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How cryptocurrency works – basic vocabulary and concepts

(FINANCE) Cryptocurrency is a concept that dates back a decade, but as it becomes newly mainstream, many are struggling to catch up – knowing the basic concepts can get you up to speed.

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One of the most exciting things to arise out of new technology is the idea of better ways to optimize and improve concepts that we already find in the real world. None of us should be surprised when that includes currency.

With cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Dash, NEM, Ethereum Classic, Monero, and Zcash (to name a few), it may be hard for the average consumer not to just keep up, but to know what’s going on in this revolution in our modern day economy. Knowing how crypto works makes you a better consumer, as well as investor in your future. Let’s get started with the basics.

What is a cryptocurrency?

To ask what cryptocurrency is, one should also contemplate what modern day paper or coin currency is. At its most basic, all currencies share this core trait: you can exchange a unit (or units) which has predetermined value for either goods or services. Whether it’s dollars, Yen, the gold standard, or Dogecoin, all of these currencies allow you to complete basic transactions.

Where cryptocurrency is different, is how these transactions are completed and how cryptocurrencies are processed.

How does crypto differ from common currencies?

Cryptocurrency allows you to send money directly peer-to-peer (p2p) electronically instead of operating through third-party systems like banks or governments.

The technology that makes this happen is called Blockchain. Blockchain technology is the primary difference between the dollars in your wallet and the virtual currencies in your crypto wallet. The Litecoin School of Crypto uses a great analogy to explain how blockchains work:

“In its simplest form, blockchain is data. It’s a list of recorded information called “blocks” strung together in a chain. Think of blocks as folders stuffed with information i.e. how much Litecoin was sent, who sent it, and who received it. The great thing about blockchains is that it’s public and anyone in the world can see it.”

How does a normal crypto transaction work?

Here’s an example using the fictional cryptocurrency, bitquarters: Karen owes Jamal 10 bitquarters for her movie ticket, so she’s going to pay him back. Karen first requests the transaction through her digital wallet. Because of the nature of cryptocurrency, she can’t send him bitquarters she doesn’t have (there is no “overdrawn” account status in crypto, like modern banks), so it’s a good thing she just got paid!

When Karen initiates the transaction, she uses her private key to virtually “sign” it. When a transaction is completed, an individual will “sign” their transaction with their private key – the reason why cryptocurrency is called as such is because of encryption, after all. The requested transaction is sent via peer-to-peer (p2p) sharing to a network of computers called nodes. These computers validate Karen’s key and verify the transaction.

After the transaction is verified, it is added to the blockchain, the virtual ledger, that all bitquarter users have access to. After that is finished, in only a matter of seconds, Jamal is paid!

What is this cryptocurrency “mining” thing I’ve been hearing so much about?

Mining is a vital part of the cryptocurrency transaction. Miners are the only individuals in the crypto process that can confirm transactions. Their job is to take a transaction, to verify that it is legitimate, and spread them p2p in the network.

To make it a part of the public ledger (the blockchain) every node has to add it to its database. Because mining takes a computer’s energy and electricity to perform, miners are rewarded with small amounts of cryptocurrency per transaction (like how you pay to pull money from an ATM). However, to prevent fraudulent transactions, a computer must solve an encrypted puzzle in order to add it to the blockchain.

What are other important crypto terms I need to know?

Address: the only piece of information that needs to be used for a transaction, similar to a user name or email address. Each transaction uses a different address.

Block: a unit of data in the blockchain that holds and validates transactions. A blockchain is where all blocks of transactions reside.

Double spend: the action of trying to spend cryptocurrency to two different recipients simultaneously. Mining as well as the blockchain prevent malicious actions such as this from taking place.

Cryptocurrency is held up by some as being the currency of the future, while many others think that due to over-speculation, that it will be a investment bubble with irrevocable consequences for brick and mortar institutions. Regardless of any market forecasters perspective on cryptocurrency, the technology is here to stay and knowing the basic vocabulary can help you understand where things are going.

Don’t be intimidated by all of the language around this concept – if you choose to dive into the crypto waters, you’ll learn as you go along. If you invest in stocks, you know a specific concept and vocabulary list, and crypto functions differently but is just another finance mechanism, both of which can be overwhelming but learning the parts necessary to your goals is all that matters.

PS: If you’re more of a visual person, there’s a short video available that has circulated that explains Bitcoing well, and applies to crypto in general.

Alexandra Bohannon has a Master of Public Administration degree from University of Oklahoma with a concentration in public policy. She is currently based in Oklahoma City, working as a freelance filmmaker, writer, and podcaster. Alexandra loves playing Dungeons and Dragons and is a diehard Trekkie.

Business Finance

7 ways to get your freelance invoices paid more quickly

(FINANCE) It’s easy to feel uncomfortable bringing up money with your superiors, but for a freelancer, it’s more important than ever to bring up the issue. Here are 7 tips to get your invoices paid quickly.

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financial advice

For many, an awkward topic of conversation revolves around money. Whether asking for a raise or asking to borrow money, people often feeling uncomfortable when talking money.

This is equally, or possibly even more so, true for freelancers who are solely in charge of their finances. Without a system of weekly direct deposit, freelancers have to work overtime to keep their earnings in order.

The issue with this is that clients also have a lot on their plates, and something as simple as a freelancer’s paycheck is common to fall through the cracks. This causes freelancers to have to work friendly reminders into their repertoire.

However, freelancers may not always be knowledgeable of the best ways to keep their finances in check (no pun intended). Below are seven ways to enhance payment methods.

  1. You have to be willing to make billing a priority. Due to the fact that money is awkward to talk about, as aforementioned, many let this fall by the wayside. The best way to do this is to keep up to date with your invoices and send them as soon as they are done. Making a calendar specific for billing can help with this idea.
  2. This second bit dates back to when we were young and learning our manners: it is crucial to be polite. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also increases speed in payment. Using “please” and “thank you” in invoicing emails are said to get you paid five percent faster.
  3. It is best to try and keep a complicated concept like finance as simple as possible. Make sure you are creating specific due dates. This will help to signify importance of payment.
  4. Now that virtually anything can be done online, it would make sense to use electronic payment verses an old-school check. Accepting online payments will get a user paid, on average, eight days faster as opposed to a check.
  5. This is an important notion to keep in mind for any aspect of your business life: be professional. Invoices are often seen by many eyes so it is best to include your business’s logo on said invoice. This has been found to increase chances of being paid on time by 10 percent.
  6. Specificity is urged again in the form of transparency. Make sure you are giving detailed descriptions on each invoice so that anyone looking at it knows exactly what you are being paid for. By doing this, you are 15 percent more likely to be paid on time.
  7. While you may be invoicing month by month, try to avoid sending on the 30th or 31st. Being that everyone, generally, sends their invoices in on these dates, it takes 10 – 20 percent longer to be paid. With everyone sending it at the end of the month, it has a tendency to back up payroll.

The most important thing to remember is that while the topic of money may be awkward, it is your money. If you let a few invoices fall behind because you are uncomfortable reminding your client, this has a way of adding up. Be sure to keep on track with your finances to earn what you are working for.

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Business Finance

Laugh at Bitcoin all you want, but Ohio business taxes can soon be paid in crypto

(BUSINESS FINANCE) Cryptocurrencies are still widely misunderstood, but an innovative Treasurer in OH is making crypto history.

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Ohio. The part of a title of that one Bowling for Soup song, home of Lake Erie and now the first state to start accepting crypto as a form of payment for taxes.

On Monday, December 3rd, businesses in Ohio will be able to pay their taxes in cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.

It seems like a rather easy process to enroll. Companies that want to join in on all of the history-making, crypto fun just have to go to OhioCrypto.com and then register to pay whatever taxes they want in crypto. There are 23 eligible business-related taxes and there is no transaction limit.

While there is no timeline set, there are hopes of expanding the program to individual tax payers.

Ohio’s state treasurer, Josh Mandel, is the man responsible for the state’s light speed propulsion into the finance future. The crypto program is just one step of many of the state’s bigger picture goal of rebranding itself as tech-friendly. Mandel is quoted as saying, “We’re doing this to provide Ohioans more options and ease in paying their taxes and also to project Ohio’s leadership in embracing blockchain technology.”

I had no clue Ohio residents were referred to as Ohioans, but onto the thought I’m sure looming in the back of everyone else’s mind:

What could go wrong with a crypto tax payment program?

For starters, the crypto market is currently the definition of a dumpster fire. Crypto has been in a nose dive for sometime now. Last November, Bitcoin prices capped off at about $8,000. This November, it isn’t even half of that.

Also, what is a stat going to do with a bunch of crypto currency. The treasurer’s office is not holding, mining or investing in crypto for payments or processing. Instead, the state will work with a cryptocurrency payment startup, BitPay to convert the bitcoin to dollars. But per the startup’s official blog, their open-source Bitcoin wallet Copay has been compromised by malicious code. BitPay says that their app was not vulnerable to the malicious code but that they are investigating whether or not any of the CoPay users had been exploited by the vulnerability.

Ignoring those slight holes in the plan, it is kind of cool that Ohio is the first state to make its foray into blockchain payments. They even have plan to expand into other cryptos in the future.

Never thought I’d say that Ohio would lead the way into the future but hey, it’s been a weird year, so why not.

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Business Finance

Founder surprises employees by gifting them $20M in bonuses

(FINANCE NEWS) In a rare feel-good moment, we pause to acknowledge how one CEO earned lifelong loyalty with his generosity.

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bayada founder surprises all

Home health care is, arguably, one of the most thankless jobs. You work long hours, do a lot of dirty work, and provide physical and emotional care for clients and families. In an unusual move, the chairman and founder of a home health care company has decided to show gratitude to the employees who made his business great – by sharing some of the profits.

Bayada Home Health Care, based in Moorestown, New Jersey, is preparing to transition into a nonprofit.

Chairman and founder Mark Baiada, a man clearly more interested in care than profit, explains that “I don’t really need the money,” so he’s turning the private nursing service into a “mission-driven” nonprofit.

“We’re putting mission over money,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

But first, he wanted to thank his employees. So he took $20 million and divided it between 32,000 employees (including some who are already retired), based on the number of years they’d worked for Bayada.

Brand new caregivers received $50, while some long-time employees took home tens of thousands.

“I wanted to show some gratitude to everybody for all the hard work you’ve done taking care of our clients,” he announced to a stunned crowd of employees surprised during a luncheon at Philadelphia’s Bellevue Hotel.

Baiada’s wife, a fan of The Bachelor, called the announcement “better than the most dramatic rose ceremony ever.”

The generous kick-back will likely have the positive side effect of generating loyalty to the company. Nicole Green, a pediatric nurse with Bayada for three years, says “I’ve only worked at Bayada a short time but I’m a lifelong employee now.” Green plans to put her share of the gift towards her daughter’s college tuition.

“Everyone was in awe. Mark totally surprised us,” said Green. “He didn’t have to do this.”

“These are everyday people who work hard in a low-margin service business,” said Baiada. “I’m honored to work with them. I don’t go to patients’ homes much, but my employees are there every day.”

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