What You Need to Know About Monero, the Black Market Cryptocurrency Going Mainstream
We learned over the weekend that hackers were using YouTube ads to hijack computers and force them to mine cryptocurrency . These types of attacks (known as cryptojacking ) are becoming more common, but a closer look at the practice reveals that they are usually tied to one particular currency : Monero.
Released in 2014, Monero was designed to keep users anonymous. This has made it a popular cryptocurrency for the darknet black market, where dealers accept it in exchange for weapons, drugs and stolen credit cards, according to a Wired report in early 2017.
But last year Monero went mainstream. It is currently the 13th most expensive cryptocurrency in the world and is priced at $ 275 according to CoinMarketCap . It has also appeared on a number of recent listings that predicted that Monero could become one of Bitcoin’s top competitors in 2018.
Here’s what you need to know about Monero, where it comes from, where it goes and how to buy it.
What is Monero?
Like Bitcoin, Monero’s origins remain a mystery. The cryptocurrency was first described in 2013 by Nicholas van Saberhagen , who is probably the pseudonym of an anonymous creator (or group of creators). It was created by another anonymous creator named “thankful_for_today” and named “Bitmonero” (“monero” means Esperanto coin). In 2014, the currency was forked , resulting in the popular Monero coin today.
Monera was created to address one specific problem with bitcoin: anonymity. It is possible to remain anonymous with Bitcoin, but because of the way the blockchain works, all transactions can be traced back to the accounts involved. You can also see how many bitcoins are held in someone’s account.
As long as you keep your identity a secret, this is not a problem, but once you put your name on any Bitcoin-related transaction, other people can easily track you down. This is a big problem if you are using Bitcoin for something illegal (like buying drugs on the dark web) and this is where Monero comes in.
Monero uses several methods to keep people anonymous. The first one is “hidden addresses”, that is, your blockchain address is encrypted, so it cannot be linked to you. Monero also groups each transaction with hundreds of others, making it difficult to track one particular sale, and hiding the amount of currency spent on each transaction.
What’s next with Monero?
Apart from drug deals, Monero can help solve many of the other problems that Bitcoin is becoming popular with. In the future, you may be able to pay rent in cryptocurrency, but with bitcoin, the landlord can track your account and find out how much money you have. Monero keeps you anonymous, so the people you pay will not be involved in your overall financial picture.
Monero may also be on the verge of partnering with another growing cryptocurrency with a slightly more recognizable name. Litecoin founder Charlie Lee recently tweeted that he is interested in partnering with Monero so that the two currencies can be easily exchanged.
Until then, Monero has a lot of competitors. Dash ( currently priced at $ 685 per coin) uses a similar transaction pooling strategy to keep everyone anonymous. Zcash ($ 385 at time of writing ) takes another step towards anonymity by claiming that its encryption makes it mathematically impossible to track .
How to buy Monero
You cannot buy Monero on Coinbase (the most popular digital currency exchange in the US), but there are many other options .
Several exchanges will let you buy Monero with government-backed money, including popular services like Kraken and Bitfinex . You can also use websites like LocalMonero or MoneroForCash to find someone who is interested in selling to you directly.