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The Landscape of Cryptocurrency

An overview of the different types of cryptocurrency platforms, tokens, and coins and an optional reading about investment manias and panics
There are more than 4,000 cryptocurrencies in existence as of April 2021. Many of these have no significant follow or trading volume, but you can see a full list at CoinMarketCap (optional).

Professor Andrew Wu touched on four key types of blockchain technologies. Take a few minutes to review this overview of the 10 Most Important Cryptocurrencies Other Than Bitcoin, which will give more information about the different varieties of cryptocurrencies and tokens. In general, they have a few features in common – there is no centralized authority and transactions are secured by cryptography and are irreversible – but they can have very different mechanisms and aims.

Discussion: What is your current level of interest in cryptocurrency? Does having an increased understanding of the technology increase or decrease your likelihood to invest or mine?


Optional reading: For those interested in hands-on experience with crypto, NerdWallet and Cointracker provide good overviews on buying, storing, and – very importantly – securing cryptocurrencies. As you become more familiar with cryptocurrency offerings, it’s important to keep in mind that many cryptocurrencies are very volatile. Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are subject to market manias and panics. Many investors buy into coins in the hope that they will dramatically go up in value. They do, sometimes – Bitcoin traded at nearly $20,000 in December 2017 – but they may also lose value – Bitcoin fell to about $3,200 in 2018. In mid-April 2021, Bitcoin and the meme-inspired dogecoin hit record highs. Many other coins enjoyed great growth as well. What is the status of the cryptocurrency market in May as you read this?

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Cryptocurrency: Beyond Bitcoin Teach-Out

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