When I first heard the word “cryptocurrency,” I honestly pictured a mummy rising from his tomb, holding millions of dollars in cash. I’m weird that way.
That being said, now that I’m familiarizing myself with the concept, I thought it reasonable to explore (and discuss) others besides bitcoin. Now, I may be jumping the gun a bit, considering that I’m not a bitcoin expert, but the exploration part is fun (and good for the brain).
Again, you might ask, “What does this have to do with the dark web?” Well, standard currencies like dollars, euros, and rupees are rarely used on the dark web (well, maybe rupees, but I’m not sure).
Bear in mind, these cryptocurrencies aren’t only used on the dark web, but they are definitely more popular on onion sites, freesites, and others. The standard seems to be bitcoin, but darknet markets (and others) are starting to accept these alternatives as well.
Dogecoin is an open source, decentralized peer-to-peer currency featuring a photo of the Shiba Inu Kabosu. Like bitcoin, it makes the process of sending money online much easier.
As opposed to bitcoin, its official site claims that Dogecoin “sets itself apart…with an amazing, vibrant community made up of friendly folks just like you.” Programmer Billy Markus from Portland, Oregon, created Dogecoin for exactly the reason you might think: he wanted to come up with a cryptocurrency that was fun and could reach a broader demographic than bitcoin. Are you really surprised this took off?
Markus also wanted to distance it from the controversy surrounding bitcoin, especially its association with the original Silk Road marketplace, according to Such Weird: The Founders of Dogecoin See the Meme Currency’s Tipping Point. Markus based Dogecoin on the existing cryptocurrency Luckycoin, which rewards users for mining a block. (We shall discuss Luckycoin below).
When I visited the site GitHub: What is Ethereum?, the page greeted me with a rather esoteric explanation of the digital currency:
In a technical sense, Ethereum is a ‘world computer’. Harking back to the days of the mainframe, and probably about as fast, Ethereum can be viewed as a single computer that the whole world can use. It notionally has only a single processor (no multi-threading or parallel execution), but as much memory as required.
Unlike previous cryptocurrencies, ethereum is made up of a developers’ platform that simplifies building decentralized applications (which, as an aspiring coder, I think is so awesome!!) Stephen Tual, the CCO of Ethereum, explains it a bit further here: What is Ethereum, in layman’s terms?
In the opinion of some, Ethereum actually represents some real competition for bitcoin, believe it or not. According to Crypto-Currency Market Capitalizations, Ethereum is down 2.30% at the time of this writing, but is still growing in value steadily over time. (Heck, it was probably outdated before I finished this paragraph).
MultiDoge is, as you might expect, a desktop Dogecoin client; it is ported from the MultiBit bitcoin client, according to MultiDoge.org. So really, this isn’t that much different from Dogecoin, other than its compatibility factors.
Litecoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that enables instant payments to just about anyone in the world. In fact, it’s the second most popular cryptocurrency, next to bitcoin. One might ask, “How is litecoin (or any cryptocurrency, for that matter) any different from bitcoin?”
To highlight just a few of the differences, the Bitcoin network can produce up to 21 million coins, whereas Litecoin can produce up to 84 million coins. The Litecoin network is also designed to produce four times as many currency units as bitcoin, and provide faster confirmations.
NXT is an open-source cryptocurrency, as well as an advanced payment network, launched in November of 2013. According to their homepage, “Nxt is an advanced blockchain platform which builds on and improves the basic functionality of pioneering cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.” Their stated intentions are to use the blockchain platform for more than just cryptocurrency and financial systems.
NXT uses the Proof of Stake concept to reach consensus for transactions, and is acceptable for online transactions and decentralized assets.
Peercoin is a P2P digital currency that “seeks to be the most secure cryptocoin at the lowest cost, by rewarding all users for strengthening the network.” Like NXT, it also uses proof of stake to verify transactions and secure the network.
Feathercoin, like the other cryptocurrencies listed here, is an open source digital currency. According to Feathercoin.com, however, it “is a highly upgraded and customised piece of software compared to the bitcoin and litecoin protocols.”
Feathercoin is based on the Neoscrypt algorithm, features current Gen ASIC resistance, and offers an 80 coin reward per block.
BlackCoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency that uses a proof-of-stake system, and is also open-source. According to BlackCoin, Currency of the Future, the network of users utilizing BlackCoins have the capability to both manage transactions and issue new BlackCoins, which in theory makes it a “for-the-people” cryptocurrency. (Like Communism, right?) Just kidding!
Actually, it sounds great in theory, but I could still see the potential for corruption in there somewhere.
So, the big question probably is: which of these should I use, if any? I have to confess that the only ones I have personal experience with so far are bitcoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum. That being said, it seems that each cryptocurrency has its advantages and pitfalls.
Some fluctuate in price constantly, some are more or less secure than others, and some are much more complex than others. Also, unlike bitcoin, a number of these have yet to really “take off,” and so there isn’t a whole lot you can purchase with them yet.
On the upside, if you take the chance to invest in them while they’re still relatively new, it’s possible that you could end up making a lot (but there’s no way to know for sure if that will happen, unless you’re a cryptocurrency genius…).
So I say – do your research, and figure out if any of these fit your style. Personally, I think I’m a Dogecoin man. Better start investing!