What is Monero? The ultimate guide to XMR

What is Monero?

The ultimate guide to XMR

If you’re looking for a secure, anonymous, and untraceable currency, Monero has you covered.

Monero (XMR) has become synonymous with anonymity and secure transactions. While many people believe that bitcoin is already anonymous, this is definitely not the case as we’ll see in this guide. The anonymous nature of bitcoin is very much up for debate and Monero is the natural outcome of that debate.

What is Monero?

IconSymbolInitial release dateAlgorithm typeMax. supply
XMRApril, 2014CryptoNight18.4 million XMR

Rising from a need to make a more secure, anonymous and untraceable cryptocurrency, Monero was released in April, 2014, and stands for three core values:

  • Security. Without trust, no cryptocurrency can survive and none of them are more reliant on that trust than Monero, whose users not only trust it with their money but also with keeping their transactions anonymous.
  • Privacy. Monero claims that they need to be able to protect their users’ anonymity, even in a court of law – including, as their website states “in extreme cases, from the death penalty”.
  • Decentralization. Monero isn’t run by anyone. It’s unlike some other coins where there’s a central agency that runs the network, or blockchain. In the case of Monero, not only does this central, controlling agency or business not exist, but the development decisions and the developer meeting logs are published and available online for anyone to see.

How is Monero different from bitcoin?

Monero focuses on anonymity, and this is where it diverges significantly from bitcoin. Many believe that bitcoin already is anonymous, but that’s just a very common misconception, as we’ll see.

The Problem With Public Transactions

Bitcoin is built over what is known as the public ledger, or blockchain. This was done so that users of bitcoin can verify other people’s transactions, especially in cases where these payments need to be transparent (e.g., government spending and not-for-profit organizations (NPOs).

The issue is that once you share your bitcoin address, all past and future transactions and how much money you’re sending/receiving will always be linked with you. This is not always desirable. It’s not only an issue of revealing that users may be purchasing or paying for illegal services/products. You just might not want your employer to know that you sent money to WikiLeaks, or maybe you don’t want to have freelance clients know how much you’re charging other clients.

Bitcoin’s solution

Bitcoin did come up with somewhat of a temporary solution or a user guideline, so to speak. The idea is that whenever you’re requesting money from someone you should always provide them with a temporary wallet address. This address is related to your actual wallet but would be a one-time-use address and then will be destroyed, making it harder to trace your wallet’s main address back to you. This solves the problem for one-off payments, but organizations and businesses who want a public address visible on their website, for example, would still have all their transactions traceable back to them.

Monero solves this problem by using what is known as Ring Signatures and Stealth Addresses.

Ring Signatures

Monero mixes addresses for a user’s transactions with another user’s addresses making the path between sender and receiver virtually untraceable. Analysis of the Monero blockchain would reveal nothing more than a cryptographic hash of the transaction.

Stealth Addresses

Similar to the explanation of bitcoin’s suggested solution, Monero hides addresses behind one-time-use ones, which are then destroyed so that the transaction cannot be traced back to a public address.

Where can I use Monero?

Many of the merchants that currently accept bitcoin and the other more common cryptocurrencies already accept Monero.

How do I invest in Monero?

The information we publish about Monero should not be interpreted as either an endorsement of the currency or a recommendation to invest. As an investment class, cryptocurrencies are speculative investments and investing in cryptocurrencies involves significant risks – they are highly volatile, vulnerable to hacking and capital loss and sensitive to secondary activity. Historic performance is no guarantee of future returns. Before investing you should obtain advice and decide whether the potential return outweighs the risks.

As with many other cryptocurrencies, Monero is currently enjoying explosive growth. Starting at $47.628 on 19 August, 2017…

…it skyrocketed to $141.715 in under 2 weeks!

It then settled down but retained a value of over $100 into the fall of 2017.

If you’d like to invest in Monero, you may want to buy some XMR from your favorite exchange and hold onto it. The price doesn’t seem to be going down anytime soon.

Rates last updated November 19th, 2017
Details Features
Binance Cryptocurrency Exchange
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HitBTC Multi-currency Exchange
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Coinbase Digital Currency Exchange
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Paxful Bitcoin Marketplace
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Changelly Crypto-to-Crypto Exchange
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Access competitive crypto-to-crypto exchange rates for more than 35 cryptocurrencies on this global exchange.
  • Buy/sell Bitcoin Cash
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LocalBitcoins P2P Exchange
LocalBitcoins P2P Exchange
Trade fiat currency for bitcoin in person or online with this peer-to-peer exchange offering competitive fees and wide delivery options.
  • Fees: 1% commission for each completed operation
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Indacoin Cryptocurrency Exchange
Indacoin Cryptocurrency Exchange
Use your credit or debit card to buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrency without having to verify your identity.
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Cancoin P2P Crypto Exchange
Cancoin P2P Crypto Exchange
Buy and sell bitcoin with privacy on this multi-signature, peer-to-peer exchange that supports a wide range of payment options.
  • Fees: 1% + miner's fee (sellers only)
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Coinmama Bitcoin Marketplace
Coinmama Bitcoin Marketplace
Use USD/EUR to buy bitcoin and Ether with credit card or cash on the Coinmama cryptocurrency exchange.
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VirWox Virtual Currency Exchange
VirWox Virtual Currency Exchange
Buy bitcoin through PayPal on one of the oldest virtual currency exchanges in the business.
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Bitbond P2P Bitcoin Lending
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This global P2P bitcoin lending platform offers competitive interest rates for lenders and flexible financing for bitcoin borrowers.
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xCoins P2P Bitcoin Lending
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Buy bitcoin instantly with credit card, PayPal or bank account on this peer-to-peer lending platform.
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Cryptex24 Exchange
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Buy and sell crypto and other digital currencies on this global fixed-rate exchange.
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Using Monero to transfer money

Sending and receiving money with Monero is very similar to other coins, even though XMR transactions are far more secure. Here’s how installing a wallet and receiving money works:

  • Start with an XMR wallet. Some wallets let you have multiple different currencies stored in them. When working with XMR, you should ideally get the official wallet to avoid any conflicts and leakages of anonymity.
  • Store the seed. During the process of installing the wallet, you’ll get a 25-word mnemonic word seed. It’s imperative that you keep these words secret and safe. If your computer ever breaks down, they will be your only method of getting back your XMR.
  • Get your address. Your wallet will give you a Monero address. This is the address you will use to receive money. Share this address with your sender and they will send you money. While this address will always technically remain the same, on the Monero blockchain this address will be hashed and obfuscated and only you and the sender will know the actual address.

Making money with Monero

Making money with Monero is very similar to making money with other currencies. After all, the main difference is security and anonymity. Everything else is very much the same as other coins, such as bitcoin.

Transact in XMR

The best way to make money from a cryptocurrency is to invest in it. Buying XMR and paying in XMR will help the currency grow, and when the currency grows, so does your wallet.

How your wallet grows with the coin’s value

If you’re investing in cryptocurrencies in order to make money and little else, then understanding the way currency trading works (including things like FOREX) is imperative.

Say that 90 days ago you wrote an article for a business and they decided to pay you in Monero (XMR). 90 days ago, 1 XMR cost $55.30. You wanted to get paid $60 for your article, so you charged the business 1.08499 XMR. This amount goes into your wallet and you move on.

90 days later, today, you decide to withdraw that money from your wallet. But today, 1 XMR costs $121.17. This means that your wallet now has a value of $131.47 instead of $60.

Congratulations! You just invested in cryptocurrencies and more than doubled your money!

What to watch out for

No cryptocurrency is without its concerns, and Monero is no different.

  • Mining Centralization
    Mining is currently controlled by 4 large pools. While no particular pool controls more than 20% of the entire hashrate, this is still a problem as decentralization is of utmost importance. Luckily, the Monero development team has stated that this is as important to them as to Monero users. Because a hack on a blockchain requires convincing 51% or more of the users that your data is the correct one, with only 4 pools you would only need to hack 3 mining pools to control 60% of the blockchain, at which point you control the entire blockchain.
  • Large Transactions
    Because Monero has to add overhead to every transaction to make sure they’re anonymous and secure, the system is quite noticeably slower and the transactions are larger and consume more space on a user’s computer.

What’s next for Monero?

Monero is set to continue to grow, putting more and more focus on decentralization and security.

In the works is a bigger effort to push adoption by merchants – especially in certain areas of the world where adoption has been slow – and a better platform for developers to build upon.

More importantly for investors, the growth of the currency does not seem to be slowing down. A sudden push of adopters and users could throw the currency over the $200 mark.

Frequently asked questions

Monero’s wallet is currently using a command line interface and that is definitely a hurdle for most users. Luckily, there are some unofficial GUI wallets: QT Gui, Windows GUI, and lightWallet. Ideally, though, you’ll want to download the official wallet from Monero’s website and learn how to use the commands. It’s much faster compared to the GUI wallets, and you’ll know what you’re getting in terms of security and anonymity.

Generally, confirmation of a block takes 1 minute, i.e., it will take 1 minute for the transaction to be available on the blockchain. That said, it takes 18 confirmations for funds to be added to your account so it will take approximately 18-20 minutes for your XMR to be available for use.

Image sources: Shutterstock, CoinMarketCap

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