What Is Cryptocurrency?

 

what-is-cryptocurrency

A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be used to buy goods and services, but uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to secure online transactions. Cryptocurrency is a form of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Many companies have issued their own currencies, often called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the goods or services that the company provides. Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across many computers that manages and records transactions. Part of the appeal of this technology is its security. The word “cryptocurrency” is derived from the encryption techniques which are used to secure the network. You can use crypto to buy regular goods and services, although many people invest in cryptocurrencies as they would in other assets, like stocks or precious metals.

Cryptocurrencies are systems that allow for secure payments online which are denominated in terms of virtual "tokens," which are represented by ledger entries internal to the system. "Crypto" refers to the various encryption algorithms and cryptographic techniques that safeguard these entries, such as elliptical curve encryption, public-private key pairs, and hashing functions.

What are the different types of Cryptocurrencies?

different-types-of-cryptocurrencies

Here’s a list of popular cryptocurrency types and descriptions:

1. Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a type of digital currency; it is “cash for the internet.” More specifically, it’s considered cryptocurrency since cryptography facilitates Bitcoin creation and transactions.

Possibly the “Kleenex” or “Coca Cola” of all crypto, in that its name is the most recognizable and the most closely associated with the cryptocurrency system.

There are currently  more than 18.5 million Bitcoin tokens in circulation, against a present capped limit of 21 million.

2. Bitcoin Cash

Introduced in 2017, Bitcoin Cash is one of the most popular types of cryptocurrency on the market. Its main difference with the original Bitcoin is its block size: 8MB. Compare that to the original Bitcoin’s block size of just 1MB. What that means for users—faster processing speeds.

3. Litecoin

Litecoin is increasingly used in the same breath as Bitcoin, and it functions practically the same way. It was created in 2011 by Charlie Lee, a former employee of Google. He designed it to improve on Bitcoin technology, with shorter transaction times, lower fees, and more concentrated miners.

4. Ethereum

Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum focuses not as much on digital currency as it does on decentralized applications (phone apps). You could think of Ethereum as an app store.

The platform is looking to return control of apps to its original creators, and take away that control from middlemen (like Apple, for instance). The only person who can make changes to the app would be the original creator. The token used here is called Ether, which is used as currency by app developers and users.

5. Ripple

Ripple is one type of cryptocurrency on the list, but it’s not Blockchain-based  . It’s not meant so much for individual users as it is for larger companies and corporations, moving larger amounts of money (its coinage is known as XRP) across the globe.

It’s more well-known for its digital payment protocol than for its XRP crypto. That’s because the system allows for transfer of monies in any form, be it dollars or even Bitcoin (or others). It claims to be able to handle 1,500 transactions per second (tps). Compare this with Bitcoin, which can handle 3-6 tps (not including scaling layers). Ethereum can handle 15 tps.

6. Stellar

Stellar focuses on money transfers, and its network is designed to make them faster and more efficient, even across national borders. It was designed by Ripple co-founder Jed McCaleb in 2014 and is operated by a non-profit organization called Stellar.org  .

Its goal is to assist developing economies that may not have access to traditional banks and investment opportunities. It doesn’t charge users or institutions for using its Stellar network, and covers operating costs by accepting tax-deductible public donations.

7. NEO

Formerly called Antshares and developed in China, NEO is very aggressively looking to become a major global crypto player. Its focus is smart contracts (digital contracts) that allow users to create and execute agreements without the use of an intermediary.

It’s going after its main competition, Ethereum, but NEO lead developer Erik Zhang mentioned  on a Reddit AMA that NEO has three distinct advantages—better architecture, more developer-friendly smart contracts, and digital identity and digital assets for easier integration into the real world.

Ethereum, on the other hand, uses its own programming languages that developers must first learn before creating smart contracts on its platform.

8. Cardano

Cardano aka ADA is used to send and receive digital funds. It claims to be a more balanced and sustainable ecosystem for cryptocurrencies, and the only coin with a “scientific philosophy and research-driven approach.”

That means that it undergoes especially rigorous reviews by scientists and programmers. It was founded by Charles Hoskinson, who is also the co-founder of Ethereum.

9. IOTA

Launched in 2016, IOTA stands for Internet of Things Application. Unlike most other Blockchain technologies, it doesn’t actually work with a block and chain; it works with smart devices on the Internet of Things (IoT).

All you need to do to use it is to verify two other previous transactions on the IOTA ledger, which is called the Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG), but IOTA creators call it The Tangle.

Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

why-are-cryptocurrencies-so-popular

Cryptocurrencies appeal to their supporters for a variety of reasons. Here are some of the most popular:

Supporters see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to buy them now, presumably before they become more valuable

Some supporters like the fact that cryptocurrency removes central banks from managing the money supply, since over time these banks tend to reduce the value of money via inflation

Other supporters like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more secure than traditional payment systems

Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because they’re going up in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a way to move money