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Cryptocurrency Staking: How did We Get Here?

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So many things in this life are done right the first time. The original Coca Cola. The original transformers toys. The original Footloose movie. Though I’m sure you can think of many examples from your own life, these examples are the exception. It takes an extraordinary concoction of talent and luck to realize any vision to its peak potential with the first attempt. This is especially true with technology.

Remember MySpace? Ahhh… rest in peace, old friend. The maiden social media platform which taught so many of us Gen Xers how to write basic code for ultimate viewer enjoyment. (Wait… That picture was supposed to be on the right side of the pane.) I digress. It was a marvel of technology when it first arrived on our personal computers… all 12” x 12” of that glorious 40-pound monitor! What would our MySpace profile be without an embedded countdown ticker for some future event? Or for the super savvy… a yahoo search bar! Little easter eggs placed just so as a bat signal to other techies saying “I am better than the rest! Join me and let’s be friends!”  

Yahoo was another one of these tools. What could one NOT discover with this mind-blowing website? Every random piece of information one could ever want to know was out there just waiting for you to discover it…. And waiting a bit more as you scrolled through page after page after page to find that one nugget of information you required. But still, it was lightyears faster than the card catalog at the local library. And as luck would have it, if you had to venture to the bibliotheque, there would most certainly be a 10 year old Tandy 2000 for you to brush up on your Oregon Trail score.  

Technology innovations of the 80’s and 90’s hold a special place in the heart of every 40-something year old I know. Lest we forget Atari! No no… NINTENDO! What joy we felt when plopping that clunky resin cartridge into the console and powering it up to see the first Super Mario Brothers saga. (Hmmm… there’s nothing on the screen. Try blowing some air into it once more… there… NOW we have it!) Saturday mornings were forever changed. 

Digital Currency, Change is Inevitable! 

But if there is one thing that is stays the same in life, it’s that everything changes. So it is with technology. The Tandy 2000 has now been replaced with personal laptops in every high schooler’s bedroom so fast that NASA engineers from the 50s and 60s would weep tears of joy to own (there’s more computing power in one of those greeting cards that plays a song when you open it than in the entire Apolo program). 

Atari and Nintendo consoles have been replaced with virtual reality devices like the Oculus which make it possible to experience space from your couch. And the original Tetris games which are now being written by 10-year olds at my town’s middle school have been replaced with games and applications so complex that my brain physically hurts imagining the code it requires. MySpace gave way to Facebook, now considered the epitome of social media platforms for every person old enough to get a mortgage. We all thought it would stop there, but oh no. Instagram, TikTok (RIP Musicaly), YouTube, and SnapChat are all grandbabies of MySpace. We have digital spaces for professionals, weebs, and the romantically challenged. Virtually any audience you can imagine now has a social media platform. 

The reason we have this substantial maturity of products, technology, and digital tools is because the creators behind them knew there was always room for improvement. Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is no different. 

The maiden blockchain technology is one I’d wager most have heard of, though few truly understand how it works. Bitcoin was the OG. It is a digital currency which runs on blockchain technology and provides a mechanism for owners to transfer money to one another without intervention. It is completely decentralized and cannot be controlled by any government or outside authority. It is owned solely and wholly by its users. Since it is a peer to peer, cryptographically produced public ledger and hosted on a community of networked computer nodes, the transactions are manually verified and is categorically incorruptible. For this reason, investors and simple users alike have ultimate confidence in the security of blockchain technology. There is no greater evidence for this confidence than is seen by the unprecedented and exponential growth in the Bitcoin value.  

Ethereum is the second generation of blockchain technology. It expanded the capabilities that were created through Bitcoin to a degree that was so impressive, it too saw historic value growth. The key enhancement over its predecessor was the ability to host smart contracts… that is, a program or transaction protocol that runs automatically to document and record the relevant aspects (legal, financial, digital, or otherwise) of a contract between two parties into the blockchain, eliminating the need for any third-party involvement. The reason this is so crucial is that smart contracts are the building blocks for much more complex environments to exist within the blockchain. It has the ability to create simple apps like payment systems, end user games, and social media platforms or more complex initiatives like online businesses complete with hiring and payroll agreements. 

Proof of Stake blockchain technology is the future! 

If Bitcoin were a first-generation flip phone, and Ethereum the iPhone 4, Cardano would be the iPhone 100. Created by one of the early founding members of Ethereum, Charles Hoskinson left ETH to focus his energies and take the technology in a new direction which he believed would become revolutionary. Rather than using the system for transactional validation that both Bitcoin and Ethereum use known as Proof of Work (POW), Cardano uses what is known as Proof of Stake (POS). You can read more about Cardano’s Ouroboros POS protocol: https://cardano.org/ouroboros/  

The positive results of adopting this new process of validating transactions across the blockchain are numerous. Not the least of which is cost savings to the users and investors of Cardano. The reason this technology can be offered for such substantially lower fees than either Bitcoin or Ethereum is the drastic reduction in overhead costs, primarily energy use. Not only does this translate into higher rewards for the investors and greater retention of capital for users, it also means a greener earth and cleaner environment. The POS servers that process the validation are doing so at a fraction of the time and effort required with POW and therefor use less electricity (like less than 1%) to maintain. Furthermore, because the demand on the servers is lower, repair costs are reduced leaving room for enhancements for both hardware and software. Check out the AZUR infrastructure page to get an idea of what that looks like for a top tier stake pool.

In our last editorial we talked about the importance of security. Equally vital, and not mutually exclusive, is the need for privacy. Since the dawn of governance, the human race has been told what to do, in varying degrees, with almost every aspect of their lives. It’s no surprise that finances are the #1 area into which every governing body attempts to reach. The saying goes “Nothing in life is certain but death and taxes.” To be sure, it is a vital pillar of most civilizations, but where does it stop? At what point does a person get to exercise true autonomy over their money? That line in the sand could be debated without exhaust, but the one thing that is certain is that we are better equipped to protect what is private.

As a decentralized, cryptographic environment, government agencies have no insight into who owns what and how much. Only when ADA is converted into FIAT currency can the given governments invoke capital gains. This of course only speaks to the currency side of the Cardano space, but the same principal applies to every bit of data contained therein by the various applications and systems on which the data is hosted. One’s personal data – medical records, voting habits, employment history, educational performances and documents – protected for all time and made available only to the owner. One password to access a digital wallet and retrieve the data in an instant.

Imagine not having to wait 3 weeks for banks statements from a decade ago in order to apply for a mortgage loan today. Or going through stacks of medical records to show a pattern of illnesses to a physician. Or sending requests to 5 different schools to retrieve scholastic achievement records. Many applications and interfaces which would eliminate these scenarios are already in various stages of development. The potential uses for Cardano has not even begun to be truly understood and it is already mind boggling. There is no debate however that this 3rd generation technology has eclipsed its predecessors already and will continue to do so as more people come to understand its value. If you want to learn about the global, real life uses of the Cardano network, check out: https://cardano.org/enterprise/  

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