Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum: What is all this stuff?


You will probably by now heard of one, if not all of these. They are all examples of Cryptocurrency. We'll keep this loose, because it is evolving all the time, but they are a means to transfer a store of value directly from your 'wallet' to another person or organisations 'wallet' by means of the 'Blockchain'. Digital Currency, a bit like banks use, but decentralised, and not in the hands of any Central Bank, in fact YOU are your own Bank. How cool is that.
It cuts out the bank by replacing it with a decentralised network of 'nodes' and the transaction is carried in a public ledger, a copy of which is on every node, and this is called The Blockchain. Every node verifies the integrity of this ledger, and every transaction is recorded in this ledger with no ambiguity, as in - you can't double spend the same bitcoin, you can't alter the ledger. Once a transaction is included in a block, and that block is written, and added to the contiguous chain of blocks, it is unalterable*. That is a powerful technology, and the power of it is only just beginning to be understood. It will begin to change the world around you in so many new ways. It is the evolution of not just money, but of contracts and many other innovations yet to be discovered.