Crypto comes from the Greek kryptos, describing it as secret or hidden. It’s the practice and study of techniques for private and secure communication in the presence of counter behavior. Cryptography is about constructing and analyzing systems that prevent third parties or the public from reading private. Cryptography is about constructing and analyzing systems that prevent third parties or the public from reading private messages. Today’s cryptography is based on mathematical computations and algorithms involving extremely difficult computational assumptions, making such algorithms hard to break by any hacker. The term crypto or ‘being into crypto’ to most people means anything related to cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Ethereum or Alt Coins. However, with this term are other important subjects and tools around crypto explained below.
The price of Bitcoin tends to be the main reason people hear about Bitcoin. A big move up or down and Bitcoin is all over the main stream press and your scratching your head wondering if your missing out on something. We call this FOMO, the fear of missing out . You are most likely reading this because you want to make more money and who doesn’t!! It is a fact that Bitcoin is the best performing asset in history seeing appreciation of over 40000% and average annual gains of over 200% since its inception.
Firstly we must stress nothing here is financial advice. Secondly we want to stress that an education in Bitcoin is an education in money, in finance and in freedom. Last but not least we hope our information will help you understand that we don’t view Bitcoin as a tool to get more Fiat currency, we view it as an alternative to what we think is a broken financial system. Bitcoin is not for everyone and we hope to educate you on if it is for you or not.
What is Bitcoin?
At its most basic Bitcoin is peer to peer digital currency that does not require a 3rd party such as a bank to execute the transaction. You can send money directly to friends or companies at a fraction of the fee that banks charge. But Bitcoin is so much more than this. It is a technology, a network and a currency. Bitcoin is difficult to censor and to confiscate, attributes that we think are important to human dignity and freedom.
Created by pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto(2009) in what many believe to be a response to the global Economic Crisis of 2008, it works by a process call Proof of Work (PoW). This is where large amounts of computer power are required to solve a cryptographic puzzle in order for the people managing the computers (miners) to earn a fee. Each set of data forms a block that has a maximum amount of information. These blocks establish a blockchain of information records that are irreversible. The maximum number of bitcoins that can be produced is 21million. The last bitcoin is predicted to be mined in 2140.
21 million Bitcoins is a crucial concept for you to understand. The fact that Bitcoin has a finite supply makes it comparable to assets like gold, rare art or land. With Bitcoin you know how much there is and this will never change. Many call it hard money due to this scarcity. As much of the world is experiencing inflation rates not seen for decades many new entrants have purchased Bitcoin as a store of value, a hedge against the unprecedented printing of the US dollar and the resulting inflation. Companies like MicroStrategy have purchased large amounts of Bitcoin with CEO Michael Saylor stating that he views the real rate of inflation to be over 20% and therefor holding cash on his companies balance sheet makes little sense. Lets look at Bitcoins use cases.
What can Bitcoin be used for?
Bitcoin for most people is an investment, they buy it with the hope it will be worth more in dollar terms than the price they purchased at. For others it has been used to get around capital controls in countries that prohibit or limit the amount of the the local currency (fiat) that can be taken offshore.
Bitcoin as mentioned earlier has seen large institutional purchases as a store or value and inflation hedge. Many countries also hold Bitcoin in their sovereign wealth funds and recently we have seen El Salvador adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. Bitcoin by market cap ranks in the top 20 global currencies and we predict it will become very relevant in geopolitics, many say it already is. More on this later.
Bitcoin is also widely used to transfer value, cheaply, globally and quickly (around 30 minutes). You can also use Bitcoin to make purchases. This may seem odd to you given most people buy Bitcoin hoping it will go up in monetary terms so spending it on every day purchases seems dumb. We want to keep this basic in this intro but you should understand that the Bitcoin network is growing and evolving with what are known as layer two technologies allowing small payments to happen on the lightning network. Twitter has also enabled people to tip in Bitcoin..More use cases will evolve
Ethereum is a platform using decentralized blockchain technology. Ether or ETH is the digital token used as payment on the network. The main function of the Ethereum blockchain is to run the programming code of a range of decentralized applications called dApps. Like bitcoin, a large number of computers globally maintain the Ethereum blockchain network.
However, it requires distributed consensus.i.e. majority agreement for changes to be made to the blockchain. At the time of writing this article Ethereum is transitioning to Proof of Stake (PoS) which enables ETH holders to validate transactions and mint new ETH. Miners of Ethereum network are rewarded in ETH tokens for their contributions. However, whilst waiting for the transition one major objection around Ethereum is the astronomical fees charged per transaction due to the network congestion problems.
“Altcoin” refers to any type of cryptocurrency excluding Bitcoin. There are well over sixteen thousand Altcoins according to Coin Market Cap. They were created with a similar blockchain structure as Bitcoin and use a peer to peer transaction system. However, many of these AltCoins are viewed with suspicion due to the numbers of scams associated with them over the years.
Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies and an extremely important part of the crypto eco system. Stablecoins are often used to buy and sell other currencies as they are pegged to the US Dollar in terms of a 1:1 value making it easier for the retail buyer to calculate rise and fall of a cryptocurrency token. Many people convert their ‘cash’ into a stablecoin until they are ready to purchase.
Some exchanges offer very attractive APY interest if you ‘stake’ the coin at their exchange. Stablecoins, in particular USDT have taken a bad rap over the years as the companies issuing the USDT stablecoin have an ongoing court battle with the US Regulators who believe it may not be functioning within the financial rules and guidelines.
The best way to describe a blockchain is to think of it as masses of spreadsheets of information all being verified by highspeed computers around the world. Many of these computers also known as nodes are able share this information on one decentralized ledger. Meaning no one single entity has control over the ledger.
This is important as the blockchain’s trustworthiness relies on strong cryptography that authenticates blocks of transactions, making it virtually impossible to manipulate recorded transactions without being exposed. Blockchain is still in its nascent stage but potential areas of usage are of course in crypto currency, producing smart contracts, the traditional financial sector, gaming, supply chains, anti counterfeiting and energy trading etc.
Decentralized Finance (Defi)
A blockchain technology using secure distributed ledgers. It is designed to eliminate all the interbank and/or 3rd party charges associated with financial transactions within the financial world. Just like Bitcoin you are in charge of your own digital currencies and you are “your own bank”.
The downside to that is there is no recourse if you accidentally lose your seed words to say a Hot Wallet then you will lose all your tokens as there is no way to access them. When learning how to transact with crypto currencies it might be better to sign up with a crypto exchange and transact there first, where seed words are not required.
DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organisation and was created by developers to help automate decisions and facilitate crypto transactions. The concept behind a DAO is to have developers program the rules and functions via consensual protocol without human intervention as the rules are embedded into the code. Since its inception the DAO has been fraught with hackers attacking it, exploiting vulnerabilities and programming errors.
NFT stands for Non Fungible Token. When an NFT is issued (minted) it acquires unique identification codes and metadata and sits on the blockchain. An NFT can be used to represent a real world asset such as art or property using tokenization.
Each NFT can be owned by one official owner at a time because they are secured by the Ethereum blockchain. This means no one can modify the record of ownership or copy and paste or duplicate that same NFT. Unlike other ERC Tokens or Bitcoin, NFTs are not fungible and not divisible, they just represent one unique item. NFT’s are an extremely important starting point for the technology to develop whereby people can potentially have ownership over their own body (genetics), sovereign identity, property, official ID information etc.
The reason why NFTs are particularly exciting for people in the art and music world is because they can obtain royalty payments over their work in perpetuity due to it being written into the code of the smart contract the NFT is minted from.
Decentralized Applications (dApps) run on a blockchain of computers as opposed to one centralized computer/server, freeing them from centralized control. dApps run on a peer to peer blockchain network system using mainly the Ethereum network. This is because Ethereum has an interface that helps reduce development time so that projects can be launched faster.
The Ethereum developer community has grown extensively over the years and it helps make it easier to hire someone familiar with the Ethereum network to complete the job. Even more importantly there is a huge community developed around the Ethereum network that remains committed to maintaining its integrity and keep building on it. In order to monetize a dApp many utilize a native token that follows the ERC-20 tokenization standard, which basically means a set of rules the programmer must follow in order for the tokens to be able to interact seamlessly with each other.
Most people in the crypto space have heard of DOT or KUSAMA tokens but few understand the eco system they belong to. Dr. Gavin Wood, the co-founder of the alpha release of Ethereum, inventor of the Solidity coding language, the person who proposed Web3.0 in 2015, also developed Parachains. These are custom, project-specific blockchains which integrated within the Polkadot (DOT) and Kusama (KSM) networks, feeding into the main blockchain called the Relay Chain. This chain is responsible for the networks shared security, consensus and transaction settlements allowing all parachains to benefit from Relay Chains fundamental features.