Luka Osborne

You might have heard of Bitcoin, the Internet based currency making recent waves, however there are numerous types of cryptocurrencies that as a whole have recently gained huge amounts of recent popularity. Cryptocurrencies operate from a decentralised digital ledger called a Blockchain. The blockchain facilitates online transactions by placing records across numerous computers through a peer-to-peer network system without a centralised server. Each transaction made is recorded as a ‘block’ and contains a timestamp to a previous block. The blanket network as a whole forms the Blockchain and enables records to be held forever across this unified system and thus currencies cannot be spent twice and are naturally resistant to hacking.

Blockchains are designed to be resistant to change, as a block cannot be altered without the modification of all subsequent blocks across all the computers in the network. Thus the data cannot be tampered with and is extremely secure as it acts as a cryptic ledger. Blockchain technology is especially revolutionary as it eliminates the need for physical documenting. Being an automated and cost efficient process it could improve medical records, identity documentation and business ledgers and other transaction applications

The original cryptocurrency, Bitcoin was released as an open sourced software in 2009 and as of today occupies a $49745933806 (AUD) market cap, equivalent to 16,442,587 coins (BTC). There are tales of some lucky investors who purchased Bitcoin years ago and forgot about their modest investment, only to discover they were worth millions. The market as a whole, including ‘altcoins’ such as Ether and Litecoin is notoriously volatile, with the first half of this year producing huge growth, followed by corrections throughout June and July.

Coins are purchased through a brokerage before being sent to a ‘wallet’ to store them, and many apps can make this easy such as Coinbase, which acts, as both. Investors should proceed with caution however, as within the week of this editorial coins have fallen across the board, with Etherum dropping to a near 50% to a 40 day low. Despite this, many say that huge volatility is normal as ‘cryptos’ are an emerging technology, with the value still to be found and a large amount of growth to be seen in the eminent future.