the Stellar network directly, or receive it as a result of inflation voting.

FAQ

1. What is Stellar? Stellar is a decentralized digital-to-fiat currency transfer protocol. Its original purpose was to facilitate money transfers between different currencies in a quick and inexpensive fashion. The Stellar network uses Lumens as its native token, similar to how Ethereum uses Ether or Ripple uses XRP. Stellar has since been embraced by various services who seek to offer multi-currency payment systems.

2. What makes Stellar different from Bitcoin or Ethereum? Stellar is similar to Ethereum in that it is designed to be a fully-fledged payment system and not merely a currency. In this, it is distinguished from Bitcoin in that it has a large number of functions beyond merely serving as a medium of exchange. Stellar is specifically designed to function as an intermediary for fiat currency transfers, making it an able tool for those who want to deal in multiple currencies easily.

3. Who created Stellar? Stellar was founded in 2014 by Jeb McCaleb, who is best-known for his role in founding Ripple. He was also responsible for creating eDonkey, a peer-to-peer file-sharing protocol similar to Napster, as well as the once-famous Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, though he sold the exchange to Mark Karpelès shortly after its founding. Initially similar to Ripple and sharing code and functionality with the platform, the two have since diverged considerably. Stellar is an open-source platform that allows any developer to contribute to its advancement. Additionally, in contrast to Ripple’s centralized system for verifying transactions, Stellar uses a ledger system that is more in line with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that operate on a consensus model.

4. Who controls Stellar? The development of Stellar is officially helmed by the Stellar Development Foundation, a nonprofit. However, as an open-source platform, independent developers can freely contribute to Stellar if they wish. Additionally, Stellar operates on a consensus model, with changes to the system only possible if a majority of users consent to them. This makes Stellar more similar to decentralized crypto platforms such as Ethereum.

5. Why was Stellar created? Stellar’s original purpose was to serve as a middleman for fiat currency exchanges. Given the increasingly interconnected world economy, demand has increased for easy, low-cost exchange services, particularly among residents of developing economies who work for foreign clients. However, converting currencies can be difficult and costly, particularly when it comes to less-popular currencies that do not play a large role in international finance. Stellar was developed as a means to allow individuals to convert from one fiat currency to another without paying expensive fees or enduring long transaction times. This friendliness to finance in the developing world has made Stellar popular among banking institutions in poorer and less-developed countries. For example, the Stellar network is now utilized for microfinance transactions in Nigeria, the Philippines, and other developing countries. Given the often-shaky nature of finance in the developing world, Stellar lends a stability and trustworthiness that is badly needed in these countries. Stellar’s currency exchange functionality has also attracted the attention of international finance and technology firms, with IBM seeking to use the Stellar network to develop cross-border payment platforms that make transferring money around the world a simple process.

6. What are Lumens? Lumens are the base cryptocurrency of the Stellar network, akin to how XRP serves as the base cryptocurrency of Ripple. Like other cryptocurrencies, Lumens can be bought, sold, and traded at exchanges and via wallets.

7. What makes Lumens valuable? Lumens are valuable because people find utility in them, same as any other currency, fiat or crypto. Stellar’s usefulness as a cross-currency trading platform has helped Lumens become a valuable commodity in the cryptocurrency economy.

8. Where do Lumens come from? Upon the launch of the Stellar network, 100 billion Lumens were created. Additional Lumens are created through an inflationary structure in which the overall supply increases by one percent each year. This process is initiated once per week, and the new Lumens are distributed throughout the network via a direct voting process. This is another crucial difference between Stellar and Ripple, the latter of which has a fixed and unchanging supply of currency in circulation.

9. How does one obtain Lumens? Similarly to other cryptocurrencies, Lumens can be purchased, sold, or traded. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, Lumens cannot be mined due to the fact that the only way to increase the Lumen supply is through the inflationary process. Lumens are kept in wallets, digital or hardware units that can contain an infinite supply of Lumens. Wallet addresses are used to identify individual wallets on the Stellar network and transfer Lumens between users. To send Lumens, you must obtain the wallet address of the person you are sending it to; to receive them, you must provide your wallet address to the sender. Wallet addresses are rendered as a series of numbers and letters, though they can also be generated as QR codes to expedite transfers using a mobile device.

10. What are the upsides of using Stellar? Stellar, as mentioned above, is tailored towards users who need to quickly and cheaply convert money from one fiat currency to another. If you need to make frequent exchanges between various currency pairs, Stellar is an ideal platform to use. While similar to Ripple in many respects, Stellar’s open-source nature and its decentralized control structure give it an antifragile nature that make it better for certain types of computing and financial tasks. Finally, Stellar possesses many of the existing advantages of cryptocurrencies, including low transaction fees, worldwide functionality, and total payment freedom.

11. What are the downsides of using Stellar? As a cryptocurrency platform, Stellar suffers from many of its downsides, such as a lack of acceptance among merchants, sometimes-slow transactions due to the necessity of blockchain verification, and constantly fluctuating value. Additionally, as a relatively new platform, many of Stellar’s promised features have yet to be implemented or have only been implemented in a basic form. Because of the unpredictability with which the Stellar platform may evolve, the network may exist in an entirely different form years down the line. Finally, Stellar cannot be mined, which is a turnoff for some power crypto users.

12. What are some ways that Stellar is used? Due to its original function as a middleman for fiat currency transactions, Stellar is frequently used as a platform to exchange various types of fiat currencies. While Ripple has also been used for this purpose, Stellar’s decentralized, open-source structure makes it far easier to implement the platform for use in developing countries, where options to convert currency are far more limited. As mentioned above, financial and technology giants have also begun using Stellar in order to speed and simplify cross-border payment processing in a manner similar to more conventional platforms such as TransferWise. Due to Stellar’s relative newness, new uses for the platform are still being theorized and developed.

13. Is Stellar safe? No currency or financial system, including crypto and fiat, is 100 percent safe from abuse. However, Stellar has introduced a number of innovation that arguably make it safer than Ripple, from which it is descended. Decentralized control of the Stellar network makes it virtually impossible for individual actors to take control of Stellar due to the fact that network consensus is necessary in order to introduce major changes. Open-source development also allows a faster rate of innovation compared to Ripple, as users are able to contribute to the platform’s advancement instead of waiting for updates to be pushed forward by the Stellar Development Foundation. It is in part because of this that Stellar has avoided some of the scandals that Ripple has been involved in, including being fined for violating the Bank Secrecy Act in 2015. While the future of Stellar is not guaranteed, thus far it has been proven to be a reliable store of value and transaction system.

14. Is Stellar a scam? As mentioned above, Stellar has avoided many of the problems that have plagued Ripple, most of which stem from Ripple’s centralized control and opaque development process. Stellar’s widespread adoption among financial institutions in the developing world is precisely because it provides a level of banking security that is often hard to come by in these countries. While there is no telling how the platform will continue to evolve in the future, at the moment, Stellar has proven itself to be a trustworthy means of exchange.

15. If Stellar is more advanced than Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, why don’t people use it instead of Bitcoin? While Stellar may technically boast superior functionality in some areas compared to Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Ripple, it ultimately serves a different purpose. Pure cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are not designed to facilitate financial transaction or aid banking security; they are intended purely as a source of value and exchange. Stellar is designed not merely to be a currency, but to be an all-in-one network for the facilitation of cross-border payment exchange. This means that it will inevitably be used by those who are looking for different features and functions than other cryptocurrencies can offer. Ultimately, Stellar serves a different function than other cryptocurrencies that lack its feature set, and this means there will be a place for all of these currencies in the crypto ecosystem for the near future.

16. Can Stellar Lumens be mined? Unfortunately, no. This is because Stellar does not use a proof-of-work system for creating coins, in which miners are responsible for processing transactions. Uniquely, Stellar also does not use a proof-of-stake system either. Instead, additional Lumens are created through a process known as inflation voting. The Stellar network automatically increases the supply of Lumens by one percent each year, a process that occurs automatically each week in order to prevent rapid inflation and devaluation of the currency’s value. Systems that are connected to the Stellar network are eligible to receive additional Lumens through a voting process that occurs automatically. It is unlikely that this system will be changed, meaning that inflation voting is the only way to receive new Lumens, aside from purchasing them directly.

17. Can I make money with Stellar? It is possible to make money with any investment provided you do your research and make prudent decisions. Stellar’s adoption as a cross-border payments system has fueled much of its popularity, particularly with financial institutions in the developing world. It also possesses a number of inbuilt advantages over Ripple, namely its lack of centralization and its open-source nature. However, there is no such thing as a guaranteed payoff; all investments, including cryptocurrency investments, carry risks. To safeguard yourself, you should determine beforehand what your investment goals are and never invest money that you can’t afford to lose. If you go into it with a clear head, you can use the Stellar network to make money.

18. How is the price of Stellar Lumens determined? Like all currencies and commodities, Lumens are governed by the law of supply and demand. Due to Stellar’s unique system of increasing the monetary supply via inflation voting, Stellar Lumens have a more consistent price than other cryptocurrencies, though they are still subject to the peaks and valleys that are common in crypto investing. As mentioned above, however, Stellar Lumens will retain value so long as investors and financial institutions believe that Stellar has inherent value.

19. Could Stellar Lumens ever become worthless? Yes, due to the fact that many currencies and commodities have suddenly lost their value over the centuries. No currency that has ever existed has ever maintained a fixed, unchanging value; currencies retain value so long as users find them valuable. While Stellar Lumens have accumulated considerable value in the short time that Stellar has been active, there is no guarantee of what might happen in the future, so take that into consideration when making your investing decisions.

Recap

Stellar may have begun life as an offshoot of Ripple, but its developers have taken it in a decidedly different direction, establishing it as one of the hottest commodities in the “smart contract” tranche of cryptocurrencies.

Stellar provides the advantage of a robust computer network with which to process and tabulate financial transactions, coupled with a decentralized structure that makes the network impossible to hijack or hack. Stellar provides solid technical and economic backing for a wide variety of projects, particularly those reliant on open-source software and solutions.

Furthermore, the Stellar Development Foundation’s support for third-party development has helped the currency grow by leaps and bounds, allowing it to compete with Ripple’s superior marketing and centralized structure.

For cryptocurrency investors, Stellar is worth keeping an eye on for these reasons. Smart contract cryptos such as Stellar, Ethereum, and Ripple represent a new evolution in blockchain technology. Beyond serving as a store of value and a transaction mechanism, cryptocurrencies like Stellar provide all the necessary tools and infrastructure to serve as financial platforms in and of themselves.

It is because of this that Stellar is a worthy investment for crypto investors looking to diversify their portfolios. Few cryptocurrencies can match the stability, reliability, and potential for growth that it has.

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Cryptocurrencies

EOS, the blockchain for commercial scale

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EOS is a smart contract cryptocurrency platform that has attracted attention for two claims: it seeks to completely eliminate transaction fees as well as allowing users to conduct millions of transactions per second.

Launched in 2018, EOS is superficially similar to other smart contract platforms such as Ethereum and Ripple, but it promises to supersede them through the aforementioned features.

The ultimate goal of EOS is to provide a platform that supports industrial-sized decentralized application hosting, decentralized enterprise storage solutions, and smart contract capability, combining existing smart contract functionality with cloud computing for an all-in-one technology solution.

While EOS has technically not launched yet, it is currently possible to buy EOS tokens on the Ethereum blockchain, the sale of which will fund the launch of the EOS blockchain itself later in 2018.

EOS’ developers are making bold claims, but they have shown themselves capable of backing those claims, making EOS a worthwhile investment for crypto investors interested in smart contract platforms.

Overview

EOS launched on January 31, 2018 by Block.one, a cryptocurrency development firm based in the Cayman Islands. The specifics of EOS were revealed in a white paper published in 2017, with the full platform set to launch as open-source software on June 1, 2018. To fund development, Block.one initiated a sale of EOS tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. EOS also boasts one of only two B-ratings from U.S.-based financial rating agency Weiss, with the other being awarded to Ethereum. (1, 2, 3)

As mentioned above, Block.one seeks to use EOS to solve two of the biggest problems with cryptocurrencies: transaction fees and transaction speed. Most cryptocurrencies have slow transaction times due to the nature of blockchain technology, with Bitcoin speeds in particular becoming increasingly slow due to the size of its blockchain. Fees are used to speed things up by paying miners to prioritize certain transactions, but these too have become increasingly expensive with certain cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. (4)

EOS aims to solve the scalability problem of currencies like Bitcoin by using multi-threaded technology, allowing it to run on multiple computer cores. Additionally, EOS uses a decentralized proof-of-stake system for its consensus protocol, making it similar to systems such as Cardano and Stellar that utilize all machines connected to their network to verify transactions, keeping the network from becoming centralized. (5)

EOS also seeks to function as an operating system, much like Windows or OS X, allowing programmers to develop decentralized applications. Two examples of platforms that utilize EOS technology are Steemit, a Medium-like blogging and content creation platform that is based on blockchain technology, and BitShares, a fully decentralized cryptocurrency exchange. (6) (7)

In addition to this, EOS’ native token, in additional to serving as currency, also doubles as bandwidth and storage, allowing anything contained on the EOS network to be instantly delivered to anyone who is connected to it. How much storage and bandwidth is allocated to each EOS user is determined by how many tokens they own. EOS tokens will allow users to participate in governing the blockchain, also in proportion to how many tokens the user owns. (8) (9)

Although not formally released, EOS has become popular among cryptocurrency enthusiasts and developers. As mentioned above, both Steemit and BitShares are being developed with EOS technology. Everipedia, a Wikipedia-like online encyclopedia, is also using EOS technology to incentivize content creation on its platform as well as defeat censorship. By using decentralized EOS tokens to store and deliver their site, Everipedia will be able to evade censorship from countries such as Turkey and Iran that ban Wikipedia and similar sites. (10) (11)

EOS is effectively positioning itself not merely as a cryptocurrency, but as a software development suite and content delivery system. EOS’ potential to host decentralized websites and applications as well as combat online censorship have made it a hot commodity among traders and a worthwhile investment.

Mining

EOS cannot be mined due to the proof-of-stake system it will use to verify transactions.

Much like Cardano, EOS’ proof-of-stake system verifies transactions not through mining, but through achieving consensus from all users on the network. This is part of what makes EOS’ claims of faster transaction speeds and no transaction fees possible, but it precludes users from being able to mine their own EOS. (12)

While it is technically possible to mine EOS at the moment, this is because the EOS tokens available for sale right now are based on the Ethereum blockchain, meaning that EOS miners are technically mining Ethereum. Once EOS’ own blockchain launches, this will no longer be possible. (13)

FAQ

1. What is EOS? EOS, or EOS.io, is a smart contract-based cryptocurrency platform that is focused on providing laser-fast transactions and eliminating transaction fees. It purports to do this through the use of multi-threaded technology, which will greatly speed up computing bottlenecks. This feature distinguishes it from other cryptocurrencies and has spurred interest on the part of investors and developers.

2. What makes EOS different than Bitcoin or Ethereum? EOS is primarily distinguished through its aim to eliminate transaction fees and speed transaction times, two issues which have long plagued cryptocurrencies. Aside from this, EOS is functionally similar to Ethereum because it aims to be an all-encompassing computer platform and not just a cryptocurrency.

3. Who created EOS? EOS was developed by private company block.one based off a white paper published in 2017. The actual EOS platform was not released until 2018, but EOS tokens based on the Ethereum blockchain were made available for sale before the launch of the actual EOS blockchain, with the intent of funding EOS’ operations. Released as open source software in June of 2018, EOS was intended to solve scalability problems present in existing cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Its speed and reliability have led to it being adopted by various websites and services, such as Steemit, a popular blogging platform, and Everipedia, a Wikipedia-like encyclopedia. EOS’ nature allows for the creation of decentralized websites and platforms that do not rely on a central server, making them resilient to cyber-attacks and Internet outages as well as routing around country-level censorship.

4. Why was EOS created? EOS’ developers were inspired by scalability problems with existing cryptocurrency technology. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can only process a limited number of transactions per second due to the fact that each transaction results in the creation of additional blocks on the blockchain, a process that takes time. Additionally, because new blocks are generated through mining, cryptocurrency users must pay a mining fee in order to incentivize the processing of their transactions. As cryptocurrencies grow in popularity and more people begin using them, transaction times lengthen and mining fees skyrocket. This in turn hinders the cryptocurrency’s growth, as users are reluctant to use a currency that takes a long time to process transactions and charges outrageous fees for doing so. While a number of solutions have been proposed to increase transaction times, such as increasing block size and implementing technologies such as segwit, no cryptocurrency has yet managed to eliminate fees entirely and make transactions instantaneous. EOS is the first cryptocurrency to solve this problem.

5. How does EOS speed transaction times and eliminate fees? Unlike other cryptocurrencies, EOS’ blockchain is designed to use the RAM, CPU, and network bandwidth of computers that are connected to its network; indeed, it cannot function without using these resources. While this makes running and EOS-enabled system more taxing in terms of computer power, it greatly speeds transactions through the use of all available power. EOS utilizes multi-threaded technology, which allows it to be run on multiple computer cores simultaneously, greatly increasing the amount of computing power it has access to. To incentivize users to contribute computing power to the EOS blockchain, EOS periodically rewards users with additional EOS tokens proportionate to the amount of EOS that they hold. This is known as “proof-of-stake” due to the fact that EOS users are “staking” tokens as part of the network’s operation. In effect, this eliminates user fees and replaces them with inflation, allowing users to send and receive money for free at the cost of a potentially infinitely expanding supply of coins.

6. Who controls EOS? While EOS’ development is guided by block.one, its open-source nature means that anyone can contribute to its evolution. EOS users who stake their tokens are also allowed to participate in governing the network through a form of direct democracy, with each user having a vote proportionate to the amount of EOS that they own. This also makes it impossible for any one user to gain disproportionate control over the network, preserving the currency’s nature as a decentralized, worldwide computing system.

7. What is proof-of-stake? Proof-of-stake is a system for generating new tokens on a cryptocurrency blockchain by using the computing power of existing users. It is distinguished from proof-of-work, also known as mining, in that users of a proof-of-stake cryptocurrency merely need to stake their tokens in a wallet in order to benefit. As such, proof-of-stake cryptocurrencies do not require specialized, expensive computing hardware in order to use. Individuals who stake their tokens will receive additional tokens periodically in proportion to the amount of tokens that they have staked, in a fashion similar to how a savings account will accrue interest over time. Many proof-of-stake cryptocurrencies require a minimum stake amount in order to receive benefits, with this amount varying over time due to the size of the blockchain.

8. Is EOS safe to use? EOS has become a popular cryptocurrency because its fast transaction speeds and lack of mining fees guards it against many common cryptocurrency attacks, such as double-spending attacks. A double-spending attack is when a user spends the same digital token twice, akin to how some people will tie a string to a coin before putting it in a vending machine, allowing them to pull the coin out and spend it again while still fraudulently getting something from the machine. Double-spending attacks take advantage of the period of time when a cryptocurrency transaction is initiated and when it is completed. EOS’ instant transaction times mean that double-spending attacks are effectively impossible. While no computer system is 100 percent perfect, EOS has proven itself to be a safe and useful cryptocurrency.

9. Is EOS better than Bitcoin and Ethereum? “Better” has little meaning when it comes to cryptocurrencies with widely different functions and feature sets. EOS may be faster and cheaper to use than other cryptocurrencies, but it has other downsides that inhibit its utility in some situations. Bitcoin, as the most well-known cryptocurrency in the world, has an advantage in that it is accepted by more vendors and used by more people. Ethereum is a computing platform on which a large number of applications are built. Ultimately, you will need to determine what you are planning to use cryptocurrencies for before you can determine which one is best for your needs.

10. How do I get EOS? Like other cryptocurrencies, EOS can be purchased on an exchange using fiat currency or other cryptocurrencies. You can also receive it in transactions. If you already possess EOS, you can stake it in the EOS wallet to earn more of it, though you may have to stake a minimum amount in order to receive any benefits.

11. How do I send or receive EOS? Similar to other cryptocurrencies, EOS is kept in wallets, which can be digital or physical constructs. Wallets are identified on the EOS blockchain through wallet addresses, which are random strings of letters and numbers. To send EOS to another user, you need their wallet address; to receive EOS, you need to give your wallet address to the person sending it to you. Like other cryptocurrencies, EOS wallet addresses can be generated as QR codes that can be scanned with a smartphone or tablet.

12. What are the upsides of using EOS? As a cryptocurrency, EOS shares many advantages with other cryptocurrencies, such as total payment freedom, international availability, and 24/7 transactions. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, EOS lacks payment fees entirely, meaning you can make transactions for free. EOS transactions are also much faster than other cryptocurrencies, making it a useful investment for those who are interested in speed. Finally, EOS’ smart contract functionality, when combined with its speed, has made it popular among app developers.

13. What are the downsides of using EOS? EOS carries with it many of the disadvantages of other cryptocurrencies, such as price fluctuations. EOS also cannot be mined, unlike other cryptocurrencies, and is not as popular as Bitcoin and other competing currencies, meaning it is accepted by fewer vendors and is thus not the best when it comes to financial transactions. This may change in the future if EOS’ lack of transaction fees and fast transaction times become a selling point for more users.

14. Can I make money with EOS? Like any other investment, it is possible to make money trading EOS, though nothing is guaranteed. EOS’ primary selling point is its lightning-fast transaction times and lack of transaction fees, which have helped it carve out a significant niche in the world of cryptocurrency. However, like with any investment, there is no guarantee of what will happen in the future. Ultimately, it is up to you to determine whether EOS’ feature set makes it a good investment.

15. Can EOS be mined? No. Unlike most cryptocurrencies, EOS generates new coins through a proof-of-stake system instead of proof-of-work, aka mining. The primary difference between proof-of-stake and proof-of-work is that while proof-of-work requires machines to solve complex math problems to create new coins, proof-of-stake requires that users use their existing coins to contribute computing power to the network. Using proof-of-stake is why EOS lacks transaction fees; individuals who stake their coins (and thus contribute to the network’s functionality) are rewarded with additional coins as an incentive. This also means that in order to make money with EOS, you must already own EOS coins in order to stake them. While it was possible to mine EOS prior to its formal launch, this was because EOS was still operating on the Ethereum blockchain, meaning that EOS miners were technically mining Ethereum. Since the launch of the EOS blockchain, mining EOS is impossible.

16. Where does EOS’ value come from? EOS is like any other currency or commodity: its value is determined by the usefulness that its users find in it. As a cryptocurrency that has solved the problem of scale with fast transaction times and no fees regardless of how many users are on the network, EOS has carved out a place in the cryptocurrency economy. As long as users find EOS valuable in this regard, it will have monetary value on the market.

17. How is the price of EOS determined? Like any other commodity, EOS’ value is determined by the laws of supply and demand. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, EOS’ proof-of-stake system gives the currency continuous inflation, meaning that the supply of EOS will not level off in the future like Bitcoin’s will. This will have an effect of controlling how expensive individual EOS tokens get.

18. Could EOS ever become worthless? Yes. Any currency or commodity has the potential to become worthless if people stop seeing it as valuable or useful. While cryptocurrency users have embraced EOS due to its ability to solve problems of scale, there is no guarantee that it will grow in the future. It is a relatively young cryptocurrency that lacks the longevity of Bitcoin and other competitors. All investments are a risk, meaning you should be prudent with where you invest your money and how much of it you invest.

19. Is EOS a scam? No. EOS has proved itself to be a useful and adaptable cryptocurrency that is capable of fulfilling a wide variety of needs in the modern economy. Additionally, due to the decentralized consensus system that EOS users, all users have a say in the governance of its blockchain. Like other cryptocurrencies, it is virtually impossible for any single user or entity to gain control of the network, since doing so would require taking control of the majority of systems using the network. Indeed, one could argue that cryptocurrencies are less of a scam than regular fiat currencies due to their decentralized nature, lacking central banks and governments that can manipulate interest rates and currency supplies.

Recap

EOS represents a unique niche in the smart contract ecosystem: an all-in-one system for creating, hosting, and delivering Internet content.

EOS makes it possible to host any kind of web content—from blog posts to videos to podcasts and music—in a decentralized form that is impossible to censor. This makes it a valuable commodity in an era in which social media and the Internet is increasingly centralized and censorship is arguably becoming a problem.

Furthermore, EOS pledges to solve the problem of cryptocurrency scalability, which has dogged the growth of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. By eliminating expensive fees and shortening transaction times, EOS could easily become as useful and indispensable as traditional financial systems.

EOS’ one major problem is that a good deal of what it promises is just that: a promise. Because the EOS blockchain has not launched yet, there is no definite way of seeing how the platform can live up to its claims. While Steemit and other platforms have achieved success through using EOS technology, there are no guarantees that EOS will work as advertised when it finally becomes available to the public.

Having said this, EOS has the potential to become one of the leading cryptocurrencies on world markets. Its unique niche of offering content creation and delivery services that can’t be censored by governments or corporations sets it apart from its competition, and its pledge to eliminate transaction fees and speed up usage have plenty of appeal to all crypto users.

Because of this, EOS is worth keeping an eye on for both smart contract enthusiasts and traditional investors alike. No other major platform is doing what it is doing.

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Cryptocurrencies

Monero, the blockchain of anonymity

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Monero (XMR) is an open-source cryptocurrency that emphasizes privacy and decentralization above all else.

Debuting in 2014, Monero’s main selling point is total anonymity. Unlike other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, Monero transactions cannot be traced or tracked, making it ideal for users who value their online privacy above all else. Monero’s focus on privacy has made it popular on the black market and other people looking to keep their financial activities hidden from the prying eyes of police.

In addition to this, Monero’s egalitarian mining structure makes it one of the easiest and most lucrative coins to mine, with even low-end users able to get in on the action.

Monero’s unique features and potential for growth make it one of the most important cryptocurrencies for any investor to own.

Overview

Monero was launched in April 2014 by a pseudonymous BitcoinTalk forum user called “thankful_for_today” under the name “BitMonero,” a reference to both Bitcoin and “monero,” the Esperanto word for coin. The name was shortened to “Monero” not long after. (1) (2)

Monero is based on the CryptoNote protocol, a cryptocurrency design created by pseudonymous author Nicolas van Saberhagen in 2013. CryptoNote was designed to fix a fundamental flaw in Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies: while they promise anonymity, it is still possible to track transactions due to the ledger keeping a public record of everything that happens on the network. (3) (4)

Monero fixes this by using ring signatures to obscure spenders’ addresses with a randomly selected group of other spenders, making it far more difficult to narrow down who has conducted which transaction. Additionally, Monero also uses stealth addresses to make it impossible for anyone other than the sender and the receiver to uncover the destination address of a transaction. These features make Monero all-but impossible to trace and track through the network. (5)

Monero saw much of its growth in the year 2016, largely due to its adoption by black market traders, who were interested in its anonymity features. In particular, the popular darknet website AlphaBay used Monero as its primary currency until its shutdown in July 2017. (6)

In 2017, Monero further enhanced its privacy with the adoption of the RingCT protocol, based off of Confidential Transactions, an algorithm created by Bitcoin Core developer Gregory Maxwell. RingCT adds additional protections to Monero transactions by hiding the amounts of money being transacted in each exchange. This change further enhances Monero’s reputation as one of the most secure and anonymous cryptocurrencies available. (7)

Additionally, Monero has gained steam as a means of transaction due in large part to Bitcoin’s increasingly slow transaction times and high fees. Many online vendors that already accept Bitcoin have begun accepting Monero as well. Due to Monero’s unique features, cryptocurrency experts assert that it is one of the most important currencies and the most likely to survive a hypothetical crash in the market. (8) (9)

Even if you have no interest in black market transactions, Monero’s privacy features are worth considering. Given that online anonymity is fast becoming a thing of the past, Monero stands alone among cryptocurrencies in guaranteeing security to the vendors, traders, and buyers who use it.

Mining

Monero is perhaps the easiest major cryptocurrency to mine due to its unique, egalitarian design.

In contrast to Bitcoin and Bitcoin-derived currencies, Monero is based on the CryptoNight proof-of-work algorithm, which was explicitly designed to be accessible to a much larger range of computer hardware. While it is still possible to form and join mining pools like with other cryptocurrencies, Monero’s low barrier to entry means that pools cannot monopolize mining like they do with other coins. (10) (11)

Monero is notable in that it is one of the only major cryptocurrencies where CPU mining is still profitable. The official Monero client even includes a CPU miner built in, allowing casual users to mine coins without much effort, though users with access to GPU-enabled computers or an ASIC miner will be able to mine more coins more quickly, as is the case with all other cryptocurrencies. (12)

The egalitarian architecture of Monero allows websites to mine coins by installing services such as Coinhive, which pool the CPU processing power of all users who access the site. Both well-known sites such as Salon and black market ones such as The Pirate Bay have used Coinhive in order to mine Monero by taking advantage of their users’ CPU power. In particular, Salon has sold Coinhive as an alternative to ads, which most users block through the use of browser ad-blocking plugins. (13) (14)

Website Monero mining has come under fire due to the fact that many sites that use it do not inform their visitors of what is happening. Furthermore, cybersecurity experts have cited the possibility of hackers using Monero mining scripts to insert malware into websites and attacking users’ computers. Because of this, many anti-virus and anti-malware programs block Coinhive and other website mining scripts, and script-blocking browser plugins block them as well. (15)

FAQ

1. What is Monero? Monero is an anonymous cryptocurrency targeted at consumers who want to make transactions in total privacy. While functioning similarly to other cryptocurrencies, its unique anonymizing features have made it popular among those who want as much privacy in their financial life as possible.

2. What makes Monero different from Bitcoin? Unlike Bitcoin, Monero transactions are completely anonymous and are not publicly viewable on the blockchain. Monero wallets are also anonymous and no users other than those who have access to the wallet itself can tell how much money is a Monero wallet or what transactions it engages in. Given the greater popularity of and scrutiny towards Bitcoin, this has led to Monero being adopted by privacy-conscious consumers.

3. Who created Monero? Monero launched in 2014 under the name “BitMonero” by Bitcointalk forum user “thankful_for_today.” The launch was poorly received due to severe problems with block time, block reward, and other issues, with “thankful_for_today” leaving the forum and ceding development to a team lead by “Johnny Mnemonic.” In 2016, Monero experienced rapid growth due to its adoption by darkweb markets such as AlphaBay and Hansa Market, who were attracted by its privacy features. In 2017, it experienced further growth after adopting Gregory Maxwell’s Confidential Transactions algorithm, which masks the amount of Monero in transactions.

4. Who controls Monero? Monero is still managed by the same development team that took over in 2014, but it is an open source cryptocurrency and anyone can contribute to its development.

5. How does Monero’s anonymity work? By default, cryptocurrencies are more anonymous than credit or debit card transactions because crypto transactions do not contain any identifying information other than the wallet addresses involved. However, in the case of Bitcoin and similar cryptocurrencies, all transactions are publicly logged on the blockchain and are visible to anyone who knows at least one of the wallet addresses involved. Moreover, it is possible to see how much Bitcoin is in a Bitcoin wallet by using publicly available information on the blockchain. This means that if someone knows your wallet address, they can track all of your Bitcoin transactions. Monero allows anonymous transactions through the use of ring signatures, which group multiple transactions together, making it much more difficult to determine which transaction is going to which wallet. Monero also uses “stealth addresses,” individually-generated addresses that make it impossible for anyone to determine the destination of a transaction. Finally, as mentioned above, Monero obscures the actual amount of money exchanged in transactions. Because of these features, Monero offers near-total anonymity in the realm of financial transactions, and is popular for primarily these reasons.

6. What is CryptoNote? CryptoNote is the proof-of-work hash algorithm that Monero is built upon, distinct from SHA-256, the algorithm that Bitcoin uses. It is because of CryptoNote that Monero has all of the privacy features that it is known for. Additionally, CryptoNote allows Monero mining to be more egalitarian than Bitcoin mining since it cannot be mined easily with dedicated hardware; the vast bulk of Monero mining is done with consumer-grade computers.

7. Is Monero safe to use? Monero has retained its place in the cryptocurrency economy due to its unique anonymity features. In a world in which people’s information is constantly being tracked, many users are looking for ways to protect themselves from unwanted snooping, be it governmental or from the private sector. Monero is one means by which these users are taking back their privacy from the prying eyes of social media sites and other online entities. While Monero is more difficult to obtain and use for newbie crypto users, its unique features make it worthwhile for those who want to minimize the risk of being snooped on while engaged in commerce.

8. Is Monero better than Bitcoin? “Better” is a subjective term. If your goal is to keep your transactions from being spied upon by outside forces, Monero is certainly better than Bitcoin. However, if you are looking to engage with the widest possible number of vendors and consumers, Bitcoin is a better option due to its greater popularity. Ultimately, Bitcoin and Monero serve entirely different functions and whichever one is better is based on what you want to accomplish.

9. How widely is Monero used? As mentioned above, Monero picked up steam in 2016 and 2017 due to its popularity among dark web markets, for whom privacy and anonymity are paramount. However, it has since been adopted by a wide variety of exchanges and vendors. It has also gained popularity because its transaction times are considerably faster than Bitcoin’s. However, Monero’s reputation as a “black market” cryptocurrency has impeded its adoption in certain markets due to the fear of being associated with illegal activity.

10. How do I get Monero? Like other cryptocurrencies, you can purchase Monero at an exchange using other cryptocurrencies or fiat currency, receive it as part of a transaction, or mine it using computer hardware.

11. How do I receive or send Monero? Much like other cryptocurrencies, Monero is kept in a wallet and sent and received via wallet addresses. Wallet addresses identify particular wallets on the Monero blockchain and consist of a string of random numbers and letters; for reasons of security, Monero addresses are much longer than other cryptocurrency addresses. Additionally, some Monero transactions require a payment ID, a separate string of letters and numbers that acts to further secure and anonymize the transaction. To send Monero to another user, you simply need their wallet address and a payment ID if necessary; if you are receiving Monero, the other person requires your address and ID. Much like other cryptocurrencies, Monero addresses can be generated as QR codes which can then be scanned by smartphones or tablets for ease of use.

12. What are the upsides of using Monero? As a cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin, Monero shares many of that cryptocurrency’s upsides, including total payment freedom, low fees, and 24/7 transactions. In addition to this, Monero’s built-in privacy features make it ideal for those who require anonymity in their financial transactions. All Monero transactions are anonymous by default and there is no way to turn this feature off, meaning that you cannot accidentally expose yourself when using the cryptocurrency. If you want to take back control of your online life, Monero is an easy means to do so.

13. What are the downsides of using Monero? Like other cryptocurrencies, Monero is vulnerable to price fluctuations and other issues. Additionally, Monero’s anonymity features have led to it becoming associated with the black market, which has limited its penetration among merchants, who do not want to be seen as being affiliated with illegal activity. This stereotype is unfair, as there are many reasons why users might want to make purchases with an anonymous currency, but as long as it persists, Monero will have difficulty gaining acceptance in the wider world economy.

14. Can I make money with Monero? Like all investments, it is possible to make money if you are careful and do your research. As the only truly anonymous cryptocurrency in circulation, Monero has retained its value in the face of competition from other cryptocurrencies. As with all investments, this could change in the future, so always do your homework before you begin spending money.

15. Is Monero truly anonymous? While no computer system or online interaction is ever 100 percent anonymous, Monero’s anonymity features make identifying users on its blockchain next to impossible. As such, Monero can be regarded as anonymous, making it ideal if you want to conduct transactions without being tracked. However, even if individual Monero transactions cannot be tracked, if you are careless with personal security, all the anonymity protections built into Monero won’t protect you. Always safeguard your wallet information and make sure that your passwords for Monero-enabled exchanges and other platforms are hard to guess. By practicing basic security protocols, you can ensure that your transactions and money remain safe.

16. Is it legal to use Monero? Yes. Despite its reputation as a black market cryptocurrency, Monero is perfectly legal to use, though some countries have passed laws regulating the use of cryptocurrencies in general.

17. Can I use Monero for illegal transactions? Because of Monero’s anonymity, many individuals choose to use it to purchase drugs, weapons, and other illegal goods via dark web merchants. This is because it is nearly impossible to track Monero transactions with existing technology. Having said this, engaging in illegal activity is always risky and wrong, no matter how you do it. While we cannot control how you use Monero, we cannot advocate that you use it for illegal activity.

18. Can Monero be mined? Yes, and Monero is much easier to mine than other cryptocurrencies. This is because Monero’s proof-of-work algorithm is designed to work inefficiently on ASIC hardware, dedicated mining hardware that is used to mine Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This means that Monero must primarily be mined using consumer-grade hardware. Modern CPUs and GPUs are the best ways to mine Monero; if you own a reasonably modern computer, you can likely use it to mine Monero in your spare time. Keep in mind that mining cryptocurrency is taxing on your computer, causing increased heat output; if your computer is inadequately ventilated, you could cause permanent damage to its internal hardware through Monero mining. Additionally, mining takes advantage of unused CPU or GPU cycles, meaning that it will naturally slow down when you are using the computer. Finally, mining Monero or any other cryptocurrency will increase your computer’s electricity usage, which will increase your electric bill. Depending on how much electricity costs where you live, mining Monero may not be worth the higher power costs, so check your local power supplier to see if the investment is worth it.

19. Is it possible to mine Monero through a website? Yes. Beginning in 2017, services such as Coinhive began offering JavaScript Monero miners that can be embedded in websites. These miners run on the CPU of anyone who accesses the site, allowing the administrator to earn Monero by utilizing the collective computer power of all the website’s users. The Pirate Bay, a popular website for pirated movies, music, and other media, is one of the most prominent sites using a Monero miner. However, using a Monero miner on a website is considered unethical by many users due to the fact that the miner is using computer processing power from other people without permission. Additionally, Monero miners have been used to distribute malware and viruses. Because of this, many browser adblockers now block Monero miners from running, and antivirus software is programmed to recognize web Monero miners as a threat. There are some websites that choose to use Monero miners as an alternative to advertisements; users are allowed to choose whether they view ads on the site or run the Monero miner to ensure the site makes money from their visit. While we cannot tell you how to run your website, we do not recommend surreptitiously running Monero miners on it for various reasons.

20. Where does Monero’s value come from? Monero derives its value from the same place all currencies do: its utility. Countless users rely on Monero to perform transactions all around the world, and Monero’s anonymity has allowed it to carve out a position for itself in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. While there’s no way to predict the future, Monero has established a strong track record over the course of its life, and it has proven itself to be a worthwhile means of storing and exchanging value among consumers and individuals.

21. How is the price of Monero determined? Like any commodity, Monero’s price is determined by supply and demand. Similar to Bitcoin, Monero is relatively limited in supply, meaning that the price frequently fluctuates.

Recap

Monero is easily one of the most important cryptocurrencies available today due to its rising popularity and original architecture.

In a world in which users are increasingly paranoid about their online security, Monero provides total privacy to its users, allowing people to conduct transactions without worrying about others spying on them. Monero has continuously added to its security features over the years, allowing it to stay one step ahead of attempts by hackers to crack its code.

While Monero originally had a shady reputation due to its popularity among black market vendors, its privacy and ease of use have made it increasingly popular among the general population. Due to Bitcoin’s increasingly high fees and lengthy transaction times, Monero is rapidly gaining traction as an alternative currency among vendors and merchants.

Monero’s privacy features set it apart from virtually every other cryptocurrency available today and make it a must-have investment for any crypto trader. Its resiliency in the face of a potential market crash makes it one of the top cryptocurrencies available, and its anonymity will further boost its popularity in an era where online privacy is increasingly under siege.

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