Although the possibilities of cryptocurrencies are indisputable, there are many risks to consider.
Cryptocurrencies may be the next big step in the evolution of the internet, but they are also frighteningly complex; therefore, the recent news flow is difficult to assess and complicated for potential investors.
Headlines lately have focused on the rise and then fall in the price of Bitcoin, as well as the number of new cryptocurrencies hitting the market. Investors who are not already in the Bitcoin market naturally wonder if they should get in now or if they have missed the boat. And business owners naturally have to consider whether they should implement a way to get paid in cryptocurrency to stay ahead of the potentially changing payments landscape.
Although it is difficult to predict the future, the basics of cryptocurrency fundamentals are a good place to start. Here is everything you need to know:
1. What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrencies are simply digital currencies that only exist online and work through peer-to-peer technology. Unlike fiat currencies, guaranteed and issued by a country – they do not have a paper type and no central bank controls their source.
However, they can be used like all other currencies: to pay or to make investments. They can be bought on some exchanges or directly online on various platforms, as well as in small fractions of a unit, which means that they can theoretically be used to make small purchases or larger ones. In the case of Bitcoin, the total issuance of units is limited to 21 million, which is attractive to investors because inflation is capped.
But while Bitcoin is the most important cryptocurrency, it is only one of many that exist. However, only a few of them – such as Ethereum, Ripple, Dash, and Litecoin – have achieved remarkable market penetration.
“There are about 1,500 cryptocurrencies out there right now, but I do not know how many of them are not rooted in a well-chosen technology, Senior General Manager, Payments, Processing Services. and IT Services, RBC Capital Markets, Baltimore.
Although cryptocurrencies are intriguing on their own, the network that powers them, known as the blockchain, is even more exciting. Bitcoin was the first blockchain technology, but the two concepts are not the same. Blockchain is an ever-evolving system of encrypted ledgers, all of which are interconnected and widely distributed to many users.
Changes to one block require changes to be made to previous blocks, and any changes leave a trail, making the chain nearly impossible to hack.
While investors’ attention may be captured by the potential of cryptocurrencies as an alternative investment or payment system, it is the potential of blockchain that could drive the biggest transformation.
There are two schools of thought in this regard. There is deposited value that essentially permits you to utilize cryptocurrency as another fiat currency… But if you dig deeper, you will see the protocols there; this means that real value can be realized within the goals of these protocols.
2. Where do they come from?
Cryptocurrencies are not issued by a central bank, unlike fiat currencies. Rather, they are “mined,” a term that reflects the amount of labor required to produce them. Miners offer their time and utilize their computing control to assist to verify cryptocurrency transactions and add them to the blockchain. As a reward, they receive new units. This procedure is costly because it needs extraordinary computer hardware and a great deal of power.
Mining issues will likely be resolved over time through technological innovations, such as the Lightning Network, an analyst for RBC Capital Markets in San Francisco. The technology works as a payment protocol that can be added to a cryptocurrency’s blockchain to speed up operations and use less energy.
3. What are the benefits?
The use of decentralized blockchain technology ensures that cryptocurrency transactions do not need an intermediary, which reduces the cost of transactions and means that no authority can cancel or hinder a transaction.
Let’s take the example of a person who wants to send money abroad to his family or buy a product that would normally require an intermediary to convert the currencies, and who must pay the fees for the conversion as well as for the surgery. There can also be postponements, dependent on how the funds are moved.
With a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, the transaction would only take a few minutes at most, and a one-time transaction fee would have to be paid. Such an operation can be launched anywhere in the world through an Internet connection. For businesses, cryptocurrencies could represent the prospect of inexpensive, near-instantaneous transactions that can cross borders seamlessly, and they could revolutionize the global payments and remittances industry.
People pay a cost to send money through remittance services is pretty high. The alternatives that exist today should be very disruptive in this regard since cryptocurrencies can do the same thing faster and cheaper, as well as provide a similar, if not greater, level of security.
The blockchain is also anonymous and has never been hacked since the distributed ledger means that evidence of every transaction is replicated on every computer in the chain. And even in the event of a hack, there will always be files containing the exact details of the operations.
4. What are the risks?
First, their decentralized nature generates risks since the absence of state guarantees means that there is no state protection. The state may not be inclined to trace criminals in theft cases.
And while the blockchain itself has not been hacked, there have been robberies on the exchanges where cryptocurrencies are bought and sold. In January, hackers stole about US$530 million worth of cryptocurrency from the Coin Check exchange in Japan, according to Reuters.
The digital wallets that consumers utilize to store cryptocurrencies can also be susceptible. One of the weak security points is the set of codes or “keys” used to access the wallet. If the codes are stolen – through the hacking of a smartphone on which they are stored, for example – a digital wallet could be emptied.
The potential for governments to take action may also have contributed to Bitcoin’s recent drop in value. While countries likely can’t eliminate a cryptocurrency, they could make trading in it illegal. Concerns that China and South Korea would take such action surfaced in January, leading to a selloff in Bitcoin. Further levels of regulation may be put in place as governments attempt to monitor the taxable flow of currencies as well as potential criminal activity.
For many people, the recent drop in the prices of certain cryptocurrencies (e.g. Bitcoin has lost almost half of its value since December) makes them even more attractive as investments.
But when it comes to the potential long-term upside, it is difficult at this stage to determine the potential value embedded in blockchain protocols, so it is hard to pick the right one. winning element. Evaluating the worth of either of these cryptocurrencies is mainly based on the procedures that are developed. It takes a lot of effort and hard work to achieve such determination; that is why it is very difficult, in many cases, to access investment at the moment. I would say that it is still too early to judge.
5. What does the future hold for us?
Although the cryptocurrency industry is still in its infancy, many merchants around the world are already accepting bitcoin – and blockchain has the potential to impact many industries.
In addition to global discounts, the decentralized nature of blockchain paves the way for the transformation of the identity protection industry since customer data could be stored in an authenticated and distributed database that could be managed by customers and passed on to companies and authorities of their choice.
Industries that use loyalty programs or contracts could also be affected. Mr. Perlin also predicts potential disruptions in the insurance industry, as well as in companies whose activities are based on trust, such as those that track the provenance of precious materials.
Steve is also reluctant to make predictions about any particular cryptocurrency, citing the many risks, even though he believes the industry in general has the potential for huge growth.
His argument rests on the prospect of a $10 trillion market over the next 15 years – which is a tenfold increase in value – based on the rough calculation of one-third of the combined value of around $30 billion. offshore accounts and gold, which are the current stores of value that cryptocurrencies could begin to replace.
The key, he said, lies in the continued advancement of cryptocurrencies themselves so that applications are added and operations are faster and less expensive.