A cryptocurrency is a digital asset or digital form of money. Cryptocurrencies play a variety of roles on a blockchain network. They leverage cryptography to verify and secure transactions. (Cryptography is the study of hiding information.)
Cryptocurrencies are innovative in many ways. One key innovation is the peer-to-peer nature of cryptocurrencies. This property makes it possible for people to send and receive value without having to trust a third party. This makes cryptocurrencies similar to cash, except that they’re completely digital.
The most well-known cryptocurrency in the world is bitcoin. It’s an essential part of the Bitcoin blockchain network. If you removed the bitcoin cryptocurrency from Bitcoin, the network would break down. You’ll often see investors and traders refer to bitcoin by its ticker symbol: BTC.
People use bitcoin to store and transmit value among other participants in the Bitcoin network, no matter where they are in the world. To maintain scarcity, there’ll never be more than 21 million bitcoins issued. The final bitcoin is expected to be mined in 2140. (Cryptocurrency mining is the process of solving math puzzles.)
NUGGET OF WISDOM
The identity of Bitcoin’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, remains a mystery. It could be a man, a woman, or a group of people. They published the Bitcoin whitepaper in October 2008. In April 2011, Satoshi Nakamoto sent their final email, stating “I’ve moved on to other things.”
What is Litecoin?
Often dubbed the silver to bitcoin’s gold, the litecoin cryptocurrency is native to the Litecoin blockchain. It was created by former Google software engineer Charlie Lee in October 2011. Litecoin was designed with an emphasis on faster transactions.
Litecoin’s source code is a fork of Bitcoin Core, the most popular software client of Bitcoin. For this reason, there are significant overlaps between how Bitcoin and Litecoin function. Transaction speeds are widely considered the main difference between the two.
What is Ethereum?
Ethereum is an open-source, decentralised computing infrastructure. It uses blockchain technology to synchronise and store changes in state. The cryptocurrency native to Ethereum is ether. It is integral to Ethereum. Just as bitcoin is to Bitcoin.
Ethereum’s whitepaper was published in November 2013 by computer programmer Vitalik Buterin. After being built by Buterin and other developers, the first Ethereum block was mined in July 2015.
Ethereum is best known for supporting smart contracts. (Smart contracts are bits of code that perform a set of instructions.) Although Bitcoin supports smart contracts, Ethereum lets developers use them in a lot more ways. How? Thanks to the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), an environment where smart contracts live and interact.
In the early 2020s, the Ethereum blockchain will be undergoing a major redesign. The result will be Ethereum 2.0, a blockchain that will be able to deal with a lot more transactions. For more on Ethereum 2.0, watch the below video by Nugget’s News founder Alex Saunders.