Cryptocurrencies

by @eddiesmedia

Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. (2009) The paper that started it all. Written by a still anonymous visionary, under the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto” this paper is credited as producing the working theory for the now famous Bitcoin P2P cryptocurrency. Nakamoto provides a short, yet profound, account of how to facilitate a P2P electronic cash transfer system that does not rely on the assistance of a third-party financial institution. The genius of this paper is found not only in the ideological nature of the proposal, but also in the relative ease of its application to our current digital network model. A must-read for anyone interested in cryptocurrency and/or P2P networking.

The Age of Cryptocurrency, (2016) is an excellent book by Wall Street Journal reporters Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey that documents the rise of Bitcoin, highlights it’s vast potential, and importantly, acknowledges it’s flaws. Vigna and Casey describe Bitcoin as being a “highly disruptive technology” that facilitates peer-to-peer (P2P) communication transactions between individual traders. They claim the primary goal of Bitcoin is to liberate consumers from the current centralised banking system and to provide a platform for people to “exchange all sorts of digitised items of value and any manner of useful data with confidence that the information is accurate.” The authors also stress that Bitcoin isn’t currently challenging the centralised global economic structures, such as the US Federal Reserve and the Peoples Bank of China, due to the volatile nature of the technology, and the fact that is still not well understood. The book is cautiously optimistic about the future of Bitcoin. It concludes by presuming that cryptocurrency has solidified its place in the global financial sphere, but that “Bitcoin will end up something less than the stateless, third-party-less utopian dream of its most passionate supporters,”

Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies: A Comprehensive Introduction (2016) provides, as the title suggests, an introduction to Bitcoin and the world of cryptocurrency. Authors Arvind Narayanan et.al. explain everything a beginner needs to know about the blockchain, cryptocurrency, decentralisation of finance, Bitcoin mining, and the various transformative capabilities of blockchain technology. The book focuses primarily on Bitcoin, but chapter ten does provide insights into the larger “cryptocurrency ecosystem”. The true value of this book is that is offers critical academic rigour in it’s assessment of cryptocurrency. It can be viewed as a handbook for people wishing to understand cryptocurrency and blockchain from an academic perspective. After discussing the characteristics and affordances of the technology the authors attempt to speculate on the future of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrency Bitcoin: Disruption, challenges and opportunities (2015) is an academic paper by Wim Raymaekers in the Journal of Payments Strategy & Systems. Raymaekers analyses cryptocurrencies as a technique for making payments. The author attempts to illustrate the challenges cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin must overcome in order to achieve widespread adaptation including risks associated with blockchain technology, when and how they will be regulated in the future, and the holistic issues that cryptocurrencies must address. Raymaekers suggests that although cryptocurrencies will not become a major digital payment alternative in the near future, but that the technology will soon become part of mainstream digital payment systems. He concedes that customers will be making digital payments using Bitcoins, but that rather than creating a paradigm of payment convergence, there will actually be more fragmentation due to the emergence of more competing payment methods (such as other cryptocurrencies and future iterations of centralised payment methods). The paper concludes by saying that although the author believes Bitcoin may not replace traditional transaction methods in the future, financial institutions should look al “its underlying technology as a potential generic new way to transfer ownership of value in the longer term”. This paper is particularly useful when analysing the projections forecast at the recent Ethereum summit.

Cryptocurrency and Bitcoin: A possible foundation of future currency why it has value, what is its history and its future outlook (2015) is an undergraduate honors thesis from a student named Sindri Leó Árnason at the University of Iceland. While this article does not contain the academic rigour one would expect from a post-graduate, or professional analysis, Árnason has produced a palatable and easy-to-understand thesis on the potential of cryptocurrency as a mainstream currency of the future. Árnason provides an overview on the history of cryptocurrency, that while commendable, is not as useful as the information presented in the texts annotated above. The value of this paper lays in Árnasons projections for the future of cryptocurrency. The paper argues cryptocurrency is unlikely to become the predominant payment method of the future due to price volatility, potential for hacking, lack of protection from central banks, and no insurance for investors. He does however suggest that the cryptocurrency blockchain model may be applied successfully to “other currency or payment systems”, creating and impact on the way we exchange money in the future. Although somewhat speculative (and not always convincing), the article is a good read for anyone wishing to ponder the future of cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin: An Empirical Study of Cryptocurrency (2014) The introduction says it all, really: “In this paper, we aim to give a strong background motivating the ideas behind the digital currency problems and how Nakamoto and Bitcoin solves those problems. Herein, we illustrate how Bitcoin works and give practical results regarding the algorithms it uses to solve digital currency problems.” This report is quite unlike any of the studies annotated above. Here the researchers suggest that cryptocurrency is the logical payment method in the digital age, but the current, centralised, banking model beat Bitcoin and others to the table. The paper acknowledges the challenges cryptocurrency must overcome in order to realistically facilitate p2p trading in the future, and then sets about trying to tackle these problems and provide solutions. A large portion of the report is dedicated to analysing the Bitcoin “mining” process. “Mining is the main algorithmic point of interest in Bitcoin and is central to the operation of the network”. It is reported that ming is not the act of trying to acquire Bitcoins, rather, it is the process that is performed in order for the exchange of digital currency to take place. Basically, a transaction can only occur once it has been verified by someone. This work is called “mining”. An excellent flowchart is shown in this report, and can be viewed here. In the discussion section the researchers set about trying to explain the most logical way of mining Bitcoins. This work is important because it theorises the most efficient way of verifying Bitcoin transactions. The introduction to the report is also worth reading as it gives a simple, yet accurate, historical overview of the Bitcoin phenomenon.

From Gold to Euro: On Monetary Theory and the History of Currency Systems(2001). For curious observers. This book gives an account of the history of currency. Recommended reading for anyone interested in currency as it provides a comprehensive analysis of the history of currency in the pre-digital age. Part one begins by providing an overview of the concept of monetary economies. It then proceeds to describe the value of monetary systems, and the organisation of society around monetary systems. The book then succeeds to explain the rise of credit, capital, the gold standard, and finally, the emergence of the globalised economy. It finishes by discussing the prospect of a “bi-polar” USD-EURO monetary system as the predominant standard for money trading in contemporary society. NOTE: I have not read this book in its entirety, yet it was recommended to me as a good source of knowledge on the topic.

Comment: The general consensus in the above texts appears to be that most scholars agree that cryptocurrency is rapidly expanding, although almost all doubt its potential to become the predominant currency of the future. Most agree, however, that blockchain-cryptocurrencies will play a significant role in the future of transactions.

Industry Sources:

Coin Desk is a cryptocurrency industry-specific website. The page is a useful resource for budding crypto-traders because it offers news & current affairs, analysis, and relevent industry research. The other major benefit of Coin Desk is that the company presents the annual blockchain technology summit, called Consensus. The Consensus Summit is broadcast via the Coin Desk website. Consensus is an important fixture on the cryptocurrency calendar because the summit provides valuable insights into the current state of the industry, and provides important insights and announcements regarding the future of cryptocurrency. The timing of the Consensus summit also generally correlates with widespread growth and volatility in cryptocurrency markets.

Coin Market cap provides easy-to-read CryptoCurrency market cap rankings, charts, and more. Featuring 3846 markets and 721 currencies the website is a must for anyone looking to gain a fast and reliable insight into the current financial state of the CryptoCurrency industry.

BTC Markets is a leading Australian Bitcoin and Ethereum exchange platform. This site is only really applicable to Australian users, as other (better) options are available for overseas traders. However, BTC markets is a stable and reliable platform for Australian CryptoCurrency traders. Created by a team which includes Bitcoin enthusiast Martin Bajalan, who is among a team of nine working to set up an Australian chapter of the Bitcoin Foundation.

News:

As Cryptocurrencies Reach New Highs, The Ethereal Summit Paints A Rich Future: A news article by Forbes that details the bullish projections outlined at the recent Ethereal Summit. The article briefly explains the work of Consensus Systems – a company that is dedicated to decentralised applications and private blockchains for enterprise. A worthy starting-point for anyone interested in Ethereum based BlockChain technology.

Japanese Airline Accepts Bitcoin As Cryptocurrency Fever Spreads Across the Region: This news article from Bitcoin.com demonstrates how CryptoCurrency is now on the verge of mainstream adaptation as a digital payment method for tangible goods. The article explains how recent law changes in Japan have allowed popular airline company Peach Aviation to begin accepting Bitcoin as payment for flights. This move may prove to be one of many significant steps in the move towards P2P payment in mainstream environments. According to the article Peach Aviation is also planning to introduce Bitcoin to other partner companies and local governments. These types of transactions signify a potential shift in the way we trade goods and services. It has the potential to become the catalyst for a major paradigm shift, as businesses see the potential to move away from the centralised transaction model.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Decentralized Exchanges: This amateur video YouTube provides a detailed analysis of the current state of the CryptoCurrency exchange market at the time r/EthereumFreak is being created. At the moment this video is not particularly important or relevent, but as time goes on it will be interesting to go back and view the state of the market in the time when I first invested in the market. Also a decent analysis of the current state-of-play, and the reasons for investors bullish attitudes towards Ethereum.

Bye, Bitcoin. Hello, Ethereum. Great multimedia content from popular online news source Mashable. The post shows the recent hype surrounding Ethereum, and details the reasons why people should be excited. It also shows the potential advantages of Ethereum vs. Bitcoin. The site states; “Bitcoin is just a digital currency, nothing more. But with Ethereum’s smart contract system, you can do more than simply pay for something. Ethereum wont subtract cryptocurrency from your account unless the conditions of a sale are met – like if a Kickstarter campaign reaches its goal”. This is an important point because it shows that Ethereum has something revolutionary to offer, and is not just a rebranded Bitcoin product.

The Crypto-Currency An old – but still relevent- New Yorker Magazine feature article about the mysterious Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. Written in 2009, just after the launch of the above-mentioned Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System paper, the feature tries to figure out who Nakamoto is, while providing a discussion about popular thoughts surrounding Bitcoin at its inception. If only the writer had the foresight to see how valuable Bitcoin would become. Shortly after the time the article was written Bitcoins were worth 0.06USD; today they are worth 2251.00USD. Aside from the “hindsight is 20/20” thoughts that this article elicits, it is fascinating to step back in a digital capsule and see some now-antiquated thoughts on the technology. It would be ideal if this SubReddit could one-day achieve this same affect. To look back in time and see my thoughts at the time of initial investment will be an exciting, and potentially depressing, prospect. The article is also very well written and an engaging read. Would recommend even for a casual observer.

Wikipedia:

Quite self explanatory. Wikipedia pages relevent to the topic. For in-depth information I recommend reading the above-mentioned sources, but Wikipedia is always a good place to start too. Below you will find pages related to each of the cryptocurrencies that I will be experimenting with, as well as general information on cryptocurrency.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_currency

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptocurrency

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethereum

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ripple_(payment_protocol)

Reddit:

Reddit is an excellent source for discovering information about cryptocurrency. These are some of the pages I am currently reading as I venture forth into the world of cryptology. I highly recommend spending time reading through some of the threads on these pages. It seems Redditors have a huge fascination with cryptocurrency.

https://www.reddit.com/r/CryptoMarkets/

https://www.reddit.com/r/CryptoCurrency/

https://www.reddit.com/r/ethereum/

https://www.reddit.com/r/ethtrader/

https://www.reddit.com/r/ethinvestor/

https://www.reddit.com/r/Ripple/

https://www.reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/