Category Archives: Cryptocurrencies

Don’t Sleep – Robinhood Adding Crypto to Their Popular Mobile App Platform

Robinhood is a mobile stock market trading app. It has gained wide popularity because it allows you to buy and sell stocks and securities for no fees. The platform will soon allow stocks, options, ETFs and cryptocurrencies. I have owned this app, which required me to be on a waiting list for a long time for over two years now, and I am very happy with the integration and progression of the company. The app has a very simple and stylish design with 4 colors total and is completely mobile. A desktop version is coming soon.

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The mobile app has just announced that they will be adding Cryptocurrencies in their new ad “Don’t Sleep” relating to the fact that currencies especially cryptocurrencies trade on a 24/7 global market around the world. This is very different from the American market which runs from 9:30a to 4:00p. According to news outlets and their site they will allow users to track 16 of the top cryptocurrencies and they will allow you to trade the top two “bitcoin” and “Ethereum”. This is largely due to the recent craze among these investment vehicles and gaining popularity around the world. It seems like these days, mobile companies are trying to capitalize and keep up with the times. They will still allow trading to be commission free even on the new cryptocurrencies. This is interesting because lately Bitcoin has been having issues with its high transfer fees and transfer speeds.

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The Sixteen Currencies that you can track include: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, XRP, Ethereum Classic, Zcash, Monero, Dash, Stellar, Qtum, Bitcoin Gold, OmiseGo, NEO, Lisk, and Dogecoin. This implementation will begin in February 2018. Stay Tuned.

 

Sources:

http://blog.robinhood.com/news/2018/1/24/dont-sleep

 

 

NEO, Also Known as the “Chinese Ethereum”, has a Future that is Looking Bright

NEO, or the Chinese Ethereum, is a coin that many investors and developers have their eyes on. NEO is considered the Chinese Ethereum because its “ first decentralized, open-source cryptocurrency and blockchain platform launched in China.” With it moving up as the ninth largest market cap with $9,871,550,000, it has a circulating supply of 65,000,000 and has a total supply of 100,000,000. As of January 18th, it has a value of 151.72.

Many developers and investors have bought into the coin because of the potential the coin carries. The goal of NEO is to use a combination of digital assets, digital identity, and smart contracts to create a smart economy. The idea of digital assets, identities and contracts are to take data and digitize it. Digital assets is an idea of protecting the assets one has possession of. Through smart contracts, a record of possession can be recorded and added to the blockchain allowing for decentralization of the asset. NEO wants to do this by taking assets and turn them digital. Digital identity is an idea of taking your personal information from passports to medical records all onto the NEO blockchain, so it’s all in the same location. This allows for a person to easily retrieve the data, through a various different ways like facial recognition, fingerprints, voice recognition, and SMS, in the same place. There is no confusion of misplacing data and information. The creation of digital assets and digital identities are done by smart contracts.

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In 2018, NEO is going to have a good year. NEO is an underrated cryptocurrency that has a good team of developers being the coin. 2018 should be a good year for the top 10 coin because there are already a number of ICO’s ready to launch in China using the coin’s platform technology. Neo also uses POS (Proof of stake technology and when a coin is staked it produces the underlying GAS coin which powers the blockchains. GAS has also been doing incredibly well in the markets with a lot of upward momentum at the end of 2017 and early 2018. You can look at GAS as sort of a dividend or reward from staking the coins and verifying transactions on the NEO blockchain. NEO Hit a high of around $160 and has recently pulled back to the $120 region. We could very well see NEO follow a similar trajectory of Ethereum because of the similarities of the platform and smart contract capabilities.

South Korea Halting All the Crypto-Fun.

December started with a new peak in most of the top 10 cryptocurrencies; however, January is starting with low numbers that people haven’t seen since November. Bitcoin is below $10,000, Ethereum is below $1,000 and Litecoin is below $200. Not only are the major players being affected, but altcoins are also seeing a hit. Many believe that this is the “crash” everyone has been expecting, but this isn’t. This decrease is due to the nature of fear many users and investors are having with government regulation. Especially in South Korea. South Korea has a major role in cryptocurrencies because of the amount of trading that is done in that region. With so much control over the market, one negative move that restricts cryptocurrencies caused a large effect across countries because of the global nature of the technology.

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What South Korea is unsure of this new technology and the cryptocurrency uproar. Many young people are under a lot of pressure due to job supply and demand, so people are looking to make money on the side, people are also investing a lot of money and savings into the currencies and the government doesn’t want its people to get burned in the market because of a bubble. They want to regulate cryptocurrencies and decide how they want to proceed. Cryptocurrencies are being a larger and larger part of the future and South Korea is trying to figure out how to restrict them because of their lack of centralization; however, the same reason that South Korea wants to ban it is what makes it very hard to control. Since there is no one in control besides the blockchain, no one has control over it. This is leading to South Korea making very tight restrictions to avoid potential problems with scams, ICOs, bubble, etc. And therefore the buying of cryptocurrencies in South Korea has halted. And with any good free market supply and demand, the less people buying, the lower the price is going to be. In the end, the market is taking a hit.

This decrease trend is soon going to have a turn around and head in the other direction. South Korea is going to figure out the best ways to restrict cryptocurrencies and the market is going to rebound. If this doesn’t happen, China and the United States will take the market in their own hands and the market will soon be controlled by them, leading to a more stable market. These are just very uncertain times, especially with this new technology. It was a rough few days but things look like they are heading back up.

Crypto Mining: A Short Intro

Most all cryptocurrencies record transactions by using blockchain technology or a similar DAG Directed acyclic graph technology to record transactions. To operate with the blockchain, cryptocurrencies use miners to link each transaction or block into a chain. This allows for each transaction to be accounted for on the same platform, making everything uniform. This is what creates the decentralized nature of the currencies. Bitcoin is the coin that made people aware of the possibility of mining; however, any coin that uses the bases of blockchain on a proof of work chain can be mined the other alternative is Proof Of Stake (we’ll talk about this later).

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Mining is just verifying the list of transactions on the blockchain. Someone who verifies that the transactions are accurate is rewarded with a specific currency. Set up the computers to solve the verification equations and complete the chains. When a transaction is made, miners first began by making sure the transaction is valid through running it through a series of tests. Next the data is put into a memory pool where the miner then pulls the information from. Once the miner has the data, the race begins to race to solve a set of complex equations through a computer called a hash function. In simplicity, a hash function is a algorithm that takes different length inputs (which are the transactions) and creates an output that is of all the same lengths. Here is an example of a simple hash function:

hello   ==> 2cf24dba5fb0a30e26e83b2ac5b9e29e1b161e5c1fa7425e73043362938b9824
goodbye ==> 82e35a63ceba37e9646434c5dd412ea577147f1e4a41ccde1614253187e3dbf9

In order to solve one of these functions, the computer just keeps making guesses until it is correct.

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For a person to mine cryptocurrencies, it takes more than a computer. In order to successfully mine, many people create mining rigs. Each rig consists of five to six graphic cards. The mining rigs take a lot of power/electricity, which can be quite expensive. The power of a graphic card is determined by the hash rate and power consumption. The hash rate is determined by how fast the graphic card can solve the hash functions. Miners have a decision to make between conserving power, while still having a fast hash rate. It is all about finding the perfect balance. In addition to power and hash rate,  it is important to run them in a cool environment. The colder the environment the faster the processing power.

In addition to miners, the process also needs nodes to double-check and validate. Nodes are important members that move data, such as payments and additions to the blockchain, around the network. While the information is passed around, it is checked by other nodes on the network. Nodes differ from miners because the miners are doing the raw work of attacking the transactions to the blockchain, and the Nodes are the validators. When a transaction is validated and a block is complete all the nodes around the system in the web are updated, which creates the decentralization and the data is held in all the seperated locations instead of in one central location.

 

https://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-hash-functions-explained/

https://chrispacia.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/bitcoin-mining-explained-like-youre-five-part-2-mechanics/

https://cryptosrus.com/ethereum-mining-rig/

 

https://www.google.com/amp/www.coinminingrigs.com/how-to-build-a-6-gpu-mining-rig/amp/

https://bitsonblocks.net/2015/09/09/a-gentle-introduction-to-blockchain-technology/

 

Monero: The Dark Coin

Lately I have been investing more and more into some of the popular alt-coins. One of my favorite websites is called coinmarketcap.com. This site allows me to look up a list of the top currencies on the market right now and sort with different filters. The list is defaulted on the market cap of the coin. This is important because this is basically the valuation of the entire currency in the default of USD after conversion. You can also sort by price, volume, circulating supply and 24 hour change. Numbers are updated in real time. This is a very powerful tool for doing swap research.

While on this site I kept seeing a coin called Monero(XMR). It has been in the top 10 for a while now and currently has the 11th highest market cap of all the coins around $7b and a coin price of $460.

Monero has been around since April 2014 and has a heavy focus on Privacy and decentralization. The coin is mineable and records transactions publicly via ledger. Monero’s main objective is to obscure the sender to receiver and the amount transferred. This gives a more traceless system. Some argue that this could be dangerous giving the transaction agents a mask. This brings controversy because people assume it will be used for illegal activities.

Monero basically blew up in 2016 and experienced a ton of growth in its market cap and volume because it was adopted in the darkNet site MarketAlphaBay, which was later closed in July 2017 due to criminal activity.

How it works: Monero uses uses uses stealth addresses, confidential transactions and stealth hidden ring signatures to hide the origins, transaction amounts and destinations of coins. A holder still gets all the benefits of a normal decentralized cryptocurrency just with an added layer of anonymity. The coin also cannot be blacklisted based in its previous activity and can be mutually interchangeable.

Monero has been accepted in many dark places on the web due to its attraction to dark/illicit activity. Because of its visibility in the marketplaces and ability to shield users identity it is less speculative than other popular and similar coins. Monero will be capped at 18 million coins and will rely on supply and demand of the coin to determine price and mining will take another 8 years to reach total coins mined.

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Lately the coin has had tremendous growth during the past few weeks. There have been many rumors in the US about which coins are contenders to be added to the widely popular coin exchange app Coinbase and Monero due to its market cap and volume definitey seems to be a contender.

Smart-Bridging the Cryptocurrency Gap, What ARK Coin is All About.

Being a college student, the need for money is quite high; however, we want it fast. With Bitcoins $4,882 rise just last week, everyone is pouring there money into the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin this, Bitcoin that; however, the new thing in the world of cryptocurrency investors are alt currencies. These are a set of cryptocurrencies that have specialized features, but are far less known mainstream. The next crypto on the radar of many crypto users is ARK.

ARK is a fork of Lisk, which started out as a cryptocurrency with the goal of creating side chains. ARK still uses the blockchain; however it is utilizing it in a very different way. The potential is very high for ARK because of the ambition behind the team of developers. There is a team of 27 developers that work to fix the problems that mainstream cryptocurrencies have. A few things that the developers have done are increasing speed, the Delegated Proof of Stake, and the notorious SmartBridge.

To start off, the developers of ARK have increased the speed of confirmation time. The confirmation time for ARK is around 8 seconds. The developers were able to achieve this by allowing microtransactions to be done through off-chain processing. This allows the transaction to be much faster because it prevents blockchain bloat. Blockchain bloat is when the blockchain gets filled up with test/fake/small transactions that slow down the network; however, with the use of off-chain processing, this can be avoided.

Another change ARK has made to their cryptocurrency, which is a problem the top cryptos have, is a modified Delegated-Proof-of-Stake. Many cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, would select people to put together the blocks. However, the same people keep on getting it. With the new DPoS system, 51 active forging Delegates are selected by vote mechanism built into DPoS. These people have voting power; however, it changes each time. This allows the cryptocurrency to be more decentralized. This decision making process makes is very easy to upgrade the currency. This means it is good for investing in because of the continued improvements that the developers are able to do with ease.

ARK is also experimenting with a homogenous codebase. This means that connecting other services off the main code is very easy since it all contains the same “format” of code. “The potential to provide service bridges in the form of Lisk blockchain apps, along with any other additional systems provided by their Blockchain administrators.”

And Finally, the greatest thing ARK has brought to us: the SmartBridge. SmartBridge is the bridge that connects all cryptocurrencies together. To convert cryptocurrencies into a different type you have to use a wallet that has both currency pairs, convert it, and then move it to where you wanted it to go; however, this process is way faster with ARK. For example, a user that has ARK currency and needs to send it to another user that wants bitcoin. The user with ARK can simply send the ARK currency and while on its way it will convert to Bitcoin. This allows all cryptocurrencies to be easily converted. ARK is trying to become the centralized crypto, the one cryptocurrency that connects them all.

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The ambition and drive that the ARK developers have is the biggest asset to the new cryptocurrency. The developers are taking all the small issues that blockchain based cryptos are having and adapting to ARK to avoid similar problems and issues.

Now what everyone wants to talk about, what are the returns on this coin. The crypto currency is trading for $4.16 as of 12/12/2017. ARK started on March 22nd, 2017 and started trading at .03 cents; however, it started to make major gains in August when it started to trade at .85. By September the coin saw a 311% gain and was up at $2.65. Now at the start of December, ARK started at $3.06 and saw a great increase until the 5th of December; however, it is making another climb and is trading at $4.16. That is still a dollar return on the coin within 12 days.

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The potential for this coin is quite high. The future of this coin looks bright.

 

 

Sources:

https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/ark/

https://ark.io/

 

Bitcoin: Back to Basics, A History And Summary

 This past week Bitcoin reached a high of approximately $19,500. Seems like “bitcoin” is the internets newest mainstream buzz word.

Let me take you back a little:

On May 22, 2010, a developer bought two pizzas using 10,000 units of a then-little-known digital currency called bitcoin” (Price, 2017). A developer, Laszlo Hanyecz, used 10,000 Bitcoins to purchase two large pizzas from a Papa Johns. Although it was a very simple transaction, the event had started the cryptocurrency craze around the world because it showed the idea of cryptocurrency was in fact possible. In the early stages of bitcoin, people were skeptical about the possibilities. To many, it seemed like monopoly money with no true value. The skepticism was about whether Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were going to be accepted and if there were truly any benefits.

Bitcoin is the most well-known cryptocurrency in today’s world. “On October 2008, A person, or perhaps a group of people, going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto published a paper outlining a peer-to-peer electronic cash system” (Abridged, 2017). The idea of Bitcoin was born and developers continued to work on making the idea a reality. In 2008 the idea of creating a currency that no government had control over was unthinkable. People from all different demographics shared an equal amount of concern about the digital currency. The bases of currency and money is trust. The two parties participating in a transaction must trust and agree upon the true value of the paper with the number “5” written across the top. In the United States, the citizens all trust and agree upon the value of the money we use; however, many citizens were concerned about how bitcoin was going to change the currency system. The developers continued along with the new idea and by 2010, Bitcoin was able to be used to purchase goods; however, the value of one bitcoin was worth less than one cent and many stores didn’t accept it as a form of currency.  As time went on, the progression of Bitcoin continued.

Bitcoin is part of a larger type of currency called “digital currency” or “cryptocurrency”. With paper currency and money in every country around the world, the government controls it. The government is able to oversee the process of transactions and sets guidelines for the use of the money; however, this is different for cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is, “divorced from governments and central banks”(Weller, 2017). With paper money, the government is in charge of regulating the “value” of money and trying to control the economy with it; however, cryptocurrency is very different from that. The idea of cryptocurrency is that there is no government attachment to the currency. No government owns cryptocurrency, this means that there is no third-party regulation of the coin. The one thing that controls the digital currency are the users of it. Cryptocurrency is based on peer-to-peer interaction. The users regulate themselves through technology set in place by the developers like blockchains and smart contracts. To many, cryptocurrency seems to be a useless and corrupting; however, the introduction of cryptocurrency will change how the world handles transactions of money and currency.

The word “cryptocurrency” has a secretive and illegal connotation and the idea of no third-party regulations scares many people from supporting the digital currency; however, the technology behind cryptocurrency, blockchain, allows for peer-to-peer interaction, giving more transparency to the movement of money. Marvin (2017) writes, “Think of blockchain as a historical fabric underneath recording everything that happens exactly as it occurs. Then the chain stitches that data into encrypted blocks that can never be modified and scatters the pieces across a worldwide network”. The Blockchain allows for every transaction to be recorded at the exact moment it happens with no third-party altercations. Meaning no one has complete power over the information being recorded. The Blockchain also has a public ledger that gives everyone the right to see the transactions, increasing the transparency. And finally with the information being stored on different networks all across different networks, there is no single point of failure. If one computer’s information gets hacked, the network removes that computer from the system and reconnects with other computers that are safe. With the implemented technology set into place, third party regulation is no longer needed, restoring the democracy in money.

Blockchain technology has many other uses besides cryptocurrency. Blockchain is simply a way to record any type of digital transaction that exists between two peers. The technology can be incorporated into many other uses, for example banking and accounting. Ittay Eyal, a researcher in the Department of Computer Science at Cornell University, states “The fact that there is a single agreed-upon chain onto which all transactions are placed means that one cannot double-spend the same coin in two conflicting transactions”(Eyal, 2017). Since digital currency is a set of algorithms and codes, there is a chance for counterfeiting that is hard to detect. This is the largest problem with cryptocurrency; however, the blockchain corrects this. When the same bitcoin or digital currency is used again, the blockchain recognizes this since every previous transaction is recorded on one public ledger. There is no confusion because all the information is on a single ledger. Also, the basis of this technology can be incorporated into online banking and accounting. The reason many accounting companies don’t prefer digital accounting is because of the ease of alterations by unauthorized users; however, the blockchain prevents this from happening. Since the blockchain is encrypted and stored on a network of computers throughout the world, there is no single point of access. This protects the business’s accounting information.

There are many pros and cons within the cryptocurrency world. In the video called, “Bitcoin: Pros, Cons and Coins” created by Forbes, both Bitcoin merchants and investors weigh in on the topic of the pros and cons of cryptocurrency. The pros presented throughout the video were ease of transferability. Since cryptocurrency is digital and peer-to-peer, the digital currency doesn’t have to go through a third-party when completing a transaction. This means that there are no fees attached to the transfer of the currency. Also with no third-party control, like countries, there is no need to exchange for a new type of currency when doing a transfer of currency. Another pro to cryptocurrency is developers and hackers are invited to test the limits of the security around the coin. The developers see the flaws in the system and making updates to the technology; however, cons are present. One of the cons of cryptography is the fluctuating prices. The volatility makes it very hard to price and keep track of the values of transactions since the values are always changing. The price constantly changes because of user’s actions. Since the users of bitcoins constantly buy and sell bitcoins, the value changes. The changing values make it difficult to continually update the values of one’s cryptocurrency.Another downfall is security of the currency. In order for the security of the currency to work, the developers must stay ahead of the speed of computers.

The two large pizzas that were purchased with 10,000 units of bitcoin would now be worth $100,000,000. As cryptocurrency becomes increasing popular, many people are taking to investing in it. Since the values of the currency continues to go up because of supply and demand, people purchase the digital currency and hold on to it. Skoyles (2015) writes an article about the process of investing. Skoyles writes, “At the moment the most common approach to investing in bitcoin is to just buy some.” The biggest problem with investing in cryptocurrency is the volatility of the currency. The value of the currency can decrease by a dramatic amount.

The words “bitcoin” and “cryptocurrency” have been thrown around the last few years. Although many people share fear of the idea of a digital currency with no regulations, the introduction of  digital currencies into the new world of technology will have many benefits. In the world of money, peer-to-peer transactions allows for an increase in transparency between the two parties. This is all possible with taking out the third-party and having the blockchain. There is no regulation; however, the blockchain gives the users a secure platform for transactions by recording every transaction at the exact moment and by storing the information on different networks throughout the entire world. The blockchain technology can be implemented into the world of banking and accounting. Digital currencies and the technology behind the currencies will influence the way world controls money.

 

 

Sources.

An Abridged History of Bitcoin (2017, November 19). In New York Times. Retrieved October 30, 2017.

Eyal, I. (2017). Blockchain Technology: Transforming Libertarian Cryptocurrency Dreams to Finance and Banking Realities. Computer (00189162), 50(9), 38-49. doi:10.1109/MC.2017.3571042

Soppe, Taylor. “Bitcoin: Pros, Cons and Coins.” Forbes, 2014. Accessed 13 Nov. 2017.

MARVIN, R. (2017). BLOCKCHAIN: THE INVISIBLE TECH THAT’S CHANGING THE WORLD. (Cover story). PC Magazine, 91-113.

Price, R. (2017, May 22). Someone in 2010 bought 2 pizzas with 10,000 bitcoins — which today would be worth $20 million. In Business Insider. Retrieved October 30, 2017.

Skoyles, J. (2015, Apr). Should I invest in bitcoin? New Statesman, , 21. Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/1679884099?accountid=14679

Treleaven, P., Gendal Brown, R., & Yang, D. (2017). Blockchain Technology in Finance. Computer (00189162), 50(9), 14-17. doi:10.1109/MC.2017.3571047

Weller, Chris. “Bitcoin is going wild — here’s what the cryptocurrency is all about.” Business Insider, 27 May 2017. Accessed 1 Nov. 2017.