In a word, yes. Bitcoin was the very first cryptocurrency, and continues to be biggest, nevertheless in the eight years since it was developed pretenders to the throne have come along. Every one of them have the same basic underpinnings: they use a “blockchain”, a shared public record of transactions, to produce and track a brand new form of digital token – one that can just be made and shared based on the agreed-upon rules of the network, whatever they may be. However the flourishing ecosystem has provided a huge amount of variation on top of that.
Some cryptocurrencies, like Litecoin or Dogecoin, fulfil the same purpose as bitcoin – constructing a new digital currency – with tweaks to some of the details (making transactions faster, as an example, or ensuring a basic amount of inflation). Others, such as Ethereum or Bat, consider the same principle but put it on to a specific purpose: cloud computing or digital advertising in the case of those two.
Precisely what is a bitcoin? Can I hold one? – A bitcoin doesn’t really exist being a concrete physical – or even digital – object. Basically If I have .5 bitcoins sitting in my digital wallet, that doesn’t mean you will find a corresponding other half sitting elsewhere.
Everything you have once you own a bitcoin is the collective agreement of every other computer on the bitcoin network that the bitcoin was legitimately developed by a bitcoin “miner”, and after that handed down to you personally through a series of legitimate transactions. In order to actually own some bitcoin, you will find exactly two options: either turn into a miner (that involves investing a lot of cash in computers and electricity bills – probably a lot more than the value of the bitcoin you’ll can even make, unless you’re very smart), or simply just buy some bitcoin from somebody else using conventional money, typically via a bitcoin exchange such as Coinbase or Bitfinex.
Many of the quirks from the currency come down towards the collective agreement as to what constitutes “legitimacy”. For example, considering that the first bitcoin was made during 2009, the complete number in existence has become growing slowly, at a declining rate, making sure sooner or later around 2140, the 21 millionth bitcoin will likely be mined, with no more is ever going to be created.
In the event you disagree with that collective agreement, well, there’s nothing stopping you from splitting with all the wider network and creating your very own version of bitcoin. This really is what’s referred to as a “fork”, and it’s already happened multiple times in the past (that’s what competitors such as Litecoin and Dogecoin are). The problem is persuading other individuals to adhere to you. A currency used by just one person isn’t a great deal of currency.
Exactly what can I just do with cryptocurrencies? – Theoretically, just about everything that can be done with a computer could, in some way, be rebuilt over a Cryptocurrency Exchange UI. Building a cryptocurrency involves rkabxo an international network of computers right into a decentralised platform for data storage and processing – ultimately, a giant hive-mind PC (that this no more seems like it has much related to “currencies” is part of the reason some instead suggest the name “decentralised apps” to protect this sector).
We’ve already seen proposals for YouTube clones, collectible card games and digital advertising exchanges built along with 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 even Cryptokitties (Tamagotchis but on the blockchain).
In reality, however, the accessible uses are rather more limited. Bitcoin bring 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 concerning the field is focused much more on exactly what it could become than it really is.