In a word, yes. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, and is still the biggest, but in the eight years since it was developed pretenders to the throne have come along. All of them have the same basic underpinnings: they utilize a “blockchain”, a shared public record of transactions, to create and track a whole new form of digital token – one that can only be made and shared according to the agreed-upon rules of the network, whatever they may be. However the flourishing ecosystem has provided plenty of variation additionally.
Some cryptocurrencies, like Litecoin or Dogecoin, fulfil the same purpose as bitcoin – constructing a new digital currency – with tweaks to a number of the details (making transactions faster, as an example, or ensuring a fundamental amount of inflation). Others, such as Ethereum or Bat, go ahead and take same principle but use it to your specific purpose: cloud computing or digital advertising when it comes to the two.
Precisely what is a bitcoin? Can I hold one? – A bitcoin doesn’t really exist as a concrete physical – or perhaps digital – object. Should I have .5 bitcoins relaxing in my digital wallet, that doesn’t mean you will find a corresponding other half sitting elsewhere.
Everything you really have whenever you own a bitcoin is the collective agreement of each and every other computer on the bitcoin network that your particular bitcoin was legitimately developed by a bitcoin “miner”, and then handed down to you through a number of legitimate transactions. If you wish to actually own some bitcoin, you can find exactly two options: either turn into a miner (that involves investing a lot of cash in computers and electricity bills – probably greater than the need for the bitcoin you’ll actually make, unless you’re very smart), or just buy some bitcoin from someone else using conventional money, typically via a bitcoin exchange such as Coinbase or Bitfinex.
A lot of the quirks in the currency come down for the collective agreement as to what constitutes “legitimacy”. For instance, since the first bitcoin was made in 2009, the complete number in existence has become growing slowly, in a declining rate, making certain at some point around 2140, the 21 millionth bitcoin will be mined, without any more is ever going to be created.
Should you disagree with this collective agreement, well, there’s nothing stopping from splitting with the wider network and creating your personal version of bitcoin. This is what’s known as the “fork”, and it’s already happened several times in the past (that’s what competitors like Litecoin and Dogecoin are). The difficulty is persuading other people to follow along with you. A currency used by just one person isn’t much of a currency.
So what can I actually do with cryptocurrencies? – In theory, almost anything that you can do using a computer could, in some way, be rebuilt on the Cryptocurrency Exchange Template. Creating a cryptocurrency involves rkabxo an international network of computers right into a decentralised platform for data storage and processing – essentially, a giant hive-mind PC (that this no longer sounds like it has much to do with “currencies” is area of the reason some instead suggest the name “decentralised apps” to pay for this sector).
We’ve already seen proposals for YouTube clones, collectible card games and digital advertising exchanges built on top of cryptocurrencies: “x but on the blockchain” is definitely the new startup pitch du jour, given that “Uber for x” and “x but on the iPhone” are passé. There’s already Dentacoin (Yelp for Dentists but on the blockchain), Matchpool (Tinder but on the blockchain) and also Cryptokitties (Tamagotchis but on the blockchain).
In practice, however, possible uses are rather more limited. Bitcoin can be used a payment system for a couple online transactions, and also fewer real-world ones, while other cryptocurrencies are much more juvenile than that. The excitement regarding the field is focused more on exactly what it could become than it really is.