The 411 on Cryptocurrency & Blockchain Technology
Cryptocurrency: No Longer the New Kid on the Block
Believe it or not, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin has been around for 10 years.
Cryptocurrency is digital money that can be sent person-to-person with no central bank, financial institution or other intermediary. Bitcoin emerged after the 2008 Financial Crisis due to a growing public distrust in traditional financial systems and institutions.
Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency on the scene — and it remains the most dominant — but there are many more. Interestingly, there will only ever be 21 million Bitcoins produced.
There are real-life situations where using a cryptocurrency is ideal. One example is if you are travelling or doing business in a country with an extremely volatile currency, such as Venezuela. With minimal fees, cryptocurrencies are also suitable for remittances (a transfer of money by a foreign worker to relatives back home in a developing country). When every penny counts, it’s a way to avoid the high services fees usually charged by financial institutions for remittances.
Investing in cryptocurrency can be viewed as an alternative to investing in conventional assets, such as stocks, bonds or real estate. However, with no links to government or a central bank, cryptocurrency is unregulated and there is a high level of volatility in the market. A potential cryptocurrency investor needs to be comfortable with these ups and downs. As an alternative asset, financial professionals recommend investing a maximum of 10 per cent of your overall portfolio in cryptocurrency.
The technology underlying cryptocurrencies is something called blockchain. It is quite complicated, but can be described as a sophisticated type of ledger. One of the more familiar names in blockchain technology is Ethereum, which is known for smart contracts. According to ethereum.org, “Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference.”
Blockchain technology is a way of organizing data and it has many potential uses beyond currency — ranging from business contracts to academic research and real estate transactions. Blockchain is a structure that builds on itself with each “block” containing verified information that cannot be rewritten or erased.
James Sakundiak and Steve Chamberlain are friends and Regina-based promoters of the cryptocurrency DasCoin. James is a retired grain farmer and businessperson while Steve is a currency trader. “We believe that DasCoin is the cryptocurrency with the best chance of being adopted by the mainstream. DasCoin has the potential to be spendable at a point-of-sale through an AlliancePay debit card, just like Visa or MasterCard,” says James.
Steve adds: “One of the reasons to buy DasCoin is travel discounts through membership in traveler.com. The Das ecosystem benefits from a decentralized, user-friendly wallet system and a regulation-friendly global network of KYC authenticated users.”
Another recent development in the Bitcoin universe is satellite technology replacing the internet. According to blockstream.com, “The Blockstream Satellite network broadcasts the Bitcoin blockchain around the world 24/7 for free, protecting against network interruptions and providing anyone in the world with the opportunity to use Bitcoin.”
In summary, while there is no doubt that blockchain technology is a significant world development, investing in individual cryptocurrencies needs to be approached with a level of caution and a lot of research.