Top 100 cryptocurrencies
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A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency designed to act as a medium of exchange. It uses cryptography to secure and verify transactions and to control the creation of new units of a particular cryptocurrency. Essentially, cryptocurrencies are limited entries in a database that no one can change unless specific conditions are met.

In the overview above you can see the top 100 of the moment. You can click on the name of the specific coin to learn more.

How did cryptocurrencies originate?

There have been many attempts to create a digital currency during the 90s. Systems like Flooz, Beenz and DigiCash that appeared on the market but inevitably failed. There were many different reasons for their failure, such as fraud, financial problems and even friction between company employees and their bosses.

Notably, all of these systems used a Trusted Third Party approach, meaning the companies behind them verified and facilitated the transactions. Due to the failure of these companies, creating a digital money system has long been seen as a lost cause.

In early 2008, an anonymous programmer or group of programmers under an alias Satoshi Nakamoto introduced Bitcoin. Satoshi described it as a "peer-to-peer electronic POS system." It is completely decentralized meaning no servers are involved and no central controlling authority. The concept is very similar to peer-to-peer file sharing networks.

Why are cryptocurrencies innovative?

One of the main problems a payment network has to solve is double-spending. It is a fraudulent technique to spend the same amount twice. The traditional solution was a trusted third party – a central server – that kept track of balance and transactions. However, this method always involved an authority that was fundamentally in control of your money and with all your personal information at hand.

In a decentralized network like Bitcoin, each participant has to perform this task. This is done via the Blockchain – a ledger of all transactions that have ever happened within the network and are available to everyone. Therefore, anyone in the network can see the balance of each account.

Each transaction is a file consisting of the sender's and recipient's public keys (wallet addresses) and the number of coins transferred. The transaction must also be signed off by the sender with their private key. This is all just basic cryptography. Finally, the transaction is broadcast in the network, but it must be confirmed first.

Within a cryptocurrency network, only miners can confirm transactions by solving a cryptographic puzzle. They take transactions, mark them as legitimate and spread them across the network. After that, each node of the network adds it to its database. Once the transaction is confirmed, it becomes irrevocable and irreversible and a miner receives a reward, plus the transaction fee.

Essentially, any cryptocurrency network is based on the absolute consensus of all participants regarding the legitimacy of balances and transactions. If nodes of the network disagree on a single balance, the system would basically break. However, there are many rules pre-built and programmed into the network that prevent this.

Cryptocurrencies are so named because the consensus-keeping process is assured with strong cryptography. This, together with the factors mentioned above, makes third parties and blind trust as a concept completely redundant.