The cryptocurrency market, which consists of bitcoin and several other major digital currencies, crumbled June 22 as the majority of the coins dipped by up to 10 percent due to six exchanges in Japan that were ordered by the Financial Services Agency, its financial watchdog, to improve their current practices, and as two exchanges were hacked within an 11-day period.
The supply of bitcoins grows by the process called “mining” bitcoins. The supply is expected to increase by 10% in 2014 after going up 11.11% last year. The rate of block creation is 6 per hour with each block worth 25 bitcoins (around 25k USD). If more mining power goes online and the block generation increases to 7 blocks per hour for example, the so called “mining difficulty” will go up until the 6 blocks per hour average is reaffirmed. On the other hand if miners generate less coins then the difficulty will go down making it easier to generate new coins. You can read more about the supply of bitcoins here.
Many litecoin investors followed the wrong herd last December when its founder Charlie Lee sold all of his shares in the company to avoid a conflict of interest. This should have indicated to investors that the price would not hold and would decline, Spatafora says. Instead of selling, many crypto investors bought more litecoin "like idiots when it was not sustainable," he says.
There are hundreds of altcoins (CoinMarketCap listed 478 at the time this guide was written), and more appear each day. Most altcoins are little more than Bitcoin clones, changing only minor characteristics such as its transactions speed, distribution method, or hashing algorithm. Most of these coins do not survive for very long. One exception is Litecoin, which was one of the first altcoins. In addition to using a different hashing algorithm than Bitcoin, Litecoin has a much higher number of currency units. For this reason, Litecoin has branded itself as “silver to Bitcoin’s gold.”
Many are aware of the recent explosion in the number of decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges. Decentralized exchanges are built with the 0x protocol, which is an open protocol allowing ERC20 tokens to be traded directly on the Ethereum blockchain. This alone make 0x a promising investment. It has also hit a majority of milestones in its road map and was built through several libraries to ease its way into the developer community. It was mentioned on the Coinbase Blog recently as well. For these reasons, Ox is a good investment this year.
The problem with having an algorithm that is "easy to mine with" (referring to the ability to CPU or GPU mine profitably) is that mining should be hard in order to secure the network. When a mining algorithm is difficult to make ASICs for, there is a higher barrier to entry. A high barrier to entry increases the time that the first group to create ASICs will monopolize the market (and the time the network is vulnerable to a 51% attack from a single source). Many argue that the creators or the developers could simply change the mining algorithm when an ASIC is developed, but this defeats the purpose of decentralized consensus by causing centralization.
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