A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency. The term is made up of cryptography and currency. The former is also the specialty and characterizes the digital currency. Because of the cryptographic encryption , the units of the currency, which are often referred to as coins or tokens , are forgery-proof.
The world’s first public cryptocurrency was Bitcoin . It was first presented and published in 2009 under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto . Bitcoin’s first intention, however, was not to create a cryptocurrency, but to enable digital and secure money transfer on the basis of a peer-to-peer network. Since the release of Bitcoin, many other competing products followed such as Ethereum , Litecoin , IOTA , Ripple , Peercoin and many more.
What is a cryptocurrency?
A cryptocurrency is digital money that can be bought, sold and transferred with the help of cryptography . The data is therefore encrypted and protected. In contrast to regular currencies (fiat currencies), which exist in material form, a crypto currency is purely digital money and only exists on the Internet. In addition, it is not endorsed or managed by an authorized third party such as a bank or government.
How do cryptocurrencies work
Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is the heart and basis of every cryptocurrency. Most cryptocurrencies are based on blockchain technology. The use of this technology makes it possible to carry out transactions in a decentralized manner and to prevent double expenses. The transactions are stored in blocks in a chain. A copy of this chain, the blockchain, is available on many different nodes that synchronize with each other. Once entered into the blockchain, it can no longer be deleted. These points make the theft of cryptocurrencies or manipulation of the transaction history particularly difficult.
Since there is no central authority behind the cryptocurrencies, they cannot be generated easily, such as by a central bank. New coins are therefore created during the mining process, for example . Mining is primarily intended to maintain consensus within the network, i.e. it is used to validate transactions. The basis is an algorithm, often a proof-of-work mechanism or, in some cases, proof of stake.
Wallets or digital purses
Cryptocurrencies are stored in a digital wallet and can be used to pay for goods and services. However, they are not legal tender and often cannot be accepted until now. Digital currency payments are made online, but merchants can also accept payments in your mobile device store. Usually this is done with very low transaction fees.
Examples and possibilities of cryptocurrencies
Each cryptocurrency has different capabilities depending on the purpose for which it was developed.
The Bitcoin cryptocurrency
Bitcoin is primarily a digital currency. Users on the bitcoin network known as bitcoin miners use computer intensive software to validate transactions that go through the network and receive new bitcoins in the process. Bitcoin was developed as a decentralized global payment system, but it has also been bought and sold in bulk as a speculative investment . However, the digital currency has problems with scaling. So the future of bitcoin could just be “ digital gold ”.
The Ethereum cryptocurrency
Ethereum uses blockchain technology to operate an open software platform. It can process transactions, contracts ( smart contracts ) and other programs ( dApps ) that enable developers to create and run any program, in any programming language, on a single decentralized platform. To know more check ethereum price analysis.
The Litecoin cryptocurrency
Like Bitcoin, Litecoin was created as an electronic payment system. However, transactions in the Litecoin network are processed faster and there are more Litecoins in circulation than Bitcoins. Some users see Litecoin as a “lighter” version or as a bitcoin replacement.
The Ripple cryptocurrency
Ripple is a transaction protocol designed to complement Bitcoin by allowing real-time transfers between users in any currency. It is a database that allows users to store and transfer values in any currency, including other cryptocurrencies, on a protected network.
Ripple uses tokens created by the developers and not mined like other digital currencies. Some users don’t see Ripple as a true cryptocurrency, but the technology is popular with financial institutions.
The goals of cryptocurrencies
The main goals of cryptocurrencies are to facilitate the transfer of money, especially in the international area and in countries with weak financial systems. This should make transactions faster, cheaper and safer. They also prevent double-spending , which is a major problem with traditional digital money transactions such as online banking and card payments.
The use of cryptocurrencies also offers a pseudo-anonymity that is not possible with traditional banking systems. Cryptocurrencies cannot only be used as a pure means of payment. Projects like Ethereum, for example, use the internal currency ether to offer a platform for decentralized software programs (dApps). In this case, the cryptocurrency is an instrument and is intended to be used as an internal currency for trading on the platform. There are also other possible uses in the context of a bonus points program, in which companies offer their customers coins for purchases or special promotions.