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Many observers have already noticed blockchain technology is going to change the world. Much more than just a secure form of currency, the technology has a wide range of applications due to the unique nature of the blockchain. Data can be stored in blocks and cannot be altered at any later stage, which means it is completely secure. Dealing with blockchain is also quick, efficient and can be transferred to any location, with none of the usual expenses incurred in foreign remittances.
The uses of blockchain include supply chain, cloud storage, fundraising, smart contracts and authentication. The technology and its applications are developing fast, with new currencies created by the day. The first blockchain was launched ten years ago, and now there are almost 2,400 active cryptocurrencies. Each has its own symbol and a different market value.
Blockchain is set to revolutionise the business world, just as an optimised and secure IT system can transform individual enterprises. Bringing an IT security company onboard will always keep a business safe and fully operational.
The first ever cryptocurrency, the Bitcoin network began in 2009 and remained the only cryptocurrency for the next two years. It is by far the largest digital currency, with around 70 percent of the market share and a market cap of $182 billion. From 2011 to 2017 the price of bitcoin rose from $0.30 to $19,783, and currently remains around $10,000 – by far the highest value of any cryptocurrency. It will take some monumental upheavals in the market for Bitcoin to be shifted from the topspot.
Dating back to 2015, Ethereum is a platform that is primarily used for Distributed Apps (DApps) and smart contracts. These can be developed without fraud or the interference of a third party. Applications are run with Ether tokens, which are specific to the Ethereum platform.
When it was offered for pre-sale in 2014, Ether made a big impression and this helped to begin the idea of the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for blockchain platforms. In 2016, Etherium was divided into Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC). It currently has a market cap of $23.4 billion and a coin price of $217.
Litecoin was the second cryptocurrency and was launched in 2011, hot on the heels of Bitcoin. It is very similar to Bitcoin in technical details, but it has a much faster block generation rate and a faster transaction confirmation time. While the average time of a Bitcoin transaction is around ten minutes, Litecoin only takes around two and a half minutes. This could potentially make Litecoin more attractive for traders. Litecoin can also accommodate more coins, 84 million, compared to Bitcoin’s maximum of 21 million coins. The currency has a market cap of 4.7 billion and a price of $74.4.
Ripple is a currency exchange network that was launched in 2011 and offers low-cost international payments. It claims to enable transactions that are instant, secure and almost free. Average transfers cost less than half a cent.
Unlike most other cryptocurrencies, Ripple is the currency for a centralised payment system, and it cannot be mined. XRP Transfers usually take place in a matter of seconds, while Ethereum takes minutes and Bitcoin hours. Ripple is a leading cryptocurrency with a market cap of $12.5 billion and a price of $0.29.
A relatively recent digital currency, EOS was launched in 2018 by Dan Larimer, who had previously founded Bitshares, a cryptocurrency exchange, and Steemit, a social media platform based on blockchain. Similar to Ethereum, EOS provides a platform on which to build decentralised applications.
The ICO of EOS lasted a year and raised around $4 billion through crowdsourcing. EOS is another currency that doesn’t use mining to produce coins, but instead blocks are generated by block producers who are rewarded with EOS tokens. This is aimed at being more democratic and decentralised. EOS currently has a market cap of $3.6 billion and a coin price of $3.91.
Formerly AntShares, Neo was created in 2014 by Da Hongfei and is the most important cryptocurrency from China. Its success is in part due to help from the Chinese government, which is usually known for its hardline cryptocurrency regulations.
NEO has been dubbed the ‘Chinese Ethereum’ for the way it enables smart contracts. It has also been successful in its support for programming languages, such as Java, C++ and Go. It has a current market cap of $667 million and a price of $9.47.
Bitcoin Cash is an altcoin, or spin-off cryptocurrency, that began life in 2017 and is a successful fork of the original Bitcoin. Forks are often caused by conflicts between developers and miners in a decentralised structure. In 2018, Bitcoin Cash was forked again to create Bitcoin SV.
Bitcoin has a 1MB limit on block size, which Bitcoin Cash increases to 8MB, as larger blocks can mean faster transaction times. The altcoin also removed the Segregated Witness protocol that affects block space. Bitcoin Cash, also known as Bcash, is a leading cryptocurrency with a market cap of $5.6 billion and a token price of $313.81.
Monero is a currency with a special focus on decentralisation, scalability and privacy, and was launched in 2014. It was developed with the help of donations and community support. It has a public ledger that enables transactions to be broadcast or sent by anyone, but the amount, source or destination is unknown to outsiders.
The ring signatures technique uses a collection of cryptographic signatures of which at least one is real, though all appear to be valid. This enables a unique and exceptional level of security for the currency. Monero currently has a market cap of $1.3 billion and a price of $73.67.
Blockchain platforms are still in development and their applications have yet to be fully realised. This is partly due to certain challenges that need to be overcome, such as interoperability, which means that the various currencies cannot share information. But despite this, and the overwhelming dominance of Bitcoin, new platforms are released by the day and still generate interest. We all watch in anticipation of the day when the uses of blockchain are ubiquitous and digital currency surpasses traditional methods.