What is Monero? A step-by-step guide to XMR
If you’re looking for a secure, anonymous, and untraceable currency, you should consider whether Monero has you covered.
Monero (XMR) appears to have 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?
|Icon||Symbol||Initial release date||Algorithm type||Max. supply|
|XMR||April 2014||CryptoNight||18.4 million XMR|
Rising from a need identified by developers to make a more secure, anonymous and untraceable cryptocurrency, Monero was released in April 2014. It presents itself as standing 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”.
- Decentralisation. 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 (eg, government spending and not-for-profit organisations (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. Buyers may not always find this 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 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 organisations and businesses who want a public address visible on their website, for example, would still have all their transactions traceable back to them.
Monero presents a solution to this problem by using what is known as Ring Signatures and Stealth Addresses.
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.
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.
Today’s Monero price
How do I buy Monero?As with many other cryptocurrencies, Monero is currently enjoying explosive growth. Starting at US$47.628 on 19 August 2017…
…it skyrocketed to US$141.715 in under 2 weeks!
It then settled down but retained a value of over US$100 into late 2017.
If you’d like to invest in Monero, you may want to buy some XMR from your favourite exchange and hold onto it. The price doesn’t seem to be going down anytime soon.
The value of investments can fall as well as rise, and you may get back less than you invested. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Your capital is at risk.
Spread bets and CFDs are leveraged products and can result in losses that exceed deposits. The value of shares, ETFs and ETCs bought through a share dealing account, a stocks and shares ISA or a SIPP can fall as well as rise, which could mean getting back less than you originally put in. Please ensure you fully understand the risks and take care to manage your exposure.
Using Monero to transfer money
Sending and receiving money with Monero is very similar to other coins, although XMR transactions are thought to be 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.
Can I make money with Monero?
The possibility of making money with Monero is very similar to the options for making money with other currencies. After all, the main difference is Monero’s focus on security and anonymity. Everything else is very much the same as other coins, such as bitcoin. Also the same is the need to consider the options carefully and make a wise decision.
Transactions in XMR
The best way to make money from a cryptocurrency is to buy it, provided you are satisfied that it’s the best plan for you. Buying XMR and paying in XMR should help the currency grow, and when the currency grows, your wallet should also increase in size.
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 US$55.30. You wanted to get paid US$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 US$121.17. This means that your wallet now has a value of US$131.47 instead of US$60.
Congratulations! You just bought cryptocurrencies and more than doubled your money!
Be aware, though, that XMR can go down as well as up and caution is recommended.
What to watch out for
No cryptocurrency is without its concerns, and Monero is no different.
- Mining Centralisation
Mining is currently controlled by four large pools. While no particular pool controls more than 20% of the entire hashrate, this is still a problem as decentralisation 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 four pools you would only need to hack three 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 should be watched for its growth potential and whether the developers are placing a focus on decentralisation and security.
We are told that 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 push the currency much higher.
Frequently asked questions
Image sources: Shutterstock, CoinMarketCap
Ask an Expert