Voices Of Youth

More to blockchain tech than bitcoin

I have been following cryptocurrencies since the beginning of last year. Blockchain is a wonderful technology, with implications that will resonate far beyond financial fields; it is radical - and that piques the interest of young people today.

Bitcoin has been dominating headlines recently. I wish to highlight a part of bitcoins that many newspapers don't often talk about - the nuances of the cryptocurrency industry.

If one were to compare bitcoin to other blockchain solutions - the smart contracts of Ethereum, faster and cheaper transactions of Vertcoin, and the bank adoption possibilities of Ripple - bitcoin is, perhaps, primitive.

First conceived in 2009, bitcoin was the iPod of the times. Soon, numerous more coins came into circulation, some improving on previous technologies and some catering to niche services. Litecoin, for example, has been dubbed the silver to bitcoin's gold. It has cheaper transaction fees, faster confirmation times, and increased coin supply.

Beyond that, there are, in fact, three forms of bitcoin: bitcoin, bitcoin gold and bitcoin cash.

Simply put, these are basically formed out of hard forks - where the blockchain splits into two. This is somewhat akin to a civil war within the bitcoin community, where groups of miners, coders and so on disagree on their vision for this cryptocurrency.

Are they necessarily better? That is a question people will have to answer for themselves. My hope is that more will be more aware and more sensitive to the tantalising prospects blockchain technology can offer. It is worth reading up on. There is more to this technology than its price in a headline.

Ling Young Loon, 17

Junior College Year 2 student

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 03, 2018, with the headline 'More to blockchain tech than bitcoin'. Print Edition | Subscribe