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If you have been following the news, you must have come across the term – cryptocurrency.
Ever since the price of bitcoin hit $20,000 in 2017, cryptocurrencies have become the talk of the town. You must have come across folks vouching vehemently for virtual currencies (used synonymously with cryptocurrencies).
But what are they exactly? What makes them so different from traditional and legacy financial systems?
Two words make up the word cryptocurrency – ‘crypto’ and ‘currency’. Crypto stands for cryptography. A cryptocurrency uses cryptography to successfully secure, conduct, and validate monetary transactions.
No individual or organization controls the creation and issuance of cryptocurrencies as they exist on distributed, decentralized networks called blockchains. Now you must be thinking, oh wait! Blockchain? Yes.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchains basically consist of information packets called ‘blocks’ that are interconnected in a ‘chain’ type arrangement. Contrary to centralized ledgers maintained by banks or data repositories ‘controlled’ by software and networking behemoths, blockchain is a decentralized ‘peer-to-peer’ digital ledger. For a detailed understanding check out the video below:
Modern cryptocurrencies employ blockchains but early cryptocurrency prototypes were a bit different. Let’s look at what they were like.
History of Cryptocurrencies
Cryptocurrency systems are not entirely new. Research and development on programmable money has been happening since the 1980s and early 1990s. In 1989, American cryptographer, David Chaum attempted a breakthrough with Digicash.
It was a cryptographic electronic money system through which users could withdraw money from a bank and designate specific encrypted keys to that money.
Users could also conduct monetary transactions through Digicash. Unfortunately, the cryptocurrency system didn’t survive for long and the parent company filed for bankruptcy in 1998.
Few more notable names like Wei Dai and cryptography pioneer Nick Szabo also tried introducing cryptocurrencies through “B-Money”, and BitGold but didn’t find much success.
The workable concept of a cryptocurrency finally took tangible shape with the inception of Bitcoin in 2009. Anonymous inventor Satoshi Nakamoto introduced its idea in the whitepaper titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.
Bitcoin’s peer-to-peer network is very similar to the file-sharing system like BitTorrent. No centralized authority controls the system.
Post bitcoin, many digital currencies have emerged. They follow different blockchain protocols that serve a variety of use cases. Some of them are:
- Proof-of-Work (PoW)
- Proof-of-Stake (PoS)
- Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS)
- Proof-of-Weight (PoW)
How do Proof-of-Work Cryptocurrencies Work?
As mentioned earlier, cryptocurrencies or digital currencies run on blockchain networks. Satoshi introduced blockchain as a distributed ledger concept that powers Bitcoin.
Blockchain ensures that all cryptocurrencies issued on the decentralized network are accounted for. And how? Senders and receivers are required to sign off on transactions through their own public and private keys.
Apart from this, transactions undergo strict verification. Cryptocurrency miners play a significant role in this regard. They use powerful computers to solve complex mathematical algorithms. This is the key to the entire verification process. The miner who solves the problem first gets to add the transaction to the blockchain.
In the process, the miner earns a set number of cryptocurrencies as a reward for the work done.
Miners sell these cryptocurrencies to cover their operations costs. That’s how these crypto-assets become active contributors in a proof-of-work blockchain-based economy. To understand the mechanism visually check out the video below:
The entire system is transparent right from the start till the end as every miner/ network participant has access to a copy of the blockchain ledger. All transactions are publicly visible which means that forging transactions through ‘double spending‘ is out of the question.
How to Buy Cryptocurrencies and from Where?
Cryptocurrency exchanges can serve as the most appropriate place to buy cryptocurrencies. At WazirX we offer a plethora of digital currency options for you to explore according to your portfolio budget.
In order to get started, you will need to provide your bank account details. It takes a few hours to verify the information shared from your end, after which you are all set.
You can go ahead and directly and buy any cryptocurrency using the funds from your bank account.
Knowing about cryptocurrencies can open doors to a whole new world of opportunities. You can explore options in cryptocurrency investment as well as blockchain development. If you think you want to dig deeper into the blockchain space, we got just the right thing for you here: https://wazirx.com/blog/how-to-learn-blockchain-programming/
We hope this primer will give you a solid headstart in your cryptocurrency journey!
Frequently Asked Questions
Virtual currency is a type of uncontrolled digital currency that can only be used online. It is exclusively stored and transacted using designated software, mobile or computer applications, or unique digital wallets, and all transactions are conducted through secure, dedicated networks. Because digital currency is just currency issued by a bank in digital form, virtual currency is not the same as a digital currency. Virtual currency, unlike ordinary money, is based on a trust structure and cannot be issued by a central bank or other banking regulatory organization.
No, cryptocurrency is not banned in India. India has seen its ups and downs in the crypto sector concerning its legal status. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) issued a circular in April 2018 advising all organizations under its jurisdiction not to trade in virtual currencies or provide services to assist anyone in dealing with or settling them. A government committee proposed outlawing all private cryptocurrencies in mid-2019, with up to ten years in prison and severe penalties for anyone dealing in digital currency. The Supreme Court overruled the RBI's circular in March 2020, allowing banks to undertake cryptocurrency transactions from dealers and exchanges.
There are over 5000 other digital currencies available on the internet in addition to Bitcoins. The only problem is that they haven't gotten the users' attention. Besides Bitcoins, a few other digital currencies have gained popularity among users. It's been more than ten years since Bitcoins were first released, and now they've achieved new heights thanks to their phenomenal success.
Bitcoin has had the highest market capitalization, has been around the longest, has the most experienced development team, and has enormous network impact and brand recognition. As a result, while trading cryptocurrencies, the rate of return on Bitcoin is commonly used as a benchmark. However, the risks associated with cryptocurrencies remain, and the safest cryptocurrency for you depends on your analysis.
Cryptocurrency can be purchased in two ways: through mining or exchanges. The process of confirming and adding transactions to the blockchain public ledger is known as cryptocurrency mining. Cryptocurrency exchanges are another option. Exchanges make money by charging transaction fees, but there are alternative platforms where you may communicate directly with other cryptocurrency traders.
Cryptocurrency mining can be time-consuming, expensive, and sporadically profitable. Mining has an appeal for many cryptocurrency enthusiasts as miners are paid directly with crypto tokens for their efforts. The legality of cryptocurrency mining is dependent on where you live. In India, there is no restriction on crypto mining.
Cryptocurrencies use cryptography technology to keep transactions and their units (tokens) secure. Cryptocurrency works via a technology called the blockchain. A blockchain is a decentralized technology that handles and records transactions across numerous computers. The security of this technology is part of its value.
There are two ways of investing in cryptocurrency, mining and via exchanges. Cryptocurrency mining is considered the procedure of verifying and adding transactions to the blockchain public ledger. Another option is via cryptocurrency exchanges. Exchanges generate money by collecting transaction fees, but there are alternative websites where you can interact directly with other users who want to trade cryptocurrencies.
Cryptocurrency has the potential to make you extremely wealthy, and the potential to cause you to lose your money. Crypto assets, like any other investment, come with many risks and potential rewards. Fundamentally, cryptocurrency is an excellent investment, particularly if you want to gain direct exposure to the demand for digital currency.
Yes, with exchanges like WazirX, you may invest in cryptocurrency in India. To begin, go to the WazirX website and register. After that, you will receive a verification email. The link received by verification mail will only be available for a few seconds, so make sure you click it as quickly as possible. This will successfully verify your email address. The following step is to set up security, so choose the best solution for you. After you've set up the security, you'll be given the option of continuing with or without completing the KYC process.