ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

Is a cryptocurrency bubble around the corner? [ICT Clinic]

A few months ago, Carl (not his real name) visited Nigeria and he made every attempt to hold a meeting with me. After some back and forth, we eventually agreed on a meeting date. His mission was to work with me to deepen the cryptocurrency market in this part of the world. He also tried to sell me the idea of becoming a Bitcoin merchant and that would mean not just owning some, but also actively involved in the trade.

Well, as fate would have it, I did not follow through and a few months after, Bitcoin became a huge hit across the world. The reality is that I might have become richer had I followed through. At one point he sent me a screenshot of what his portfolio of cryptocurrencies looked like and based on the going market rates then, he was worth a few million dollars. From then on, he shared offers upon offers and kept reminding me of how I missed out in the early days and that I had no excuse to miss out again. I must confess that this experience heightened my fear of missing the next big thing, which still haunts me every now and then.

So what is a cryptocurrency?

According to Invstopedia.com, a cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralised systems based on blockchain technology – a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers. A defining feature of a cryptocurrency, and arguably its biggest allure, is its organic nature. No central authority issues it, thereby rendering it theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.

The interesting thing about the world of cryptocurrencies is that a deep conspiracy theory has created unrepentant supporters, many of whom believe that cryptos are the only way to redistribute the world’s wealth by altering the current financial systems.

Another important aspect of the crypto ecosystem today is the altcoin or alternative coin, usually regarded as any cryptocurrency developed after Bitcoin was released. For example, a former Google employee, Charlie Lee, created Litecoin in 2011 and it is built on the same core technology used by Bitcoin, but with shorter time to process transactions. LTC was designed to improve on Bitcoin, but it has forged a path for itself while gaining trust. It remits financial transactions at a quarter fraction of the time that Bitcoin does.

Another early altcoin is Ethereum, developed by then 19-year-old Vitalik Buterin, a Russian-Canadian programmer. It is designed to be a platform for smart contracts between applications; trying to perform related transactions. It offers server performances, such that — Finish Reading on the Punch