What is Cryptocurrency
A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is meant to be a medium of exchange. It is quite similar to real-world currency, except it does not have any physical embodiment, and it uses cryptography to work.
Because cryptocurrencies operate independently and in a decentralized manner, without a bank or a central authority, new units can be added only after certain conditions are met. For example, with Bitcoin, only after a block has been added to the blockchain will the miner be rewarded with bitcoins, and this is the only way new bitcoins can be generated. The limit for bitcoins is 21 million; after this, no more bitcoins will be produced.
What is Cryptography?
Cryptography is a method of using encryption and decryption to secure communication in the presence of third parties with ill intent—that is, third parties who want to steal your data or eavesdrop on your conversation. Cryptography uses computational algorithms such as SHA-256, which is the hashing algorithm that Bitcoin uses; a public key, which is like a digital identity of the user shared with everyone; and a private key, which is a digital signature of the user that is kept hidden.
Benefits of Cryptocurrency
With cryptocurrency, the transaction cost is low to nothing at all—unlike, for example, the fee for transferring money from a digital wallet to a bank account. You can make transactions at any time of the day or night, and there are no limits on purchases and withdrawals. And anyone is free to use cryptocurrency, unlike setting up a bank account, which requires documentation and other paperwork.
International cryptocurrency transactions are faster than wire transfers too. Wire transfers take about half a day for the money to be moved from one place to another. With cryptocurrencies, transactions take only a matter of minutes or even seconds.
In this next wave of the digital revolution, digital currencies are emerging as what many believe to be the greatest innovation since the advent of the internet.
For the first time in history, value can be sent anywhere in the world at the same speed as information, in a secure and trust-minimized way. A departure from conventional economic, political, and social systems run by a handful of large centralized institutions, digital currencies are powered by millions of peers within a globally distributed network, democratizing information and value in incredible new ways. Several digital currencies, each with unique comparative advantages, may radically transform legacy systems across nations and industries around the world, driving future economic growth and becoming more valuable as the keys to our digital, global economy.
At ASW, we believe investors deserve an established, trusted, and accountable partner that can help them navigate digital currency investing. That’s why we are building transparent, familiar investment products that facilitate access to this burgeoning asset class, and provide the springboard to investing in the new digital currency-powered “internet of money.”
Traditional Currencies vs. Cryptocurrencies
Imagine a scenario in which you want to repay a friend who bought you lunch, by sending money online to his or her account. There are several ways in which this could go wrong, including:
The financial institution could have a technical issue, such as its systems are down or the machines aren’t working properly.
Your or your friend’s account could have been hacked—for example, there could be a denial-of-service attack or identity theft.
The transfer limits for your or your friend’s account could have been exceeded.
There is a central point of failure: the bank.
This is why the future of currency lies with cryptocurrency. Now imagine a similar transaction between two people using the bitcoin app. A notification appears asking whether the person is sure he or she is ready to transfer bitcoins. If yes, processing takes place: The system authenticates the user’s identity, checks whether the user has the required balance to make that transaction, and so on. After that’s done, the payment is transferred and the money lands in the receiver’s account. All of this happens in a matter of minutes.
Cryptocurrency, then, removes all the problems of modern banking: There are no limits to the funds you can transfer, your accounts cannot be hacked, and there is no central point of failure. As mentioned above, as of 2020 there are more than 1,600 cryptocurrencies available; some popular ones are Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Zcash. And a new cryptocurrency crops up every single day. Considering how much growth they’re experiencing at the moment, there’s a good chance that there are plenty more to come!
The Future of Cryptocurrency
The world is clearly divided when it comes to cryptocurrencies. On one side are supporters such as Bill Gates, Al Gore and Richard Branson, who say that cryptocurrencies are better than regular currencies. On the other side are people such as Warren Buffet, Paul Krugman, and Robert Shiller, who are against it. Krugman and Shiller, who are both Nobel Prize winners in the field of economics, call it a Ponzi scheme and a means for criminal activities.
In the future, there’s going to be a conflict between regulation and anonymity. Since several cryptocurrencies have been linked with terrorist attacks, governments would want to regulate how cryptocurrencies work. On the other hand, the main emphasis of cryptocurrencies is to ensure that users remain anonymous.
Futurists believe that by the year 2030, cryptocurrencies will occupy 25 percent of national currencies, which means a significant chunk of the world would start believing in cryptocurrency as a mode of transaction. It’s going to be increasingly accepted by merchants and customers, and it will continue to have a volatile nature, which means prices will continue to fluctuate, as they have been doing for the past few years.
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