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Monero is an open-source cryptocurrency created in April 2014 that focuses on fungibility, privacy and decentralization. Monero uses an obfuscated public ledger, meaning anybody can broadcast or send transactions, but no outside observer can tell the source, amount or destination.
A Bit of History
To trace the origins of Monero, we need to look at a different cryptocurrency – Bytecoin. Bytecoin was launched in the summer of 2012. It was the first digital currency that was written using a technology called CryptoNote.
CryptoNote today is the backbone of most of the privacy-based cryptocurrencies that exist. This includes Monero. The privacy of CryptoNote coins is ensured by grouping public keys together. By combining several keys in a single transaction, it’s impossible to tell who sent it! The use of these “ring signatures” to sign transactions provides the anonymity of the CryptoNote technology.
Bytecoin was a good effort at an anonymous cryptocurrency. However, there were a few issues with its initial distribution. When it launched, it turned out that 80% of the coins that would ever be mined were already in existence.
This lead a group of seven developers to fork the Bytecoin blockchain and the new currency would be known as Bitmonero. This was eventually shortened to simply Monero which is Esperanto for “coin”. Of the seven developers who originally created Monero, five of them decided that they would keep their identities secret. Only two of these Monero developers are known about – Riccardo Spagni (the main developer today) and David Latapie. Riccardo Spagni is also known by the nickname “Fluffypony”.
What is Monero?
Monero is the leading cryptocurrency with a focus on private and censorship-resistant transactions. Most existing cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, have transparent blockchains, meaning that transactions are openly verifiable and traceable by anyone in the world. Furthermore, sending and receiving addresses for these transactions may potentially be linkable to a person's real-world identity. Monero uses cryptography to shield sending and receiving addresses, as well as transacted amounts.
Monero transactions are confidential and untraceable. Every Monero transaction, by default, obfuscates sending and receiving addresses as well as transacted amounts. This always-on privacy means that every Monero user's activity enhances the privacy of all other users, unlike selectively transparent cryptocurrencies (e.g. Zcash).
Monero is fungible. By virtue of obfuscation, Monero cannot become tainted through participation in previous transactions. This means Monero will always be accepted without the risk of censorship.
The Kovri Project, currently in development, will route and encrypt transactions via I2P Invisible Internet Project nodes. This will obfuscate a transactor's IP address and provide further protection against network monitoring.
How Is Monero different from Bitcoin?
Cryptocurrencies are widely known for providing a higher level of privacy for transactions, but the developers of Monero found that privacy wasn’t as robust as most expected. Seeing this drawback, they created a new cryptocurrency, one that was designed to truly protect privacy. Here is a quick guide highlighting a few of the major differences between Bitcoin and Monero.
Privacy. Bitcoin transactions aren’t linked to personal information, but they are linked to your wallet. With a little analysis, it’s entirely possible to uncover a person’s identity by observing patterns, time zones and other key pieces of data. This could be problematic in a variety of situations.
Mining algorithm. Bitcoin and Monero use different mining algorithms, with Bitcoin using the SHA-256 algorithm and Monero using Cryptonight (GPU mining). This creates a few differences between the two; for example, the bitcoin algorithm runs on much faster custom mining chips known as ASICs, application-specific integrated circuits. At first glance, this may seem like a benefit - especially if you can afford to invest in an ASIC computer for mining - but it does pose some problems.
ASIC computers have a great advantage over CPU and GPU equipment because of more computing power. This makes it pointless for miners to attempt to use any other type of computer when ASICs are in use. Having a large number of ASICs operating also creates a concentration of miners in various parts of the world that have low energy costs, since these units consume large quantities of power.
Monero mining is designed in such a way that ASIC computers do not have much of an advantage over ordinary computers. As a result, ordinary people can use a simple CPU and start mining right away on their computer, which makes the process more user-friendly.
Adaptive block size limit. The bitcoin network can get busy, and bitcoin has a maximum block size, which can slow down transactions during peak times. Paying higher transaction fees can increase speed, but this can get expensive.
Monero has an adaptive block size limit, so if transaction volumes get high, the size of the blocks can automatically expand. This is a critical advantage for cryptocurrency users, because with some recipients requiring double verification, transaction times can be significantly delayed.
Monero Explainer Video
This video was created by Monero and may be biased. For more information about Monero, please visit https://www.getmonero.org/.