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Cryptocurrency 101 - a beginners guide


At first glance, even the most fundamental concepts of cryptocurrency might be intimidating. The cryptocurrency ecosystem is complex, but if you have a firm grip of the fundamentals, learning more advanced ideas will be a breeze.


Let's take some time to learn about cryptos and why they're so significant.


ELI5: What Is Cryptocurrency?


If you want to take a high-level, simplified look at cryptocurrencies, you can think of it as a digital currency. Another, slightly more accurate but still easily grasped approach to define bitcoin is as a medium of safe value exchange that eliminates the need for intermediaries. You may send money to anybody in the world in a matter of minutes using a cryptocurrency like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dash, or even Monero.


While Bitcoin is the most well-known and well-established cryptocurrency today, dozens of other cryptocurrency projects are actively developing their own unique spins on the concept. While Ethereum's primary use is as a currency exchange, it can also be used to build smart contracts, which in turn may be used to design sophisticated financial protocols; as a consequence, a wide ecosystem of innovative uses for the technology has emerged.


Can you get into trouble for dealing in cryptocurrency?


Even if some nations have taken a tough position on cryptocurrencies, the vast majority of those that have taken a public posture of disapproval are doing so mostly by discouraging their citizens from using them. That is to say, several nations have varying interpretations of what constitutes legality. It is crucial to examine the local cryptocurrency rules and regulations no matter where you reside or want to visit since, even though most countries aren't aiming to outlaw cryptocurrencies, it might have considerably different restrictions to another location.


To what end do People Use Cryptocurrency?


To pay for products and services is the most prevalent use case for cryptocurrencies. However, in the current bitcoin market, a plethora of new applications are emerging. The realm of cryptocurrencies is expanding to include anything from NFTs to decentralised financing.


Further investigation is being conducted into a wide variety of application cases that integrate with real-world issues. Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology may improve a wide range of industries, from insurance to supply chain management to authentication to the identification of genuine items. In general, the most compelling cryptocurrency applications are those that directly benefit the user.

Is it Possible to Turn Cryptocurrency into Real Money?


Although cryptocurrencies are not backed by any central bank or fiat currency, they may be exchanged for fiat currency, other forms of payment, or even bartered for other products and services. While it's true that many sceptics of cryptocurrencies worry that they can't be turned into fiat money, this is not the case. A cryptocurrency exchange or, even better, a peer-to-peer marketplace like LocalCoinSwap, where you can trade cryptocurrency directly for cash, should pose little to no difficulty in cashing out at any time if you select a well-established cryptocurrency with high demand and a reasonable degree of liquidity.


What is it about cryptos that makes them so appealing to so many people?


More and more individuals are getting enthusiastic, and even fanatical, about cryptocurrencies for a variety of reasons. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been more popular for many reasons, but one of the most important is that they take a novel approach to the age-old problem of how to exchange value.


Bartering occurred in the early days of civilisation, but trade has never been a scalable, efficient activity. What should a goat farmer do if he or she needs a product that costs less than one goat? You can see how this may become an issue if the provider of the service or product you need doesn't have any use for a goat.


Traditional currency may have stepped in to alleviate many of the issues that might arise when attempting to trade value, and it has succeeded to a fair degree in many circumstances, but it is far from flawless. Although bitcoin may have its flaws as well, it does have certain strengths at the moment. For instance, sending money abroad using bitcoin might be a very quick and affordable process. In contrast, moving physical currency across borders is the antithesis of efficient remittance, and it's a good illustration of how traditional fiat currency doesn't entirely handle the challenges associated with value exchange, especially in today's hyper-connected world.


Scams and Cryptocurrencies: What You Need to Know


Before discussing specific frauds using cryptocurrencies, it's important to note that cryptocurrencies are not the only target of scammers. There will always be dishonest people in the world, and they won't discriminate against precious metals like gold. Most popular scams, however, are easy to spot and prevent since they don't take advantage of any cryptographic flaws.


New cryptocurrencies are a common vector for fraud, and their promoters typically make exaggerated claims about the returns investors might expect to see. Traditional fraud, in which a con artist tries to deceive you into sending him or her your cryptocurrencies by using, among other things, exaggerated promises of reward from an online trading site or investment scheme, is another type of threat.


When you first bring up bitcoin or cryptocurrencies with a friend or family member, they may express concern about a scam they heard about. However, this is usually due to misunderstandings about what happened, false assumptions, or the unfortunate fact that scam victims are more vocal and quick to point fingers than their non-victim counterparts.


By no means should you ever provide anybody else access to your bitcoin, private keys, hardware wallet, or any other related information. Never give up your personal information to a stranger, especially if you met them online and they asked for it without you asking for it first.


Cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, may be immensely secure and valuable tools, but only if its users take the time to understand how to keep their cryptocurrency safe and only use trustworthy cryptocurrencies.


How Safe Is It to Invest in Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies?


While there is no universally applicable answer to this issue, there are several factors to think about before putting your money into bitcoin. Before anything else, how comfortable are you with risk? Although certain cryptocurrencies have fared extraordinarily well over the long term, this volatility should not be taken lightly. In addition, how confident are you in the cryptocurrency you're looking at with regards to its long-term viability? Not merely in terms of passive future development, such as network stability or dependability. There have been numerous examples in the past, and there will be many more in the future, of cryptocurrencies that have come and gone because of a lack of demand and support.


Always conduct your own homework before putting your money into cryptocurrencies. Don't trust financial advice from those who stand to gain from you buying cryptocurrencies, as they may be driven only by a desire to profit from the market's upward trend. Many investors have found that cryptocurrency is a lucrative asset class. It is entirely up to you to decide if this applies to you and, if so, to what extent you choose to be exposed to them.


Where Can I Buy Cryptocurrency?


Several options exist for acquiring digital money. Using a centralised exchange to purchase cryptocurrencies is one possibility. These platforms, however, are limited in the types of transactions that may be completed.


Fortunately, the most adaptable option is available through P2P markets. P2P cryptocurrency trading provides a safer, more direct way to do business with others, accepting a wide variety of payment types and providing for mutual escrow protection. Do your homework to make sure you're choosing wisely if you decide to utilise a P2P marketplace. For certain traders, non-custodial trading alternatives, which have grown increasingly rare on some platforms in recent years, are crucial.


What makes the currency 'Crypto'?


Distributed ledger technology is at the heart of cryptocurrencies, making it possible to conduct financial transactions without going through a centralised institution like a bank. They often employ a blockchain, a distributed ledger that records all bitcoin transactions in a way that assures the confirmation of prior transactions and makes the ledger accessible to anybody with a copy or a service that gives access to it, such a block explorer.


All transactions are logged and verified by several nodes in the network to guarantee that everyone is on the same page about the chain's status and whether or not they were successful. Due to the dynamic nature of the cryptocurrency market, many other factors may now play a role. Most cryptocurrencies, however, will employ blockchain technology, authenticate transactions via a decentralised network, and provide a means of exchanging cash.


As a result of their digital nature, cryptocurrencies rely on the internet to facilitate communication among network participants and ensure the continued functioning of the network as a whole. Satellites and other creative solutions have been developed to overcome this restriction, though.


Cryptocurrency mining


Cryptocurrencies that use a proof-of-work (PoW) algorithm are the ones most commonly connected with mining. PoW cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, rely on participants completing difficult computational tasks in exchange for a share of the network's rewards. As you may have guessed, each unit of a blockchain is also known as a block. Each block can have a set of transactions, and that set can have a completion time linked to it. In order to "solve" each block and get the reward predetermined by the network's rules, miners invest energy and hardware trying to solve complicated mathematical puzzles.


Mining on certain blockchains may be done using a regular computer's central processing unit (CPU), while on others, specialised hardware such graphics cards is required; in the case of bitcoin, ASICs may be required. ASIC miners are highly optimised machines that were built to do a single task. If specialised ASIC mining gear has been developed for a certain cryptocurrency, it may make GPU and CPU mining unprofitable while the network adapts to accommodate the newcomers.


To mine a cryptocurrency, one typically acquires the necessary hardware, downloads the necessary mining software and a copy of the blockchain, and then attempts to solve blocks in order to earn rewards. Another common practise is for miners to band together in "pools," which are essentially just groups of miners that agree to split the reward for each block they mine. As a larger group, you may exert greater collective influence and exert more pressure on the market with the aid of a pool.


Cryptocurrency - whats the use?


In most cases, all you need to start transacting in cryptocurrencies is a wallet designed to hold the appropriate digital money. Hardware wallets, online wallets, mobile wallets, and other wallet applications are all viable options. However, a public key is all that's required to accept payment. In essence, digital currency wallet software only provides the means by which one may digitally sign transactions in order to effect transfers to and from a personally controlled digital currency wallet address. When you make a new wallet, you'll need to make two keys—a private one and a public one. The secret key should never be revealed to anybody, whereas the public key can be freely shared with anyone you choose. Cryptocurrencies are developing to the point that sending and receiving them via a well-known and trustworthy software or hardware wallet is becoming more simple. Any respectable cryptocurrency wallet should, at the very least, display your account balance and make it simple to transfer and receive funds.


To transmit bitcoin to another person, all you need is a wallet that supports the currency in question and the recipient's wallet address. You should expect an experience not unlike from that of using a digital payment system like Venmo, PayPal, or another comparable service. Behind-the-scenes, however, bitcoin offers several benefits over these other payment methods.


Always verify the contents of a transaction before broadcasting it, as some cryptocurrencies are not supported by all wallets and cryptocurrency transactions cannot be undone after they have been adequately validated.


Which Cryptocurrencies Have the Largest Market Caps?


As of writing, Bitcoin has the highest market valuation and is the most widely used cryptocurrency. On the other hand, numerous other cryptocurrencies have expanded greatly and become fairly popular as well. To provide just one example, Ethereum and other promising new cryptocurrencies like Polkadot have already captured a sizable portion of the market.


A cryptocurrency's popularity might rise and fall over time depending on the level of development activity surrounding the currency. It's also not unusual for initiatives to go into inactivity. This is less likely to be an issue for the most well-known cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, though, because of the robust community and ecosystem that have developed around it.


What's with all the Cryptocurrencies?


It seemed inevitable that after Bitcoin's success, other people would try their hand at making their own digital currency. Due to this, many of cryptocurrency projects have been developed during the past decade. For example, the fact that Bitcoin is an open-source project allowed some of the early initiatives to build off of its solid foundation by forking it and adding their own unique twists, eventually being known as altcoins.


What are some cryptocurrency applications?


  • Send a receive funds

  • Buy stuff

  • Utilize a distributed banking system (e.g., DeFi lending)

  • Cash sent back home from abroad

  • Engage with smart contracts


Is It Safe to Buy Bitcoin or Another Cryptocurrency?


The security of a cryptocurrency project can depend on a number of factors, including the project's architecture, the quality of the code, and the number of users who are helping to maintain the network by mining or running nodes. It's important to make sure all of these elements are in place before worrying about the project's security.


You can generally point the finger at one of these key places if you've ever questioned why projects based on the Bitcoin codebase or even another widely developed cryptocurrency like Ethereum have had severe security vulnerabilities. Many cryptocurrencies that were forked from bigger projects, for instance, have experienced double-spend assaults because they lacked the network infrastructure that the parent projects had to protect them from such attacks.


Where should one keep your cryptocurrency?


Using a trustworthy hardware wallet is the recommended method for storing your digital money. Since there is no concrete form in which bitcoin may be stored, protecting it essentially entails guarding the secret phrase or private key that you need to access it. Although hardware wallets have a complicated name, they are really just gadgets that help you keep your private key secure when signing transactions. Because you need your private key in order to spend bitcoin, keeping it secure within a hardware wallet reduces the risk associated with making cryptocurrency transactions compared to storing and transferring private keys manually.


Never trust an exchange or wallet that doesn't give you access to your private keys (also known as "non-custodial"). Several completely custodial exchanges have been hacked or gone bankrupt in the past, causing users to lose money. Therefore, many crypto fans will employ the adage "not your keys, not your coins," which emphasises the significance of keeping your cryptocurrency in a safe place that you control.


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This awesome article was inspired by gingerbreadfork on the LocalCoinSwap Academy

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