A bearer asset, instrument or security is one in which no ownership information is recorded and the asset is issued in physical form to the individual who purchases it. The holder of a bearer instrument is the owner and whoever is in possession of the document or certificate authorizing ownership is the rightful owner.
Issuers of a bearer asset keep no record of ownership. This means that that asset is traded without a formal record or system demonstrating ownership. Ownership is transferred by simply transferring the document or certificate from one individual to another.
Further, there is no requirement for reporting the transfer. As unusual as this sounds, bearer bonds were very much in use many years ago by investors and corporate officers who wished to retain anonymity. However, due to the potential for abuse, tax evasion and fraud, it has not been legal to issue bearer instruments in the U. A discussion of bearer instruments or assets is applicable when evaluating the security of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies because cryptocurrency is a bearer asset: Whoever holds the private key is considered the owner.
The blockchain enables self-custody of digital assets: the owner of crypto assets is free to choose from various wallet solutions, and the regulatory environment continues to shift. In some ways, every digital asset owner needs to become their own custodian, which can be frustrating when considering the security of those assets.
This can make it extremely hard to demonstrate proof of ownership should a private key be stolen or lost. This security and custody issue is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why institutional players have been slow to accept cryptocurrency. We are building a comprehensive platform to empower individuals and businesses with the option to create a record of title for their crypto assets. Jake Wengroff writes about technology and financial services. Blockchain Innovation Group — Proving ownership of cryptocurrencies.
Investready — Verifying Crypto Assets. Investopedia — Bearer Instrument. How can one prove ownership of an asset that is percent digital? CryptoKitties, a game where players breed and trade cartoon cats, caused a transaction pileup on the network in With all the money venture capital firms are shoveling into Web3 —a futuristic model where apps will all run on decentralized blockchains, much of it powered by Ethereum itself—now is a good time for Ethereum to disassociate from proof-of-work mining.
Bitcoin was the first blockchain. Its creator wanted to do away with the control that third parties, often big banks or states, exerted over financial systems. Essentially, you have to pay to play. Roughly every 10 minutes, Bitcoin miners compete to solve a puzzle. The winner appends the next block to the chain and claims new bitcoins in the form of the block reward. But finding the solution is like trying to win a lottery. You have to guess over and over until you get lucky.
The more powerful the computer, the more guesses you can make. Sprawling server farms around the globe are dedicated entirely to just that, throwing out trillions of guesses a second. And the larger the mining operation, the larger their cost savings, and thus, the greater their market share.
This works against the concept of decentralization. Any system that uses proof of work will naturally re-centralize. In the case of Bitcoin, this ended up putting a handful of big companies in control of the network.
Proof of stake, first proposed on an online forum called BitcoinTalk on July 11, , has been one of the more popular alternatives. In fact, it was supposed to be the mechanism securing Ethereum from the start, according to the white paper that initially described the new blockchain in To become a validator and to win the block rewards, you lock up—or stake—your tokens in a smart contract, a bit of computer code that runs on the blockchain.
An algorithm selects from a pool of validators based on the amount of funds they have locked up. Proponents also claim that proof of stake is more secure than proof of work. To attack a proof-of-work chain, you must have more than half the computing power in the network.
In contrast, with proof of stake, you must control more than half the coins in the system. As with proof of work, this is difficult but not impossible to achieve. The plan is to merge it with the main Ethereum chain in the next few months. Other upgrades will follow. After the blockchains merge, Ethereum will introduce sharding , a method of breaking down the single Ethereum blockchain into 64 separate chains, which will all be coordinated by the Beacon Chain.
Shard chains will allow for parallel processing, so the network can scale and support many more users than it currently does. Many see the inclusion of shard chains as the official completion of the Ethereum 2. None of this comes without risks. Thousands of existing smart contracts operate on the Ethereum chain, with billions of dollars in assets at stake. And though staking is not as directly damaging to the planet as warehouses full of computer systems, critics point out that proof of stake is no more effective than proof of work at maintaining decentralization.
Those who stake the most money make the most money. Bitcoin has been around for over a decade. Several other chains use proof of stake—Algorand, Cardano, Tezos—but these are tiny projects compared with Ethereum. So new vulnerabilities could surface once the new system is in wide release. As Ethereum transitions to its new protocol, another risk is that a group of disgruntled miners could decide to create a competing chain.
All of the smart contracts, coins, and NFTs that exist on the current chain would be automatically duplicated on the forked, or copied chain. Something similar happened in , after Ethereum developers rolled back the blockchain to erase a massive hack. Some community members were so upset they kept mining the original chain, resulting in two Ethereums— Ethereum Classic and what we have today. If it happens again, the success and mining power behind any competing version of Ethereum will depend on the value of its coin in the open markets.
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Multiple miners on the network attempt to be the first to find a solution for the mathematical problem concerning the candidate block. The first miner to solve the problem announces their solution simultaneously to the entire network, in turn receiving the newly created cryptocurrency unit provided by the protocol as a reward. As more computing power is added to the network and more coins are mined, the average number of calculations required to create a new block increases, thereby increasing the difficulty level for the miner to win a reward.
In proof of work currencies, miners need to recover hardware and electricity costs. This creates downward pressure on the price of the cryptocurrency from newly generated coins, thus encouraging miners to keep improving the efficiency of their mining rigs and find cheaper sources of electricity. Unlike the proof of work system, in which the user validates transactions and creates new blocks by performing a certain amount of computational work, a proof of stake system requires the user to show ownership of a certain number of cryptocurrency units.
Users who validate transactions and create new blocks in this system are referred to as forgers. In most proof of stake cases, digital currency units are created at the launch of the currency and their number is fixed. Therefore, rather than using cryptocurrency units as reward, the forgers receive transaction fees as rewards. In a few cases, new currency units can be created by inflating the coin supply, and forgers can be rewarded with new currency units created as rewards, rather than transaction fees.
Think of this as their holdings being held in an escrow account: if they validate a fraudulent transaction, they lose their holdings, as well as their rights to participate as a forger in the future. Once the forger puts their stake up, they can partake in the forging process, and because they have staked their own money, they are in theory now incentivized to validate the right transactions.
This system does not provide a way to handle the initial distribution of coins at the founding phase of the cryptocurrency, so cryptocurrencies which use this system either begin with an ICO and sell their pre-mined coins, or begin with the proof of work system, and switch over to the proof of stake system later. Cyptocurrencies that currently run the proof of stake system are BlackCoin, Lisk, Nxt and Peercoin, among others. For a proof of stake method to work effectively, there needs to be a way to select which user gets to forge the next valid block in the blockchain.
Selecting the forger by the size of their account balance alone would result in a permanent advantage for the richer forgers who decide to stake more of their cryptocurrency units. To counter this problem, several unique methods of selection have been created. In the randomized block selection method of selection, a formula which looks for the user with the combination of the lowest hash value and the size of their stake, is used to select the next forger. Since the size of the stakes are public, each node is usually able to predict which user will be selected to forge the next block.
Nxt and BlackCoin are two proof of stake cryptocurrencies that use the randomized block selection method. Coin age is calculated by multiplying the number of days the cryptocurrency coins have been held as stake by the number of coins that are being staked. Coins must have been held for a minimum of 30 days before they can compete for a block.
Users who have staked older and larger sets of coins have a greater chance of being assigned to forge the next block. Once a user has forged a block, their coin age is reset to zero and then they must wait at least 30 days again before they can sign another block. The user is assigned to forge the next block within a maximum period of 90 days, this prevents users with very old and large stakes from dominating the blockchain thereby making the network more secure.
This mechanism promotes a healthy, decentralized forging community. Peercoin is a proof-of-stake system based cryptocurrency which uses the coin age selection process combined with the randomized selection method.
That's because as mentioned earlier, Ethereum's about to join their ranks within the coming year. It's also worth noting that the vast majority of new and planned cryptocurrencies rely on PoS, as it's seen as the future of scalable blockchain technology. The two cryptocurrency types we've covered so far have been distinguished from one another by the technology that powers them.
That's not the only kind of difference you'll find in the market, though. There are also differences in the purposes of the various offerings on the market. That brings us to the next major cryptocurrency type: tokens. Tokens are distinct from traditional cryptocurrencies in that they're not intended to be used as general-purpose currency. They're also created on top of existing blockchains, such as Ethereum, and do not exist as stand-alone systems. In a way, the simplest way to understand the concept is to think about the chips you use to place bets in a casino.
While they represent cash or other assets of value, they may only be used in the specific casino who issued them. For example, online music streaming service Musicoin facilitates direct payment from listeners to artists using a token called Music. The token itself is built using the Ethereum blockchain which is home to the majority of tokens , and cannot be converted directly into fiat currency. Instead, artists paid in this way must convert their tokens into standard cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum before cashing out their earnings.
As you might imagine, there are a wide variety of use cases for crypto tokens. Since they can be used to represent assets or units of value, they're perfect for single-purpose applications built atop existing blockchains to provide liquidity in illiquid markets. Real estate is a classic example of that idea. By representing real estate holdings as tokens, owners can swap property shares as they might trade stocks or bonds. Tokens are also being put to use in commodity markets, such as energy trading and the like.
When used as a simple medium for exchange, crypto tokens work quite well. The problem, however, tends to happen when trying to extract value from whatever ecosystem the token belongs to. As mentioned earlier, tokens can't be exchanged directly for fiat currency, so it's difficult to pin down their exact value at any given time. In addition, they're also at the mercy of whatever happens to the underlying blockchain they're built on.
If that blockchain suffers an attack, it would affect all associated tokens. Also, if the underlying blockchain makes a technical change like the aforementioned Ethereum switch to PoS , it can have wide-ranging implications for all associated tokens. Oddly enough, there are so many tokens currently in existence that it would be impractical to list them all. To the general public, however, there are two worth mentioning — BAT and Tether. BAT, which stands for Basic Attention Token, is used as a payment system within the recently-released Brave web browser.
The idea is to compensate users for viewing online advertising as a means of changing the current equation which has led to rampant use of ad blocking technology. Tether, on the other hand, is a token whose sole purpose is to remain at a value that's on par with the US dollar at all times. It's also a member of the next group of cryptocurrencies we're about to discuss: stablecoins.
As the name suggests, stablecoins are cryptocurrencies created for the sole purpose of providing reliable value storage. They came about because standard cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether the Ethereum coin can fluctuate wildly in value over a short span, making them difficult to manage.
That's the reason that some crypto-investors have become multi-billionaires overnight, only to see their net worth evaporate almost as quickly. Stablecoins represent something of a hybrid between tokens and standard cryptocurrencies, in that they are built on existing blockchains but may be exchanged for fiat currency.
Within the market, they play a vital role in allowing day-to-day, repetitive transactions that are free from value swings. Most stablecoins achieve this feat by pegging their value to one or more fiat currencies, and keeping reserves of those currencies as a guarantee of the token's value. One of the major roadblocks to the integration of cryptocurrencies into the wider world economy is the volatility that is their hallmark.
That has made it difficult for banks to work with cryptocurrencies, for retailers to accept them as payment for goods and services, and for individuals to use them as a savings vehicle. Stablecoins like Tether which is pegged to the US Dollar are now used by crypto exchanges as their default storage medium for investors — kind of like a tokenized fiat currency. Without them, it would be very difficult for investors to buy and sell crypto-assets because of the need to pull out holdings to avoid losses.
The major downside of stablecoins is the fact that holders of the coins must rely on the companies that manage them to keep real cash reserves to guarantee their value. There's been some question, in particular, about Tether's practices with regard to its currency reserves. Since stablecoins aren't government-backed, there's nothing to stop one from blinking out of existence due to poor management. There is, however, another stablecoin on the way that has grabbed the spotlight in recent months.
It's Libra, the Facebook-backed cryptocurrency that sparked controversy when plans for its debut became the subject of a Congressional hearing this past year. Still, if Libra can clear the regulatory hurdles, it might become the dominant stablecoin almost overnight — changing the face of the cryptocurrency market in the process.
By now, it should be obvious that there's more to cryptocurrencies than meets the eye. It's a diverse market that is made up of the four distinct groupings covered here, as well as some types of coins and tokens that blur the lines between them. It's also worth mentioning that it's a market that's in near-constant flux.
As proof, consider the fact that nothing you've read about in this article existed prior to — and most of the developments like stablecoins and proof of stake are much more recent than that. For that reason, it's easy to forecast that the four cryptocurrency types detailed here won't be the last.
In fact, there's a good chance that they'll be replaced by newer variations in the years ahead. Still, it's worth understanding things as they stand today. It'll form the basis of an understanding that will help you grasp the changes that are sure to take place in the near future and leave you well prepared to embrace the crypto future that's unfolding in front of our eyes.
Want to immerse yourself in the world of cryptocurrency even further? Check out the highest-rated cryptocurrency wallets on the marketplace to get started. Andrej is a digital marketing expert, editor at TechLoot , and a contributing writer for a variety of other technology-focused online publications.
He has covered the intersection of marketing and technology for several years and is pursuing an ongoing mission to share his expertise with business leaders and marketing professionals everywhere. Explore Topics Expand your knowledge. Curated Content Your time is valuable. G2 Community Guest Contributor Network. Sales Tech All Topics. Subscribe and never miss a post. G2 Community Interested in engaging with the team at G2?
In early , an anonymous developer or group launched the cryptocurrency known as Bitcoin.