How to get educated on the Blockchain technology and the cryptocurrencies

With ever – growing popularity and interest in cryptocurrencies, aspiring investors often wonder about the ways to become knowledgeable in the field, in order to take more educated decisions on the market. There are variety of media from which people can acquire this knowledge – starting with online tutorials, all the way to live courses and studies.

Youtube videos are probably the simplest way to get introduced to the cryptorcurrency market and the Blockchain technology. They can target very specific topics and can vary in difficulty, length and scope.
Already there are Blockchain-related academies popping up. One of such would be academytoken, the first fully – accredited academy concerning itself with the Blockchain and related business. The self – stated goal of this academy is to “underpin the economic ecosystem of Blockchain education by addressing the looming developer shortfall which could throw future Blockchain innovations and initiatives into crisis”. However, this is not the lone wolf on this specific market. There are dozens, if not hundreds of tutors and institutions offering their services, with varying subject matters and conditions.

A handy option for getting knowledgeable in the cryptocurrencies business would be coursera – an online platform where various courses from the tutors and institutions who have proven their reputation over the years are offered. The advantage of www.coursera.org is that there is a wide range of courses people can choose from, their preferences varying from tutors, intensity of the program, the general direction of the course and what they aim to acquire as a result in general, all the while being safer in their choice as the website has a good reputation.

Then there are companies which offer answers to FAQs on every subject crypto – as cryptocurrencies and Blockchain are relatively new, companies built around it seem to create an organic support to make people more knowledgable in the field. Blockchain-council, for example, offers not only answers to FAQ on Blockchain, but also an online interactive where you can pose a question and an employee will be there to answer it. Spotcoin is just as supportive in this regard, understanding the importance of giving people more advanced knowledge in the field.

#Crypto101ClassSpotcoin is willing to help out people with their questions on cryptocurrency matters. This is especially important considering the fact that Georgia aims to become a hub of crypto business – which will be easier to achieve if knowledge of the general populace is more advanced.
Spotcoin is conducting weekly Crypto101 classes every Monday. Here, attendees will be able to not only get advanced knowledge of the field, but also make new connections and form communities around them. In-person lectures have the advantage of facilitating communication between tutor and a listener, making the studies more interactive and engaging. This is only the beginning for Spotcoin, as the company considers education as one of its primary directions, so expect more to come in the future.

University of Georgia was one of the pioneers on the local market to offer education in crypto business. In UG laboratory, students are able to attend lectures and seminars read by both Georgian and foreign experts on the topic of cryptocurrencies and the Blockchain technology as a whole. It is one of the steps Georgia took in order to become a hub for this type of education.
GITA’s Technopark also often hosts conferences and lectures on the topic of Blockchain, with various knowledgable figures as speakers.
So, overall, for those interested in cryptocurrencies and all topics related, there are a lot of options, both online and live, to get into the business and become expert participants of this industry.

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Big names and the crypto business

Cryptocurrencies have become a run-to industry for people who are looking to get rich as quick as possible. Considering the fact that even to this day, the cryptocurrency business still remains rather controversial, it is interesting what the greatest minds make of the industry, whether they engage in the market and in what fashion. Celebrities tend to have great effect on the public opinion, whether it’s for the good or for the worse.

Crypto Business

Bill Gates is said to own certain amount of cryptocurrencies. Mr. Gates is more fascinated with the Blockchain technology itself and its role in currencies, though. He was quoted as saying: “We need things that draw on the revolution of bitcoin, but bitcoin alone is not good enough “. In his 2014 interview with Bloomberg, he noted that “Bitcoin is exciting because it shows how cheap it can be (meaning transactions), Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don’t have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient.” What’s also noteworthy is that Microsoft has allowed adding money to one’s Microsoft account with Bitcoin, therefore his support of the industry is more than verbal.

Then there’s Mark Cuban, owner of Dallas Mavericks, whose net worth is estimated to be in the region of 3.3 billion dollars. Mr. Cuban was another one of big names to talk about allowing payments in cryptocurrencies- notably, in Bitcoin or Ether. At the same time, back in August 2017, he backed a venture capital fund for cryptocurrency-related investments- 1confirmation.

Warren Buffet, one of the richest people in the world, was one of the more outspokenly negative billionaires on cryptocurrencies, though. In his interview with CNBC, he stated that cryptocurrencies are almost certain to come to a bad ending, although he is unsure on how and when it is going to happen. Nonetheless, in the same interview, he claims that he is not very proficient in the crypto business. Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, with net worth of around 1.7 billion dollars, called Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies bubbles and advised to avoid Bitcoin “like the plague”.

Owner of Virgin group, Richard Branson, whose net worth is currently sitting around 5.3 billion dollars, is one of the more outspokenly optimistic personalities on the cryptocurrency business. Mr. Branson has allowed customers to pay for Virgin Galactic’s services (which is the first commercial spaceline) in cryptocurrency. Branson reasoned that, as cryptocurrencies are a very risky and a volatile asset, people should avoid overcommitting to them, instead trying to invest as much as they can spare without getting into trouble and diversifying their portfolios.

Among celebrities, Floyd Mayweather, boxing superstar, has repeatedly stated that he looks to make a lot of cash on the cryptocurrency industry. Then there is Paris Hilton, who has endorsed LydianCoin in the past, although since then she has distanced herself from the company and the said industry, in general. Another case is Winklevoss twins, they are known as former Facebook co-founders. Famous rapper’s, 50 Cent’s case with cryptocurrencies is rather hilarious. 50 Cent, a multimillionaire, has had financial problems in the past. Recently, though, it surfaced that back in 2014, he agreed on receiving Bitcoins as a form of payment for 2014 album, Animal Ambition. Today, the net value of his coins has skyrocketed to millions.

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Cryptocurrency trade- the many faces of exchange platforms

Cryptocurrencies are still unusable as a form of payment in most businesses, although the number of companies which accept them is constantly on the rise. This is one of the main obstacles to further proliferation of cryptocurrencies- rather low liquidity. This is where exchange platforms make the real difference, though- not only do they greatly facilitate trade, but they also make it cheaper and faster, all the while boosting the market cap of the cryptocurrencies through turning them into much more flexible assets.

TradingThere are many different types of exchange platforms, which operate on substantially varying fundamentals. Despite this, three categories could be seen as roughly the “main players” on the cryptocurrency trade market- standard exchange platforms, P2P (peer-to-peer/person-to-person) and OTC (Over-the-counter).

The advantage of simple cryptocurrency trade platforms is that transactions are usually quicker. These platforms are more suitable for those whose conducts on the market are more speculative, therefore the speed of transaction is of paramount importance to them. These kind of platforms also help determine the market value of cryptocurrencies, as sellers offer their product at custom price that they find suitable for themselves. The same is true with buyers, who make their own bids. Downside to the “traditional” exchange platforms is that they tend to charge higher fees than others. At the same time, they usually require key information from users, which makes the customers of traditional exchange platforms more susceptible to fraud or hacker attacks. The best exchange platforms look to distinguish themselves from their competitors through maximizing their security. Exchange platforms are by far the best and simplest options if one wants to invest quickly and in smaller volumes. Spotcoin is currently building a proprietary and efficient exchange to address the various shortfalls in the digital currency ecosystem. The exchange will not use a cookie-cutter white-label template, but an optimized engine to complement Spotcoin’s businesses in OTC, mining, retail training and payments.

In P2P (Peer-to-peer/person-to-person), a platform matches two clients with coinciding interests, allowing them to negotiate terms on their own. The advantage of P2P is that transaction costs are less significant when compared to traditional exchange, although the considerable downside is that the operations might take longer than usual and considering the volatility of the cryptocurrency market, this could be a deal breaker. Traders are not forced to disclose crucial information about their possessions to the third party, thus greatly reducing the chance of theft. After the exchange platform ban in China, crypto traders sought to circumvent the law through promoting more P2P services.

Over-the-counter (OTC) is another legitimate way of conducting cryptocurrency trade. Over-the-counter trade involves a third party, which helps connect traders who have similar interests. It involves personal communication with the service provider. Just like with P2P trade, customers can keep their crucial accounts’ information private. The third party helps with negotiations and sets the terms, thus greatly simplifying the operation. OTC is usually cheaper than standard platforms. It is highly recommended for those with long-term outlook on the cryptocurrency business, as safety & fee minimization are prioritized over speed of transaction. Spotcoin is an example of an exchange platform currently conducting exchange business OTC.

 

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Role of Mining in the Blockchain technology and how it is done

Any kind of a transaction requires record-keeping. In the past, centralized entities were granted this role – banks, registries or other financial institutions. Blockchain accomplishes the same role, although in a much different way, which is called Mining.

The revolutionary aspect of the technology is that it is decentralized. Any user can participate in the process of verifying a transaction, becoming a “block” within a “chain”. Mining is essentially just that- people engage in the verification process and are awarded, the amount and character of gain depending on what currency they are mining. Bitcoin rewards the miner with certain amount of the said currency, while Ethereum, for example, generates Ether.

Crypto MiningThe process itself is accomplished with computers – starting with ordinary laptops and PCs, all the way up to specialized equipment, which are even more efficient at the job. Some cryptocurrencies use CPU for the mining process, while others require GPU. In order to verify a transaction, computers have to solve complex mathematical equations. The stronger the computer, the faster it can find blocks and solve the problems.

Price of the mining essentials can vary to great extent. Minimum cost of equipment which has decent return of Bitcoin, for example, is in the region of 3,000-5000 dollars, earning the miner around 50$ a day. The scale of returns on mining directly correlates with market value of whatever cyber-money is being mined. Every cryptocurrency has its own mining specifics, some require more specialized equipment, while others attempt to take a more democratic approach, allowing users to mine with regular computers and GPUs.
Mining requires a good cooling system, as the process generates a lot of heat. This is the source of the most considerable expense besides the equipment itself – electricity bills. Those who do not have good cooling system risk losing a lot of return, or ruining their own equipment altogether.

Miners should keep in mind is that often, the equipment is quite noisy. Some buy equipment and, to their dismay, discover that they do not have adequate space to keep it operating.

Then there are large mining farms, where thousands of pieces operate together. They usually have bigger budgets, which means they can afford the best equipment in terms of value, as well as superior cooling systems.

Environmental concerns have been raised due to proliferation of mining practice. As the process uses up a lot of electricity, the ecological impact is quite significant. Moreover, mining has increased electricity demand globally, which incentivizes price spike. Because sustainable development is crucial for successful operation, Spotcoin is trying to create real example of sustainable development. Company will derive electricity from natural resources for mining and especially from hydropower stations.

Due to growing number of people engaged in mining, the returns have diminished. In order to successfully become a block within a chain, one first has to find a transaction requiring verification. With growing numbers, more and more miners compete for blocks, therefore the average return has diminished.

Due to this, many people have turned to mining platforms, which centralize efforts of multiple users. When it comes to collective mining, there are two main options: cloud mining, which provides an online mining platform even for computers with lesser specs, taking small amount of fee for its services. Then there are mining pools, which have become an option for stable income: as competition for blocks rose, some, lesser miners oftentimes have to wait for months before they can get a single block and reap rewards. Mining pools concentrate efforts of many miners, thus finding blocks more regularly and splitting the bill among the participants according to their contribution.

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Challenges of cryptocurrency trade- market solutions and the growing government involvement

We previously listed some of the stronger and weaker sides of cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology as a whole. However, besides upsides and faults of cryptocurrencies themselves, the sector has to deal with realities of today, be it official interventions or the intricacies of various subdivisions of this multidimensional business. As the sector is still in its infancy, market is still actively coming up with solutions to the challenges presented by the cryptocurrency business.

One of the greater threats to the cryptocurrencies as a whole is official interventions. While some governments are welcoming the newcomer, others are warier and even have taken steps in order to deincentivize people from engaging the crypto market or even banned certain cryptocurrency-related activities altogether. Governments’ wariness with cryptocurrencies could be explained by latter’s decentralization, which makes it harder for officials to control them. Ironically, this fact is often cited to be one of the greatest advantages of cryptocurrencies as well. At the same time, cryptocurrency generation requires high amounts of electricity, which is both damaging for the environment and has incremental effect on electricity prices.

Back in September, Chinese government banned all ICOs (Initial Coin Offering, similar concept to Initial Public Offering, or IPO) for a while. Later on, they decided to ban all cryptocurrency exchange activities. Recently, they even announced their intention to prohibit “exchange-like services”. Last week, Chinese central bank, The People’s Bank of China, vowed to prohibit all mining activities in the country. China currently accounts for around 70% of all mining globally, therefore it is a major player in the cryptocurrency sector and their legislative decisions promise to reverberate strongly on the industry as a whole.

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There were talks in South Korea to ban exchange platform use as well, however, the government decided to back down for now. Some countries have banned cryptocurrency use altogether, among them Bangladesh, Bolivia, Algeria and etc.

Mining, or directly generating cryptocurrencies is, naturally, not the only way to get involved. Cryptocurrencies can be purchased through various mediums, each offering their own terms.

Cryptocurrency exchange platforms are dedicated specifically to the role of trading cryptocurrencies for other cryptocurrencies or with fiat money. This sector is on the rise, both in terms of total turnover and rising competition. Exchange platforms have positive effect on the liquidity of cryptocurrencies- a breath of fresh air for the industry, as liquidity directly correlates with safety and trustworthiness. Cryptocurrency transactions take long time to process and are costly due to commission fees, which is one of the problems Spotcoin is trying to solve through its OTC (over-the-counter) marketplace. Various players on the cryptocurrency exchange market attempt to provide the fastest, safest and most comfortable means of trade for the lowest transaction fees possible in their competition for customers.

Finally, there are cryptocurrency wallets, which help users manage & track their portfolios. They do not necessarily act like wallets, though- cryptocurrencies are not centralized, information about transactions could be stored on multiple devices all across the globe. User gets a private key, which is to be used only to authorize any use of the funds accumulated on his address. Wallets merely store these keys and provide their customers with more intelligible presentation of current state of affairs.

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Cryptocurrency mania — the Gold Rush of 21st century

Cryptocurrencies can rightfully be considered the Gold Rush of 21st century. Market capitalization of all the available cryptocurrencies has spiked to almost 814 billion as of January 7th, 2018, up from under 17 billion exactly a year ago. Some people invest because they are proficient at the technology and have belief in its future, others want to capitalize on the opportunity until it is too late.

Perforated first largely through its popularity on the black market, cryptocurrencies have become the promise land for all those who believe in the Blockchain technology, on which the cyber currencies are based.

blockchain
blockchain

The biggest advantage of Blockchain and, by extension, cryptocurrencies, is decentralization — centralized headquarters, where information is stored and processed, are no longer necessary, every entity involved within the chain acts as a verifier of a transaction.

Anybody can participate in the cryptocurrency chain. All a person needs is equipment — special computers which solve complex equations in order to verify transactions. The verifications, on the other hand, generate cryptocurrency for the verifier. The process is called “mining”. Cost of mining equipment varies greatly — one can set up cheaper equipment in own basement, or build/invest into massive mining farms, which, accordingly, have higher return.

Blockchain itself is a versatile technology. It can find uses all across the disciplines — starting with registry (note: Georgian Public Registry already uses Blockchain technology), smart contracts, agriculture or even medical information storage.

Its already used across sectors –  for example, in banking or document registry and is predicted to have a very bright future on its own, regardless of whether cryptocurrencies will succeed or not.

The obvious downside to the cryptocurrencies is that they do not have any intrinsic value. The price and market cap fluctuate purely based on supply and demand. US Dollar has the US government and multiple trade deals backing it up. Gold, on the other hand, is a rare metal which has inherent value stemming from its elemental properties. Cryptocurrencies are not backed by any public organizations and do not have any inherent value on their own. Moreover, the sector is largely unregulated by national banks or any legislature throughout most countries, which makes the terms of transactions or legal disputes at best vague. One could say that black market, surprising as it may sound, could act as the backbone to ensure the continual survival of cryptocurrencies. Anonymity aspect of cryptocurrencies is particularly attractive to those who are avoiding law enforcement officers.

At the same time, liquidity of cryptocurrencies is still rather low. The statement holds true for the original and the most popular one as well — Bitcoin. This is where platforms like Spotcoin come in handy — they facilitate and substantially lower transaction costs. Otherwise, commission fees and intermediate steps to purchasing or selling cryptocurrencies are rather burdensome.

Cryptocurrencies have started a whole new, broad and diverse industry. It’s not only thousands of different cryptocurrencies competing within the market — it’s also service providers like exchange platforms, cryptocurrency wallets and portfolio managers.

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