In the last couple of decades, technological progress has accelerated its full-scale expansion on pretty much all spheres of human life. Every year there appears something new that can change the world and make it a little easier and more efficient. One of such inventions is the technology of blockchain and the new payment system created on its basis – cryptocurrency. In this article, we will try to explain what the blockchain technology is and why cryptocurrencies will change the world in the next 5-10 years.
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- The essence of the blockchain technology
- Cryptocurrency types and their difference from other payment systems
- How are coins extracted?
- Forecasts for the cryptocurrency market
Blockchain is quite a young technology, the first application that was launched on its base was Bitcoin, thus, blockchain is often referred to as a purely transactional network. In fact, the practical application of this technology is unlimited. Now there are blockchain applications that work in the fields of logistics, medicine, law, trade, rent, etc.
In short, blockchain is a chain, which consists of a large number of blocks, where various information can be stored. Each subsequent block stores data about each previous one in an encrypted form. The uniqueness of the technology lies in the fact that the entire register of data is decentralized, and its copies are simultaneously stored on tens of thousands of computers around the world. This provides the highest level of protection from third-party interventions. The data stored in the system is almost impossible to compromise, replace or delete.
Let’s review an example of where you could introduce a blockchain system. In order to achieve full transparency in the presidential elections (parliament, senate, etc.), they can be held on blockchain. If the government of any country dares to take such a step, it will be possible to consider that these are the first 100% non-falsified elections in the history of mankind. The technological base is already there, the matter remains for the world leaders, but most likely they will not be quite happy about such prospects.
With the help of this technology, intermediaries can be removed from the chain of interaction between buyers and sellers of goods and services, which makes cooperation more profitable and effective. The technology of blockchain has a great future, many analysts compare its importance to humanity with the invention of the Internet. It will be able to fully reveal its potential in the third decade of the 21st century.
As it has already been mentioned above, cryptocurrencies became the first mass applications that were built on the basis of the blockchain technology. The first one was Bitcoin, but in almost 10 years since its creation, about 2500 different coins and tokens having different value and performing different functions have been released. Some coins are designed purely for making payments, others can act as the domestic currency of a certain application, the third are able to guarantee dividends from developers for their holders. Types of coins are too numerous, you can read more about them in our article.
The main difference between cryptocurrency and traditional payment services is their decentralization. That is, coins do not have a specific center that can monitor the network. All participants of the system interact on the principle of equality, where each member of the community acts as a user and as a server at the same time.
Advantages over traditional payment systems:
- Significant reduction of the commission and time of international transfers due to the absence of intermediaries. For example, a transcontinental payment for $99 million was recently made in the Litecoin network, the commission was only 40 cents, and the transaction took 10 minutes. Within the traditional payment systems, this would require 7-10 working days, and commission fees would be at least $100k.
- Anonymity. Digital technologies both give us freedom and take it from us. Using a MasterCard or Visa, a person stops being anonymous. If you want, you can track the entire history of his/her purchases, his/her location, etc. Some cryptocurrencies guarantee total anonymity.
- Absence of outside intervention. Any bank can freeze its client’s funds if it sees it fit. Since cryptocurrencies do not have a single center, such intervention in the work of individual wallets is almost impossible. Of course, it all depends on the type of wallet. For example, you can freeze your account at the exchange, but if the coins are on a hardware cold wallet, no one else has access to it, except its owner.
Bitcoin is often compared with precious metals, in particular gold, because they have a number of similar characteristics:
- limited amount (a total of 21 million BTC will be released);
- the need for extraction (mining) and the gradual increase in the complexity of this process.
Some coins (such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, etc.) need to be mined. Let’s discuss what kind of process it is and how it works. So, coins are awarded to the miners who installed a certain amount of computer equipment and provided it for the system’s operation. You can obtain cryptocurrency in a variety of ways, even using a PC, but you should not wait for any serious earnings in this case. Miners often use more powerful hardware, such as video cards or ASICs. The computing power of miners ensures the operation of the system and the timely conduct of transactions.
It is worth noting that the market is now in a phase of deep correction in comparison with its peak values, which were observed in the January this year. But even if you look at the annual chart, you can see that the assets are showing good growth (about 250%). According to the two-year chart, the growth rate of capitalization is 21760%, and so on. So do not panic like most of the media. The fact is that there are many people who invested in late November-December 2017. Their outrage is justified, they lost 70-80% of their contributions, but it is unfair to make a conclusion from this that the cryptocurrency industry is collapsing.
Many analysts predict growth for this year by 20-30 times of today’s value. In general, analyzing the cryptocurrency market is a rather difficult task, and nobody can say for sure what rate will be at the end of the year. Let’s just say, there are no fundamental reasons for the collapse. As soon as the news background improves, the market should start to grow and possibly even reach new historical highs.
Many people interpret the technology of blockchain as a transactional-only network, but this is not true. The application spheres of this technology are numerous. Cryptocurrency is only the tip of the iceberg. Analysts predict the widespread introduction of decentralized applications in the 2020s.
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