5 questions to understand crypto-currencies
Bitcoin, Ripple, blockchain, mining… These words have become more and more present in today’s technological language. They are all linked to an evolution in financial practices, a new revolutionary tech: cryptocurrency. Created to facilitate online payments, it remains far too complicated for many and also attracts an evil reputation to to its past use cases.
Facebook has made official the launch of its currency (Libra) for 2020. it is time that the masses educate themselves in order to know everything (or almost everything) about these virtual currencies that are flourishing everywhere.
What is it?
It is a virtual currency, 100% electronic, created to be able to make payments online without having to use a traditional financial institution and therefore, without having to make currency changes. In the absence of a physical medium ( banknote, coin, etc.), the cryptocurrency must have an encrypted system to ensure that it is the property of a person who has a “code” to use it (personal information, fingerprint, etc.).
Payment information is divided into a network of files (Blockchain) managed by thousands of computers that validate and record transactions. It allows to store and transmit data in a secure, transparent, and decentralized manner, with a history of operations. But where everyone writes only one line and can’t touch each other.
Are crypto-currencies recognized?
Even if it is becoming less rare to see places where you can pay in Bitcoin, a crypto-currency is still considered as an alternative currency. That is, it has no legal tender in any country. But it can be legally recognized as a means of exchange. In some others, however, it is prohibited for use.
How to use them?
To use it on the Internet as a merchant, you need a digital wallet to store your cryptocurrencies. There are online versions (more straightforward to use, but the site then owns the clients’ private keys), offline (ultra-secure and disconnected from the Internet, often USB keys such as the Nano X LED) or desktop (intermediate solution on your computer desktop, no identity justification required and total anonymity).
Generally, each currency has its wallet, but some are multi-crypto-currencies. But beware of its safety!
Is there only one crypto-currency on the market?
There are many virtual currencies. There is, of course, the Bitcoin, the most famous. But also the Ethereum, Namecoin, Litecoin, Ripple or Peercoin which are based on different proof of work systems with various advantages (fast transaction, mixed system, reinforced encryption, use of blockchain).
Why are they not generally adopted?
Cryptocurrencies still attract an evil reputation. It must be said that organized crime has seen it as an ultra-secure way to manage its affairs and launder money discreetly on the Dark web. Several virtual currencies have also been victims of piracy, leading to the end of some projects. And once these have disappeared from your computer or wallet, it’s over!
But it is above all the volatility of this virtual currency that remains a brake (the Bitcoin exceeded 19,000 dollars before falling drastically and stabilizing around 9,000 dollars). Because the weakness of crypto-currencies is that any value that maintains they do not back them.