An Intro to Cryptocurrency

An Intro to Cryptocurrency

Quick Announcements:

-Microsoft has released official system requirements for Windows 11, and is teasing an October release date for a free downloadable OS upgrade for existing users. Check out our write up on Windows 11 here.

-Shortly after President Joe Biden signed his recent executive order, the FTC voted unanimously to uphold right to repair-style regulations across the country. You can read our post about right to repair laws here.

On June 9th, El Salvador's Congress voted to adopt Bitcoin, a well-known cryptocurrency, as legal tender. Even though cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have been around for years, the passage of this law marks the first time a nation-state has adopted such currency as legal tender; its use within the country will be entirely optional. Bitcoin is arguably the most well-known cryptocurrency, but there are currently more than a thousand different cryptocurrencies in circulation. El Salvador's move could signal a sea-change in world economics, one in which normal people exchange cryptocurrencies for products and services as easily as conventional fiat currencies. But what is cryptocurrency, and how might it affect your enterprise?

The Basics

Cryptocurrency refers to modes of electronic, monetary exchange that use automated digital cryptography (i.e. secret codes) to produce a single, decentralized general ledger that tracks all of the exchanges related to that particular currency.

There are a handful of key points to keep in mind when thinking about cryptocurrencies. The first, and perhaps most obvious, is that cryptocurrencies have no physical analogs. In spite of its name, there are, in fact, no metal or paper Bit "coins" that you can carry around in your wallet or purse. Moreover, cryptocurrencies are entirely decentralized. Their worth and number is not determined by a state or centralized banking authority like the Federal Reserve. They also aren't backed by any physical commodities like gold or silver. Cryptocurrencies' values are determined entirely by day to day market fluctuations in supply and demand and guaranteed by the faith and trust of those who exchange them.

Many cryptocurrencies are put into circulation through a process called mining. In short, mining occurs when the code that records crypto transactions is solved and added to the publicly accessible blockchain ledger. Mining requires not only a good deal of mathematical expertise but also expensive hardware and large amounts processing power. Even then, rewards aren't guaranteed, as currency is only issued to those miners who solve the puzzle first. Once a unit of cryptocurrency is mined, it can be put into circulation, where it can be traded for normal currency and in some cases goods and services.

Lastly, cryptocurrencies are all floating, meaning their worth changes with market forces. This makes investing in crypto a volatile prospect. Values can change in a matter of months, even weeks. Thus, anyone who wants to begin trading cryptocurrencies should always assess their financial situation to see if they're able to risk loosing money before investing. It's also worth noting that, while mining is common among cryptocurrencies, it's not universal. As such, it's advisable to find out how different currencies operate before trading.

The Future of Crypto

In addition to El Salvador's new law, many large retailers have begun accepting cryptocurrencies as payments for goods and services. Microsoft and AT&T both accept payments in the form of Bitcoin, as do several fast food chains. Tesla, which has waffled in the past on taking Bitcoin as a form of payment, is likely to start accepting it again in the near future. It seems that cryptocurrency is likely to continue its expansion into everyday life, and cryptocurrency ATMs, where people can both buy and sell cryptocurrencies in exchange for conventional cash, may even become an everyday sight soon.

As cryptocurrency infrastructure expands, enterprise leaders will inevitably need to decide if they want to accept cryptocurrencies as payments. Luckily, a good managed IT service can not only advise on whether such a move is worthwhile but also help establish the services and hardware necessary to weave cryptocurrency into a firm's cash flow.

Be sure to contact Titan Tech if you want to learn more about how cryptocurrency infrastructure could benefit your firm. And join us next week for more tech news.