Jules Schroeder ,
Contributor I write about millennials following nontraditional paths Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
To be completely honest, conversations about finances and investments usually tend to put me to sleep. But for some reason, all of this buzz about cryptocurrency really has my attention.
Some call cryptocurrency the “digital gold rush,” magnetizing thousands around the world to invest in digital currencies like Bitcoin and other alternative coins like Litecoin and TRON. Although skeptics have their concerns, there’s no denying cryptocurrency has an exponential growth trend that appears to be steadily rising.
For millennials, cryptocurrency could be the investment opportunity of a lifetime. Not to mention, it’s ushering in a tidal wave of technological innovation.
The biggest barrier to entry for most? Decoding all of that tech jargon.
It’s about time someone explained cryptocurrency to you in a language you can actually understand.
That’s why I’ve just launched one of the world’s first online crypto and blockchain summits, where 21 industry-leading experts will be sharing everything you need to know about cryptocurrency over the course of three days.
This week on the Unconventional Life Podcast, I spoke with a cryptocurrency geek who’s done all of the heavy lifting for you. Meet Michael Graziano, the founder of Global Degree, one of the largest online communities for millennial travelers worldwide. He’s racing to become the youngest North American male to visit all 193 countries in the world, documenting all of his adventures online. Across his social channels, and including collaborations with Discovery Channel and MTV, Graziano has a combined reach of 50M+.
“I’ve been to over 100 different countries and seen all different types of economies, people, and ways of life. Some of these countries’ databases are incredibly inefficient and outdated. Can you imagine what the world will look like when everyone’s on one database?” Graziano says.
Enter the blockchain.
If you don’t yet know what that is, don’t sweat it—below, I’ve transcribed my Q&A with Graziano where he breaks down the fundamentals of cryptocurrency, blockchain, and more, so you can finally get up to speed on everything crypto.
Q: What is blockchain?
A: “A blockchain is a global online database that anyone, anywhere, with an internet connection, can use. The cool thing is traditional databases are owned by a central authority like banks, companies, or governments, but blockchain isn’t owned by anyone. It has a peer-to-peer network looking after it, so cheating the system is nearly impossible.
Blockchain stores information permanently across a network of personal computers, which decentralizes, distributes, and records it onto a public ledger that anyone can see. The transactions are verified by miners, who maintain the ledger. These bundles of records on personal computers are called blocks. Each block has a timestamp, and a form to a previous block, forming a chronological chain.”
Q: What is Bitcoin?
A: "Bitcoin is blockchain’s first and most widely known application.. People send Bitcoin freely to each other, and blockchain comes in to verify that only one person claims to own each coin at one time.”
Q: How are businesses and governments reacting to cryptocurrency?
A: “Big players like eBay, Microsoft, Expedia, McDonald’s and Subway are all starting to accept Bitcoin and other digital currencies. The Swiss government is accepting Bitcoin for tax payments. Dubai has announced that they want to become the world’s first ‘blockchain city.’ These are major statements from major economies… all of this is happening so fast and I expect these changes to really amplify in 2018.”
Q: What will change in the future with everyone using these blockchain technologies?
A: “When it all boils down, blockchain allows us all to share a single source of truth. Take the sharing economy, for example, which has given rise to Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, etc. These companies have profited on the idea of a sharing economy, but instead of sharing, they’ve acquired or eliminated competitors and collected all the profits. Where blockchain could step in is to create a public marketplace where people can share cars, homes, or whatever, with no intermediary.
Another application is the recapturing of our identities. The most powerful asset of the digital age is data. Perhaps more valuable than money, land, or anything else you own. Everywhere you go and everything you do online is recorded. It creates a virtual you. But the biggest problem is that you don’t own the virtual you. It’s owned and exchanged by big companies like Google. Blockchain is one new technology that will allow you to have privacy and to monetize and control where your information goes.”
Q: So what are some of the top cryptocurrencies to look out for in 2018?
A: “I encourage people interested to do your research, but here are 5 projects that I think have a lot of potential: Skycoin, which has the ability to give each company or application their own blockchain, helping to combat high traffic and loading times with no transaction fees. Xaurum, the only cryptocurrency backed by gold, which provides intrinsic value and makes growth much more secure with less volatility. Stratis, a blockchain development platform that allows people to create custom uses for blockchains that haven’t even been thought of yet. Shift, another alternative blockchain that includes peer-to-peer storage, an uncensorable internet, and seamless monetization removing the need for third parties like Facebook or Youtube for content creators. Then there’s DOVU, which is embracing the emerging smart car industry where cars are predicted to generate up to 25GB of data per hour. With DOVU you can manage and sell your car’s data at your discretion in exchange for tokens.”