According to Monero's site Monero is a secure, private and untraceable currency system using a special kind of cryptography that ensures all transactions remain 100% unlinkable and untraceable. In this world of increasing transparency this makes Monero a very desirable currency if one believes in complete privacy.
The original CryptoNote protocol that Monero is based on was originally launched by pseudonymous author Nicolas van Saberhagen in October 2013. Since then it has evolved and Monero now has a group of around seven developers five of which remain anonymous and two have chosen to go public, David Latapie and Riccardo Spagni aka "Fluffypony". The project was launched in 2014 as an open sourced and was initially crowdfunded. The Bytecoin Blockchain was forked and the new coins were called Bitmonero. This was later changed to Monero (an Esperanto word for coin) and a block would be mined every two minutes making it very fast in cryptocurrency terms. However Monero’s blockchain is deliberately configured to be ‘opaquer’ with every transaction detail such as IDs of senders and recipients, amounts all remaining anonymous through the disguising of the addresses used. The philosophy behind this is that all people are equal and entitled to equal opportunities and as a consequence the developers did not retain any stake for themselves as many other founders of currency have done but banked on contributions and community support to assist in the continued development of the currency.
Monero is also attractive as it supports a mining process available anyone that has a computer and does not need any special hardware as does Bitcoin and many others. Individuals can mine individually or join a mining pool and be rewarded for their contribution in mining.
Monero ensures privacy by using the ring signature protocol. A Ring Signature (RS) is an anonymous digital signature where you have members of a group. A RS does not reveal which member of the group initiated or received a transaction. A RS is generated from a combination of a sender's account keys and joins it with public keys on the blockchain. This hides the identity of the sender and enables the sender to keep their identity a secret. thus making it impossible to separate out which of the group's members keys was used to generate the signature. To generate a ring signature, the Monero platform uses a combination of a sender's account keys and clubs it with public keys on the blockchain, making it unique as well as private. This enables the ability to hide the identity of the sender, as it is computationally impossible to ascertain which of the group member's keys was used to produce the complex signature.
Of course, due to its emphasis on privacy it has drawn focus for illicit activities such as fraud, laundering etc, although the amount using Monero is insignificant compared to the commercial banks involvement in such schemes as has recently been revealed (the Commonwealth bank in Australia for example has revealed involvement in 52,000 counts of money laundering) but this is still used as an excuse to denigrate Monero as a currency.
Commercially Monero continues to gain popularity through its ability to provide a solution for privacy in transactions. Monero is an openly sourced cryptocurrency focused mainly on decentralization and privacy. It requires less power to mine and less heat is generated when compared to other cryptocurrencies.
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