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Altcoins

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Introduction
Smart Contracts
Popular Altcoins

Introduction

Right now, blockchain technology is most often used to secure cryptocurrency transactions. However, a blockchain can keep track of and verify any information or agreement, giving it the capability to do far more than transfer value. Anything that can be represented digitally can be recorded cheaply, fraudlessly, and permanently on a blockchain.

The versatility of blockchain technology has inspired many people to believe that it will create a world where security of information isn’t hoped for, it is ensured. Because blockchain enables us both to record transactions and to verify their validityall in a decentralized fashion, it can be used to build security right into our information storage.

This realization has prompted an explosion of product development centered around alternative use cases for blockchain. These alternative uses have resulted in the creation of many different new coins, hence the term "altcoin." This umbrella term encompasses all cryptoassets except Bitcoin (think other cryptocurrencies and types of tokens). We’ll discuss these in more detail shortly.

It seems likely that blockchain technology could be integrated into many of the systems we use every day in ways we can't foresee right now. Possible uses of blockchain technology include:

  1. Secure storage of sensitive information (e.g. medical or voting records).
  2. Transfers of value.
  3. Autonomous verification and execution of various types of legal and business agreements.

The latter adaptation is known as a “smart contract.” Smart contracts are an integral part of many altcoins, so let’s take a look at how they work before we go any further.