Cryptocurrency & Alt coins

Cryptocurrencies are digital cash or money for the internet which are built on cryptography and based on ledgers called blockchains that do not require a middle man or intermediaries to function. Less than a decade since the advent of bitcoin, cryptocurrency and blockchain technology are threatening to revolutionise finance.

Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency and a new form of money which exists without need of a financial institution. Many people in the nineties had attempted to create digital cash, without success. Then, in November 2008 Satoshi Nakamoto (real identity unknown) announced Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.

Cryptocurrencies

Satoshi built a digital cash system (bitcoin) without centralised authority and gave birth to the new world of cryptocurrency and a ledger that worked on a distributed consensus. In essence, bitcoin and cryptocurrency is a network of peers, all of whom have a record of the complete transaction history and balance of every account.

For the first time, a cash system was built on cryptography and not secured by people or trust. This makes cryptocurrency trustless money, separated from the government and banks and is not created from debt, unlike the fiat money on bank accounts. The key transactional properties of bitcoin are irreversible and instant payments, pseudonymity, security (the bitcoin blockchain has never been hacked) and a permissionless network. Since bitcoin’s inception, a number of other cryptocurrencies have come into existence. These are also referred to as altcoins (or alternative coins) and each have differing characteristics based on economics of the coin or improved features such as transaction confirmation time or improved privacy.

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