Created back in April of 2014, Monero (XMR) is a cryptocurrency with a focus on privacy and untraceability. It uses ring signatures that mix your information with others to make it exponentially difficult and impossible to create links between transactions. Stealth addresses are layered in to encode the “to-and-from” destinations from anyone besides the receiver and sender. Although you may only hear that Monero has been adopted on the darknet, its privacy implications are important for personal security and currency fungibility.
You might not consider this privacy as a top concern, but take a look at this simple example from a Reddit user. These examples are numerous and we could fill up an entire article with just them alone.
You sell cupcakes and receive Bitcoin as payment. It turns out that someone who owned that Bitcoin before you was involved in criminal activity. Now you are worried that you have become a suspect in a criminal case, because the movement of funds to you is a matter of public record. You are also worried that certain Bitcoins that you thought you owned will be considered ‘tainted’ and that others will refuse to accept them as payment.
Monero’s mission from day one is to create a digital currency that has the anonymity of cash, and it’s private by default (different then the optional Zcash privacy). When you use Monero for transactions, the recipient doesn’t know who you are or how you received the currency. Your transaction history is completely private.
In addition to its focus on privacy, Monero is open source. Monero’s transparency is one of its greatest assets in the pursuit for privacy, especially paired with the organic growth of the community. There are no central powers behind the development of Monero. It is completely community funded and created. The project is pushed forward on donations and the developers’ passion to create something unique. This creates a unique community that focuses more on the technology than current price. They simply want the protocol to be used for what it was created for and not just bought for speculation.
Privacy comes at the cost of development time. There is a lack of easy to use tools for the average everyday user to help them take advantage of the technology. The ability to store Monero on a hardware wallet and an intuitive mobile wallet are currently the missing pieces to XMR taking on the number one spot. Working from the ground up, and not a Bitcoin clone like many other cryptocurrencies, means that the development is fully entrusted to the decentralized community of this decentralized currency.