The tech behind popular cryptocurrencies, explained – Popular Science

The tech behind popular cryptocurrencies, explained – Popular Science

Whether you’re on the head or tail end of the cryptocurrency craze, one thing is for sure: These digital assets are hitting the mainstream hard, and don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Notably, the country of El Salvador recently adopted bitcoin as legal tender, and New York’s incoming mayor Eric Adams is intent on transforming New York City into a hotspot for cryptocurrency. 

Although only 16 percent of Americans say they invested, traded, or used cryptocurrency, almost 90 percent have heard about it, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey

Advocates for cryptocurrency and decentralized finance (where people can make financial deals with one another without being moderated by a middleman or central authority like a bank) in general argue that these platforms are transparent and simultaneously anonymous—both good things. 

The key to this vision lies in a digital technology called the blockchain, which undergirds all cryptocurrencies. The blockchain serves as a virtual hall of records, or a public ledger, that records every transaction, detailing the amount as well as the sender and receiver’s wallet addresses. 

Yet, critics and regulatory bodies are worried about the potential for harm from cryptocurrencies, such as people using them for scams, money laundering, or funding illegal activities (not to mention the enormous carbon
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