Over the past 5 years, the influence and popularity of cryptocurrencies have exploded across the globe thanks to the initial boom of bitcoins rise in 2009. Since then there have been several other crypto currencies each with exciting potential for future applications. Litecoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin have all made impressive strides since the beginning of the year 2017 alone.
Cryptocurrency is a type of digital virtual currency that uses complex sequences of numbers, digital signatures, and distributed computing to generate currency, verify transactions, and secure its transaction ledger. Cryptocurrencies first debuted in 2011 with Bitcoin, which was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto. Although It has only existed for a few years, the story of crypto-currency has already come very far as being one of the most innovative business ventures to date. The cryptocurrency market is a radical and self-regulated economy where peers are regulating and supplying the market as they progress. Crypto-currency pioneers are forming start-ups in their basements that will be tech giants of the near future.
Since the beginning of 2017, the crypto-currency market has expanded from solely focusing on bitcoin. Strides are being made for the advancement of Ethereum, Litecoin, and recently Ripple coins in utilizations that are not related to currency trading as Bitcoin has become. As crypto developers continue to study the nature and functions of ledger and blockchain technology, theories of applications for anything from document notaries to an impenetrable voting system have risen. Big business is beginning to recognize the potential of cryptocurrency and their faith can be measured in billions of dollars in this year alone.
Perhaps the most exciting recent development in cryptocurrencies has been the explosion of interest in Ethereum. Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.These apps run on a custom built blockchain, an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent the ownership of property. This enables developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middleman or counterparty risk. (ethereum.com)
Ethereum has been a long time player in the cryptocurrency game, but it was only until 2017 that its prices soared to heights only previously rivaled by Bitcoin. Lost a bit in the mainstream spotlight has been ether, the cryptographic token that powers of the ethereum blockchain. But, when compared to bitcoins nearly 50% surge in value since the start of the year, ethereums 900% climb is worth examining in context. (Bovaird)
The wave of Ethereum success is likely attributed to its multifunctional ledger. Contrary to the narrow function of Bitcoins blockchain, which is defined to a closed script with not much room for experimenting, Ethereum blockchain supports any 3rd parties application that is willing to fund the venture. This has attracted the attention of many corporate conglomerates such as Microsoft, Red Hat, and JP Morgan to name a few. The initiative is perhaps the most significant to date in terms of enterprise interest and the scale of development being discussed. It also signals a deepening of interest among financial firms in the ethereum platform, albeit one focused in part on implementations that are separate yet compatible with the public ethereum network. (Castillo)
Before Ethereum was poised to be the next upcoming crypto technology, Litecoin was the upcoming golden child in the crypto community. Litecoin, like bitcoin, is a global peer to peer payment network that runs on a math based blockchain and is fully decentralized. Where Litecoin excels is in its speed, Litecoins network produces blocks at a much higher rate than Bitcoins. Therefore, Litecoins transaction speeds are much faster than Bitcoins, and the market cap is also much higher, leaving room for scalability. (Litecoin.com)
Litecoin has also attracted attention by serving as a test model for desired Bitcoin network improvements. The most notable of these is the recent installation of SegWit, or Segregated Witness protocol, to the Litecoin blockchain. With the introduction of Segregated Witness (SegWit), litecoin, the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, should see a boost in the capacity of its currently limited transaction throughput, among other changes to its protocol. (Hertig) Segregated Witness protocol was applied to the Litecoin blockchain in late April and is currently fully integrated into the network. Developers hope that the trial run of this software will be successful and be able to be applied to the Bitcoin blockchain.
Along with the addition of Segregated witness, Litecoins blockchain also adapted a project know as the Lightning Network. This is a separate effort of network expansion that is also running trials for Bitcoin blockchain. The reason for Litecoins exploit for Bitcoin network research lies in the similarity between the two crypto tokens. Litecoin and Bitcoin are very similar in structure building hopes of developers for ease of transition. (Hertig)
With all of these exciting new developments across multiple crypto platforms, prices have been skyrocketing for nearly every coin. It is estimated that $35 billion have been invested in crypto since the beginning of the year. (Aru) This massive influx of investments is most surely due to increased attention from large corporations in Ethereum and Litecoin, but Bitcoin is also benefiting from its siblings wave of crypto development. During April, Bitcoins price reached an all time high of $1800 shortly after a price spike occurred relating to ETFs rejection of Bitcoin as a real currency.
However although the United States appears to be resisting crypto developments, other countries are embracing it with open arms. Prior to April, Japan openly legalized bitcoin, recognizing it as a legitimate currency. The demand toward Bitcoin in Japan significantly increased following the legalization of Bitcoin and the acceptance of Bitcoin payments by the countrys single most influential electronics retailer Bic Camera. (Young) As Japan continues with its cryptocurrency integration, it will surely serve as a test group for the rest of the worlds governments to peer into the potential of a national cryptosystem.
It is not likely that we have seen the peak of cryptocurrency technology in society. The past month alone has been the most radical in terms of prospection and investment in the history of cryptocurrency. As more and more big business tech and financial companies dump billions of dollars into these technologies by the day, it is very likely that these applications may soon be utilized in our everyday jobs and tasks.
Cryptocurrencies still certainly have much to prove to those speculative of the crypto hype. Many believe that the massive surge of new crypto users will cause a bubble that will burst at the first sign of price decline. However historically this kind of event has only caused the leading currencies to eventually return to record setting highs. Much concern is also among the scalability of these platform, but these concerns will be clear soon as the limits of crypto are pushed through the remainder of 2017.
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Young, Joseph. (May 11, 2017) Japanese Exchanges Say Volumes are Real Pushing Bitcoin Price up. https://cointelegraph.com/news/japanese-exchanges-say-volumes-are-real-pushing-bitcoin-price-up. Web. Accessed May 11, 2017.
Aru, Iyke. (May 10, 2017) Bitcoin, Altcoins Got $35 Bln Investment In 2017, Bitcoin Price May Rise To $3,000. https://cointelegraph.com/news/bitcoin-altcoins-got-35-bln-investment-in-2017-bitcoin-price-may-rise-to-3000. Web. Accessed May 11, 2017.
Castillo, Michael. (Feb 13, 2017) JP Morgan, Santander Said to Join New Ethereum Blockchain Group. http://www.coindesk.com/jp-morgan-santander-said-join-enterprise-ethereum-blockchain-group/. Web. Accessed May 11, 2017.
Bovaird, Charles. (May 2, 2017). 5 Fast Facts on Ether, The Token Thats up 900% this Year. http://www.coindesk.com/5-fast-facts-ether-ethereum-blockchain-token-up-900-percent/. Web. Accessed May 11, 2017
Hertig, Alyssa. (April 26, 2017). Litecoins SegWit Activation: Why it Matters and Whats Next. http://www.coindesk.com/litecoins-segwit-activation-why-it-matters-and-whats-next/. Web. Accessed May 11, 2017.
Ethereum website. (accessed May 11, 2017). Litecoin website - (accessed May 11, 2017).