The number of cryptocurrencies available over the internet as of December 31, 2017 is >1400 and growing. A new cryptocurrency can be created at any time. By market capitalization (see Coinranking), Bitcoin has been the largest blockchain network, followed by Ethereum and Ripple.
- Bitcoin: The first decentralized ledger currency founded by the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto (is it Craig Steven Wright?) in 2009. It’s currently the cryptocurrency with the most famous, popular, notable and highest market capitalization.
- Bitcoin Cash is a hard fork from Bitcoin with increased block size from 1 MB to 8 MB.
- Ethereum: Supports Turing-complete smart contracts and was founded by Vitalik Buterin in 2015.
- Ethereum Classic is an alternative version of Ethereum whose blockchain does not include the DAO Hard-fork.
- Ripple: Founded by Chris Larsen & Jed McCaleb in 2013 is designed for peer to peer debt transfer and is not based on bitcoin.
How it works
Crypto = Using Digital Encryption. Currency = A System of Money. In order to understand how cryptocurrency functions, there are main eight concepts to become familiar with:
- Distributed Systems
- Open Source Code
- Public Ledgers
How Bitcoin works under the hood
Bitcoin: How Cryptocurrencies work
Limits & Regulations
Theoretically, there is no limit. Realistically there are only so many cryptocurrencies that will be accepted in a large enough scale for conventional use.
However, each cryptocurrency has a defined limit. For example bitcoin currently has a limit of 21 million coins. Others are in the billions, and others have no limit. Because it is all just code, these settings can be changed at any time, although very unlikely because everyone has to agree to change it. It can also be duplicated an infinite number of times. Anyone can start their own currency, although it is very unlikely to take off. There are hundreds of currencies but most are worthless.
Moreover, banks and Governments (in some countries that might be very well the same) naturally are not happy with the current system of how cryptocurrencies are traded and develop as they have no control over it, may be able to track only within limits and could not collect their share. → Legality of bitcoin by country or territory
Market Capitalization is one way to rank the relative size of a cryptocurrency. It’s calculated by multiplying the Price by the Circulating Supply: Market Cap = Price X Circulating Supply. View data for > 2000 cryptocurrencies. → Cryptocurrency Market Capitalizations
What do Bitcoin and Las Vegas or Sri Lanka have in common? The size of their carbon footprints! Hardware and IP addresses analyzed to assess the carbon footprint of the cryptocurrency: The use of Bitcoin causes around 22 megatons in carbon dioxide emissions annually. → Science Daily
The carbon footprint of a cryptocurrency varies depending on how much energy the network uses and the kind of energy used where the coin is mined.
In general, it takes more energy to mine $1 worth of cryptocurrency than to mine $1 of precious and commodity metals. It was 17 megajoules for a dollar’s worth of bitcoin but just 4 MJ for a dollar’s worth of copper. Aluminum is an exception as it’s extremely energy-hungry.
The virtual as well as physical societies are full of “Horray” for cryptocurrency trading and praises Bitcoins & Co. as the “New Gold” – but there are other opinions floating around too. Surprisingly – and therefore weighing in – from…