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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

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

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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Cryptocurrencies

Ripple, the blockchain for banks

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Ripple (XRP), also known as the Ripple Transaction Protocol, is a cryptocurrency and real-time gross settlement system designed to make financial transactions simpler and easier.

Launched in 2012, Ripple was designed not merely to function as a cryptocurrency, but an all-in-one payment processing and remittance system for banks, businesses, and consumers. (1)

Ripple was created with the express purpose of replacing existing payment infrastructure with a model that is decentralized, open source, and accessible to all. Additionally, Ripple allows users to create various types of custom cryptocurrency, fiat currency, and other types of currency via its token system. (2) (3)

Ripple has been adopted by numerous banks, financial institutions, and other major banking organizations due to its reliability, flexibility, and functionality. (4)

Ripple is an effective and worthwhile investment for anyone looking for an all-in-one cryptocurrency and payment processing system.

Overview

Development on Ripple began in 2004, inspired by the RipplePay.com system created by Canadian web developer Ryan Fugger. Fugger designed RipplePay.com with the intent of creating a decentralized monetary system that allowed users to invent their own currencies for any purpose they wanted. (5) (6)

Developers Jed McCaleb (who later found Stellar), Arthur Britto, and David Schwartz saw RipplePay.com and sought to expand it through the use of Bitcoin’s blockchain technology, fulfilling Fugger’s dream. (7)

Ripple was conceived as a solution to several problems Bitcoin possessed: excessive electricity usage, slow transaction speed, and excessive centralization. Unlike Bitcoin, Ripple would verify transactions through a community-wide consensus instead of relying on miners. (8)

After being joined by developer Chris Larsen in 2012, McCaleb, Britto, and Schwartz obtained Fugger’s consent to continue developing RipplePay.com into a full-fledged cryptocurrency and monetary system. Ripple would launch that same year. (9)

Forming the corporation OpenCoin (later renamed Ripple Labs), Ripple’s developers focused their efforts on creating the Ripple Transaction Protocol, a system that allows instant, direct transfers of money between two separate parties. The protocol was compatible with everything from the U.S. dollar and other currencies to airline miles. (10) (11)

To accomplish this, Ripple was programmed to rely on a central ledger that is maintained by a number of servers that continuously compare and verify transaction records. (12)

To facilitate transactions, OpenCoin created XRP, a cryptocurrency that allowed users of the Ripple protocol to transfer money without the wait times and fees of traditional banking networks. Ripple also linked Bitcoin to their system, allowing people to use the Ripple protocol to send a payment in any currency to a Bitcoin wallet. (13) (14)

In 2013, Ripple Labs released Ripple’s reference server and client as open source software, allowing anyone to contribute to Ripple’s future development. (15)

Beginning in 2014, Ripple shifted their focus to the banking market, with hopes that their system could replace the existing, outmoded systems that banks rely upon to make transactions. (16)

That year, Munich-based Fidor Bank became the first bank to adopt the Ripple Transaction Protocol. Cross River Bank in New Jersey and CBW Bank in Kansas would also adopt Ripple that year. (17) (18)

In December of 2014, Ripple announced a partnership with Earthport, a global payments service whose clients include Bank of America and HSBC. Since then, more banking clients have joined the Ripple system, including Western Union, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, and the Royal Bank of Canada. (19) (20) (21) (22)

In 2015, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network fined Ripple Labs $700,000 due to violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. Ripple Labs responded by adding AML transaction monitoring to the Ripple protocol to bring it into compliance with U.S. law. (23)

In recent years, Ripple Labs has expanded globally, opening offices in Australia, the U.K., and Luxembourg, and more and more banking institutions have begun using Ripple in some fashion. (24) (25) (26)

In Ripple, transactions take place when users make cryptographically signed transactions that can be done using either XRP or a fiat currency of their choice. XRP transactions are monitored through the use of Ripple’s internal ledger. (27)

While Ripple originally lacked real-world enforcement of transactions, its integration with numerous banks and payment systems gives it a credibility and security that many cryptocurrencies lack. (28)

Ripple derives its name from the fact that transactions between parties require trust; if two users have not established a trust relationship, the transaction will “ripple” throughout the network until it finds a path in which each link is between those who do have a trust relationship. (29)

Due to its use by many banks and financial institutions, Ripple brings a level of security, stability and trustworthiness that few cryptocurrencies can match, making it a popular option for investors and traders.

Mining

Unlike most cryptocurrencies, Ripple cannot be mined due to its unique design.

In contrast to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, where miners are responsible for processing transactions on the network, Ripple transactions are processed through a system-wide user consensus. Thus, mining is unnecessary to maintain the integrity of the network. (30)

Additionally, Ripple’s designers created 100,000,000,000 XRP when Ripple first came online, and they have steadfastly refused to make more. They have also been criticized for the way in which the currency was originally distributed, with the founders retaining 20 percent of all XRP in circulation. (31) (32)

Because it is impossible to mine Ripple, the currency has had a deeply polarizing response from cryptocurrency enthusiasts, with Bitcoin fans deriding it for being “pre-mined.” (33)

The inability to mine Ripple has limited its use and growth to a certain extent. It is unknown if Ripple’s designers plan to allow mining or to issue new XRP in the future.

FAQ

1. What is Ripple? Ripple is a currency exchange, real-time gross settlement system, and remittance network that is powered by blockchain technology. More than just a cryptocurrency, Ripple aims to be a system to support global financial transactions via a decentralized worldwide network in a fashion similar to Ethereum. Ripple is built on XRP, a cryptocurrency that is used to enable the network’s various functions. Due to the all-encompassing nature of Ripple, many financial institutions have begun adopting it in various forms.

2. What makes Ripple different from Bitcoin or Ethereum? Like Ethereum and unlike Bitcoin, Ripple is not simply a cryptocurrency, but is a fully-functioning financial services platform that can be used for a wide variety of functions. In contrast to Ethereum, which is primarily designed as a computing platform, Ripple was designed from the outset to perform financial functions such as remittances and more. This has led to its adoption by many banking institutions and has given it a stability that is not present in other cryptocurrencies, which were not designed with existing financial laws in mind.

3. Who created Ripple? Ripple was conceived in 2004 by Canadian software developer Ryan Fugger. Fugger created a website called RipplePay.com whose purpose was to allow users to invent currencies for any purpose that they desired. Some years later, RipplePay.com was noticed by developers Jed McCaleb, Arthur Britto, and David Schwartz, who realized that it could be greatly enhanced through the use of blockchain technology, the missing link in Fugger’s original vision. With Fugger’s consent, the developers launched Ripple as we know it in 2012. This deployment of Ripple was noted for the Ripple Transaction Protocol, which greatly expanded RipplePay.com beyond its original scope. Beginning in 2014, Ripple began targeting the financial sector, realizing that its technology could be used to make financial transactions more secure and efficient. As such, Ripple has been adopted by banks worldwide to a degree that other cryptocurrencies have not.

4. Who controls Ripple? Ripple is far more centralized than other cryptocurrencies, with Ripple Labs maintaining a leading role in its development as well as a controlling share of XRP, the platform’s cryptocurrency. However, in 2013, Ripple Labs released Ripple’s client and reference server as open-source software, allowing anyone to take part in Ripple’s future development.

5. What is the Ripple Transaction Protocol? The Ripple Transaction Protocol, also known as the Ripple Payment Protocol, is the unique means by which transactions on the Ripple network occur. In contrast to other cryptocurrencies that use blockchain consensus to process transactions, Ripple uses “trust relationships” to guarantee transactions against fraud. Transactions between two individuals on the Ripple network require a preexisting trust relationship in order to proceed. If two users have not established a trust relationship already, the transaction will “ripple” through the network until it finds a linear path in which everyone involved has a trust relationship, allowing the transaction to occur. This ripple effect is where Ripple derives its name from, and is based on Islamic banking principles, in which banking is conducted through mutual trust relationships instead of through charging interest. The Ripple Transaction Protocol also eliminates the need for mining, as transactions are processed on their own instead of requiring miners to generate new blocks.

6. What is XRP? XRP is the cryptocurrency that powers Ripple, in the same way that Ether powers Ethereum. Like Ether, XRP can be bought, sold, and traded like any cryptocurrency, but it also has a large number of functions that other cryptocurrencies lack.

7. What makes XRP valuable? Like any currency, XRP’s value is determined by whether people find it useful. Due to Ripple’s versatility as a financial services platform, many banking institutions have adopted Ripple in order to enhance the quality and breadth of their services. This has given XRP a value and strength that few cryptocurrencies can match.

8. Where does XRP come from? When Ripple was launched, 100,000,000,000 XRP were created for use in transactions. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, XRP cannot be mined and there are currently no plans to increase the amount of XRP in circulation, with pleas to Ripple Labs to create additional XRP falling on deaf ears. Some cryptocurrency users have criticized Ripple Labs for this approach, as well as for the way in which XRP was distributed upon Ripple’s launch, with the system’s founders retaining 20 percent of all extant XRP. XRP is sometimes referred to as “pre-mined” because of this.

9. How does one obtain XRP? Like other cryptocurrencies, XRP can be purchased from exchanges or as part of financial transactions. Uniquely among top cryptocurrencies, XRP cannot be mined due to the Ripple Transaction Protocol making mining unnecessary. Transactions are otherwise conducted in a similar fashion as other cryptocurrencies, with XRP being stored in wallets and transferred through the use of wallet addresses. To receive XRP, you must give your wallet address to the person who is sending it to you, and to send XRP, you must obtain their wallet address. Wallet addresses appear as a random string of letters and numbers and can also be rendered as QR codes that can be scanned by smartphones or tablets.

10. What are the upsides of using Ripple? As mentioned above, Ripple is backed by numerous financial institutions, such as the Royal Bank of Canada and Western Union. This gives it a security that other cryptocurrencies lack, given their quasi-underground status. Because Ripple was intended to be adopted by banks from the beginning, it does not face the legal rigmarole that other cryptocurrencies have when it comes to government regulation. Ripple can also be used to generate custom tokens in a fashion similar to Ethereum, allowing developers to adopt Ripple for a wide variety of purposes. For example, Ripple has been used to trade frequent flyer miles, cell phone minutes, and even other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. The sheer versatility of Ripple means that new uses for it are being invented every day, allowing it to carve out a unique space in the cryptocurrency ecosystem. On top of this, Ripple retains the advantages that other cryptocurrencies possess, such as low transaction fees, payment freedom, worldwide availability, and decentralization. Finally, Ripple is one of the fastest cryptocurrencies available, many times faster than Bitcoin, which has aided its adoption by global financial institutions.

11. What are the downsides of using Ripple? Ripple’s biggest problem is its limited and finite supply of XRP. Despite pleas from the Ripple community, Ripple’s developers have adamantly refused to create more XRP, which has led to deflationary and supply problems. The fact that 20 percent of XRP was distributed to Ripple’s founders upon creation has put further pressures on the monetary supply. Additionally, the fact that Ripple cannot be mined eliminates a major incentive to use it. Many cryptocurrency fans have shunned Ripple for these issues, which have proven to be an obstacle to its adoption even as it grows in popularity among financial institutions. Ripple Labs has also gotten in legal trouble before; it was fined by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in 2015 for violating the Bank Secrecy Act, and it was sued in 2018 for alleged fraud in attempting to create what was called a “never-ending initial coin offering.” These legal problems have created bad publicity for Ripple that have hurt its growth. Another issue with Ripple is that XRP transactions can be frozen by the system, which is what happened to founder Jed McCaleb when he tried to sell $1 million worth of XRP some years ago. The idea that XRP transactions can be halted by a third party runs counter to the spirit of cryptocurrency and has further fueled criticism of Ripple.

12. What are some ways Ripple is used? Ripple has gained popularity as a mediator in fiat currency exchange. Many currencies cannot be directly exchanged with each other and are required to use the U.S. dollar as a middleman, exchanging money for dollars and then the dollars with the desired currency. Ripple fulfills the same function, but at a considerably lower cost than the U.S. dollar. Ripple has also been used to speed up international financial transactions thanks to its speed of four seconds per transactions, which is not only faster than other cryptocurrencies, it is faster than regular banking systems. Finally, because Ripple allows users to create custom tokens that are backed with XRP, it has been used as a means to create custom currencies for easy transactions. For example, collectors of vintage action figures can create a currency using Ripple to represent the figures, making the process of buying and selling them much simpler.

13. Is Ripple safe? No computer system is 100 percent safe, but Ripple’s purpose as a financial services platform meant to be used by banks means that it has a level of security that most cryptocurrencies lack. From the outset, Ripple was meant to exist within the confines of existing financial law, meaning that it conforms to the same regulations that traditional banking institutions do. While recent legal troubles with Ripple Labs are a cause for concern, Ripple’s widespread adoption in the banking industry has lent it an extra patina of security that it will retain for the foreseeable future.

14. Is Ripple a scam? Many cryptocurrency fans have derided Ripple for its centralized nature (relative to other cryptocurrencies), its lack of support for mining, and some of the other actions of its founders. However, because Ripple has adhered to traditional financial regulations from the outset, it has not suffered many of the problems that other cryptocurrencies have. While Ripple will not replace Bitcoin or other, more traditional cryptocurrencies, its usefulness as a financial services platform has given it a certain longevity.

15. If Ripple is more advanced than Bitcoin, why don’t people use it instead of Bitcoin? Ripple and Bitcoin have two entirely different functions. Bitcoin is intended to function purely as a currency, a means of storing value and allowing financial transactions to occur between users. Ripple is designed as a financial services platform to make transactions easier and more secure. While Ripple is considerably more feature-rich than Bitcoin, this richness of features can be disconcerting to individuals who simply want to use cryptocurrency to invest and make transactions. Bitcoin’s simplicity is precisely what allows it to maintain relevance even when systems like Ripple that are technically more advanced are developed. Additionally, Ripple faces an uphill battle in terms of adoption among many vendors due to the radical differences between it and other cryptocurrencies. Ripple’s static supply of XRP and its lack of support for mining have earned it the derision of many cryptocurrency fans, which has helped limit its adoption in certain sectors. Even to this day, far more merchants accept Bitcoin than XRP, which gives the former a certain heft in the cryptocurrency market. At the end of the day, whether a currency has value is determined by how useful it is to the general public. So long as Bitcoin and Ripple remain useful to a large enough number of people, they will both retain their value and carve out their own niches in the economy.

16. Can I make money with XRP? Like with any investment, Ripple does not guarantee a profit to those who invest in it. However, given Ripple’s enduring popularity and its adoption by banks, it has a certain profit potential that other cryptocurrencies don’t. The versatility of the Ripple network means that users are constantly finding new uses for it, which has helped propel it into the ranks of the world’s most traded cryptocurrencies. It is up to you to determine whether Ripple’s advantages as an investment outweigh its flaws. As always, you should do your research before making any big financial decisions, and you should always invest prudently and cautiously.

Recap

Ripple is a cryptocurrency that offers a suite of security and convenience features that few if any other cryptocurrencies possess. Its consensus-based transaction system frees it from reliance on miners and gives it a stability when it comes to sending or receiving money.

Additionally, Ripple’s compatibility with mainstream fiat currencies gives it a flexibility that most cryptocurrencies lack. The sheer number of financial institutions using Ripple for their transactions has further buttressed its reliability.

Because mining Ripple is impossible, the currency may turn off some cryptocurrency users who are looking to make money with minimal effort.

However, those who are looking for a reliable cryptocurrency and transaction system built into a single package will definitely want to check Ripple out.

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