2017 was a tremendous year ever for Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency and digital asset world at large. The alpha dog cryptocurrency leading the entire cryptoasset industry had a spectacular run from around $1000 per BTC at the start of 2017 to almost $20,000 per BTC at the end of 2017 - all this despite trial and tribulations throughout the year including a Chinese ban on cryptocurrency and digital currency mining and a denial by the Securities and Exchange Commision (SEC) of a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF).
There was another trial/tribulation for Bitcoin in 2017, however. Despite its unprecedented surge, Bitcoin was (and still is) plagued with key problems that hinder its usability in a truly widespread manner as originally intended for this cryptocurrency - these problems might affect Bitcoin's future as an alternative currency to fiat currency and the current traditional banking and financial system.
In August 2017, acting out of growing fear that Bitcoin would one day become too archaic and lose relevance in the cryptocurrency and digital currency industry, a group of Bitcoin developers split from the original cryptocurrency and created Bitcoin Cash in a process/procedure known as a fork.
First, what is a fork?
A fork in the cryptocurrency world can be simply explained as the splitting of any cryptocurrency into two or more independent branches but which all share the same roots. A fork is said to happen when the core developers of any particular cryptocurrency or digital asset disagree on the future operations of the blockchain underlying that digital asset and, as such, decide to go separate ways.
When a fork happens, the newer cryptoasset does not start from scratch from block zero or a genesis block but continues on from the point in the original blockchain when the split occurred. This means that all transactions and amounts of cryptocurrencies held by users on the old cryptoasset remain valid, but any future transactions are conducted independently of the original or parent cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin vs. Bitcoin Cash
The main point of contention that led to the split in the core Bitcoin development community was the slow transaction processing speed that Bitcoin was dealing with. This, coupled with very high transaction fees that were born out of the very low number of transactions the Bitcoin blockchain could support at any given period of time, made some in the core bitcoin development community desire a change.
Bitcoin’s block size is pegged at just 1MB but was designed to be increased at a later date by the creator of the cryptocurrency, Satoshi Nakamoto, who (if this is, in fact, a single individual) was never heard from after 2010, but the upgrade was never carried out by the developers who have since taken over control. With the huge adoption of Bitcoin, whose blockchain could only carry out about 250,000 transactions every 24 hours, a lot of backlogs began piling up which meant that miners received larger and larger fees for mining (eg. validating transaction on the Bitcoin blockchain). This is the problem that Bitcoin Cash attempts to solve - with an increased block size of 8MB, transactions can be verified at a very much faster rate on-chain, which then translates into cheaper transaction fees.
The Future of Bitcoin Cash
Bitcoin Cash markets itself as the true image of what the Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto had in mind - it's not attempting to be some sort of alternative version of Bitcoin, but attempt to be regarded as the true Bitcoin itself. The core Bitcoin development team obviously disagree with this contention. from which the core Bitcoin has deviated. With time, the Bitcoin Cash development team hopes that this new cryptocurrency will become the number one cryptocurrency in the industry and be regarded as the one true Bitcoin.
In 2009, Bitcoin pioneered what was to become a new asset class and a new industry becoming the first stateless and borderless currency in the world that was at once fast, private, and secure. Bitcoin has since seen widespread adoption and investment from all corners of the world, but it was not very long after its launch that a few cracks started appearing in its processes and functionality as an alternative to traditional fiat currency.
With the focus of the cryptocurrency and crypto asset world being, in part, on uprooting and replacing the traditional financial banking systems of the world, it was not long before those in the cryptocurrency and cryptoasset community who felt dissatisfied with the way things were going brought their own alternatives to the crypto scene. These new and alternative coins to the original cryptocurrency bitcoin became known as altcoins over time. Among the more prominent of these altcoins was and is Dash - a portmanteau for Digital Cash.
As its name implies, Dash is a blockchain based cryptocurrency whose main goal is to one day become the go-to digital alternative to everyday cash. Dash seeks to provide all of the uses that cash offers us all in our everyday life, but under a decentralized system that is fast, safe, cost-efficient, and highly private. Dash was conceptualized from its foundation to solve many of the key problems that plagued bitcoin.
Dash aims to be more private than Bitcoin
Many people new to the cryptocurrency and cryptoasset scene think Bitcoin is private. Although it is reasonably private, it is not completely private by any means - Bitcoin uses public keys that can easily be tracked and these public keys (if they are able to be tied to a person's real-world identity) can show what Bitcoin transactions a person had done.
Dash's original team of developers wanted to create a digital currency that was actually private. One of the key attractions of the digital currency and the cryptoasset worlds is that it promises the user a completely private means of sending money from one place to another without the fear of being tracked by anyone. Although Bitcoin transactions don’t strictly carry the names of the sender and the recipient of any digital payment, the actual payment can be traced by anyone with a computer and internet connection using the open source blockchain. This type of digital currency tracing is not possible with Dash using special features of the Dash network.
Dash aims to be faster than Bitcoin in digital currency transactions processing
Dash, unlike Bitcoin, offers its users a nearly instantaneous means of confirming digital payments on the Dash network. A typical Dash payment can’t take as little as 2 seconds to completely confirm -this is fast compared to Bitcoin which takes at least 10 minutes (due to the 10 minute block time) and far faster than centralized options such as third-party clearing providers. Lately, as the Bitcoin network has expanded in terms of the number of users who are adopting the digital currency, transactions can take up to a day to be confirmed.
Dash attempts to be truly Fungible
One of the key weaknesses of Bitcoin is that Bitcoins themselves are not seamlessly interchangeable with one another. This is because Bitcoins carry a history of the transactions they have been involved in previously. Therefore, any Bitcoin that is traced to have been previously used in an illicit or dark activity is at the risk of being rejected by merchants or having its value deprecated in some way. Merchants or Bitcoin exchanges can blacklist Bitcoin wallet addresses. Dash comes with the fungibility of fiat currency as the transaction history related to a coin on the Dash network is routinely deleted - this makes them interchangeable and protects users from losing the value of their digital asset.
Recurring Funding - Dash's Approach to Improving the Platform
While Bitcoin relies completely on the big-interest miners to continuously verify transactions and keep the network intact, with no recurring source of funding, the Dash acts like a digital corporation where recurring funding is sourced in order to allow the digital asset platform to keep hiring tech-savvy minds and bringing in new ideas in an attempt to improve the Dash network.
How to Acquire Dash
As with Bitcoin, Dash can be acquired either via mining or via simple purchase from digital exchanges. In this sense, Dash is similar to Bitcoin and many other cryptoassets and digital currencies that rely on hashing algorithms and mining.
Jamie Dimon Steps Back from Harsh Crypto Comments - Another Indication that the Traditional Financial World's Hatred of Cryptoassets is Slowly Beginning to Thaw
.Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, stepped down from his comments he made in late 2017. In September of 2017, Dimon said that Bitcoin is a "fraud" and that he would fire people who worked for him if they traded in the cryptocurrency.
bitcoin is a fraud
Many in the cryptoasset and cryptocurrency community were unhappy about such remarks coming form a very senior person in the financial and banking world. Many in the financial world, including Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, hesitated even during that time in 2017 to make extremely harsh criticism of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. They didn't make extremely harsh criticisms, but they still criticized it.
Blankfein said in November of 2017 that "maybe Bitcoin is kind of a bubble" but he also said that "the list of things that are conventional today that I use every day that I thought would never make it is a very long list."
the list of things that are conventional today that I use every day that I thought would never make it is a very long list
On Tuesday, January 9, however, Jamie Dimon said that he regretted calling Bitcoin a fraud - he added that he feels the "blockchain is real." These statements were likely prompted by various things, including the rise in cryptocurrency and cryptoasset prices since Dimon made that original statement. However, it's likely that pressure on Wall St. to not be the pariah of the crypto world also had something to do with it. Finally, it's possible that Dimon simply took some time to learn more about cryptocurrency and cryptoassets - after that learning he might have a better opinion of the overall technology behind it.
the blockchain is real
While many want to look down upon Dimon for going back on his remarks or for not being on the mark back in 2017, this isn't a smart way to think about things. Incentives matter a lot - this is basic economics. Jamie Dimon is the CEO of one of the world's largest financial institutions - he is the epitome of the entrenched establishment in the global financial world. No one who is not naive should be surprised that such a person would make negative comments about something that could potentially disrupt his entire industry - an industry he devoted his life to. Instead, it's promising that he took a step toward setting things right.
From the birth of Bitcoin -- which effectively was the birth of the modern cryptocurrency and crypto asset scene -- it has been known as being in some ways anarchic or promoting some sort of counterculture. This misconception (a misconception that is slowly and steadily going away as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptoassets enter into the mainstream financial world) is detrimental to the cryptocurrency and cryptoasset industry because it causes people to not pay attention to the real strengths of cryptoassets and the blockchain technology that generally underlies it.
One major step on the cryptoasset scene was the creation of Ethereum - Ethereum is a second-generation cryptoasset that remedied many of Bitcoin's problems. Ethereum is one of the most prominent of these newer cryptoassets (aka altcoins) that was created to solve a whole lot of the problems that we know Bitcoin to have - chiefly by enabling users to create what are called smart contracts. Ethereum itself, however, has not been immune to problems - this is one of the main reasons for the creation of Cardano by former Ethereum developers, a third-generation cryptoasset which seeks to further improve on Ethereum.
Cardano is based on Peer-Reviewed Research
One of the key things that make Cardano standout among all other cryptocurrencies is that the ideas that were used to build it and with which its developer team continue to improve the network are a product of meticulous peer-reviewed research. This means that unlike almost all other cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets on the market today -- whose underlying ideas are just published by its team of developers without any scrutiny or tests before being rolled out -- most of the principles upon which Cardano is built are scientifically-researched. With former Ethereum CEO Charles Hoskinson being a prominent member of its development team, Cardano perhaps boasts of one of the most credible foundations of any cryptocurrency and cryptoasset outfit in the industry
Problems Solved with Cardano
Cardano attempts to solve various problems that have plauged other cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets. Cardano's benefits include the following:
Cardano's Mining Protocol
Cardano uses a proof of stake (PoS) mining protocol that is known as the Ouroboros, which is a cutting-edge and scientifically-proven mining protocol that has been proven beyond doubt to be scalable and completely secure.
By implementing proof (something that Ethereum will likely implement in the future), the Cardano network allows for the printing of new blocks without wasting a lot of electricity - the mining problem is something that Bitcoin is currently dealing with.
The Internet of Things (IoT) industry is among the promising new technologies on the horizon (along with AI and machine learning). As of present, it is estimated that there are over 8 billion internet-enabled devices that communicate with each other without any human interference. This metric is expected to grow exponentially with over 25 billion devices expected to be online at the end of this decade. In
IOTA is a decentralized cryptocurrency/cryptoasset network that seeks to provide a perfect ecosystem for IoT devices to seamlessly connect with each other and trade information and resources with one another without ever needing the input of a human being to maintain the network. A lot of data is collected by IoT sensors all over the world, a large portion of which is useless to the company who created the product but very useful to other firms. IOTA enables the seamless trade of these kinds of data between devices as well as the trading of other resources (such as buying electricity when a device needs it most and selling excess when it is feasible and prudent). IOTA enables all communication and trades to be carried out with zero fees attached to them.
Tangle vs. Typical Blockchain
Unlike most decentralized networks today which are built on a blockchain like Bitcoin and Ethereum, IOTA developers know that with billions of devices in constant communication with one another conducting transactions every second, a blockchain which is already coming under a lot of criticism for slow transactions can simply not support the millions of transactions every second that IoT devices carry out every single day.
To solve this problem, the creators of IOTA formulated its own consensus and transaction verification mechanism known as the Tangle. This is a verification process in which every participating device needing to have its own transaction verified must also verify two older transactions in order to have its own cleared by another device whose transaction comes after it. With the Tangle consensus protocol, the IOTA platform seems to solve the problem of scalability that bugs a lot of blockchain technology. As such no proof of work is required for transactions to be verified on its network as is with many other cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets (eg. Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, etc.). The fact that each device contributes its own quota in powering the network and securing its integrity, no transaction fees are added to any transactions on the IOTA network.
Potential Disadvantages of IOTA
One of the criticisms IOTA receives is related to its revolutionary Tangle consensus process - some experts say it is vulnerable to attacks and takeovers from hostile entities. While a typical blockchain such as the Bitcoin blockchain requires up to 51% of the total computers on it to be taken over in order for any significant damage to be caused. IOTA requires less than this - it is estimated at only 34% of the IoT devices on the network have to be taken over.
Cryptocurrency and cryptoasset industry watchers say this ability to seemingly take over the network with less than 40% of IoT devices exposes the IOTA network to a significantly higher risk of being compromised with a hostile party being able to add false transactions or delete genuine ones in the case of such an attack.
However, given the potentially very large number of IoT devices that are expected to go online over the coming years, this might prove a difficult proposition. IOTA backers also say that this vulnerability is only prevalent at its initial stages for which IOTA have taken measures to prevent by assigning what they term as the “Coordinator” to monitor and re-verify transactions until the network becomes big enough, where it will be almost impossible for any single entity to muster the needed 34% for any attack.
Ripple is a blockchain-based startup that is different from most others as it is not a decentralized open ledger network but a centralized one with an aim that is not quite perfectly aligned with the aims of most other decentralized cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets available on the market today. Ripple unlike Bitcoin and other altcoins (such as Ethereum and Litecoin) is focused on complimenting the present financial industry and providing it with tools to deliver better and faster services - this is different from Bitcoin's quasi-unstated goal of uprooting and transforming the global financial landscape.
Ripple is a payment system which seeks to take international payments that banks regularly engage in out of the Dark Ages (where it can take up to 3 to 5 days for payments to clear) and to create a system built on modern technology and built for the 21st century. On the Ripple network, anything of value (including fiat currency, commodities, other cryptocurrencies, or even mobile credits) can be transferred from one corner of the earth to another in a matter of seconds in the form of tokens - all this in a secure and very inexpensive manner using Ripple token (eg. tokens that can be used on the Ripple network) called XRP.
Ripple vs. Bitcoin
Ripple is starkly different from most cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and other altcoins. Some of these key differences include:
How to acquire XRP tokens?
Since the Ripple network is generally a private thing, mining is not currently an option for acquiring XRP tokens for use on the Ripple network. Instead, one has to purchase XRP token outright from an exchange - many reputable exchanges currently provide the ability to purchase XRP tokens.
Ripple is already making waves in the financial industry
Ripple is not just a concept - many large global financial and non-financial firms have already dived into Ripple (either actually using the Ripple network or researching how it can be used). Top global financial firms such as the following are already members of the Ripple network:
Although there's room to grow (the list of Ripple users is yet to add the largest and most complex global financial powerhouses), the current membership list for the Ripple network goes a long way towards demonstrating how effective Ripple is today and how powerful it can become in the future.
And now, given the rise of cyrptocurrencies and crypto assets to quasi-mainstream financial assets, we're dedicated to providing quality, relevant, and interesting material on cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets. Articles on Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Cardano, and many more cryptocurrencies and cryptoassets can be found on Pennies and Pounds - all that in addition to a plethora of information on what cryptoassets are, how the entire crypto industry came to be, blockchain/immutable ledger technology, mining, proof of work, proof of stake, and how to prudently invest in crypto if you are so inclined (based on your risk tolerance and ability to withstand the volatility that will come with a crypto portfolio).