A cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange that is digital, encrypted and decentralized.
Unlike the U.S. Dollar or the Euro, there is no central authority like bank or government that manages and maintains the value of a cryptocurrency or steps in if something goes wrong.
Instead, these tasks are broadly distributed among a cryptocurrency’s users via the internet through a peer-to-peer system.
Let’s break down the word ‘cryptocurrency’. ‘Crypto’, means ‘hidden’ or ‘secret’ reflecting the secure technology used to record who owns what and for making payments between users. ‘Currency,’ tells us the reason cryptocurrencies were designed in the first place: a type of electronic cash.
Cryptocurrency is digital or virtual currency that is designed to be secure and, in many cases, anonymous.
It uses cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Cryptography is the process of converting legible information into an almost uncrackable code, to track purchases and transfers.
You may be familiar with the most popular versions, Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency created in 2008 and still the best known. There has been a proliferation of cryptocurrencies in the past decade and there are now thousands available on the internet. Bitcoin remains the most well known.
Bitcoin was first outlined in principle by Satoshi Nakamoto in a paper titled “Bitcoin:A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”.
Nakamoto described the project as “an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust.”
That cryptographic proof comes in the form of transactions that are verified and recorded in a form of program called a blockchain. Blockchain is a technology that is a distributed ledger ( like a register) enforced by a disparate network of computers.
Mining is the process that creates units of cryptocurrency. It involves using computer power to solve complicated maths problems that generate coins. Users can also buy the currencies from brokers, then store and spend them using cryptographic wallets.
Stablecoins and the Crypto Market
The crypto marketplace is rapidly becoming differentiated, with stablecoins occupying a leading position. Bitcoin continues to lead the way in terms of crypto conversation, investment trends, and market capitalisation. PayPall is now allowing customers to transact in bitcoin. It is easy to assume that Bitcoin is the only main story in the crypto space. The reality is a little more complicated.
Price volatility, especially upward volatility, of course, lead to increased financial interest. More mundane versions of cryptocurrency, like stablecoins, may be the method by which crypto will achieve mainstream adoption and utilisation.
Bitcoin continues to lead in terms of price levels, market capitalization, investor awareness, and market commentary. Nevertheless it is starting to look like the rest of the crypto market is evolving beyond just tracking the price of bitcoin on a daily basis.
Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies that are backed, tethered, or otherwise supported by an underlying asset.
Stablecoins can be backed or supported by virtually any asset imaginable. The U.S. dollar seems to be a popular asset to stabilise cryptocurrencies with.
Some of the more recent applications, like, decentralised finance (DeFi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are not as closely connected to bitcoin as they are to stablecoins and other newer cryptocurrencies.
Stablecoins are looking more and more like the foundation for creative blockchain and crypto applications because they are the less volatile option.
The original idea of bitcoin was to create a decentralized and distributed payment system; that has not yet happened. What has happened instead, and a testament to the free market process, is that an alternative (some would say better) version of crypto has emerged in the form of stablecoins.
To function effectively as a currency alternative, crypto must be liquid, possess relatively low price volatility, and be integrated with established financial institutions.
Stablecoins, highlighted by the recent pilot launch by Visa, are looking like the future of crypto implementation. We’ll see how it goes….
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