The Emergence of Cryptocurrency
The growing ubiquity of electronic communications over the past two decades has had a profound impact on the way we practice law. No longer are we sending letters to opposing counsel by mail or courier; rather, emails ping back and forth at lightning speed. More than just impacting the practice of law, however, the subject matter has changed enormously as a result of technological advancement. We are now confronted with another major leap forward in the way business is conducted and money changes hands as a result of an innovation that has flooded the media and public consciousness: decentralized cryptocurrency. Blockchain cryptocurrency allows the anonymous transfer of money without oversight or control of a governing body. Cryptocurrency is decentralized, meaning that it is not regulated by a central authority like a traditional currency, and new units and transfers are recorded in a general ledger known as the "block chain", which is stored in multiple computer systems. The blockchain can be viewed by anyone, but attributing transfers to any individual is difficult or impossible as transfers are identified by address (a series of letters or numbers) rather than by name. A person can have multiple addresses. Transfers of cryptocurrency can be made between individuals or through a cryptocurrency exchange. Some well-known cryptocurrency exchanges include Coinbase, Binance, Bittrex, Kaken, Bitfinex. A remarkable feature of cryptocurrencies is that they can be "mined" from the system which is programmed to award new bitcoins to miners who solve highly complex math problems. Mining operations utilize computers to mine new units and receive deposits of cryptocurrency into accounts.