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What if we powered bitcoin using the energy from volcanoes?
El Salvador is doing just that. Not only has the country adopted bitcoin as legal tender; it’s now tapping into state-owned geothermal company LaGeo to take some of the environmental burden off the mining process. And with 20 potentially active volcanoes in the country, they’ve got plenty of resources to put toward the effort.
Learn more about how crypto is changing the world
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Learn more about how crypto is changing the world
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What if crypto could fight climate change?
What if bitcoin could protect against inflation?
What if blockchain could fight fake news?
What if DeFi could make finance work for everyone?
What if we powered bitcoin using the energy from volcanoes?
What if crypto powered a new artistic movement?
What if crypto today is like the Internet in 1996?

It already can. Chainlink co-founder Sergey Nazarov says that the transparency and security of the blockchain can help by building more reliable carbon credit systems, creating better incentives for companies to clean up. Not only that, but decentralized finance can help us better insure off-the-grid areas that would be most impacted by dramatic weather events.

It’s doing that already. Not only is bitcoin a decentralized currency, but there’s a finite amount of it. Once the last bitcoin is mined (the 21 millionth, in 2140), that’s it. This finite amount means that BTC – and other coins like it – could actually protect investors’ capital against inflation in the future.

That’s right, the same technology that powers crypto could eventually be used to stamp out fake news. Because of the peer-to-peer verification that defines the blockchain, verifying true images and stories while flagging fake ones is becoming simpler. In the age of the Internet, the truth is a hard thing to find. Blockchain could make it just a bit easier.

DeFi – or decentralized finance – is changing the way that we interact with money. These crypto-powered systems take out the banks and allow everyone a say. With DeFi, users can lend money, earn interest, and send coins across borders without all the red tape. It puts the power back in the hands of the people – all the people, not just those at the top.

El Salvador is doing just that. Not only has the country adopted bitcoin as legal tender; it’s now tapping into state-owned geothermal company LaGeo to take some of the environmental burden off the mining process. And with 20 potentially active volcanoes in the country, they’ve got plenty of resources to put toward the effort.

It already is. NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are changing the way that digital art works. From album and movie releases (starring celebrities like Kings of Leon and Anthony Hopkins) to collections like CryptoKitties, NFTs are providing new ways to trade, own, and certify art. Not only is it allowing digital art forms to thrive, but it’s also trying to reduce fraud in the process. And it’s all powered by Ethereum.

Even the most impactful technologies tend to have their naysayers. In 1996, Newsweek claimed that the Internet wouldn’t change anything – not the way we learn; not the way we consume news; not even the way we communicate. Instead, the Internet went from a poorly understood novelty to a defining feature of the 21st century. Who’s to say popular coins like ETH won’t be the same?

Meet the coins

Who: Founded by the anonymous Satoshi Nakamoto

What: Bitcoin

When: 2009

How: Blockchain network using proof-of-work

Why: The alpha of cryptocurrency. The first, the most commonly held, and the most valuable. It’s also the first successful application of blockchain technology, and the one that is most decentralized.

Who: Created by Vitalik Buterin

What: Ethereum

When: 2015

How: Blockchain network using proof-of-work (until 2022, when it will switch to proof-of-stake)

Why: It may be the most versatile. Ethereum took what Bitcoin was doing and expanded it to include all kinds of applications, including smart contracts and decentralized applications. It is the most popular network to support NFTs.

Who: Founded by a split in the Ethereum community

What: Ethereum Classic

When: 2016

How: A fork of Ethereum

Why: After an unfortunate hack in 2016, the ETH community was divided over if they should upgrade, with some valuing the original code above all. The upgraded Ethereum took its name, while the original became Ethereum Classic. ETC investors have strong allegiances to the purity of the original code.

Who: Founded by Evan Duffield

What: Dash

When: 2014

How: Fork of bitcoin

Why: It’s also known as “Digital Cash” due to the fact that its masternodes can send money almost instantaneously. DASH may be one of the most user-friendly coins for crypto newbies.

Who: Founded by Charles Lee

What: Litecoin

When: 2011

How: Blockchain network using proof-of-work

Why: It’s almost identical to Bitcoin from a technical perspective, but its tweak to the proof-of-work algorithm means it can process blocks faster. They also boast improved storage efficiency over the leading math-based currency.

Who: Led by Roger Ver

What: Bitcoin Cash

When: 2017

How: A fork of Bitcoin

Why: It’s got larger blocks than bitcoin, meaning it can process more transactions per second. BCH advocates care more about the means of exchange (for commerce), while BTC advocates are looking more for a store of value.

Who: Founded by Jed McCaleb

What: Stellar Lumens

When: 2014

How: Blockchain network using the Stellar Consensus Protocol

Why: It’s focused on providing cheap transaction rates in developing countries, making it easier to send money across borders for those trying to provide for families back home.

Who: Founded by Da HongFei and Erik Zhang

What: Neo (originally Antshares)

When: 2014

How: Blockchain network using proof-of-stake

Why: Its main focus is creating a “smart economy” by using blockchain technology and smart contracts to manage all kinds of digital assets.

Who: Founded by Jonathan Teller, Sanjiv Mehra, and Craig Dubitsky

What: Eos.io

When: 2006

How: Blockchain network using delegated proof-of-stake

Why: It’s linked to Everipedia, a Wikipedia-like website that runs off the blockchain in a way that makes it impervious to shutdown by censorship-happy governments.

Who: Founded by Sergey Ivancheglo, Serguei Popov, David Sønstebø, and Dominik Schiener

What: Iota

When: 2015

How: Blockchain network using the consensus method (similar to proof-of-stake)

Why: It’s built to specifically integrate with IoT (internet of things) technology, so it doesn’t rely on miners to verify transactions. That means microtransactions, as well as fee-less transactions, are possible.

Who: Founded by Johns Hopkins professor Matthew Green, his graduate students, and the ZCash company

What: Zcash

When: 2016

How: Blockchain network using proof-of-work

Why: It’s super focused on security and privacy. Users can partake in “transparent” or “shielded” transactions, depending on their needs. (Don’t worry though, it’s got safeguards to protect against illegal actions.)

Who: Founded by Kathleen and Arthur Breitman

What: Tezos

When: 2017

How: Blockchain network using proof-of-stake

Why: Its energy-efficient approach to the blockchain means that XTZ is a top choice for brands to partner with when producing non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and other experiences. It also had one of the largest ICOs in history.

Who: Founded by Sergey Nazarov

What: Chainlink

When: 2017

How: Using Ethereum’s network

Why: Chainlink specializes in tamper-proof data and smart contracts. It helps verify the terms of contracts using oracles – third-party services that connect with real-world data, like news and payment info, to ensure the terms of these contracts are met.

Who: Founded by Hayden Adams

What: Uniswap

When: 2018

How: Using Ethereum’s network

Why: It’s a token for a decentralized exchange. UNI uses smart contracts on the blockchain, rather than having to run through any sort of centralized entity.

Who: Founded by IBM Software Engineers Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer

What: Dogecoin

When: 2013

How: Blockchain network using proof-of-work

Why: It’s got a community strong enough to take it from a joke to the legitimate “fun and friendly” crypto. Fans include Elon Musk and the Watford Premier League club.

Who: Founded by the anonymous Ryoshi

What: Shiba token

When: 2020

How: On Ethereum’s network

Why: Modeled off Dogecoin, it’s a coin with a similar vibe but founded with a serious intent – to promote fairness and honesty in crypto trading, along with better functionality.

Who: Founded by Andre Cronje

What: Yearn.finance tokens

When: 2020

How: Runs on Ethereum’s network

Why: YFI tokens are part of the yearn.finance platform, which works to move money around the DeFi (decentralized finance) space in order to maximize yield. It’s a little more complicated than some other coins, but it can be very intriguing to more hardcore crypto fans.

Who: Founded by Rune Christensen

What: Maker

When: 2015

How: On Ethereum’s network

Why: Maker is used to regulate another cryptocurrency, DAI, and minimize the volatility of that coin (called a stablecoin), which shares its monetary value with the US dollar.

Who: Founded by Robert Leshner

What: Compound

When: 2017

How: On Ethereum’s network

Why: Compound is focused on allowing users to borrow and lend tokens at different interest rates. For those looking to cut out the bank, Compound is seen as a compelling option.

Who: Founded by Silvio Micali

What: Algorand

When: 2019

How: Blockchain network using proof-of-stake

Why: Algorand has a lot of different functions, similar to Ethereum, but its biggest focus seems to be smart contracts. It’s got its hands in non-fungible tokens (NFTs), crowdfunding, air quality control, and much more.

Who: The Decentraland Foundation

What: Decentraland

When: 2020

How: On Ethereum’s network.

Why: MANA is unique in that it’s powering an entire virtual reality. You can buy in-world products, services, and even virtual land on the Decentraland platform. For those interested in gaming or the Metaverse, MANA is a compelling product.

Who: Founded by Stani Kulechov

What: Aave (initially ETHland)

When: 2017

How: On Ethereum’s network

Why: Aave allows users to act as either depositors or borrowers, effectively cutting out the bank and allowing both parties to take or make money via variable interest rates.

Who: Founded by Maxim Blagov

What: Enjin

When: 2017

How: On Ethereum’s network

Why: Enjin is super focused on in-game compatibility, including the ability to purchase non-fungible tokens (NFTs). For those who see crypto’s potential for in-game purchases or collectibles, Enjin offers compelling features.

Who: Mozilla and Firefox co-founder Brendan Eich

What: Basic Attention Token

When: 2021

How: On Ethereum’s network

Why: It runs off of the Brave web browser, which is focused on user privacy. Users can actually earn coins by watching ads, and advertisers can learn more about their ads’ effectiveness without violating users’ privacy.

Who: Founded by Jaynti Kanani, Sandeep Nailwal, Anurag Arjun, and Mihailo Bjelic

What: Polygon

When: 2017

How: On Ethereum’s network

Why: Polygon runs almost parallel to Ethereum and is meant as a way to provide cheaper, faster transactions on the Ethereum network. It’s hoping to help Ethereum scale as it grows.

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