This April 18th, the Monero (XMR) privacy coin notably celebrates its fifth birthday. The project’s genesis block was mined on that same day back in 2014.
Like the discussions that arose around the Bitcoin blockchain’s 10th anniversary earlier this year, Monero’s latest birthday will undoubtedly instigate a period of reflection in the XMR community over how far the cryptocurrency has progressed in its journey to date.
Zooming out, the privacy crypto has indeed advanced in most regminards since its launch — namely in its popularity and in its technical prowess.
Monero is currently the cryptoeconomy’s 12th largest project per market capitalization and its largest privacy coin according to the same metric. The XMR price is presently hovering around $68 USD, which is down from its last all-time peak of $495 in January 2018. Even still, the crypto’s price is impressively up more than 7,000 percent over the last three years.
The top privacy crypto’s price is faring better in a more acute sense, too, as recently increasing bullish sentiments in the ecosystem have generated buy pressure that’s pushed XMR’s value up 31 percent on the month and up 51 percent over the last three months.
The rising profile of the coin has coincided with a surge of societal attention in recent years around privacy concerns, particularly issues pertaining to digital privacy. Commenting on XMR’s fifth birthday, Monero core team member binaryFate noted the project is zeroed in on letting individuals guarantee their own privacy:
“Monero gives you control over the privacy of your digital financial transactions. This privacy is a fundamental human right for individuals and a competitive essential for businesses.”
The project has also made considerable technical progress as of late. Last fall, Monero’s developers activated Bulletproofs, a type of zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs), on their blockchain.
The development made XMR transactions approximately 80 percent smaller and thus considerably cheaper. It also marked the first time a cryptocurrency project has formally implemented Bulletproofs.
What Sets XMR Apart?
Unlike its privacy competitors in Zcash (ZEC) and Grin (GRIN), Monero was founded on a fork of Bytecoin, an implementation of the CryptoNote protocol.
Accordingly, Monero leverages ring signatures — which mixes sender identities to mask them — and one-time keys — which are used to make XMR transactions unlinkable.
Combined with the recent activation of Bulletproofs, the blockchain’s privacy functionalities are arguably the most advanced in the cryptoeconomy. That reality has caused the specter of Monero to grow in the eyes of regulators who are concerned with money laundering possibilities.
The dynamic has also led to some exchanges avoid listing XMR in favor of other privacy coins like Zcash that offer shielded and non-shielded transactions.
Yet it is the fungibility at the heart of Monero’s privacy that makes it among the most cash-like of all cryptocurrencies for now. Like how fiat bills of a like kind are indistinguishable from one another for all intents and purposes, so are XMR coins. The same isn’t true for other popular cryptocurrencies.
But XMR does have growing competition, particularly from cryptocurrency projects that didn’t similarly start out as privacy-centric ventures.
For example, the new Zether and Nightfall protocols can be used to conceal the details of transactions on the Ethereum network. And Bitcoin is moving toward Taproot technology, which will help the OG blockchain network efficiently facilitate private smart contracts.
If these larger crypto plays continue to approach the status of privacy coins, then they could eat into Monero’s market share. But this is all just to say that Monero has growing competition, not that the coin doesn’t have a future.
What the project does have going for it is its first-mover advantage and the inertia that comes with having five successful years under its belt.
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