B2 High-Intermediate US 494 Folder Collection
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There's Bitcoin.
There's Litecoin.
There's Ethereum.
So just what is cryptocurrency, and how does it work?
Essentially, it's digital money that's bought and sold online.
There's no bills or coins.
It's not based on another asset like gold.
And it doesn't go through traditional
financial institutions like banks.
Instead, these currencies operate
in a completely decentralized system
that uses so-called blockchain technology
to track transactions.
To see how this works, let's look at how
you'd buy something with cryptocurrency.
Say that Alice wants to buy a bike from Dan
using Bitcoin, her cryptocurrency of choice.
Alice begins by logging into her Bitcoin wallet
with a private key, a unique combination
of letters and numbers.
With a traditional financial transaction,
the exchange gets sent to banks on each side
who record the money being subtracted from one account
and added to another.
But remember, in this scenario,
there are no banks or middlemen.
Instead, Alice's transaction
is shared with everyone in the Bitcoin network.
These networked computers add Alice's transaction
to a shared list of recent transactions, known as a block.
Every 10 minutes,
the newest block of transactions is
added on, or chained, to all the previous blocks.
That's how you get a blockchain.
To ensure that each block of transactions
on the chain is verified,
a subset of Bitcoin's network joins a race
to solve a very difficult math puzzle.
And if they solve it first, their record
of the block of transactions becomes the official record.
They're rewarded with Bitcoins of their own,
and the network gets a new block on the chain.
This entire process is known as mining.
But instead of chipping away at rock,
you're solving complex puzzles.
The fact that many computers are competing
to verify a block ensures that no single computer
can monopolize the Bitcoin market.
To ensure the competition stays fair and evenly timed,
the puzzle becomes harder when more computers join in.
The Bitcoin protocol says mining will continue
until there are 21 million Bitcoins in existence.
That's set to happen around 2140 —
if Bitcoin lasts that long.
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How Cryptocurrency Works | NYT

494 Folder Collection
Rachel Kung published on April 19, 2018    Rachel Kung translated    Samuel reviewed
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