Breaking Down Cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrencies are systems that allow for the secure payments of online transactions that are denominated in terms of a virtual “token,” representing ledger entries internal to the system itself. “Crypto” refers to the fact that various encryption algorithms and cryptographic techniques, such as elliptical curve encryption, public-private key pairs, and hashing functions, are employed.
The first cryptocurrency to capture the public imagination was Bitcoin, which was launched in 2009 by an individual or group known under the pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. As of February 2019, there were over 17.53 million bitcoins in circulation with a total market value of around $63 billion (although the market price of bitcoin can fluctuate quite a bit). Bitcoin’s success has spawned a number of competing cryptocurrencies, known as “altcoins” such as Litecoin, Name coin and Peercoin, as well as Ethereum, EOS, and Cardano. Today, there are literally thousands of cryptocurrencies in existence, with an aggregate market value of over $120 billion (Bitcoin currently represents more than 50% of the total value).
There will only ever be 21 million bitcoins.
At present, 16.3 million have already been mined and are being traded. The last bitcoin will be mined in 2140. After that, no new bitcoins can be mined.
Bitcoin can’t be banned.
The fundamental design is such that it can’t be banned, only regulated. As long as you have an internet connection and a Bitcoin wallet, you can engage in Bitcoin.
The inventor of Bitcoin is a mystery.
The Bitcoin whitepaper was made open to the public under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto. The identity of “Satoshi” is still a mystery yet to be solved.
Understanding cryptocurrency properties
1) Irreversible: After confirmation, a transaction can‘t be reversed. By nobody. And nobody means nobody. Not you, not your bank, not the president of the United States, not Satoshi, not your miner. Nobody. If you send money, you send it. Period. No one can help you, if you sent your funds to a scammer or if a hacker stole them from your computer. There is no safety net.
2) Pseudonymous: Neither transactions nor accounts are connected to real-world identities. You receive Bitcoins on so-called addresses, which are randomly seeming chains of around 30 characters. While it is usually possible to analyze the transaction flow, it is not necessarily possible to connect the real world identity of users with those addresses.
3) Fast and global: Transactions are propagated nearly instantly in the network and are confirmed in a couple of minutes. Since they happen in a global network of computers they are completely indifferent of your physical location. It doesn‘t matter if I send Bitcoin to my neighbor or to someone on the other side of the world.
4) Secure: Cryptocurrency funds are locked in a public key cryptography system. Only the owner of the private key can send cryptocurrency. Strong cryptography and the magic of big numbers makes it impossible to break this scheme. A Bitcoin address is more secure than Fort Knox.
5) Permissionless: You don‘t have to ask anybody to use cryptocurrency. It‘s just a software that everybody can download for free. After you have installed it, you can receive and send Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies. No one can prevent you. There is no gatekeeper.
The largest rises and falls of Bitcoin
June 2011 had seen Bitcoin’s price hit about $32, falling precipitously to $2 over the course of five months — that’s a 94 percent drop.
the cryptocurrency managed to swell to a price of $260 in a bullish market, as exchanges blossomed and trader numbers boomed. But as Nelly Furtado once said, all good things must come to an end. The price tumbled down to $45 in the space of two days — a decline of 83 percent.
prices halved in a single day — tumbling from $755 to $378.
Over the course of 2017, Bitcoin grew by a dazzling 1,950 percent — going from $974 to $20,000 in the space of a year.