Monero (XMR) has recently hard forked, upgrading its protocol in the process. Part of the updates are to prevent specialist mining equipment running on the network. Most users will never notice as their wallet software will simply adopt the new protocol seamlessly and continue to use and trust their beloved Monero. Ethereum also hard forks regularly using a similar mechanism, so this is neither a new nor concerning piece of news.
What makes this fork more interesting, is that due to a fracturing community 3 more projects, not including MoneroV which we’ve already covered here have sprouted as a result. Namely, Monero Classic, Monero Zero and Monero Original.
However, after some research – that’s what we’re here for – the only Monero forks worth acknowledging are Monero (XMR), Monero Zero (XMO) and MoneroV (XMV). The multiple projects using the name ‘Monero Classic’ appear to be nothing more than a vanity fork of the original Monero repo on Github. It’s unclear if ‘Monero Original’ even exists at all in any tangible sense. We’ll update this post if these projects make any significant updates.
EDIT: From here on in we should point out that XMO, which until this point we’ve described as Monero Zero has now rebranded as Monero Original. Confused? So are we. So for the rest of the article ‘Monero Zero’ means ‘Monero Original’ which has the ticker XMO.
Which leaves Monero holders now owning another currency – Monero Zero – which labels itself as the original Monero and is friendly to having specialist mining equipment on its network. It’s unclear if the community also supports this, but time will tell. In general, Monero users are going to be more privacy orientated that other cryptocurrency users, which means they are, at least on paper, more likely to resist centralised mining operations which are the side effect of allowing specialised mining equipment to operate on the network.
[EDIT: Due to extensive further research, we believe it is worth pointing out that clearly the most exciting Monero Fork that currently exists is Wownero which has recently moved to making all their technical decisions in a truly decentralised way. Something, I think we can all agree, is wowsome.
The Easy Way To Buy Bitcoin
When you first buy Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency, it can be a very confusing process. There are dozens of options available and an overwhelming amount of information is required to dig through them all. We’ve got a very straightforward approach laid out that is the way all the cool kids do it, to super simply buy some Bitcoin. Literally, it couldn’t be simpler than this. Read on, courageous internet hero!
Other exchanges are available, but we’re not laying out options here. We’re giving you answers, and the answer is to use Coinbase. Simple. It’s the best company in the world for first-time buyers of cryptocurrency, without a doubt. Sign up here and get $10 free.
Coinbase is a San Francisco based company licensed by New York’s Department of Financial Services, to offer Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin. It has over 8 million clients and serves over 30 countries including the US, Canada, Australia, Singapore and much of Europe. It accepts PayPal, bank transfers and credit/debit cards.
Before you know it, you’ll have a bitcoin wallet with an address. Easy! If you like, you can even get their mobile app to make things really easy to use your cryptocurrencies, however, you don’t need it. To our next challenge!
Buy Some Bitcoin
Now that we have a Coinbase account set up, we’re able to buy some Bitcoin. Buying, for instance, 0.1 Bitcoin can be done through the Coinbase interface and is no different to buying a table online. Simply enter your card details, buy a small amount, and wait till you can see your balance reflected in your bitcoin wallet. It really could not be simpler. At that point, with some bitcoin sitting in a Coinbase wallet, we could stop. It’s been a long weary journey – but you are now the proud, heroic owner of some Bitcoin. However, we must press on, for we are not out of the woods yet! One final step lies in front of us, with a bonus option for those dealing in larger sums of money. Bravely, we must continue!
Two Factor Authentication
We must enable something called Two Factor Authentication (2FA) on our Coinbase account. To not do this would be reckless. Luckily, setting it up is easy and Coinbase will mostly guide you through the process. Go into account settings, and follow the guidance there. All this means is that when logging in there are two things at play – the password you use to log in, and then a special code only you have. So if someone manages to steal your password, they can’t just steal all your precious cryptocurrency treasure. With hackers getting more and more sophisticated this is a must have these days, so please please please invest one minute to set this up.
At this point, for most people, the journey is over. You are now the proud owner of a secure Coinbase account that contains some Bitcoin. Or maybe you bought some Ethereum or Litecoin. For as long as Coinbase remains secure and continues to do business, then your Bitcoin will be available to you. Of course, if something catastrophic destroyed Coinbase, then your cryptocurrency investment would be lost. However, holding a small number of coins on an exchange with two-factor authentication enabled is a reasonable approach, all things considered. For the lucky ones, your journey is over and may the force be with you. For those prepared to step once more into the breach…
A hardware wallet will set you back around ~$120 so unless you’re investing at least a few hundred dollars, then they probably aren’t worth it, but nonetheless are an option. For those wanting to take control of their cryptocurrency then a hardware wallet is the answer and for most people, the Ledger Nano S is the perfect option. An alternative is Trezor although they supportfewer cryptocurrencies.
Purchasing a Nano is easy and setting one up once it arrives takes a few minutes and full instructions are provided. Once you’re up and running with your Ledger you’re free to send all your cryptocurrencies from Coinbase to your Ledger, where they will be securely stored. Make sure you enable two-factor authentication on your Ledger as well.
The downside of storing your cryptocurrency on your Ledger, of course, is that your 24-word recovery seed is the key to the kingdom you have built. To lose it risks losing access to your cryptocurrency forever. So make sure you understand how and where you will store it, such that if you lose your Ledger, you’re able to recover.
And that, brave warrior, brings us to the end of our journey. You now have a cryptocurrency investment residing on Coinbase, the world’s most trusted and reliable cryptocurrency exchange to date, or on a hardware wallet which protects your cryptocurrency from everyone but yourself. Stay safe and be sure to check out some of our other articles on the future of blockchain technologies. Until next time, young padawan.
Monero describes itself as ‘cash for a connected world’. It is an open-source cryptocurrency that focuses on privacy and decentralization. It uses a public ledger to record transactions while new units are created through a process called mining. Monero aims to improve on existing cryptocurrency design by obscuring sender, recipient and amount of every transaction made as well as making the mining process more egalitarian.
Many people (including dark web users) were under the impression that Bitcoin was anonymous. However, some members of Silk Road found out the hard way that because transactions are publicly recorded for everyone to see, users can be traced through their IP addresses.
Monero Percentage Increase Compared to the Average (Bit20 ETF) Starting in 2017
Monero addresses this issue by creating a privacy coin that masks the sending address, the receiving address, and the amount for every transaction on the network. Monero also uses a different hashing algorithm, CryptoNight, designed to be suitable for an ordinary PC and does not require a GPU or ASIC for mining. This reduces the costs of mining and allows for more users to participate, thereby increasing the decentralization of the network.
Pros: Anonymous transactions; fungible – due to its anonymity all Monero coins are the same, unlike Bitcoin where coins used in illegal transactions may be “marked;” increased decentralization with mining algorithm that can be run on a CPU; dynamic block sizes improve scalability and prevent the network from slowing down during periods of high volume
Cons: Anonymous transactions can be used for nefarious purposes (buying and selling guns, drugs, etc.); dynamic block sizes come with increased security risks as nodes may become expensive to operate and transactions are larger for Monero than other cryptocurrencies due to the extensive amount of encryption to anonymize the transactions; unlike many other cryptocurrencies that are deflationary, Monero is subject to inflation; difficult to use (e.g., there are no hardware wallets for Monero); vulnerable to a 51% attack if a mining pool or anyone else controls over 50% of the mining power
To perform an objective analysis, each cryptocurrency is rated based on the following factors: (1) validation method; (2) leadership; (3) community participation in development; (4) transaction volume and market capitalization; (5) industry participation; (6) security; (7) usability; (8) technical features; (9) growth; (10) legal risks; and (11) estimated time of arrival.
Monero uses the same proof-of-work (POW) system as Bitcoin to validate transactions, but a different mining algorithm in CryptoNight. CryptoNight is considered to be ASIC resistant as the algorithm can run on a CPU instead of a GPU or ASIC. The algorithm is actually better suited for a CPU due to the amount of RAM it requires, and this was designed specifically so that each CPU could perform mining and have voting power in the Monero protocol. By contrast, the mining algorithms employed by Bitcoin, Ethereum, and many others perform better on GPUs and/or ASICs, and only a small group of miners can afford the hardware necessary to validate transactions on these networks. Nonetheless, almost half of the hashing power on the Monero network is controlled by 3 mining pools making it vulnerable to a 51% attack.
Though several of Monero’s developers remain anonymous, we are aware that the platform is led by developers David Latapie and Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni. In addition to the lead developers, Monero has over 240 contributors working on improving the network. Software updates are added on OpenHub on a regular basis.
Transaction Volume and Market Capitalization
Monero has less than 1% of the transaction volume of Bitcoin (~$32M in transactions per day). Nevertheless, Monero is in the top 15 in market cap (~$2.6B) for cryptocurrencies.
The coin has gained acceptance at a few retailers, including from several musicians such as the Backstreet Boys, Weezer, Mariah Carey, and Lana Del Ray. Additionally, Monero can be purchased through several exchanges, such as Binance, Poloniex, Bittrex, and many others. Still, the platform has not yet received widespread acceptance and is limited in where it may be used.
In terms of security, Monero has many of the same advantages and disadvantages as Bitcoin. One of the main distinguishing features is the ASIC resistant hashing algorithm (CryptoNight) which was designed to combat centralization. However, dynamic block sizes and the extensive amount of information in each transaction may limit the number of miners who can run a full node on the network, so there is a bit of a trade-off there.
Monero is intended to be used in a very similar manner as Bitcoin, but with the assurance of privacy due to anonymized transactions. Although it may appear on its face that Monero was designed specifically with nefarious or illegal transactions in mind for use on the dark web, there are many reasons why someone would want to transact privately. For example, on the Bitcoin network hackers and thieves may identify the wallets with the largest number of coins and target them. Additionally, as the technology progresses further, it may become easier and easier to identify the owners of each wallet and people may not want everyone to know the amount of Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies that they own.
Monero uses advanced encryption techniques to anonymize the sender and receiver of a transaction, while still allowing miners to verify that the sender had enough Monero to send to the receiver and allowing the receiver to spend the received amount of Monero in a later transaction. This is accomplished by generating one-time private and public keys for the receiver and a one-time ring signature for the sender that is a combination of the actual signature and several decoy signatures. For example, when user A sends Monero to user B, the ring signature may consist of user A’s signature and 4 decoy signatures. Additionally, in the Bitcoin protocol and many other decentralized ledgers, each user has a public key and a private key. A user signs transactions using the private key. On the other hand, in the Monero protocol users have two private keys (a private spend key and a private view key) and two public keys (a public spend key and a public view key). When user A sends Monero to user B, user A uses a combination of user B’s public spend key and public view key to generate a one-time public key. User B then employs her private spend key to retrieve the coins. Some additional privacy features are also implemented in the protocol, such as hidden transaction amounts, and hidden internet traffic through the invisible internet project (I2P). Monero does allow users to make transactions transparent to a selected auditor, for example.
Monero’s main competitors are other privacy coins, such as Dash, Zcash, and ByteCoin.Currently, Monero is recognized as the leader in privacy coins due to its popularity amongst dark web users although Dash has a larger market cap. As mentioned above, Monero has an unlimited supply although the block rewards gradually drop until they reach a fixed amount of 0.6 XMR per block starting in 2022. This will lead to about 1% yearly inflation. It is also worth noting that Bitcoin could implement privacy features for example, using a second layer protocol that sits on top of Bitcoin’s blockchain. Due to Bitcoin’s advantage over Monero in networking effects, users concerned with privacy could go back to Bitcoin driving down the demand for Monero. In fact, the Lightning Network by Lightning Labs implements some privacy features although they are not as strong as Monero’s. Participants opening and closing channels on the Lightning Network record transactions on Bitcoin’s blockchain which does not include the added privacy features.
Estimated Time of Arrival
Monero was launched in 2014 and is now fully developed and ready for use.
As the emerging leader in privacy coins, Monero has a bright future particularly if users come to expect a level of privacy in their transactions. On the other hand, Monero has a significant amount of competition from the other privacy coins and its association with the dark web seems to taint the currency. The demand for privacy in cryptocurrency transactions for the average user in the future is unclear, but Monero has positioned itself well in the event that this feature becomes a necessity.
Monero: is this well known privacy coin doomed to fail?
Monero: an introduction
Monero, a fork of Bytecoin, is one of the most well-known privacy coins. It is a secure, private and untraceable currency, built on the Cryptonote protocol. Monero was originally launched in April 2014 as BitMonero. It uses ring signatures, ring confidential transactions (RCT) and stealth addresses to obfuscate transactions at the protocol level.
Market growth, but competitors loom
Monero has seen significant growth over the past year. It surpassed a market cap of over $8 billion at one point. Over the past several months, it has settled close to $6 billion. Additionally, trading volume spiked in December of 2017 and is regularly above $100 million daily. This surge in volume shows a demand for more transactions via Monero, a positive sign moving forward for the cryptocurrency.
Even with these positive signs, Monero still faces stiff competition from competitors old and new. Dash may be Monero’s largest competitor, with a value over $5 billion and the ability to send instantaneous, private transactions. ZCash was one of the first privacy coins on the market, and still holds a market cap over $1 billion. One of the markets newest entrants, PIVX, is quickly gaining ground as a fork of Dash. A project that plans on implementing a decentralized exchange could be a game changer for the industry.
Decentralized exchange, the key to success
Privacy coins are only as good as the way in which they are stored and exchanged. Utilization of centralized exchanges defeats the entire purpose of using a privacy coin in the first place. This is because it opens the door to hacks and malicious use of personal and wallet information. The key to Monero succeeding in the future will be its ability to operate on a decentralized exchange (DEX).
A decentralized exchange is a marketplace that does not rely on third-party entities to hold customer funds and insert themselves in the middle of transactions. Decentralization allows users to transact with one another on a peer-to-peer basis using automated processes. A decentralized exchange is trustless and without the need to believe in the security or honesty of any third party in a transaction.
What’s wrong with centralized exchanges?
Centralized exchanges operate in an industry which is inundated with regulation for account-holders and traders. Anti-money laundering (AML) laws require money to be traceable to its source. This ensures it is not originating from illegal activity. Know your customer (KYC) regulation requires identity verification for centralized exchanges that must collect information about their customers.
These laws provide significant value for the reasons they intend, but they also severely impede the original stated intention of the complete anonymity and decentralization of cryptocurrency as explained in the Satoshi Nakamoto whitepaper.
These laws lead to rendering privacy coins effectively useless. Any user on a centralized exchange such as Coinbase, Kraken, Binance, or the host of others on the market, are required to provide vital personal information such as name, address, social security number, and even providing legal documents. Any user who turns towards privacy coins to escape this invasion of privacy in the first place will find any effort to use Monero on a centralized exchange in a fully secure way futile.
But wait, isn’t Monero available on a decentralized exchange?
Followers of decentralized exchange Bisq will note that Monero is available for trading on its platform. Bisq offers users a peer-to-peer, decentralized marketplace to trade cryptocurrency and make payments offline before verifying payment confirmation back on the exchange.
While Bisq is one of the few true decentralized exchanges on the market, it does not provide nearly enough flexibility for Monero token-holders to be happy and continue to grow its user base in the long-run. Bisq only allows for trading of Monero and Bitcoin, and does not support its trading with any other cryptocurrency let alone fiat currency. Additionally, its platform requires a large learning curve and many steps just to trade from one cryptocurrency to another. It’s true that Monero can be traded for Bitcoin on one decentralized exchange to date. However, that is not enough to shift the paradigm for decentralized trading across the board.
Can Monero adapt?
The technology and market share of Monero have already provided a solid foundation to a project that has the potential to continue to grow. The problem is that stuck without flexible trading on a truly decentralized exchange, Monero could easily fall by the wayside.
Monero must implement a decentralized exchange that is flexible and easy to use. This will give token holders the ability to trade and use Monero without any concern of their privacy being compromised. Other privacy coins will take market share away from Monero if it fails to find its way to implement a DEX. PIVX has been working on designing a decentralized exchange and has it almost ready for release sometime this year.
Stellar & PIVX: The Two Most Undervalued Cryptocurrencies right now
What are Stellar & PIVX?
Stellar & PIVX are two of the most undervalued cryptocurrencies right now:
- Stellar describes itself as a “distributed, hybrid blockchain” allowing transfers of value “for a fraction of a cent”
- PIVX is a privacy-focused, decentralized, open-source cryptocurrency run by a global community of creators, innovators, and technology enthusiasts
Stellar is based on everyone’s hottest 2018 cryptocurrency – Ripple. That’s right. Back in the dark ages of 2015, the folks at Stellar.org decided to forge a new path from Ripple. They wanted to build something very similar, but with a few key improvements. It’s no surprise both are two top cryptocurrencies today.
Stellar is a totally decentralised, open-source, community supported global financial network where all actors – be they people, payment networks, or banks – have equal access & economic participation.
Read the previous sentence slowly and carefully. That’s right. While Ripple Labs controls the RippleNet network and around 60% of the XRP tokens on the network, Stellar is totally decentralised.
Stellar positions itself as a superior alternative to Ripple. While both these currencies have very low fees, they are similar to the new kid on the block, RaiBlocks, which has zero fees. Ripple has had its moment in the sun. However, ultimately its centralisation will be its downfall.
Stellar has one of the most active GitHub repositories for any cryptocurrency project. It also shows no signs of slowing down. It is integrating a multitude of payment companies, especially in Asia and Africa, who are beginning to adopt the technology in a big way.
Currently at $0.7017 with a recent all-time high of $0.8756, it’s a steal, considering Ripple’s recent meteoric rise.
PIVX, Private Instant Verified Transaction, is a privacy-focused, decentralized, open-source cryptocurrency run by a global community. Like Stellar, it benefits in all the same ways from being truly decentralised. It is also, arguably, the best privacy coin on the market.
PIVX has some stiff competition from the other privacy coins – Monero, Zcash, Dash & Navcoin. While only time will tell which one really captures the privacy market for now, PIVX is one of the most user-friendly. It also has some of the most exciting technology on its roadmap.
PIVX is strong horse in a well-fought race and is currently languishing in terms of price and market cap. This makes it a great buy right now.
Going forward, PIVX has one of the most exciting future products on the horizon I’ve seen in the crypto space. It’s called zDEX which is a DEX technology – a Decentralised EXchange. This has already been pioneered by Waves and can be seen in their web wallet at waveswallet.io. What this means is that anyone can download and run their wallet software and there is an inbuilt exchange mechanism. Imagine just being able to trade your own cryptocurrencies from your computer.
No fees, no ID requirements, no traceability, no delays. Just a truly decentralised private currency that people are free to buy, sell and trade. Its only a matter of time before more and more cryptocurrencies have this technology. PIVX is going to be at the very forefront of that evolution, which makes the currency very exciting.
Currently at $10.14 with a recent, all-time high of $12.76 this coin is going to go from strength to strength in 2018. With its privacy and decentralised exchange technology, this makes it a huge differentiator.
Exciting future ahead for Stellar & PIVX
Stellar & PIVX both have an exciting future ahead. Stellar is tied up with one of the largest ATM manufacturers in the world, IBM. Investors in Stellar include the founders of Stripe, WordPress and YCombinator. Meanwhile, PIVX’s aim is to have the best technology built into a coin that maintains the ideals that Bitcoin founder, Satoshi, originally had in mind. It has a dedicated following and is a highly secure network.
Stay tuned and prepare for lift off!
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