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Whether it’s Bitcoin or Cryptocurrency here’s what it means and how it works. Pt 1

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Bitcoin and Ethereum

Eleven years ago, the word “cryptocurrency” sounded alien to many.  Today, the word is thrown around so often, yet, many people still do not truly know what it means. It is a word commonly associated with the flagship digital currency, bitcoin;  however, what are cryptocurrencies?

Most people have a vague idea of what cryptocurrencies entail; to some, it is a word associated with scams and other financial illegalities. To others it’s just another buzzword people make money with.

Cryptocurrencies can be understood simply. Understanding the maths behind them will take a while, a very long while at that.However, having a grasp of the framework that makes them valuable is all that is required to use them. 

What are cryptocurrencies?

A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that can be used as a medium of exchange. It can be seen as regular money, but one that doesn’t have a physical version. To gain a better grasp of the concept, see it as regular fiat– Nigerian Naira, Ghanaian Cedi, American dollar, Kenyan shilling or the South African Rand. Cryptocurrencies are like any of these currencies, but with a significant difference – cryptocurrencies are virtual.

Bitcoin and Ethereum

Unlike regular fiat, cryptocurrencies are not owned by any geographical entity. They can, therefore, be used by anyone, anywhere (although, legality is still a little fuzzy in some countries). 

What makes them secure? 

Cryptocurrencies are secured with cryptography. Cryptography is simply a way of securing messages on the internet. In an age where a lot of business and transactions have gone digital, cryptography plays a formidable role in securing the pieces of information flying all around the interwebs. Cryptography encrypts information or messages in a way that it is only meant for the intended party. Interestingly, cryptography did not start on the internet. It is a practice that is dated as far back as 1900 BC.

How does cryptography work with cryptocurrencies? 

The most important cryptographical tool to cryptocurrencies is the concept of digital signatures. A signature is often used to show authenticity in the offline world, and the same thing goes for digital signatures in the digital world. A signature should tell you who the owner of a document is, it should not be forgeable, and once a document is signed, the signature cannot be removed. These are the same things digital signatures do. 

However, while signatures are a great way of proving authenticity, they can still be forged. To bypass this problem, cryptography goes a step further by adding keys to this digital signature. These keys lock the document, in order to ensure that prying eyes would be unable to see the signature. 

There are more mathematical complexities to cryptography that help ensure the safety of cryptocurrencies, thereby, making them usable.

A little history of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency

Flooz, Beenz and Digi cash are some of the first few attempts at cryptocurrencies during the 90s tech boom. Unfortunately, they all failed. 

Consequently, the failures of the first attempts at a digital currency, made the idea lost cause and no known attempts were recorded since. 

Then came Satoshi in 2009. An anonymous programmer under the pseudonym; Satoshi Nakamoto, came up with bitcoin. He described it as a completely decentralized peer-to-peer currency that did not require any third party. Sending the currency was as simple as sending a file from one phone to another. 

The decentralized nature of cryptocurrency is one of its most remarkable features. Like any payment network, it had to solve the problem of double spending. Double spending is the fraudulent practice of spending the same amount twice. The normal way to solve this problem would be to create a central server that would keep records of every transaction and record balances. This method, however, requires a third party that will have relevant information about each user. Satoshi’s bitcoin does need a server to keep records. It uses a distributed ledger technology known as blockchain. This eliminates the need for a central server recording transactions. Blockchain is a ledger with which everyone has a copy. Any changes made to the ledger immediately reflects in everyone’s copy, thereby making it impossible for a single person to make alterations to every ledger. 

Within a cryptocurrency network like bitcoin, miners confirm transactions. Miners do this by solving complex cryptographic puzzles. 

So, what can we use cryptocurrencies for?

Like normal currencies, cryptocurrencies can be used to pay for goods and services. On the 22nd  of May 2010. A man named Lazlo Hanyecz paid for his pizza with 10,000 bitcoins. This was the first time a digital currency was used as a means of exchange. The day is now known as the “bitcoin pizza day”. Today, Lazlo would have paid $231,000 for that pizza. 

There are more merchants that would readily accept cryptocurrencies as payment today. On the Apple app store, cryptocurrencies have been authorised as a mode of payment. In most parts of Africa such as Nigeria, it is a great way to facilitate cross border payments.

Besides being used as a medium of exchange, cryptocurrencies are widely used as a form of investment. A person who invested in 1 bitcoin in 2010, a time when bitcoin was less than a dollar would have earned over $18,000 today.

Bitcoin and US dollar

Although bitcoin might be the most valuable asset of the decade it is important to note that cryptocurrencies are notoriously volatile,thereby, making them a very risky investment.

Bitcoin, the most dominant cryptocurrency had an epic fall in 2017. Its value rose to $20,000 and crashed down to $3000. However, the currency has now surpassed its former all time high (ATH). it is now valued at $23,000 at the time of writing this.

Proof of work (PoW) deals with mining

Cryptocurrencies can also be mined. Mining is a very important part of cryptocurrencies, especially those that use the Pow (proof of work) consensus mechanism. Miners confirm transactions so it can be added to the distributed ledger. In a way, they provide bookkeeping services. Miners solve cryptographic puzzles. These puzzles have become more complex over the years for popular currencies. Nowadays, industrial computational hardware is required to be a successful miner. For every puzzle solved, miners are rewarded with bitcoins. 

Bitcoin mining

Mining is the way more coins gets into circulation. Over the years the reward miners get has been reduced to decrease the number of cryptocurrencies in circulation. This is partly why the value of bitcoin increases. Miners were rewarded 50 bitcoins when the currency first launched, now the reward is 6.25 bitcoins. The reward will, however, be reduced again as the amount of bitcoin in circulation is close to the amount intended. Only 2 million bitcoins are left to be mined. Mining them will bring the total amount of bitcoins in circulation to 21 million. 

Proof of stake requires validators to stake certain amount.

Unlike mining, some currencies use staking as a consensus mechanism. As bitcoin requires miners to confirm transactions, other crypto currencies do not. An example is the new Ethereum 2.0. The currency with most market capitalization after bitcoin. Ethereum requires validators to validate transactions that occur on the ethereum network. These validators are required to stake at least 32 ethers in order to be given the right to validate. 

Validating does not require immense computing power like mining. A strong personal computer can validate. 

Ethereum

Staking, however, isn’t running on the ethereum network yet. It is a new upgrade to the network that will be implemented in 2021. 

Learning about cryptocurrencies is a process that often starts by owning them. Reading enthusiasts’ views and comments on social media will propagate more understanding. Follow relevant accounts on social media, and follow news updates to make informed decisions on cryptocurrency. 

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Bolu Abiodun is a recent graduate of Theatre and Media Arts, Federal University Oye-Ekiti. A journalist with over a year's experience on the job. A former editor at American Media company Project Forward, he is a skilled content creator, social media manager and digital marketer.

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Learning Guides

Understanding Speculation and Crypto Volatility

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Everyone who dabbles in the crypto industry learns almost immediately that the market is very volatile and oftentimes things can change very quickly. That volatility is the fundamental reason why some investors make absolutely stunning gains in so short a time and others lose a lot of money as well. Trading in crypto is one of the riskiest ventures any person can undertake and as they say, it’s not for the faint of heart. The risks can be mitigated of course and sometimes depends specifically on the coin or crypto asset being traded on, barring general market trends.

Nevertheless, to get to the bottom of the volatility concept, one must understand speculation in the market. To start off, the concept of speculation isn’t limited to cryptocurrencies, on the contrary, speculation has existed for as long as economics and trading has. But it is worth saying that speculation is often a feature of novel sectors, assets, commodities and the like. So, even though cryptocurrencies have been around for more than a decade, they’re still in their infancy as far as markets go. One could say that the market is still trying to find its feet.

One of the fundamental reasons why cryptocurrencies are so volatile is that they are fundamentally backed by nothing of value outside the attention that they get. Unlike many fiat currencies which are either pegged to another currency’s value or whose value is unilaterally determined by a central authority, cryptocurrencies only derive value as a function of how many people are willing to use is to transact, i.e. trust in the asset because other people trust it. As a rule of thumb, the larger the number of people who accept the asset, the more valuable it becomes.

This is one of the hallmarks of speculative trading. In the crypto world or in any market that’s novel and untested, many people are in it to win it which means their strategies in trade has the objective of making as much profits as possible in the short term. Therefore, the market enters a subtly dangerous cycle of rapidly changing prices of assets. Basically, investors typically buy assets when prices are low and wait. As more investors are attracted to the commodity for its low prices, it sets off a cascade where more people buy in, causing the price to steadily rise. 

However, all good things must come to an end and it almost always gets to a breaking point whereupon the price gets high enough for investors to begin to sell. This reverses the earlier cascade and as more and more investors pull out, the prices can fall dramatically causing even more to sell off in fear of losing whatever investments they have left. The prices having fallen resets the game and primes investors to begin buying again.

Volatility has been one of the talking points of many critics of cryptocurrencies often comparing it to a Ponzi scheme. And in certain cases, persons of interest with large pulls and audiences can substantially affect the rate at which prices rise and fall. Other factors include government regulations. Volatility at its core reflects the often chaotic nature of trade and market interactions and human hopes and fears.

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Crypto Assets

How to Approach Cryptocurrency Investment in 2021

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Years have gone by and many cryptocurrencies have come to be. Speculators and Investors now see cryptocurrency as an alternative to universal currencies like the dollar, euro, and naira. Today, virtually everyone wants to learn how to invest. If you’re looking to invest in cryptocurrency, this article is for you. 

Before diving into the crypto journey, it is important to be aware of what is at stake. For everyone who has acquired immense wealth trading crypto, there is also someone who has lost massive finances while trading. Nevertheless, if you’re still focused on cryptocurrency investment, keep reading. 

Only Invest Money You’re Prepared To Overlook 

Needless to say, you should only invest money you can afford to lose. The main purpose of any form of investment is to add to your fortune. If an individual invests his entire savings, and the said investment doesn’t work out as planned, that is a big loss. So, when investing in Cryptocurrency, whatever amount you put in is completely up to you, but it should only occupy a small percentage of your income, such that, if there is a hiccup, you’re not left completely stranded. 

Make Your Choice 

Choose your cryptocurrency or cryptocurrencies. There are tons of cryptocurrencies to select from and while it’s fine to make good with just one, it’s also not a bad idea to invest in as many as you want, as long as you’re not spending above your means. That way, you gain some, and you lose some. However, if you would rather invest in one, Bitcoin seems to be the most reliable, followed closely by Ethereum.

A downside to trading in cryptocurrencies is that you can’t just walk into a bank or an investment brokerage firm to get them. You have to find sites dedicated to cryptocurrency exchanges. There are several sites like eToro, Coinbase, Gemini, Binance, etc. dedicated to this cause. 

Save Your Cryptocurrency 

Cryptocurrency is mainly stored in either a hot or cold wallet. This wallet permits users to keep and reclaim their digital assets. A user can store cryptocurrencies like Ethereum in their wallet and from there, use it to perform transactions. You have access to your wallet through a public key and a private key. The public key is referred to as your cryptocurrency address and it can be used by the other party in the transaction, while the private key is for you alone. It is important to have both keys to finalize a transaction. In addition, your wallet provides a history of all your transactions, as well as your present balance. 

Safeguard Your Cryptocurrency 

Keeping your cryptocurrency secure after buying it is principal. To encrypt your data, make use of VPNs, like NordVPN and ExpressVPN. These help in securing your transactions and making sure that your purchases are kept a secret from prying eyes. 

Just as with other forms of investment, in cryptocurrency investment, it is important to focus less on what is being said, but rather carry out your own research and study the market to the best of your ability. Do your own fact-finding instead and select the strategy that works best for you. This will help you to have a clear picture of what it is you’re jumping into.

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Bitcoin in Africa

Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency-Maana Na Jinsi Inavyofanya Kazi

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Bitcoin

Sehemu ya kwanza

Miaka kuku na moja iliyopita, neno “cryptocurrency”lilionekana la ajabu kwa wengi. Hata Sasa hili neno limekuwa likisikika mara kwa mara lakini bado watu wengi wamekuwa hawajui linamaanisha nini hasa. Ni neno lililozoeleka Kama fedha za mtandaoni ama Bitcoin.

Je fedha za mtandaoni ni nini hasa?

Watu wengi Wana uelewa potofu juu ya fedha za mtandaoni, kwa baadhi ni neno linalohusishwa na wizi na njia zisizo halali za kifedha, kwa wengine hili neno limekuwa msamiati watu wakitumia kutengeneza fedha. Cryptocurrencies inaweza kuelezewa na kueleweka kwa njia rahisi. Uelewa wa mahesabu yake huchukua mda mrefu Sana. Ingawa, kuwa na uelewa kidogo juu ya mfumo wa thamani yake Ni kitu pekee kinachohitajika ili uweze kutumia.

Je Cryptocurrency ni nini?

Cryptocurrency ni fedha ya kimtandao iliyo dhahiri au halisi ambayo inaweza kutumika kubadilishana au kufanya manunuzi. Inaweza kuonekana Kama fedha ya kawaida, lakini ambayo mtu hawezi kushika. Ili kupata uelewa sahihi wa dhana hii,uione kama hawala ya fedha-naira ya Nigeria, Cedi ya Ghana, dola ya Marekani,Shilingi ya Kenya au Rand ya Afrika kusini. Cryptocurrencies inafanyanishwa na aina hizi za hawala, lakini ikiwa na tofauti kuu-cryptocurrency ni ya uhalisia.

Tofauti na hawala ya kawaida, Cryptocurrencies hazimilikiwi na eneo ama nchi Fulani, kwahiyo zenyewe zinaweza kutumiwa na mtu yeyote, popote (Ingawa, uhalalishaji wake ni hafifu kwa baadhi ya nchi).

Kitu gani kinafanya ziwe salama?

Cryptocurrencies zinadhibitiwa na fumbo (cryptography). Fumbo Ni njia ya kulinda ujumbe ndani ya mtandao. Katika kipindi ambacho biashara nyingi na miamala mingi imehamia katika mfumo wa digit, fumbo (cryptography) inabeba jukumu muhimu ya kulinda taarifa ambazo zinakuwa zinabadilishwa katika tovuti mbalimbali duniani. Fumbo inafumba taarifa au jumbe ili iweze kumfikia muhusika pekee (mlengwa). Cha kushangaza fumbo haikuanzia kwenye mitandao. Ni mfumo ulioanza kutumika tangu miaka ya 1900 Kabla ya Kristo.

Jinsi gani mfumo wa fumbo (cryptography) unavyofanya kazi na fedha za mtandaoni.

Kitu cha muhimu katika mfumo wa fumbo kwenye nadharia ya fedha za mtandao ni suala la saini ya digiti. Saini mara nyingi inatumika kuonesha uhalali katika dunia ya mtandao na vivyo hivyo ndivyo inavyotumika katika ulimwengu wa digiti. Saini itakuonesha mmiliki wa hati, hakitakiwi ighushike, na pindi hati ikisainiwa saini haiwezi kuondolewa. Hivi ndivyo saini za kidigiti hufanya.

Hata hivyo, japokuwa saini ni njia Bora ya kuonesha uhalali, bado zinaweza kughushika. Ili kuondokana na changamoto hii, mfumo wa fumbo unaenda hatua moja zaidi kwa kuongeza funguo katika sahihi hizi za kidigiti. Funguo hizi zinafunga hati ili kuhakikisha macho yanayochungulia kushindwa kuona sahihi. 

Kuna mahesabu magumu mno katika mfumo wa fumbo ambazo zinasaidia katika fedha za mtandao hivyo huzifanya fedha hizo kutumika kwa ufasaha.

Historia fupi ya Bitcoin na fedha za mtandao

Flooz, Beenz na DigiCash ni Kati ya walionza mapema kutumia fedha za mtandaoni mnamo miaka ya 90, kwa bahati mbaya wote walishindwa. Kwa matokeo hayo, kushindwa kwa majaribio yao ya kwanza kuhusu fedha za kidigitali, kulifanya wazo zima kupoteza muelekeo na hakukuwa na kumbukumbu ya majaribio yaliyorekodiwa tena tangu kipindi hiko.

Kisha akaja Satoshi mwaka 2009 mtaalamu wa kompyuta asiyejulikana, aliyetumia jina la Satochi Nakamoto, alikuja na wazo la Bitcoin. Alielezea Bitcoin kuwa haipo chini ya mamlaka yeyote ambayo haikuhitaji mtu yeyote wa katikati. Kutuma fedha ilikuwa rahisi Kama kutuma faili kutoka kwenye simu moja kwenda kwemye simu nyingine.

Hali ya fedha ya mtandaoni kutokuwa chini ya mamlaka yeyote ni moja ya sifa yake bora zaidi. Kama ilivyo aina ya Mitandao mingine ya malipo ilitakiwa ishughulikie tatizo la kulipia kitu mara mbili. Kulipia Mara mbili ni kitendo Cha kitapeli Cha kutumia kiasi kile kile Cha fedha Mara mbili. Njia ya kawaida ya kutatua tatizo hili ni kwa kutengeneza mfumo ambao utatunza rekodi ya kila muamala na kumbukumbu ya salio. Hata hivyo, mfumo hu unahitaji mtu wa tatu ambaye atakuwa na taarifa sahihi baina ya watumiaji wawili. Bitcoin za Satoshi zinahitaji sehemu maalumu ha kutunzia kumbukumbu. Inatumia mfumo wa kutunza kumbukumbu ambao umetawanywa unaojulikana kama blockchain. Hii inaondoa haha ya kuwa na mfumo mmoja wa kuhifadhia kumbukumbu za miamala. Blockchain ni mfumo wa kumbukumbu ambao unaacha nakala ya kumbukumbu kwa kila mtumiaji. Mabadiliko yeyote yanayofanywa katika mfumo huu huweka kumbukumbu hiyo kwenye nakala ya watu wote, hivyo basi kufanya mtu mmojawapo asiweze kubadilisha taarifa kwenye kila kumbukumbu.

Ndani ya mtandao wa fedha za kimtandao kama Bitcoin, watumiaji wanathibitisha mialama. Watumiaji wanafanya hivi kwa kutatua mfumo mgumu uliowekwa.

Kwahiyo, namna gani tunaweza kutumia fedha za mtandao?

Kama fedha nyingine,fedha ya mtandao inaweza kutumika kulipia bidhaa na huduma. Mnamo tarehe 22 mwezi wa tano mwaka 2010, mwanamme mmoja kwa jina la Lazlo Hanyecza alilipia pizza yake kwa Bitcoin 10,000. Hii ilikuwa Mara ya kwanza kwa fedha ya mtandaoni kutumika Kama njia ya kufanya manunuzi. Hii siku inajulikana Kama siku ya Bitcoin pizza. Leo, Lazlo angelipia dola 231,000 kwa ajili ya hiyo pizza.

Kuna wafanyabiashara wengi ambao wangekubali fedha za mtandaoni Kama malipo. Katika maduka ya apple, fedha ya mtandaoni imethibitishwa Kama njia ya malipo. Katika maeneo mengi ya Afrika Kama vile Nigeria, Ni njia Bora ya kufanya malipo nje ya mipaka.

Ukiachana kutumika Kama njia ya malipo ,fedha za mtandaoni pia zinatumika Kama njia mojawapo ya uwekezaji. Mtu ambaye aliwekeza Bitcoin moja mwaka 2010, kipindi ambacho Bitcoin ilikuwa chini ya dola moja, angeweza kupata $ 18,000.

Ingawa Bitcoin inaweza kuwa Kati ya vitu vya thamani ndani ya miaka kumi ni muhimu kujua kwamba fedha za mtandao zinabadilika haraka Sana, hivyo kufanya uwekezaji wake uwe wa hatari.

Bitcoin, fedha ya mtandaoni iliyo imara zaidi ilishuka kwa ghafla Sana mwaka 2017. Thamani yake ilipanda Sana hadi $20,000 na ikashuka ghafla Hadi $3000. Hata hivyo, fedha hii imeendelea kupanda juu Sana. Kwa Sasa ina thamani ya $23,000 wakati wa kuandika makala hii.

Ushuhuda kutoka kwenye kazi za uvunaji

Fedha za mtandaoni pia zinaweza zikavunwa. Uvunaji ni muhimu Sana kwa fedha za mtandaoni, hasa kwa wale wanaotumia mfumo wa POW. Wavunaji wanathibitisha muamala ili iweze kuwekwa katika kumbukumbu. Kwa kufanya hivyo, wanaongeza huduma za utunzaji taarifa za miamala. Wavunaji wanatatua mafumbo mbalimbali ya fedha za mtandaoni. Mafumbo yanazidi kuwa magumu kwa fedha maarufu kadri siku zinavyozidi kwenda. Siku hizi mahesabu ya Hali ya juu mno yanahitajika ili mtu aweze kufanikiwa kuvuna. Kwa kila fumbo litakalotatuliwa mvunaji anapewa zawadi ya Bitcoin. Uvunaji ni kati ya njia inayoifanya sarafu kuzunguka. Miaka inavyozidi kwenda kiwango Cha zawadi kwa wavunaji kimekuwa kikipunguzwa ili kupunguza mzunguko wa fedha za mtandaoni. Hii pia imekuwa sababu ya Bitcoin kuongezeka thamani. Wavunaji walikuwa wanapewa zawadi ya Bitcoin 50 hawati fedha hii inaanza, Sasa hivi zawadi Ni Bitcoin 6.25. Hata hivyo zawadi hii itaendelea kushika mda unavyozidi kwenda. Bitcoin milioni mbili tu ndizo zilizobaki kuvunwa. Kuvunwa kwa hizo kutafanya kuwe na na Bitcoin milioni 21 katika mzunguko.

Uwekaji wa dau uhitaji waweka dau wabainishe kiasi Cha dau.

Ukiacha uvunaji, fedha nyingine zinatumia mfumo wa dau. Bitcoin inahitaji mvunaji kuthibitisha muamala, frledha nyingine za mtandao hazihitaji hivyo. Mfano Ni ethereum 2.0, fedha hii ikiwa ni ya pili kwa ukubwa ukiacha bitcoin. Ethereum inahitaji kuthibitisha muamala unaotokea ndani ya mtandao wa ethereum. Wahakiki wanahitaji dau la angalau ethereum 32 ili kukupa haki ya kuhakiki.

Uhakiki hatuhitaji mahesabu ya Hali ya juu Kama uvunaji. Kompyuta ya kawaida inaweza kuhakiki.

Uwekaji wa dau, hata hivyo haujaanza bado kutumika katika mtandao wa ethereum. Ni mfumo mpya ndani ya mtay ambao utaanza kutumika mnamo mwaka 2021.

Kujifunza kuhusu fedha za mtandao ni hatua ambayo inaanza kwa kuzimiliki kwanza. Kusoma maoni katika mitandao ya kijamii kutachangia uelewa zaidi. Fuatilia akaunti mbalimbali za mitandao ya kijamii na taarifa mbalimbali ili kufanya maamuzi sahihi kwenye fedha za mtandao

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