In cryptocurrency networks, mining is a validation of transactions. For this effort, successful miners obtain new cryptocurrency as a reward. The reward decreases transaction fees by creating a complementary incentive to contribute to the processing power of the network. The rate of generating hashes, which validate any transaction, has been increased by the use of specialized machines such as FPGAs and ASICs running complex hashing algorithms like SHA-256 and Scrypt. This arms race for cheaper-yet-efficient machines has been on since the day the first cryptocurrency, bitcoin, was introduced in 2009. With more people venturing into the world of virtual currency, generating hashes for this validation has become far more complex over the years, with miners having to invest large sums of money on employing multiple high performance ASICs. Thus the value of the currency obtained for finding a hash often does not justify the amount of money spent on setting up the machines, the cooling facilities to overcome the enormous amount of heat they produce, and the electricity required to run them.
A lot of concerns have been raised regarding cryptocurrencies’ decentralized nature and their ability to be used almost completely anonymously. The authorities all over the world are worried about the cryptocurrencies’ appeal to the traders of illegal goods and services. Moreover, they are worried about their use in money laundering and tax evasion schemes.
The one and only, the first and most famous cryptocurrency. Bitcoin serves as a digital gold standard in the whole cryptocurrency-industry, is used as a global means of payment and is the de-facto currency of cyber-crime like darknet markets or ransomware. After seven years in existence, Bitcoin‘s price has increased from zero to more than 650 Dollar, and its transaction volume reached more than 200.000 daily transactions.
Darknet markets present challenges in regard to legality. Bitcoins and other forms of cryptocurrency used in dark markets are not clearly or legally classified in almost all parts of the world. In the U.S., bitcoins are labelled as "virtual assets". This type of ambiguous classification puts pressure on law enforcement agencies around the world to adapt to the shifting drug trade of dark markets.
The term altcoin has various similar definitions. Stephanie Yang of The Wall Street Journal defined altcoins as "alternative digital currencies," while Paul Vigna, also of The Wall Street Journal, described altcoins as alternative versions of bitcoin. Aaron Hankins of the MarketWatch refers to any cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin as altcoins.
An increase in cryptocurrency mining increased the demand of graphics cards (GPU) in 2017. Popular favorites of cryptocurrency miners such as Nvidia's GTX 1060 and GTX 1070 graphics cards, as well as AMD's RX 570 and RX 580 GPUs, doubled or tripled in price – or were out of stock. A GTX 1070 Ti which was released at a price of $450 sold for as much as $1100. Another popular card GTX 1060's 6 GB model was released at an MSRP of $250, sold for almost $500. RX 570 and RX 580 cards from AMD were out of stock for almost a year. Miners regularly buy up the entire stock of new GPU's as soon as they are available.
Zcoin is a privacy focused cryptocurrency that was originally built on the Zerocoin protocol. However, given a number of vulnerabilities in that protocol, they recently moved to a new "Sigma" Protocol that was launched in 2019. Transactions are made private by a privacy enhancement in the protocol called "minting". Before you are able to send transactions, you have to mint new coins. Given that all coin’s transactions originate from a newly minted coin, it is hard to track the origin. Privacy on Zcoin is made possible through the use of Zero Knowledge proofs. You also have Tor integration as well as their recently released "Dandelion" protocol. This will further help to cement user privacy on the network. ZCoin uses a the Merkle Tree Proof of Work algorithm (MTP). This is a memory hard algorithm that is considered to be ASIC resistant and hence less prone to centralisation. Zcoin also has a masternode architecture with their "Znodes" (require 1,000 XZC to stake). In compensation for running this full node, the Znode will receive 30% of the newly minted Zcoins. The team behind the Zcoin protocol is quite extensive experience in blockchain engineering, software development, cryptography and many more. The developers have also been hard at work if you take a look into their GitHub repository. When it comes to markets, XZC is listed on a number of exchanges including MXC, Coinex, Binance, Huobi etc. There appears to be reasonable liquidity on these exchanges which will ease execution. However, XZC is still volatile so trade with caution. *Coin Bureau's views are not investment advice. Do Your Own Research.