One of the newest industries that are growing rapidly is cryptocurrency. This is a virtual or digital currency that uses cryptography for security purposes. Due to this security feature, it is difficult to counterfeit cryptocurrencies. But, the most defining feature and probably the most endearing allure of cryptocurrency is in their organic nature. This means that no central authority issues cryptocurrencies, which, theoretically, renders them immune to government manipulation or interference. Cryptocurrencies captured the attention of the public in 2009 with the launch of Bitcoin by Satoshi Nakamoto. The success Bitcoin has enjoyed has spawned a variety of competing cryptocurrencies.
In November 2017, in just a matter of weeks, Bitcoin went from being simply a fringe investment and transformed into a global sensation. The price of a single bitcoin was $3,000 in mid-November last year, but it managed to surpass $19,000 on December 6th, 2017.
We met Guy Galboiz, a successful industry entrepreneur, and took a detailed insight on cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin. As per him, there are a number of reasons why investing in cryptocurrencies has become a sound idea, which have been listed below:
Security is first reason on the list of Guy Galboiz. Cryptocurrency systems are based upon cryptography. This kind of security ensures that there is very little chance of your account being compromised. Blockchain technology powers these digital currencies and this decentralized and distributed database eliminates any central point of management thereby making it almost impossible for hackers to take advantage.
Privacy and Anonymity
The pseudonymous nature of cryptocurrencies is a huge advantage to traders and investors. It is not possible for tracking the transactions or the accounts they are sent to. The crypto addresses are just random chains of 30 characters and it is not possible to find the identity of people behind them. The privacy and anonymity was one of the founding features of Bitcoin as it prevents external parties such as governments or organizations from knowing what you are investing in or buying, how much you have spent and with whom you are dealing with.
Another reason why cryptocurrency investment has risen is because they involve lower fee as compared to any other transaction processes. Typically, there are zero or very low transaction fees for cryptocurrency exchanges as the network compensates the miners. The only fee that has to be paid is to third parties who create and maintain their wallets. According to Guy, when these low or non-existent fees are compared to those charged by traditional banks or online payment platforms such as PayPal, it makes cryptocurrencies even more useful.
Ease of Use
Jumping into some traditional investment methods is extremely difficult, but investing in cryptocurrency is permission-less, easy and accessible for trading 24 hours a day. This means that you don’t have to ask anyone before using cryptocurrency as it can be sent and received without expensive software, licenses or training and no one can stop you. All you need is access to a laptop, smartphone or desktop PC and can trade cryptocurrency day and night.
You often need to carry large amounts of cash, especially when you ae traveling abroad and this can be incredibly risky. This is where cryptocurrencies can help because they are legally and easily portable. You can carry and move a massive amount of cryptocurrency in your memory card and no one would know.
Speed of Transaction
Another excellent reason to invest in cryptocurrency is the speed of transactions. With banks, when transactions are made to far flung corners of the world, payments take some time to be processed, but this doesn’t apply to cryptocurrencies. Payments arrive within minutes as these transactions are built to be globally available and incredibly fast. It doesn’t matter where you are or where the money is being sent, the money is processed faster than any banking institution.
These are some of the reasons why Bitcoin has not only become a trendsetter, but has also ushered in a horde of cryptocurrencies that are built on a decentralized peer-to-peer network. Today, Bitcoin is regarded as the de facto standard for cryptocurrencies and those that are inspired by it are known as altcoins as they try to present themselves as improved or modified versions. While it is easier to mine some of these currencies as opposed to Bitcoin, there are tradeoffs such as the greater risk associated with lesser liquidity, value retention and acceptance.
When asked about investment prospects of cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin since Bitcoin prices have soared high, Guy Galboiz suggested some of the best ones, which are outlined below:
Launched in 2011, Litecoin was one of the initial cryptocurrencies that followed Bitcoin. A former Google engineer and MIT graduate, Charlie Lee created this open source global payment network, which is not controlled by any central authority. While it is like Bitcoin in numerous ways, Litecoin’s block generation rate is faster, which allows it to offer a faster transaction confirmation. A growing number of merchants have begun to accept Litecoin.
This decentralized software platform was launched in 2015 and it enables Distributed Applications and Smart Contracts to be built and run without any fraud, downtime, interference or control from a third party. A pre-sale had been launched for ether in 2014 by Ethereum, which received a great response. Ether is essentially a vehicle for moving around on Ethereum platform and most developers are after it for developing and running applications inside it.
Launched in the latter half of 2016, this is an open-source and decentralized cryptocurrency, which looks very promising. With Zcash, you can enjoy selective transparency and privacy of transactions, which enables it to provide extra privacy or security where all transactions are published or recorded on a blockchain. But, details such as the recipient, sender and amount are kept private. Users of Zcash have the option of conducting ‘shielded’ transactions, which allows the content to be encrypted with the use of advanced cryptographic technique or zero-knowledge proof construction. The latter has been named zk-SNARK by its team.
This is a real-time global network that enables people to make low-cost, instant and certain international payments. With Ripple, banks can settle payments in real time at lower costs and with end-to-end transparency. Ripple was introduced in 2012 and its consensus ledger doesn’t require mining; this feature sets it apart from altcoins and Bitcoin. As no mining is required, the usage of computing power is reduced and the network latency is also minimized.
Originally known as Darkcoin, Dash is regarded as a secretive version of Bitcoin. With this cryptocurrency, you can enjoy more anonymity because it is based on a decentralized mastercode network, allowing it to make transactions untraceable. Dash was launched in January 2014 and its fan following increased in a very short period of time. Evan Duffield developed and created this cryptocurrency and it can be mined with a GPU or CPU. Darkcoin became Dash in March 2015, which stands for Digital Cash.
Introduced in April 2014, Monero is an open source cryptocurrency that’s private, secure and untraceable. There was a lot of interest amongst the cryptocurrency enthusiasts and the community because Monero’s development is community-driven and donation-based. It has been introduced with a strong focus of scalability and decentralization and allows for complete privacy by implementing a special technique called ‘ring signatures’.
There are plenty more cryptocurrencies out there and more are being launched owing to the success of the market. After reaching new highs last year, there has been a decline this year, but the market is still going strong. As a matter of fact, this year is expected to be critical for analysts, investors and just about anyone else who is interested in the market. There are some trends that we need to watch out for and they are highlighted here:
The rise of stablecoins
There are a number of ways that cryptocurrencies can be used in the world of finance, but there are some applications that have been talked about the most. When it comes to blockchain technology, one of the first envisioned applications was to use it as a digital currency for securing efficient and secure payments. However, the volatility in the market makes the tokens an unreliable store of value for everyday commerce and transactions. With Stablecoins, the fluctuations can be dealt with as the token’s value would be pegged to another asset like a fiat currency. Currently, the largest stablecoin is Tether and its value is pegged to the US dollar. The currency is held privately and additional Tethers are issued, swapping them back and forth as needed. But, it has come under scrutiny recently as there have been concerns about legitimacy and transparency.
Proponents of stablecoin are thinking about an alternative mechanism for maintaining a consistent token value. With this method, another decentralized crypto asset backs every token, thus depending on smart contracts for holding collateral rather than in a vault or private account. Here, Guy Galboiz explained that when the currency is over-collateralized, price stability can be achieved without making any compromise on transparency. Hence, a number of new and exciting possibilities can be expected in this year.
Application to B2B markets
The flexibility of the distributed ledger used in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies is a virtue as it comes in handy in organization and transparency. Due to its non-specificity, it can also be used in various industries. Healthcare, finance and the information sector have already begun to make use of it and the list is expanding rapidly as decentralized apps are being developed and the possibilities of this technology are also being applied to sports, transportation and real estate.
Increase in participation in the crypto market
With each passing day, the public is learning more and more about the potential of blockchain and cryptocurrencies technologies. Therefore, more and more people are trying to buy into the market. A number of exchanges had to close their doors to new users after the massive boom in December 2017 because of server accommodation restraints whereas other exchanges had started a lengthy and detailed identity verification process.
But, with cryptocurrency prices dropping from January, users have begun to select platforms for purchasing cryptocurrencies and exchanges are also responding to them. In addition, new cryptocurrency exchanges are also being established and they are offering a lot of benefits to people including cheaper, faster and unlimited transactions, improved user interfaces and easy conversion to fiat currency.
Inflow of institutional money into cryptocurrencies
Since the beginning, it has been said that there will be huge market implications of when Wall Street makes the decision to adopt cryptocurrencies or not. Therefore, a large number of people have been following major financial institutions and their opinions about cryptocurrencies as an indicator for wider adoption and certain growth. Now, some very important players have entered this space such as the JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs and they are learning more about cryptocurrencies. Now, the question is no longer whether they will invest, but when they will do so.
If these trends are any indication, it is safe to say that cryptocurrency has a very bright future and is expected to grow in the years to come. It has already begun to make its presence known in a variety of industries. Obviously, the biggest impact has been in the finance industry as it has changed the way payments are made and received, simplified the banking process and provided portability. Plus, it has a low inflationary risk due to its controlled supply, which makes it a great for the economy too.
But, that’s not all. Cryptocurrencies have also brought about changes in other industries and will continue to do so as their adoption is on the rise. Some of the other aspects that have seen changes include supply chain management, insurance, forecasting, networking and Internet of Things (IoT), cloud storage, ride sharing, voting, gaming and music, energy management, crowdfunding and retail. In fact, blockchain and cryptocurrency technologies will also bring changes in the government as they will promote transparency and bring down corruption. Suffice it to say, cryptocurrency is a force to be reckoned with and will become an integral part of our lives in the years to come.