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Monero was launched in 2014, and its goal is simple: to allow transactions to take place privately and with anonymity. Even though it’s commonly thought that BTC can conceal a person’s identity, it’s often easy to trace payments back to their original source because blockchains are transparent. On the other hand, XMR is designed to obscure senders and recipients alike through the use of advanced cryptography.
The team behind Monero say privacy and security are their biggest priorities, with ease of use and efficiency coming second. It aims to provide protection to all users — irrespective of how technologically competent they are.
Overall, XMR aims to allow payments to be made quickly and inexpensively without fear of censorship.
Seven developers were initially involved in creating Monero — five of whom decided to remain anonymous. There have been rumors that XMR was also invented by Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin.
XMR’s origins can be traced back to Bytecoin, a privacy-focused and decentralized cryptocurrency that was launched in 2012. Two years later, a member of the Bitcointalk forum — only known as thankfulfortoday — forked BCN’s codebase, and Monero was born. They had suggested “controversial changes” to Bytecoin that others in the community disagreed with and decided to take matters into their own hands.
It’s believed that hundreds of developers have contributed to XMR over the years.
There are several things that make Monero unique. One of the project’s biggest aims is achieving the greatest level of decentralization possible, meaning that a user doesn’t need to trust anyone else on the network.
Privacy is achieved through a few distinctive features. Whereas each Bitcoin in circulation has its own serial number, meaning that cryptocurrency usage can be monitored, XMR is completely fungible. By default, details about senders, recipients and the amount of crypto being transferred are obscured — and Monero advocates says this offers an upper hand over rival privacy coins such as Zcash, which are “selectively transparent.”
Obfuscation is achieved through the use of ring signatures. Here, past transaction outputs are picked from the blockchain and act as decoys, meaning that outside observers can’t tell who signed it. If Ian was sending 200 XMR to Susan, this amount could also be split into random chunks to add a further level of difficulty.
To ensure that transactions cannot be linked to one another, stealth addresses are created for every single transaction that are only used once.
All of these distinctive features have led to XMR being increasingly used for illicit transactions instead of Bitcoin — especially on darknet markets. Governments around the world, especially the U.S., have also offered hundreds of thousands of dollars to anyone who can crack Monero’s code.
Monero is slightly unusual as a token sale wasn’t held for XMR — and no tokens were premined either. At the time of writing, the circulating supply of XMR stands at 17,703,471.
This cryptocurrency is designed to be resistant to application-specific integrated circuits, which are commonly used for mining new Bitcoin. In theory, this means that it can be possible to mine XMR using everyday computing equipment.
Overall, there will eventually be a total of 18.4 million XMR in circulation — and this cap is expected to be reached on May 31, 2022. After this, miners will be incentivized using “tail emissions,” with a small amount of XMR being fed into the system every 60 seconds as a reward. It is believed this approach is more effective than relying on transaction fees.
One of Monero’s main goals has to prevent centralization — and this network uses a consensus mechanism called CryptoNight, which is based on proof-of-work. This prevents large mining farms from becoming a dominant force.