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For all its hype, cryptocurrency has had remarkable staying power, to the point where governments are actually starting to feel wary of its potential to replace conventional, tangible money. We're still a long way from using cash to line our fireplaces, but if you're savvy enough, you can make some serious dough from mining crypto-coins.
What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is essentially digital money which uses cryptography to ensure the integrity of transactions on its network. By translating who's involved and what's being exchanged into an irreversible code, you can guarantee the validity of all exchanges without any centralized banking authority. (The makers of The Big Short can finally rest easy.) Every transaction that's ever happened on the network is tracked on what's called a blockchain. Everyone involved gets a copy of the blockchain, which allows all items to be checked for consistency by mass consensus. It's this level of rigor which allows cryptocurrency to be a legitimate currency, and not just digital money you farmed for on World Of Warcraft.
Yeah, but what is cryptocurrency, exactly? Is it that Bitcoin thing?
Yes, Bitcoin is the most recognized cryptocurrency. But there are others, like Ethereum, LiteCoin, and NameCoin, to mention a few. They work similarly, but differ in their programmed market caps, how their blockchains are implemented, and how adorable their names are. If you want to take advantage of cryptocurrency's flexibility, you can purchase Bitcoin and other alt-coins directly from exchanges. And if you have access to a server with a high-end GPU, you can mine them yourself.
How does mining work? Will I need a shovel?
Mining isn't digging for hidden gold inside a digital rock. It's the process of verifying transactions before they get added to a blockchain. Basically, it's like minting and processing the virtual money. A miner will be paid to use their computer to add new coins to the network and to do the cryptographic math that encodes the details of exchanges. Whether or not that miner chooses to wear overalls and a hardhat while doing so is up to them.
How can I get in on it?
Mining can be done on consumer-grade computers using specialized ASIC chips available that are made specifically for it. Graphic card manufacturers are also beginning to produce GPUs designed for cryptocurrency. The key to profitability in mining cryptocurrency is hardware efficiency (having a lot of computing power), which we imagine is similar to profitability in regular mining (having a good pick-shovel ... OK, we don't know much about regular mining).
To help newcomers get familiar, we are offering this Beginner's Guide to Cryptocurrency Mining in the Cracked Shop. In a single sitting, this online course will teach you how to rent a server, determine a profitable path for your mining enterprise, and get mining. You can pick it up here for 94 percent off the usual price -- just $10.
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