Cryptocurrency has been in existence for some years now and despite its publicity, it has not quite been understood yet. Only the basic knowledge of digital currency has been understood so far. Learning about cryptocurrency can be cumbersome and quite expensive but there are some free online cryptocurrency courses that could be a source of deeper knowledge for anyone who is interested in moving into the world of internet money.
Cryptocurrency emerged in the 21st century as a form of virtual money. It has been perceived as an innovative and safer means of transactions. Although it has become popular and widely used for most internet transactions, many people are still in the dark about how this new form of currency works and what it entails.
A school of thought views cryptocurrency as a means for fraudsters, criminals, and terrorists to engage in financial transactions. This is due to the fact that it was untraceable and could be used to trade on the dark web. However, it is important to note that cryptocurrency is not untraceable as some companies have come up with innovative technologies capable of tracing cryptocurrency transactions.
Nevertheless, the current rise in the value of one of the major cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin, has proven cryptocurrency to be of feasible interest. This can be attributed to the positive publicity attached to the blockchain technology which backs up the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are believed to have a positive effect on trading wallets and practices of recognized investors worldwide.
What is Cryptocurrency?
Before delving into the meaning of cryptocurrency, it is necessary to note the meaning of “currency”. Currency is any form of money accepted by the general public and issued by a government that is used for trading goods and services within or outside a nation. It is usually in form of paper bills and coins.
On the other hand, Cryptocurrency which is otherwise called Crypto is an encrypted and decentralized form of digital currency or legal tender. In simpler terms, a Cryptocurrency is a form of digital or virtual money. It can not be seen physically, it only exists virtually and can be used to trade goods and services. Transactions using crypto are confirmed and documented by a decentralized system using cryptography. This is unlike other forms of currency where the transactions and data are verified and tracked using a centralized system. Decentralized here means that the cryptocurrency is not controlled by a person or the government.
Types of Cryptocurrency
Currently, there are approximately more than 6,000 cryptocurrencies publicly traded. Here are some of the most popular cryptocurrencies;
This is the oldest and presently the most genuine of all cryptocurrencies. Currently, Bitcoin could be said to be the yardstick by which other cryptocurrencies are measured since all other forms of cryptocurrency market price are compared to the price of Bitcoin. The current market capitalization of BTC is over $600 billion.
BTC was founded by Satoshi Nakamoto and released in 2009. This is not his real name, however, no one has been able to find out his real identity. One of the features of Bitcoin is that it has a very low processing fee. It could be divisible to about 8 decimal points which are extendible.
The Ethereum was released in 2015 and founded by Vitalik Buterin. It is the second-largest cryptocurrency among all the cryptos after Bitcoin by market capitalization. Currently, ETH has a market capitalization of over $196 billion.
ETH is an open-source blockchain with a smart contract capability. The platform operates on a native cryptocurrency called Ether. Ethereum was divided into Ethereum Classic (ETC) and Ethereum (ETH). ETH can be used as a program to create new tokens and blockchain applications.
The Litecoin was created by a former Google employee, Charlie Lee. It was released in 2011. LTC is based on the Scrypt encryption algorithm, unlike the SHA-256. LTC currently, has a market capitalization of over $12.5 billion.
One major merit of Litecoin over Bitcoin is that it has the ability to process and confirm transactions faster than Bitcoin. Another advantage is that LTC uses an algorithm resistant to accelerated hardware mining technologies such as ASIC.
Ripple (XRP) was released in 2013 and was created by Chris Larsen and Jed McCaleb. XRP was designed to serve for a peer-to-peer debt transfer. It can not be mined like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, this makes it trusted by banks and other payment networks.
The XRP currency exists as an independent coin. It is said to be the currency of other cryptocurrencies. A single XRP coin is made up of a million units called “drops”. The current market capitalization of Ripple stands at about $19.53 billion.
Features of Cryptocurrency
The rapid rise in the number of cryptocurrencies indicates that a considerable number of people use the currency to transact daily. It is however important to note the significant differences between digital or virtual currency and other types of currencies. These features are based on Bitcoin.
Cryptocurrencies unlike other currencies do not exist as paper or coin. It is a virtual currency meaning that it exists only online. It does not have any physical form. Cryptocurrencies can only be used to trade and solve problems online.
Senders and receivers of crypto use a unique set of characters also known as a public key to send and receive money, the sender and the receiver will not know who owns the public key. The transactions are done anonymously on the network. Nevertheless, a transaction ID generated when the transaction is initiated can be used to track when and if the receiver receives the virtual money.
Every transaction carried out on the cryptocurrency network is recorded on the blockchain. This makes every crypto transaction irreversible. Trying to reverse it would involve the impossible task of altering the nodes in the blockchain.
This ensured that no one can move funds in a wallet except the owner of the private key. The history of every transaction can not be rewritten. However, it is possible to alter the transaction ledger but the cryptographic nature of the security makes it quite difficult to achieve.
According to Wikipedia, decentralization means “the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision making, are distributed or delegated away from a central, authoritative location or group.” In other terms, this means that cryptocurrency is not controlled by any organization or government.
The decentralization of cryptocurrency makes it impossible for a group of persons to influence the currency to benefit them at the expense of others. it equally makes it impossible for an attack to be planned and carried out on the currency since it is much much expensive to attack, destroy or influence. Cryptocurrency is much more unlikely to accidentally fail since it relies on a network of varying factors.
The possibility of double spending is eliminated since cryptocurrencies can only be spent once. This means that you can not use one bitcoin to pay two or three different users for a single service or good.
Free Online Cryptocurrency Courses
Cryptocurrency has been in existence for quite some years now but to some, it is still new in that they have little or no knowledge about the currency. Here is a list of the most resourceful free online courses on cryptocurrency. This will serve as a guide for newbies and as a refresher for those with knowledge about the currency.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrency technologies is a free online course on cryptocurrency offered by Princeton University. The tutor, Arvind Narayanan is an assistant professor of computer science whose focus is on the stability and security of Bitcoin. This Coursera course that he tutors are mostly focused on this. Although no certificate is issued at the completion of this course, the knowledge and manner in which it is presented is an adequate introduction to cryptocurrencies and Bitcoin principles.
This free course serves as an introduction to the fundamental cryptography theories and equally connects it to the basics of bitcoin. The instructor uses videos to explain how the concept of decentralization is carried out in practice and the rudiments of bitcoin mining and storage. He also gives a brief explanation of altcoins.
It should be noted that this course is primarily focused on Bitcoin so more information on other forms of cryptocurrency should be sort elsewhere.
This free course on Udemy has been accessed by about 40,000 other students interested in knowing more about cryptocurrency and how it works. This course contains close to two hours’ worth of video tutorials on the rudiments of distributed systems and their place in the history of money. This course is ideal for students who want to learn at a relatively slower pace but do not want to go deeper into the elements of the blockchain.
This is a free online course that requires no prior knowledge of cryptocurrencies before a person can undertake it. With instructors like Andreas Antonopoulos who is also the author of Mastering Bitcoin and Antonis Polemitis, the course is the first in the MSc in Digital Currency course offered by UNIC.
This course explains bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in a wider framework of the history of money before explaining more about the more practical implementation of bitcoin, and the growing connection between virtual currency and financial institutions including the world at large.
This course is ideal for beginners who have little time to learn about cryptocurrency but want to get up to seed at a rather fast pace. It involves interactive flashcards which cover the rudiments of cryptocurrencies including the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies and their mining. The course covers a lot of facts in a rather short time. It mainly notes the necessary key points enough for even a beginner to grasp the concept of crypto. This is one of the best free online cryptocurrency courses.
This is a Youtube series that is focused on several technical facts about bitcoin including what makes up the private keys, confronting the scaling and centralization threats often essential in the manner bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are executed practically.
This is one free online cryptocurrency course offered by UC Berkeley, it has a section dedicated to the Ethereum Virtual Machine including another section emphasizing what it would take to launch an attack on the Bitcoin blockchain. This course provides an insight into the security issues saddling the system.
This is an EdX course which like every other EdX course is free to take but would require an additional cost of about $99 USD for a certificate of completion.
This is another one of the amazing free online cryptocurrency courses, it was created in conjunction with IBM and also instructed by two developers in IBM’s blockchain enablement department. The course focuses on the rudiments of blockchain and includes a lab and demo category which enables students to work with the HyperLedger Composer at the end of the course. Although it is technically inclined, non-technical beginners can undertake the course.
Other free online cryptocurrency courses are mostly focused on bitcoin and Ethereum but this particular course offers some preliminary courses and tests on other minority courses such as EOS, Dai (a stable coin), and privacy-focused ZCash which do not have dedicated courses. This helps learners gain a broader idea of altcoins and other different cryptos. The best part of this course is that students get to earn coins in cryptocurrency for answering test questions on it. The coins can be utilized during practice later.
This is an EdX course offered through Linus Foundation. The Linus Foundation is equally building the HyperLedger framework. This course presents an introductory course on blockchain and the role HyperLedger plays in the space and the available tools.
The course was developed for a non-technical audience who are business-minded. It focuses more on discussing blockchain principles other than the usual talk around Ethereum, Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies.
Just like other EdX courses, a certificate is not issued at the completion of the course but requires a payment of $99 USD for a verified certificate of completion.