Category Archives: Cryptocurrencies

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.

IOTA Moves to the Top 5 in Market Cap Thanks to Microsoft.

I have been fooling around with cryptocurrencies for a while now and a few days ago one really just caught my attention. IOTA. The coin a which is a play off the phase “IoT or Internet of Things” is a coin/cryptocurrencies created to be traded between different machines on the “Internet of Things”. This coin caught my attention because it does not use classic Blockchain technology that we have seen on other very popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum or LiteCoin, instead it uses Directed Acyclic Graph technology, which is a blockless ledger. IOTA refers to its DAG technologie as “tangle”.  Confirmation times are fast and transactions are basically free. As of Dec. 2017. The market cap made it the 4th largest cryptocurrency by market cap, which is around $12 billion. IOTA was created in 2015. These coins are not able to be mined so there was a set amount that was created 2,779,530,283,277,761. In May 2017 IOTA was listed on its first exchange: Bitfinex and is now also listed on Binance as well.

I follow a lot of tech/coin personalities on Instagram and this was getting a lot of attention. At the time the coin was selling for approx. $3 dollars and in a day or two went to $5.5 and has since retracted to mid $3’s. Since I first started trading crypto I had only used the widely popular american exchange “coinbase”. Because this currency doesn’t sell as a fiat currency pair such as IOTA/USD I had to first convert my USD to ETH or BTC and then trade indirectly on a separate exchange “Binance” which is a UK based platform. Binance is one of the top 5 crypto trading platforms in the world according to Coinmarketcap.com.

Another big reason this coin has become popular is because in the past week Microsoft made a big announcement that they were going to collaborate and partner with IOTA coin. This made the currency grow in value with a 90% increase in market cap basically launching it into the 4th position. IOTA has previously partnered with large companies such as Samsung, Cisco, and Volkswagen. Tangle will help with the large process of trading information Business-to-Business between these large corporations using the technology. The tangle system is designed to allow users to create transactions by validation (making sure all transactions are secure, immutable and without fees). The no-fee part of the technology model is huge for information sharing between businesses because tiny micropayments for information between businesses cannot be handled well and complicates the transactions on a large scale. IOTA hopes their technology and the tangle structure will allow a widespread of micropayments for data between companies. This will allow for the transfer of data and information from all kinds of IoT devices with little to no fees to give a greater feeling of interconnectedness between smart technology machines.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IOTA_(technology)

https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/iota/

https://iota.org/

https://www.cryptocoinsnews.com/iota-price-explodes-after-microsoft-partnership-announcement/

https://cointelegraph.com/news/iota-partners-with-microsoft-fujitsu-others-for-iot-data-monetization

Top 5 Cryptocurrencies by Market Cap

The number one, I’m sure you’ve heard of it is Bitcoin. Bitcoin currently has a market cap of approximately $95 Billion as of today. The one that started it all. Created by the psyudenym Satoshi Yakamoto and released in 2009. Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency that allows for peer-2-peer payment transactions and built on the Blockchain ledger technology, a digital payment system and was the first currency with the ideal of a decentralized monetary platform. There are nodes around the world, mining these bitcoins by recording these transactions on a distributed public ledger called a blockchain. Miners are incentivized with more Bitcoins. Bitcoins can be exchanged for other currencies and in some places other products and services. Bitcoin has been gaining world popularity since the beginning. The currency has seen positive and negative reviews but as of lately has been gaining popularity and value as more companies and leaders are seeing new uses for this technology.

Ethereum has a market cap of approx. $28 Billion, Ethereum has gained wide popularity especially this year. The currency was developed by Vitalik Buterin. A developer who used to work for bitcoin but left when he realized he wanted to create a more app friendly platform that users would be able to build off. Ethereum is open source, which means that the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified. The reason that this is important is because vitalik wanted other developers to use the ethereum platform to build other tokens and currencies based in the network. The platform is blockchain-based and features a smart-contract functionality that makes this currency widely popular. “Smart contracts are computer protocols intended to facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract.” These enforces that proper inputs result in proper outputs in an exchange within the network. The ethereum blockchain also has its own token called “Ether” which can be traded on all main crypto exchanges. The Ether is also used to reward Ethereum Miners who complete and verify computations and hashes of other users. Ethereum was proposed in 2013 and the development was funded in late 2014 by a crowd sale.

Ripple has a market cap of approx. $9 Billion, which makes it the third largest in terms of market size. Ripple is the name for both a digital currency (XRP) and an open payment network within which that currency is transferred. The platform and currency is still in beta testing. Ripple was created to allow people to transfer money across the system seamlessly, through people, banks, Credit, etc. Many of the creators of the coin have a Bitcoin background. Ripple was Released in 2012, Ripple reports it enables “secure, instant and nearly free global financial transactions of any size with no chargebacks.” The tokens represent value in fiat currency, crypto, and many other units of measurement, even things such as mobile minutes or frequent flier miles. The Ripple network was built on a decentralized Blockchain ledger without a central hub for seamless transfer of currency along the network. Ripple became popular because it was endorse and used by companies such as UBS, santander. Ripple is advantages among other competitors because of its low currency price and its security

Bitcoin Cash is the fourth largest coin in terms of market size with a market cap of Approx. $5 Billion. Bitcoin Cash was created when On July 20, 2017, Bitcoin Cash (BCC) was created when there was a “Fork” or upgrade in the public ledger of the original cryptocurrency. The issue was the scaling of the original Bitcoin’s block size. Bitcoin Cash is a P2P electronic cash. The currency has different rules that were upgraded from the original bitcoin that allows “the continuation of the Bitcoin project as peer-to-peer digital cash. The currency has upgraded consensus rules that allow it to grow and scale differently from the original Bitcoin product.

Litecoin Is coming in at #5 in size with a market cap of $2 Billion. Lite coin is one of the three currencies that is trading on the widely popular exchange, Coinbase. The cryptocurrency is also a P2P  and an open source decentralized platform that was basically inspired by and very similar to that of bitcoin. In terms of differences Litecoin has also adopted SegWit technology and the lightning network. SegWit is the process by which the block size limit on a blockchain is increased by removing signature data from Bitcoin transactions. When certain parts of a transaction are removed, this frees up space or capacity to add more transactions to the chain.These both basically call for a larger number of transactions to happen with much greater speed. One major advantage that LTC has over bitcoin is its fees are close to zero and payment processing is much much faster. LTC was introduced in October 2011 by a man named Charlie Lee, who used to work for Google. As we mentioned earlier LTC became the first of the top 5 largest currencies (in terms of market cap) to adopt the SegWit technology. A few months later, The first lightning network transaction was completed sending 0.00000001 LTC from Zurich to San Francisco in under one second.

 

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Litecoin

https://litecoin.org/

https://www.bitcoincash.org/

https://coinmarketcap.com/coins/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethereum

https://ripple.com/

https://www.coindesk.com/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-ripple/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ripple_(payment_protocol)