LONDON (Reuters) - Bitcoin’s share of the cryptocurrency market is sliding, with a host of alternative digital coins gaining ground as developers race to create digital cash that can gain a footing in mainstream commerce and finance.FILE PHOTO: The Monero cryptocurrency logo is seen in this illustration photo January 8, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas White/File Photo
As these “altcoins” grow in prominence, Reuters is publishing a series of stories that examines the features and characteristics of some of the alternatives to bitcoin that have grabbed the attention of developers, investors and regulators.
The first in this series looks at Monero - referred to as a privacy coin because it allows users to conceal nearly all details of transactions. It has become increasingly used for illegal purposes.
Since its launch in 2014, Monero has grown to be the 12th biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization with around $1.4 billion-worth in circulation.HOW IS MONERO DIFFERENT TO BITCOIN?
Every transaction involving Monero obscures the digital addresses of the senders and receivers, as well as the value of the transaction. That offers users near-total anonymity, allowing them to instantaneously send digital cash without leaving any clues.
Bitcoin was initially seen as opaque, as the identity of the owners of digital wallets used to send and receive bitcoin is not public.
But details recorded permanently on the blockchain after bitcoin is sent and received can, in fact, give up clues that can be used to pinpoint those identities. This has become increasingly easy with the advent of firms that specialize in analyzing blockchain transactions.
WHY’S IT GAINING ATTENTION?
When Norwegian police earlier this year gave details of the kidnapping of the wife of a wealthy businessman, they said the family had demanded a ransom in cryptocurrencies. Local press reported that the suspects wanted to be paid in Monero. ...