If there is a will, there is a way. This is quite true when it comes to surveillance, as practically anything can be traced if you tried hard enough. Everything from your social media, browser history, all the way down to how many times you've had your favorite song on repeat. More worryingly, the modern financial system is practically (and understandably so) built on enabling ways to track its use. But as we'll learn in our Monero review, is there a way to break that cycle?
What if you can enjoy true financial freedom, built atop an economic structure that has no compromises when it comes to your privacy. No tracking, no third-party surveillance, and no idea of the who, what, and where you're sending money to. It's all completely invisible. That is where Monero comes in, championing the idea of using blockchain technology to give every single user privacy by default. But is it worth your time? Well, read along our Monero review to find out.
What Is Monero?
Founded in 2014, Monero was initially forked out of another privacy-focused cryptocurrency, Bytecoin. Just like its unrelated predecessor with which it shares a lot of its underlying code, Monero is designed to be an open-source protocol with an ‘obfuscated' decentralized public ledger. In other words, it attempts to build privacy enhancements and allowing for users to send cryptocurrencies in the form of Monero's XMR tokens within its network, virtually untraceable.
Monero's blockchain was programmed to intentionally make it harder to track down the source, amount, or recipient of a particular transaction. One of its primary goals was trying to solve two problems surrounding major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin; merely pseudo-anonymous privacy and arguable lack of fungibility. Compared to other privacy-focused coins, however, Monero's anonymity-enhancing features are on by default, not an opt-in choice for its users.
As a result of this, Monero has become a highly sought-after cryptocurrency for more privacy-conscious consumers. However, it has also led Monero to become a popular choice for those seeking to mask their illicit use, as every transaction cannot be traced. A number of darknet marketplaces and criminal organizations rely on the use of Monero. Instances such as the WannaCry ransomware campaign demanded that their victims pay them with XMR tokens.
What Are Monero's Unique Features and Solutions?
There are several novel ideas and technologies which we'll explore more of in our Monero review that they've adopted into their blockchain network to create what we can consider being the most private and anonymous cryptocurrency to date. Primarily, there are three important features that enable this to happen. Some of this tech has even featured in some other privacy-borne cryptocurrencies and blockchains. The first is the native integration of ‘Stealth Addresses‘.
With the use of Stealth Addresses, the sender will create a randomized one-time use address on behalf of the recipient for each transaction. The recipient, meanwhile, only requires one address to receive deposits but is able to have every single, one-time Stealth Address be linked back to that singular address. Thanks to this, it makes transactions practically untraceable, as only the sender and receiver are able to see it happen and have access to the transaction data.
Next, we have two similar solutions; ‘RingCT', or Ring Confidential Signatures, and ‘Ring Signatures'. RingCT is an improved version of the aforementioned Ring Signatures, but Monero nonetheless has programmed them both into their network. With these two in play, all transaction amounts, origins, and destinations processed on the Monero blockchain are completely anonymous – in other words, hidden – without needing to sacrifice network speeds.
What Else Could Monero Do?
Aside from maximal privacy, our Monero review will also take a peek at some of the other clever innovations that Monero has built onto its blockchain. Not only does Monero focus on protecting user privacy, but they are also keen on building a highly usable day-to-day currency. This means it's able to process regular transactions, like buying a cup of coffee using XMR tokens, cheaply in terms of gas and transactional fees. However, it can be a bit slower to process than some other blockchains.
This is possible due to Monero's unique dynamic block sizing capabilities. This is what allows for their network to be able to process transactions with decent confirmation times and at a low cost. With dynamic block sizing, the size of each block on Monero's blockchain can increase on the fly to accommodate more transactions when network activity goes up and vice versa. This prevents network congestion – which leads to high fees and hour-long confirmation times – as well as improving scalability.
Monero is also touting its efforts to preserve the decentralization of its blockchain ecosystem. In order to accomplish this, Monero is basing its Proof-of-Work (PoW) blockchain on a RandomX algorithm. This essentially makes Monero's network highly resistant against ASICs to prevent centralization through mining power, as well as stopping malicious attacks. Instead, Monero's blockchain is powered by more accessible and home-grown CPUs and GPU hardware.
How Can You Use Monero in the Real World?
Although we may have made mentions of some illicit use earlier on in our Monero review, Monero's blockchain has been very widely adopted as a form of currency with many legitimate platforms and businesses worldwide. They expect its users to utilize Monero as one would with any other regular form of money, like the dollar. This is made easier thanks to Monero's development team actively working to open up seamless and fee-less portals for merchants to accept XMR.
Popular payment systems such as CoinPayments and NOWPayments, as well as WooCommerce, natively embeds Monero's XMR tokens for inexpensive payments anywhere around the world. Other mainstream platforms such as Travala allow you to use Monero to pay and book from over 2-million different hotels worldwide. Meanwhile, Bitsa is a prepaid card where consumers can use cryptocurrencies, like XMR, without needing fiat or a bank account.
Coincards enables you to use cryptocurrencies such as XMR to buy from a huge selection of gift cards, where they can be used when checking out through Amazon, GameStop, Home Depot, Xbox Live, and more. Another service that accepts Monero's XMR tokens is Veldt Gold, which is an online dealer that lets you turn your digital-native cryptocurrencies like XMR into precious metals, such as buying gold bullions or silver coins.
What Are Monero's XMR Cryptocurrency Tokens?
The native cryptocurrency of the Monero network is XMR tokens. We've already learned so far in our Monero review of XMR's top-notch privacy credentials, as well as its usability as a day-to-day currency for payments, money transfers, and so on. Within the network itself, XMR is used to pay miners that help to contribute mining power for the PoW-based Monero blockchain and to settle any transaction fees. Over the years, Monero's price has appreciated very handsomely.
Its price started ascending in early-2020, following the steep fall from its all-time highs in 2018. At the time of writing this Monero review, one XMR is worth around $411.77, which is just a touch under its old ATH. To compare, this price is a massive 193,250.85% leap from its all-time lows in 2015. With a market capitalization of $7,370,275,527, Monero is the 21st-most valuable cryptocurrency on the market today, on top of a circulating supply of around 17,898,889 XMR.
Moving a bit on its tokenomics, there is no defined supply cap for Monero's XMR. Instead of putting a hard cap, Monero employs a perpetually decreasing block reward to balance out the need to provide added liquidity to the network and maintain its utility, as well as safeguarding XMR's future appreciative value. By 2022, the block rewards will decrease into a so-called ‘constant tail emission,' where only 0.6 XMR will be rewarded for every block mined.
What Are Monero's Future Roadmap Updates?
Compared to some other blockchains out there, Monero's roadmap plans for 2021 and beyond are fairly modest. 2019 and 2020 saw the most significant changes to the Monero network, such as the transition from CryptoNote to RandomX, which made Monero's blockchain more ASIC-resistant. After that, we also saw the introduction of the Dandelion++ protocol, which further ramped up user privacy. That said, there are a few exciting future updates for our Monero review.
The progress towards improving privacy continues onwards to 2021. To make transactions even more untraceable, Monero will be integrating both Triptych and Bulletproofs+ into their network. These changes won't just enhance the untraceable factor of Monero but also make the blockchain more efficient by transaction data taking up less space and be faster to process. Moreover, Monero will take this up a notch by bringing layer 2 scaling solutions later on.
Monero Review – Conclusion
Now ending our Monero review, we can't help but think back to all those times when we've sent money through a blockchain network and wonder as to how many people have been tracking us. Do they know how much money we have, the amount that we're passing on, and do they know who we're sending it to? In all, we won't have to worry about all these things anymore, with a cryptocurrency that is natively private and anonymous by default, thanks to Monero.
On the plus side, you get a cryptocurrency that is decently usable as a far more secure version of the dollar. Although, we do wish that Monero's blockchain could be speedier when it comes to processing transactions. While it's (far) faster than some, it's still behind on the few seconds it takes for others to confirm payments. In all, however, Monero has set a very high and impressive benchmark for how blockchains and cryptocurrencies can approach privacy.
- Privacy-enhancing technologies ensure maximal anonymity, without tracking or surveillance.
- Enables low-cost payments and money transfers.
- Is widely accepted as a method for payment with many businesses and services.
- ASIC resistance ensures decentralization to maintain high network security.
- Decentralization and focus on home-based hardware promise a fairer share of mining rewards.
- Has support from many independent developers to support the ecosystem.
- Transaction times, although faster than others, still takes a few minutes to process.