Why you should care about cryptocurrency beyond the price.
Mainstream investors spent much of 2017 trying to figure out how to jump in on bitcoin, the digital currency that’s seen its price balloon to as high as $19,000 in recent months. But even as many hope to make a quick buck by trading on the cryptocurrency’s shifting value, many experts in the field have long been exploring other alternatives that could hold just as much promise.
As we head into the new year, here are a few crypto-assets that analysts say are worth watching. But remember: As exciting and rewarding as it may be to think about investing, the risks here are equally great. As with other highly volatile assets, you might want to think twice about getting involved – unless you’re willing to accept losing it all.
You can think of bitcoin cash as bitcoin’s faster and younger sibling. Functionally speaking, it works in much the same way: It’s simply a form of digital cash you can use to buy real-world goods and services, such as a cup of coffee. But it was invented only last year after a number of developers working on regular bitcoin, or “bitcoin core” as some call it, decided they were unhappy with the direction of the main project.
At issue was how quickly and cheaply bitcoin could process transactions. Bitcoin’s rising popularity had strained the platform’s capacity – which meant that over time, if you wanted to buy or sell something on the network, you had to pay ever higher fees to have your transaction cleared. Bitcoin made certain changes in its code to bring down those fees and speed things up, but the people who wound up creating bitcoin cash wanted to go much further. That’s how bitcoin cash was born.
If bitcoin cash ultimately becomes the stronger, more capable digital currency, it could spell trouble for bitcoin core (and its sky-high price), according to Ryan Selkis, a bitcoin investor and founder of the publication CoinDesk.
“You have to be long [on bitcoin cash] as a hedge,” he wrote in a recent blog post.
One of bitcoin’s original benefits was the promise of anonymity. After all, every wallet or account associated with bitcoin is identified simply by a jumble of letters and numbers, not a person’s real name. But soon, law enforcement and academics began demonstrating that, simply by analyzing a particular bitcoin wallet’s public transaction history, you could deduce with…