A cryptocurrency is a digital coin, designed to be transferred between people in virtual transactions. Cryptocurrencies exist only as data and not as physical objects; you cannot actually hold a Bitcoin in your hand or keep Ethereum in your safe. Owning a Bitcoin means you have the collective agreement of each and every computer on the Bitcoin network that it is currently owned by you and – more importantly – that it was legitimately created by a miner.
Cryptocurrencies are handled like cash but are mined like gold. Mining is simply the process of verifying a crypto transaction. People around the world transfer e-coins from wallet to wallet, while miners use computer-processing power to maintain the blockchain and verify these transactions.
When a new crypto is launched, its founders announce how many coins will be mined. Once the quota is reached, no further coins can be produced. The first digital coin introduced was Bitcoin, which remains today the benchmark for all other digital coins. Among other currencies that have made their way into the cryptocurrency hall-of-fame we have: Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, EOS, Stellar Lumens and a number of derived currencies, including Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold.
Unlike traditional transactions, cryptocurrency transfers are not handled by banks or other financial institutions. Every time someone pays via e-coin, his payment is recorded on a digital ledger called the blockchain.
A list of transaction records, called blocks, which are linked to each other and encrypted. The blockchain is continuously growing and is completely open to anyone. Each block in the blockchain contains:
When a new block is created, it is sent to all the users in the network. Each user then verifies the block and it is added to the blockchain.
The biggest problem of the Blockchain is its reliance on miners. This is exactly why the cryptocurrency called IOTA (the Internet of Thigs Application) was created in 2016. IOTA also battles increasing transaction fees and network scalability. IOTA’s blockchain is called Tangle. It is a blockchain with no blocks and no chains. In this system, the users themselves are responsible for validating transactions. This means there’s no need for approval from miners; so users enjoy a fee-free transaction and an increased process speed.