In this episode of the podcast, Kevin runs solo to help you get started in the cryptocurrency-universe.
Unless you’re directly investing your money in carbon reduction systems or projects, it’s most likely that each time you spend money, you are increasing your carbon footprint. When you buy something from the internet, think of the process of events to make delivery possible, when you buy a tomato in your local shop, think of its supply chain and not only how it got to your shop, but the energy taken to grow it. Every action you make with your money causes a domino effect, and the file tile is carbon emission.
This is true for traditional currencies, like the dollar, pound or euro, but is it also true for cryptocurrency? In this article, we are going to try and find out.
Wealth equals responsibility. The richest people in the world have the highest carbon footprint. In cryptocurrency terms, the biggest miners in the world have the largest ecological footprints due to energy consumption. The things you spend money on directly have a carbon value, but for crypto it’s harder to measure, as it’s all to do with processing transactions. One Bitcoin transaction could power an LED bulb for 500 hours.
In the real world, the most carbon negative way to spend your pounds are on budget flights, which many of us are guilty of. In the crypto world, the most carbon negative activity you can do is to mine Bitcoin. In truth, we should be looking to move away from Bitcoin, and support alternative technologies like IOTA that can be carbon neutral innovation tools.
Central printing facilities don’t often release the figures on their activities. They may say the cost of materials, but they won’t say how much has been released, or, they may release statistics over a long period of time so that short-term data cannot be extracted. For this reason, the cost of printing comes with limited information. What we do know is that financial experts in the UK estimate that the new £5 notes cost about 3p each to produce. We also know that the government spent £75 million producing these notes, so if we assume that the entire £75m is absorbed by production, that makes £2.475 billion split in 495 million separate notes.
The new UK £5 weighs 0.7 grams (the paper notes are 0.9g), that gives us 346.5 tonnes of plastic notes. The notes will last 2.5 times longer, but cost 50% more to make than paper notes, meaning overall there are definitely benefits to this transition. However, transitioning equipment like ATMs and self-service checkouts will cost the British consumer £236 million, or about £4 each, so that’s something to consider too.
What is the environmental harm done by producing 346.5 tonnes of plastic banknotes, the energy required, the distribution, the machinery, the changes to technology and the energy required for people to go and exchange their old notes? Well, we don’t know for sure but it’s pretty large. If anyone has the formula for calculating this we’d love to know, just email email@example.com
The mobile and digital payment technology, wireless transactions and cryptocurrencies payments accepted in more and more places, it seems like cash is on its way to becoming obsolete. Whilst cash is redundant for some, it does play an important role in society, especially for small businesses who work on a cash basis.
In Europe, on average, the number of ATMs is declining by 6% each year since 2010, according to Link, the network that connects most of the UK’s cash machines.
However, the decline in ATM usage is actually threatening bank branches, who are not needed as much, due to online and mobile banking, as well as the lessening use of cash. In theory, if the branches continue to close, they may, in fact, start improving ATMs and making them smarter, automating the processes that in-branch staff usually provide.
There’s both the potential for a world without ATMs, or a world in which ATMs do far more than just dispense cash. As it stands, we don’t know which way it will go. What we do know is that the carbon footprint and environmental damage done by banks would be a lot lower if they had fewer branches, more Smart ATMs and the ability to offer services linked to Cryptocurrencies.
Did you know? In Russia, deposits by security vans delivering cash to stock up machines have been cut in half by allowing customers to deposit money into their accounts via ATM. The environmental impact of halving all of these road miles is considerable.
Already there are companies like Monaco and BitPay Card offering cards that hold both traditional and cryptocurrencies. With Monaco, the accounts are free, offer exchanges at fair prices and even give 2% cashback of MCO, their own token, on crypto transactions. With this service, you are able to avoid bank fees (hooray), get real exchange rates (woop) and make instant exchanges and transfers (awesome).
The current crypto-sphere is far more accessible for people who want to save or trade, and a bit more confusing or frustrating for those who want to spend. Even VISA, the leading global payment solution put a blanket ban over crypto-cards, assumedly until there is more knowledge and legislation in place about their usage.
A world with crypto-cards might look very similar to the world we live in today. Cash withdrawals, contactless payment, and chip and pin services could all feature. Additional benefits could be that your mining activities are linked to your account, and so a regular stream of coin tops up your ‘bank’ balance.
The answer to this question lies solely in the crypto that you are using. If the token is Bitcoin, it’s likely that the environmental footprint is greater than traditional money. If it’s Ethereum you’re spending, the power consumption for transactions is just 8% of that for Bitcoin, though Bitcoin is worth around 10 times Ethereum, so it almost balances out. Litecoin also uses about 1/10th the power of Bitcoin for transactions (though you’d need around 60 litecoins* to equal one BTC).
*Cryptocurrency values are highly volatile and the figures stated in this article are liable to change
Bonus: Do you like talking about money? We interviewed a crypto-millionare on the podcast. https://www.cryptopulse.co.uk/episode-12/Listen here.
‘It’ll never catch on’, ‘We’ve always done it this way’, and ‘I don’t see the point’. We’ve all heard naysayers, objectors and laggards try to reject change, but fortunately for the rest of us, change is inevitable.
Have you ever heard of, or seen the Innovation Adoption Lifecycle? It’s mostly applied in the tech world, for new gadgets and apps, but it’s equally applicable to cryptocurrencies. See the graph below, and rather than try to place yourself along this graph, try and make an educated guess as to where cryptocurrency has reached in wide society. It’s hard, right?
For cryptocurrencies to be widely adopted and accepted, they must first be trusted. How do they build trust? Well, positive experience and word of mouth is one way, but really the trust and adoption will almost correlate exactly. As more outlets become available for engaging different currencies, more people will start using them, and vice versa, as more people start using the currencies, more outlets will appear.
Wide adoption will come when everybody is using cryptocurrencies, but with objectors in the ranks, the only way to achieve this is to apply a system in which people don’t even realise they are using them. Then, we may face the issue in which people lose trust, because they feel that they are involuntarily using cryptocurrencies because of ‘the system’.
Central governments have been trading on the foreign exchange market for a long time, buying and selling their own currency in order to achieve a number of goals, such as controlling inflation, being competitive against rival currencies and achieving financial stability.
We don’t know about you, but generally, nobody likes to play a game where the house always wins. Since cryptocurrencies are decentralised, it’s a fair game across the board, with no governments interfering with values and movements.
Central governments also like to do something called ‘quantitative easing’, in which they print more money and inject it into the economy when it’s being sluggish, to act as a stimulant. It doesn’t always work, as it initially pushes down the price of the dollar.
With cryptocurrencies, miners are able to help process transactions in order to earn pieces of the currency, and this is how the circulating supply increases. The owners or designers of the currencies cannot simply invent new coins to throw into the marketplace, as this would be fraudulent. Some cryptocurrencies are capped forever, without the potential for mining, such as Ripple, IOTA, NEO and EOS.
Let’s bypass cattle, crop, human, and resource trading and start with actual coins. Between the Mesopotamians and the Babylonians, both currency, and the concept of debt, property, compensation and business really became a necessity.
After more than 3,000 years of refining the process of metal coins, the Chinese Song Dynasty began using paper to assign values to currency in the 7th century on a local scale, before it becomes more widely adopted in the 11th century. By the 12th century, there was 26 million times more paper currency being printed than coins being produced each year.
It took until the 16th century in London for paper currency to become widely used, with various goldsmiths accepting gold in exchange for their paper values. The paper ‘promissory notes’ that were given out started to be exchanged themselves, rather than collecting the gold and trading that.
The system was flawed from day one, as the integrity of the goldsmiths, who became banks, and how well known they were, directly related to how likely a promissory note would be accepted. In 1694, more than 100 years later, the government took over and were granted the sole right to issue currency.
Much later, credit cards were introduced by American Express and the Bank of America in 1958, in California. It took a long time for credit and debit cards to really catch on, and even today, in the first world, it’s quite normal to find shops, cafes and restaurants who don’t accept this form of payment. Talk about laggards!
There are three major indications that crypto is being widely adopted; the rise in value due to the rise in demand, the attempts of central governments to reduce the dependence on cash and increase the emphasis on credit and debit cards, and the emergence of new ways to apply cryptocurrencies.
In India in the summer of 2017, the government banned the 500 (£5.80) and 1,000 rupee notes overnight in an attempt to tackle cash hoarders. It was a spectacular failure, causing panic, unrest, and 99% of the newly illegal money ending up back in the banks anyway. For a country that mostly works on a cash basis, the people simply weren’t ready for this.
In 2015, the state of Louisiana tried to ban cash transactions between citizens, before it was deemed unconstitutional and thrown out. In the end, a law was passed banned the cash purchase of precious metals, like gold and silver. With some governments seeing cash as a threat, it’s only natural to see them pushing people towards a more digital system.
“Cryptocurrencies rise in value because they are being adopted, not because they rise in value”.
The rise in demand comes from various sources, such as the widespread popularity and discussion on social media, official government comments, airtime on news channels and the increasing accessibility of entry to the market (through platforms like Coinbase).
Our third reason that will affect how long widespread adoption takes, is how quickly big businesses start accepting cryptocurrencies. Microsoft and PayPal were early adopters of bitcoin payments (and donations), as were Dell, Steam, Save the Children, Wikipedia and Tesla.
Transaction fees make small transactions, like buying a cup of coffee, very inefficient with currencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Cryptocurrency IOTA, which does not exist on the blockchain, is one option for feeless transactions and could be a major player in encouraging widespread adoption.
In the UK, there are almost 90 Bitcoin ATMs, which allow you to buy bitcoins physically with cash, input a bitcoin wallet address, and credit your account all in one transaction. Some of these machines allow you to sell your bitcoin and withdraw cash too. Whilst this concept is yet to blow up and take off massively, it is a great indication of what’s to come when Bitcoin is fully adopted.
Who better to conclude this piece than Andreas Antonopoulos, author or ‘Mastering Bitcoin’ and ‘The Internet of Money’. In October 2016, at a Bitcoin meetup in Germany, he said: “How long until mainstream adoption? Previous revolutions in money. In the mid-90s, you still couldn’t pay with a credit card in many places. I predict it will take 15-20 years for mainstream adoption of Bitcoin. We are in a race because governments around the world are trying to ban cash and force us to adopt a different sort of digital currency with complete surveillance, where they can flip and switch and you will no longer exist as a person if you doing anything they consider radical. Adoption patterns and the Gini coefficient. The ownership of Bitcoin is not as diverse as it should be, primarily because of the way it grew. But people who got in early and took the risk have been enormously rewarded; no one’s coming to bail out Bitcoin.”
You can hardly escape the hype around Bitcoin, it’s everywhere, filling columns in newspapers, creating discussions on TV and spreading its way across the many various social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter & Instagram. The most difficult thing to do for anyone trying to educate themselves is to sort the truths from the lies, which is why we’ve busted the Top 10 Myths about Bitcoin, so you can know exactly what to look out for!
Many people do not understand (or are not yet willing to understand) the value of a global, decentralized, portable, peer-to-peer, censorship-resistant digital payment network, simply because it’s not backed by anything such as a government or a commodity such as gold or silver. The fact that Bitcoin can be used and transferred without the need of a bank account or the involvement of a central government is a HUGE plus when compared to traditional currencies.
There are, however, varying opinions on this point. Some believe that Bitcoin’s scarcity is the main attribute that gives it value, while others claim that Bitcoins are useful because they are required in order to use the world’s most prominent and secure decentralized ledger.
Some argue that Bitcoin is not backed by anything, like a precious metal or a traditional currency would be, thus making it incredibly risky.
So, let’s make the first comparison of gold or silver. Firstly, the value of these materials is purely based on what people are prepared to pay for them. Some people see gold as a safe haven from volatile currencies and other global market conditions. There’s nothing wrong with this, however, gold and silver are inflationary because they are viewed as scarce, but nobody knows how much gold is available on planet earth, so there is a flaw to the value.
Traditional currencies (FIAT currencies) were once backed by the value of gold. When we came off the gold standard in 1931 due to the Great Depression, currencies were no longer backed by anything physical. Traditional currencies are now backed by a central government. Maybe you’re fortunate enough to live in a country where your government and currency are quite stable, however, for many this isn’t that case and they can manipulate prices, just look at Zimbabwe and Brazil for example. In November 2008, the monthly inflation for Zimbabwe was 79,600,000,000%. In 2016, five major banks in Brazil (including HSBC and Barclays) were fined for creating a cartel in offshore foreign exchange markets.
The bottom line is that traditional currencies are backed by public faith. If an entire country stops believing that the currency works, has value, or that those who control it are acting responsibly, then the value of that currency is going to start seriously dropping.
The argument that criminals use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is absolutely true. Of course criminals use Bitcoin! However, criminals also use cash, like dollars, euros, pounds, or whichever currency is desired at the time.
The problem with cash is that every transaction is NOT recorded and therefore cannot be accounted for on a public ledger, unlike Bitcoin. The fact remains that criminals will use the tools which allow them to complete their work as efficiently and discretely as possible.
The idea that criminals are using the internet and its tools, and therefore Bitcoin should be stopped or banned is quite laughable in reality. Perhaps automobiles should never have hit our roads because they allow criminals to make smooth getaways from crime scenes! Let’s not allow the concept of criminals using Bitcoin as a deterrent for what is a great piece of modern technology.
At the time of writing this, nearly $600 billion has been poured into the cryptocurrency market, with more than a third of that ($218bn) on Bitcoin alone. The technologies in play have been designed to revolutionize money, data and transactions, allowing currencies to be disconnected or decentralized from governments, who, as we mentioned, like to meddle.
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Think of this Lord Acton quote as a reason to support decentralization. Roman emperors considered themselves gods and went mad with power, even Napoleon declared himself an emperor and now those who rule our governments also want to control our money. This isn’t right.
Let’s use the .com boom as an example of a bubble. There was a great deal of hype around the technology and huge amounts of money poured in. Thousands of companies thought that they would be the next big thing and threw ‘dumb money’ at their ideas. People were investing without understanding. Prices were speculative, and when the market his $5 trillion, the bubble burst.
But, we still have the internet? We still have companies trying to be the next big thing. We have more functionality than ever before. This is because the 90% of websites who jumped in without a clue simply went away, and the useful 10% remained, like Google, Amazon, eBay etc. Learning what to do and what not to do, further down the line we saw new .com businesses arrive, like Facebook, Netflix and Twitter.
If we take the .com bubble and apply the same logic, then the useless or poorly designed cryptocurrencies will be the first to crumble when the bubble bursts. This would indicate that the best thing to do is pay attention to the cryptocurrencies that have longevity, and follow the news about ICOs and stock exchange listings.
An alternative theory is ‘mini-bursts’, in which the market will jump up ten steps and then fall five steps, and repeat. If you see the history of Bitcoin pricing, this autonomous correcting of prices after a rally is always there. We must look at the bubble in its entirety, be bullish and cautious, educate ourselves, remain optimistic and learn from the mistakes of the past.
Bitcoin is not a company, it’s a technology (actually, it’s a protocol, but let’s keep it simple) just like the internet and nobody owns the internet. There are different stakeholders in Bitcoin, which includes Bitcoin owners, miners, development teams, and investors.
The founder of Bitcoin is unknown, except for an alias they used called Satoshi Nakamoto. It is rumoured that Nakamoto has more than 1 million Bitcoins, which would make him or her a billionaire if they were to sell. However, since some test transactions in 2009, Nakamoto has never touched the Bitcoins. If they are getting rich, they’re doing it in another way.
We are at the start. As we’ve written before, wide adoption of payment methods takes time, as we can observe throughout history with coins, paper money and plastic cards. Money used to be stored under mattresses or in cash boxes, now we manage it from our mobile phones; our approach to money has constantly changed throughout time. Despite being right at the start of this journey, companies like Overstock and Microsoft are already accepting Bitcoin.
The Litecoin Foundation report that they are seeing more companies create methods to facilitate transactions with their cryptocurrency too. Bitcoin may instead become a digital storage for future value, rather than an everyday currency used to purchase goods and services (it’s most likely that both will occur). The reason for this is that other cryptocurrencies have been designed for faster transactions and lower fees, like Litecoin, Monero & Bitcoin Cash.
In Venezuela, Bitcoins are illegal, both to mine and to own. But, you just have to look at the sorry state of their government and situation to understand that this isn’t reflective of Bitcoin, but something more oppressive. Those who choose to mine Bitcoin in Venezuela are helping bring themselves and their families out of poverty, thanks to the decentralized nature of the cryptocurrency, even at the risk of jail time.
Because Bitcoin is borderless and doesn’t exist in just one country, it thrives on the blockchain, meaning that it is immune to the economic crises of any one country (like Venezuela).
Aside from Venezuela, Kyrgyzstan, Iceland, Bolivia, Vietnam and Ecuador have all banned Bitcoin. China and Russia have some technicalities on usage too. But, if you’re from the US or Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, or the European Union you’re able to use Bitcoin, and may find out soon that your country has included digital currency in new tax laws to make things more accommodating.
As we wrote before, Bitcoin transactions are all kept in a ledger that is publicly accessible. So, if you choose to launder money through Bitcoin, you’re making the mistake of leaving a trace. There are more efficient methods of money laundering, we can only assume. Whether people are using it to launder money or not, it’s certainly not the primary use.
It has been mentioned by many cryptocurrency experts that the reason so many governments and institutions support decentralised cryptocurrencies is because these ecosystems are much cleaner and contain less dirty money than traditional banks! Banks are incentivised to get as much money inside them as possible, allowing for corruption and paying off fines when caught. With Bitcoin, there’s no incentive to launder money.
When Bitcoin first launched, this myth may have been truer, but over time, security has increased tenfold.
Exchanges, such as Bitfinex, Gdax, Binance and Coinbene offer 2-factor authentication when logging in, meaning that a mobile device is required to confirm your identity. As well as this, when signing up for an exchange, you are required to provide pictures of your passport or identity, making your account even more secure.
For those who are concerned about losing their Bitcoin to hackers, it is very common to store your coins and protect your crypto-assets in a soft or hard wallet. Soft, or software wallet, is a programme on your computer that stores your Bitcoin safely, though they are not perfect, it is possible to hack them. Hard, or hardware wallets have 0 reports of theft, and the reason for that is that they are encrypted physical devices, such as hard drives, pen drives or miniature digital signage tools. Whilst the devices themselves could be stolen, the Bitcoins they contain cannot (unless the login information is stolen too).
For those who keep their money in their exchange wallets, there is little to worry about, unless you are trading noticeably large amounts that might gain the unwanted attention of highly skilled hackers.
There are many different cryptocurrencies and crypto-assets, in fact, at the time of writing this there are 1000’s available. Many of them are built on the Bitcoin protocol, so in fact use a ‘system’ which is proven to scale.
Litecoin, for example, was developed by former Google employee Charlie Lee, who improved on the current system by making it faster, and with lower fees. There are also other cryptocurrencies, such as Monero and ZCash, which allow anonymous transfers. In addition, we also have Ethereum, which can be best explained as a giant, decentralised world computer with the ability to run smart contracts and also allows developers to build ‘crypto-assets’ on top of it.
There are a lot of cryptocurrencies out there which serve different purposes, but in this early stage of using this type of technology, and the enormous opportunities to raise millions through ICOs, there will be a lot of bad ideas, inexperienced teams, and projects which are likely to fail (See point 4 about the Bitcoin ‘bubble’).
The bottom line is that Bitcoin has scaled the most, in the most secure way so far, and continues to lead the march in terms of their market cap.
Lіtесоіn (LTC оr Ł ) is a рееr-tо-рееr сrурtосurrеnсу аnd open ѕоurсе software project released under MIT/X11 lісеnѕеѕ. Crеаtіоn аnd transfer оf соіnѕ іѕ bаѕеd on an ореn-source сrурtоgrарhіс рrоtосоl and іѕ nоt mаnаgеd bу аnу сеntrаl authority. Whіlе inspired bу, and in mоѕt regards technically almost іdеntісаl tо Bіtсоіn (BTC), Litecoin іѕ far quісkеr аnd cheaper.
At the time of writing this article (2nd Jan 2018), Litecoin sits at $254 per coin.
On December 18th 2017, Litecoin reached its all-time high, $360.93, which, when compared to the price one year before ($4.40), was an incredible 8200% rise. This is wholly reflective of a booming cryptocurrency marketplace, whose total market cap ballooned from $17.7bn to around $650bn in just one year, an increase of over 3,600%.
Litecoin is frequently compared to Bitcoin, which functions almost exactly the same, aside from the cost of transactions, which are around 1/50th of the size. For many cryptocurrency traders and users, Litecoin pricing acts more rationally than Bitcoin, and with a more sustainable future.
As we see some online stores begin to accept cryptocurrencies, we will see it possible to buy jewelry, groceries, clothes, electronics and more. Since the value of Litecoin is determined by demand on currency trading websites like Bittrex, Binance, GDAX, and Coinbase, it is possible to envision an online shopping platform where the price of products constantly changes to reflect the value of the accepted coins.
As well as trading and purchasing, it is possible to mine this crypto, though this is a very technical activity and requires a decent amount of computer knowledge. A good computer is enough to mine coins very slowly, but a serious miner would use processing units that rapidly solve mathematical equations that support the blockchain.
The rise in popularity of Litecoin and other cryptocurrencies is largely in response to the demand for alternative currency options that separate themselves from centralised banks and governments. The other side of the demand is from traders and investors who have realized the massive potential that cryptocurrencies have to offer, and so many stock and forex traders have changed market (remember, the market grew from $17.7bn to $650bn in one year). Cryptocurrency is arguably easier to enter for traders, meaning that in 2017, millions of beginners, as well as seasoned traders, began buying and selling different coins.
Litecoins can be used anywhere (though illegally in some nations), by anyone. The fees experience by Litecoin users are lower than those of credit card companies and bank transfers. As an example, one person in France can send a payment to someone in China in seconds, with both parties receiving proof of the transaction (which will be stored on the blockchain). Litecoin was designed to enable quick and cheap payments that are as simple as sending an email.
There can only ever be 84 million Litecoins, and as it stands, 55.58 million have been released or mined already, meaning almost 30 million coins are still fair game for miners. The figure of 84 million was based on the 21 million limit of Bitcoin, and the fact that Litecoin was designed to be 4x faster than Bitcoin.
A fixed amount of coins also means that inflation will not affect the overall value of the currency, unlike currencies such as the dollar, pound or euro. For forex traders who feel that a currency might drop in value, they may purchase Litecoins and hold on to their investment before selling back into their currency (hopefully at a profit). External influences (such as governments) can manipulate the value of their currency through inflation and quantitative easing, but the same cannot be done with Litecoin, making it more sustainable long term.
Litecoin was created by Charlie Lee in October 2011. Lee is a former employee of Google, who designed it to complement Bitcoin by solving some of its issues, like transaction times, fees, and concentrated mining pools. Charlie Lee took the core code from Bitcoin and made his modifications to the code and protocol to work in a way that he felt would best allow for the large-scale adoption of the currency.
One of the main goals was to reduce block confirmation timings from 10 minutes to 2.5 minutes, so that more transactions could be confirmed. This made Litecoin 4x faster than Bitcoin. Each 2.5 minutes, a Litecoin block is mined, and 25 coins are generated. This means that at the moment, 14,400 Litecoins are being mined every day, the maximum amount possible.
Litecoin has so much scope for growth, potential uses, and wide adoption. Right now, we must observe which companies begin adopting it and accepting transactions for their products and services. Other than that, the future of Litecoin is anyone’s guess.