Many Bitcoin enthusiasts argue that altcoins are totally unnecessary. Also, some say that, because they cannot rival the infrastructure Bitcoin boasts, altcoins will not succeed. However, altcoins have a significant role. Altcoins allow developers to experiment with unique features, and while it is true that, if the developers or community desires, Bitcoin can copy these features, fully-functioning altcoins are much better “cryptocurrency laboratories” than Bitcoin’s testnet. Moreover, one of Bitcoin’s most prominent goals is decentralization, and altcoins further decentralize the cryptocurrency community. Finally, altcoins give Bitcoin healthy competition and they give cryptocurrency users alternative options and forces Bitcoin’s developers to remain active and continue innovating. Users can adopt an altcoin if they do not feel that Bitcoin satisfies their digital desires. Also, the Bitcoin developers would have to adopt the features the community desired or risk losing its place as the preeminent cryptocurrency if enough users left Bitcoin for a particular altcoin.
A cryptocurrency is a digital currency that is created and managed through the use of advanced encryption techniques known as cryptography. Cryptocurrency made the leap from being an academic concept to (virtual) reality with the creation of Bitcoin in 2009. While Bitcoin attracted a growing following in subsequent years, it captured significant investor and media attention in April 2013 when it peaked at a record $266 per bitcoin after surging 10-fold in the preceding two months. Bitcoin sported a market value of over $2 billion at its peak, but a 50% plunge shortly thereafter sparked a raging debate about the future of cryptocurrencies in general and Bitcoin in particular. So, will these alternative currencies eventually supplant conventional currencies and become as ubiquitous as dollars and euros someday? Or are cryptocurrencies a passing fad that will flame out before long? The answer lies with Bitcoin.
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In mid 2017, investors were all hot and bothered by Bitcoin. Many were looking for ways to get exposure through more traditional routes, like their brokerage account or retirement plan. One of the few ways to achieve this, was through the Grayscale Bitcoin Investment Trust. The trust was actually established in 2013, but there wasn't much talk about it until just last year.
Bitcoin’s main benefits of decentralization and transaction anonymity have also made it a favored currency for a host of illegal activities including money laundering, drug peddling, smuggling and weapons procurement. This has attracted the attention of powerful regulatory and other government agencies such as the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the SEC, and even the FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In March 2013, FinCEN issued rules that defined virtual currency exchanges and administrators as money service businesses, bringing them within the ambit of government regulation. In May that year, the DHS froze an account of Mt. Gox – the largest Bitcoin exchange – that was held at Wells Fargo, alleging that it broke anti-money laundering laws. And in August, New York’s Department of Financial Services issued subpoenas to 22 emerging payment companies, many of which handled Bitcoin, asking about their measures to prevent money laundering and ensure consumer protection.
A ledger is a database technology used to record transaction histories and ownership; it is a definitive account of who has given what to who, and who owns what. Most ledger technologies are physical and they’re centralized -- they’re controlled by a central bank. This means that they are subject to the discretion and power of individuals, and are alterable and impermanent. This gives those ledger recording entities a tremendous amount of power over an individual’s financial transactions; it also means the ledger is vulnerable to manipulation.
Anonymous / private Bitcoin. Now, you may think, “What are you talking about? The BTC is anonymous already.” This is a very unfortunate albeit popular misconception. All BTC transactions can be seen by the public, and by giving out your wallet address to someone, the person is able to see all the payments you’ve sent and received. The black market (weapon manufacturers and drug dealers) created a solution for this. They basically created software that mixes your coins with other coins. Nevertheless, the software needs to be trusted and may not work correctly, which is pretty bad when your freedom depends on it. Monero has the mixing system built-in. This makes it perfect for any kind of black market. A popular darknet market adopted Monero, and this is how the currency got its first big growth boost.
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This, thus, requires anyone holding fiat currencies to have extreme trust that their government will manage their money supply responsibly, and not make poor financial decisions that will severely devalue the currency they hold. This compounds with the trust one must hold in the banks in which one deposits their fiat currency, to create an ultimate monetary system that has multiple points of very real possible failure, as history has shown time and again.
We believe innovation in open source protocols will be faster and more like an evolutionary system, as developers fork, combine and extend protocol code with minimal friction. In fact, we believe forking will be continuous and native to this process and believe it is a net positive for the industry, though it does introduce complexities for investors.
In the case of a watermelon, what we intuitively grasp is that there is some fundamental, intrinsic value to the watermelon, and a ‘fair’ price for it. We have a general understanding of what this price should be, and are more than happy to buy watermelons when they are on discount relative to their fair price, and are reticent to do so when they are being sold at a premium to their fair price.
Most people are at least somewhat familiar with Bitcoin even if they do not accurately understand how it works. However, once they begin to get involved with cryptocurrency, they may be surprised to learn that there are hundreds of cryptocurrencies (a.k.a altcoins) out there besides Bitcoin (CoinMarketCap listed more than 2000 altcoins at the time this guide was written).
No. 2: Cryptocurrencies provide a unique and attractive combination of returns and volatility: Crypto assets are appealing because they enjoy relatively low correlation to other asset classes, like bonds (negative correlation) and gold (zero correlation). In other words, crypto assets can be an ideal way for investors to diversify a portfolio consisting of stocks and bonds. Research shows that a 2 percent exposure to crypto assets in a portfolio could, on average, boost returns by up to 200 bps. Five percent exposure could boost performance by over 500bps, nearly double that of a typical stock/bond blended portfolio. At the same time, active managers seeking retuns better than the market will possibly seek the high volatility of Bitcoin and other digital currencies.