If you want to dive deep into the vast crypto universe, please do not do so without first familiarising yourself with the most important terminology. Otherwise you can drown in it very quickly - and we don't want that for sure. That's why we've designed an all-encompassing Crypto Guide to help you prepare for this exciting journey in the best possible way. Trust me, you and your business will thank you for doing so! So, don't hesitate any longer, Web 3.0 is already waiting for you.
Why discovering crypto is a good choice
Every ground-breaking technological advancement requires us to become familiar with new terminology. In business as probably in life, you’ll have to assimilate mind-bending processes and systems that we need to understand in order to navigate through, and then make best use of, in order to get the most value from. Blockchain and Web 3.0 is the frontier of what is to come, and yet is already here. Those who can grasp the knowledge now will benefit most from early entry into the adoption cycle. So, congratulations that you have found your way here!
We love pioneering businesses and leaders. When a ground-breaking technology such as Blockchain emerges, it’s paramount to gain knowledge of the basics and begin to form a solid foundation if you are to build the value-driven enterprises of the future. In the spirit of sharing knowledge and know-how, we have written the following Crypto Guide. This guide gives avante-garde business leaders a concise, no-nonsense glossary into the essentials of this burgeoning technology.
Crypto Guide: The journey begins...
To understand the whole industry and its nuances, first we must take a quick dive into the pioneer, Bitcoin. A revolutionary technology created in 2008 by a pseudonymous programmer (or group?) named Satoshi Nakamoto. When discussing Bitcoin, we’re actually talking about three different elements: The Bitcoin Network, the underlying bitcoin cryptocurrency aka BTC and the Bitcoin Blockchain.
- It’s a public distributed ledger that is accessible to anyone with an internet connection and device who wishes to participate. Every transaction ever made is visible to all participants.
- Operates peer-to-peer transactions without the need for intermediaries (such as banks) to execute and validate transactions
- A finite (maximum) amount of BTC of 21 Million will ever be available. It is rumoured that 6 million have been lost forever through misappropriation, lost wallets etc.
- Bitcoin miners are awarded BTC upon successful completion of a block. The amount rewarded is halved every 4 years, and currently stands at 6.25.
- Essentially, a blockchain is a string of Bitcoin transaction blocks. These Bitcoin transaction blocks, stacked on top of each other, form the Bitcoin blockchain.
- All past Bitcoin transaction data is stored in the Bitcoin blockchain, and viewable by all Bitcoin users.
For the inquisitive folk, you can read the original Bitcoin whitepaper here: https://bit.ly/3a7lwBf.
Since its inception, this new technology has spawned terminology that can be bewildering to navigate. However, now that you know the basics of Bitcoin, our Crypto Guide can logically progress to defining some of the rest in the crypto industry to give you a commercial edge.
Let’s talk about Coins & Tokens
What is a coin?
A crypto coin is a type of currency that’s digital and decentralised. Usually the native asset of a Blockchain i.e. as BTC is the coin of Bitcoin or ETH is the coin of Ethereum. These coins can be used to buy and sell things, or as a long-term store of value.
Some blockchains have the same name for both the network and the coin, like Bitcoin. Others can have different names for each, like the Cardano blockchain, which has the native coin called ADA.
First came Bitcoin, then everything else. Alternative Coins or “Altcoins'' are essentially any other cryptocurrency that is not Bitcoin. Yes, even the behemoth that is Ethereum is still an Altcoin.
Stablecoins are designed as tokens of a stable value and are supposed to help the crypto markets avoid volatility in crypto assets. They are backed on a defined ratio and the asset backing them must be kept in reserves as per the defined ratio to keep them stable. We have those backed by fiat, crypto, commodity, and algorithmic stablecoins which use software and rules to maintain the stable peg with fiat or another asset. USDT and USDC are recognised as the market leading stablecoins.
Business Use Case: An enterprise would utilise stablecoins when they feel that their treasury of other crypto assets such as Bitcoin are under pressure from volatility in the markets. The procedure would be to utilise an exchange such as Coinbase or Binance to convert their crypto holdings into a stablecoin such as USDT, which is pegged to the $US. Should the markets crash, then the company has effectively “locked in” the price at the value at the time of conversion. Now, the CEO would be in a position to buy even more crypto at a cheaper price by converting back into Bitcoin (or whatever), sell their stablecoins at the $Dollar value or could simply HODL (Hold on for Dear Life).
What is a token?
A token is a unit of value on a blockchain that is used as a specific asset or to represent a particular use on the blockchain and almost certainly has some other value proposition besides just a transfer of value (like a coin). In the industry, they call this having utility. Tokens have multiple use cases, but the most common are governance, security, and utility tokens.
Cryptocurrencies and tokens built on blockchain have pre-set, algorithmically created, issuance schedules. This means that we can predict with quite some accuracy how many coins will have been created by a certain date in time.
Business Use Case: Unless you are about to create your own Blockchain, the main use for coins will be as a store of value. MicroStrategy is leading by example. Therefore, a token may be an asset you can deploy to really add a value proposition to your service, product, or for your customers. Just what type of token is right for you?
Utility Tokens can provide certain access to a product or service run or operated by the token issuer. A person can gain access by buying the token and can redeem it for a defined access value to the product or service. The holder gains the right to product or services to an equivalent value of token but not ownership.
Business Use Case: Your customers can access a product or service at a discounted fee or for free as long as they hold your tokens.
This kind of tokens are issued by decentralised exchanges (crypto marketplaces for buying and selling and swapping tokens) such as Uniswap, which operates on the Ethereum Blockchain. They are primarily used for facilitating exchanges between other tokens, increasing liquidity, providing discounts, governing blockchains for instance, for voting rights, or providing access to particular crypto exchange services.
Business Use Case: Currently, we see little use for Exchange Tokens to be utilised by legacy businesses, especially in SMEs (Small-to-Medium Enterprises). However, there may be a use case for larger centralised currency exchanges who wish to adopt blockchain technology to offer more services and options to their clients.
Privacy Tokens are crypto tokens created for blockchains that are built with code that encourages greater privacy than you would experience on Bitcoin and mainstream crypto. This crypto technology is a double-edged sword in that privacy in crypto allows for transactions to be maintained when the information is highly sensitive or entities wish to exercise their right to privacy. However, these privacy blockchains like Monero are also utilised for crime by scammers or organisations dealing in illicit markets as the transactions cannot be traced.
Business Use Case: This technology could be particularly useful for applications in the transfer of highly sensitive data. If you are dealing with personal legal matters or medical documents, deploying an application on a Privacy blockchain could be very advantageous for firms seeking to utilise the benefits of the blockchain whilst retaining privacy from external parties.
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)
Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) are one-of-a-kind assets on the blockchain. They are essentially a digital certificate of ownership to a unique, non-replaceable item or one not tradeable with another. They are developed using the same technology as with other tokens on a Blockchain. However, they are mainly used to represent the ownership of original and unique digital items like art, film, music, photography, collectibles, real estate, or digital files of value, but on the blockchain.
Business Use Case: The greatest value proposition of NFT’s is that they can represent almost anything in “real-life” and prove ownership of that unique item on the blockchain. So for example, if you are a classic automobile dealer, you could represent the vehicle with a digital NFT that would include all the original manufacturer's technical information, characteristics of the vehicle and the ownership history information. This NFT could then be used to sell the luxury collectors car, proving irrefutable ownership and history thus ensuring the buyer the car is not a copy. It’s important to note that this could be applied to almost anything in “real life” such as properties, vintage watches, rare gems or anything else that is unique, rare and/or one-of-a-kind.
As you have learned, there are now a number of options for enterprises of all kinds to investigate should they be considering venturing into blockchain technology. Which one is best for your activities? What tokens or coins would create value for your customers? Our Crypto Guide cannot answer these questions for you, but can guide you to consider the best options. The benefits may not always be obvious, and the correct route to incorporation even less so. It is imperative for business leaders to find the right consultation for their respective businesses.
Now, we take a look at more general terminology you will be sure to encounter in the pioneering space, and some questions that may arise.
Decentralisation is the transfer of supervision and decision-making from a centralised association (individual, corporation, or group of people) to a dispersed network. The point is to decrease the degree of trust that members should put in each other and dissuade their capacity to put forth authority or command over each other in manners that corrupt the potency of the network. Blockchains are inherently decentralised because they require majority approval from all users to operate and make changes, rather than a central authority.
Business Use Case: Building a community focused social-enterprise, such as a non-profit or creative hub? Well, the best way to involve all participants and ensure equality and freedom of expression as such is in the setup, and creation of a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO).
Tokenomics is probably the most important technical information associated with the deployment of a new application or service in the cryptocurrency industry. You will normally find all the information associated with a Blockchains’ token economics in a ‘Whitepaper’. This is essentially a very technical business plan of a crypto startup. It covers all aspects that would involve a coin or token in a blockchain infrastructure such as: token distribution, governance, management, price stability and future adaptations. Consider tokenomics the blockchain networks’ application of what central banks use as monetary policy.
Business Use Case: If you are serious about deploying your own blockchain, an application built on top of a blockchain or looking to invest in a cryptocurrency technology: Paying attention to the tokenomics and ensuring that it scientifically makes sense could be the difference between success and failure.
Proof-of-work (PoW) vs. Proof-of-Stake (PoS)
First and foremost: these are consensus mechanisms essential to the operation of validating blocks on a blockchain. First came PoW which, the consensus method for Bitcoin and originally, Ethereum. In proof-of-work, verifying cryptocurrency transactions is done through mining, where powerful processors tackle and solve highly complex equations to complete blocks for which they are rewarded in crypto. Although effective, the maturation of the crypto space has highlighted sustainability issues mainly because of the huge energy consumption of the mining farms (keep in mind that this is still miniscule when compared to the auto, air travel and many other industries).
This has paved the way for the evolution of the consensus method which is called PoS, which is what Cardano Blockchain (created by the co-founder of Ethereum, no less) and others such as Tezos, and now thankfully, Etheruem too! With PoS, validators are depending on the "stake" they have in the blockchain (how much of that token they commit to locking up) and approval by adhering to a set of rules created by the blockchain.
Both methods incentivise good actors and make it extremely difficult and expensive for bad actors to defraud the network. The consensus methods ensure to users are honest with transactions, and thus paves the way for a decentralised system that is controlled by no one entity.
Business Use Case: Sustainability issues should be the concern of corporations as much as the individual. Launching your product on a blockchain which is built on a PoS system would create a positive impact on the adoption of the technology, and the environmental impact.
This ethical and conscious choice by business leaders will also eventually propagate a supply-chain that is incentivised to become more conscious of environmental issues and make decisions to reduce their carbon footprint.
This term “Staking” refers to the action of “putting your crypto to work”. The way it works is an individual “stakes” their crypto a “staking pool” (similar to an interest-bearing savings account). You can “stake” some or all of your holdings and earn a percentage-rate reward over time if the cryptocurrency you own provides a staking mechanism. Cryptocurrencies that allow staking use the Proof-of-Stake consensus method mentioned earlier. Knowing that staking is a way of earning rewards for holding certain cryptocurrencies is the key takeaway.
Business Use Case: This would apply to any business entity that wishes to “make more money”. Deploying some of your funds to a staking protocol will allow you to increase your treasury over time.
Yield farming is the process of using decentralised finance (DeFi) protocols to make more crypto with your crypto. It involves you lending your funds to others through the magic of computer programs called smart contracts. As a reward for lending your funds to add liquidity, you earn fees in the form of crypto. This is normally paid out in the same token, or is used to incentivise investors into earning a new token of an up-coming crypto project.
Business Use Case: Having a dedicated team (in your company setup) or utilising the services of a 3rd party service provider to actively create more funds for your treasury while you concentrate on creating revenue. Yield farming, if done correctly, can significantly boost your cash flow.
This terminology is derived from the expression “to pull the rug from under someone”. Quite simply, this is when the developers (more often a single rogue actor) of a crypto project decides to abandon a project by removing all or a large portion of liquidity and run away with investors’ funds.
Business Use Case: DO NOT DO IT! Just joking, but it’s also no joke. This unscrupulous action devastates lives. To ensure you decrease the chances of being rug-pulled yourself (it’s never impossible), you should participate in crypto enterprises where the founding team is reputable and trustworthy. Look at the history of each member, what they’ve built and where they come from. If they are vague and have little credibility, it could be the smoke to an impending fire.
Why are there different blockchains?
Why are there different types of hotels, or cars? As with any industry, specialisation is the key to longevity and sustainable growth. Therefore, each blockchain has been created with a specific focus on problems they feel that need to be solved.
Hopefully with this Crypto Guide we have provided you the information that will inspire you to seriously consider innovating and propelling your business into the future. Web 3.0 technology is the evolution of the internet you know today, and despite the current climate, developing and integrating this technology NOW will ensure longevity for your business. Please be reminded that this is just the “tip” of an increasingly bigger and more complex “iceberg”. Harnessing the knowledge and experience of a reputable agency and/or consultancy is of paramount importance should your business strategy involve the incorporation of Web3 technology. Be brave, be bold, and be smart.
Want to find your own Web 3.0 business use case?
Do you have inspiration for a innovative NFT project, but are lacking the technical capabilities and network to realise your vision? Or perhaps you would like to first identify if NFTs and Web3 are suitable for your business model? Our Crypto Guide gave you an brief overview, but let's clear the fog over your own business use case.