May 02, 2018
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This is a Guest Post courtesy of Kassandra Jucutan, content specialist at Coding Dojo.

In the old days, the way of buying was bartering. Goods were exchanged or bought with goods of the same value until golds and silvers also became a form of currency. Today, currencies are in the form of small, tangible copper coins, and tearable papers which we call Dollars, Pounds, Euros, Peso, etc. However, there’s a unique currency that is rapidly gaining value and interest in the public eye—cryptocurrency.

What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency by definition is a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds — operating independently of a central bank. Bitcoin was the first decentralized cryptocurrency in 2009. It is believed to be invented by a Japanese developer, Satoshi Nakamoto. Since Bitcoin, cryptocurrency has gradually become accepted on major sites like Overstock.com, OK Cupid, Pirate Bay, and WordPress.

Cryptocurrency has become popular because it offers private and highly secure transactions, total control over transactions, and speed of use.

Cryptocurrency Job Market

With its increasing growth and popularity, cryptocurrency is proving to do more than create a buzz, it’s also creating jobs. At the premier full-stack programming bootcamp, Coding Dojo, we’ve conducted research on job trends in cryptocurrency, and here’s what we’ve found:

According to the data from the job search site, Indeed, job postings mentioning “bitcoin,” “blockchain,” or “cryptocurrency,” have increased by 621% since November 2015. Additionally, a 1,065% growth in searches for jobs mentioning those three terms has been reported.

Of course, tech skills are essential in the crypto industry as transactions are controlled and managed by codes. That’s why web developers and data scientists are essential to jobs in the crypto industry.

Web developers write and maintain codes, usually in the form of a smart contract: computer protocols that enable cryptocurrency users to make transactions without a third party (like a financial institution). Some of the most popular languages used by web developers in the blockchain industry are JavaScript, Python, and Solidity.

Data scientists with strong analytical skills are needed to analyze transaction data. Harrison Brady, a communications specialist at Frontier Communications, a telecommunications company headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut stated; “Blockchain technology is relatively new and often misunderstood, which means that there is extremely high demand for experts in data science”.

Even better, Bitcoin and blockchain data scientists make almost $112k per year (source), web developers make around $110k per year, and junior software developers can expect to get around $66k (source) to $90k per year (source). Other jobs in the cryptocurrency industry include Financial Analysts, Machine Learning Engineers, Research Analysts, and Data Analysts. For more information visit CryptocurrencyJobs.com.

Cryptocurrency Mining and Blockchain Scalability

Being popular as both a subject and activity, cryptocurrency mining or cryptomining—from the analogy of mining gold—is one of the most common ways to earn, collect and create coins. Of course, crypto coins aren’t like humans and animals; they won’t procreate and multiply by themselves. You have to work and be a crypto miner to earn and make coins. But here’s a little warning; cryptomining is far from easy and free.

Cryptomining is like the water to a plant; it’s the backbone of cryptocurrency network. It’s a process to update data, verify transactions and prevent fraud. And miners do that job; they check and validate transactions to make sure that users aren’t trying to illegally spend the same coin twice. Transactions are verified by solving difficult math puzzles and the first miner who solves a puzzle places the next block and updates data on the blockchain. After all of that, the miner then claims the reward of newly generated coins.

When cryptocurrency was starting, anyone with computers and internet access could participate in mining—more miners meant faster transactions and less fraud. The problem is, as the number of miners grows, the difficulty level of mining also increases. At this point, the coins you make wouldn’t even pay your electric bill. That’s why mining equipment like ASIC Bitcoin miner was invented to adjust the difficulty level of cryptomining. Cryptomining equipment costs around $500 to almost $2000— so it is far from free.

Because of the increasing number of miners, the cryptocurrency network—depending on the chosen cryptocurrency—changed the mining difficulty to ensure equal opportunities for every miner. Mining one block in 2009 would cost 50 Bitcoin, in 2012, it went down to 25 BTC, and in 2016, it was halved to 12.5 BTC. (source)

In addition to the difficulty level in cryptomining, scalability of Bitcoin—and other cryptocurrencies—is also becoming a problem. The problem arises from the size of the blocks in the blockchain which determine the limited number of transactions it can contain. The nature of the blockchain is to ensure more secured transactions, but that slows down their speed.

While still faster than checks and other Credit/Debit card transactions, Ethereum manages just 20 transactions per second (tps), and Bitcoin processes only seven transactions per second—still far from their potential. Ripple, however, surpassed Visa with 24,000 tps and PayPal with 193 tps, and took the top position for the fastest transaction speed with a whopping 50,000 transactions per second—giving us the example of what the future of transaction speed should be, and the hope for other cryptocurrencies with a scalability problem.

But as they say, when there’s a problem, there’s also always a solution. And there are some possible solutions or ways to address the scalability problem of the blockchain as suggested by developers. Some of them include “Segregating Witness” or Segwit, an alternative solution proposed by Bitcoin developers to process more transaction without increasing the block size by moving the signature data to a separated block extension that would provide more space for more transactions in the original block. Another possible solution is Sharding, a decomposition of a database into smaller units that work individually and at the same time. This method allows nodes to store a subset of the blockchain and verify transactions to increase the number of transactions that can be processed in the blockchain. “Micropayment channels” are also a possible solution. This works by instead of broadcasting every transaction, broadcasting just the net effect of the transaction would decrease the transaction cost and the number of transactions on the blockchain, without reducing or affecting the number of cryptominers.

What’s Next?

From bartering, to golds and silvers, to pennies and paper bills, and now a virtual currency in the mix; money is matching the rapid and vast technology evolutions. Despite the poor performances and struggle in maintaining the number one position in the market, Bitcoin and other digital money users still think the game is not yet over for cryptocurrency. However, creating and maintaining a public ledger—blockchain—is not at all easy. People with coding skills and data analysis skills are in high demand in the cryptocurrency universe. In fact, in 2017, blockchain ranked second in the top 20 fastest-growing job skills, and next on the list is also blockchain-related: Bitcoin. (source)

The potential of cryptocurrency is still great, and many are still viewing it as the future of money. There is a call for help in improving the performance of blockchain and cryptocurrency transactions, and the call is for those who are already skilled data scientists, research analysts, and web developers. But if you aren’t one of them, there is also a call for you: to start now and learn how to read and write code, and participate in addressing and overcoming the shortcomings of a still-growing cryptocurrency industry, and help—while earning big—for the future of cryptocurrency.

As Helmut Schmidt stated, “the biggest room in this world is the room for improvements”, there are still a lot of space in it for virtual money. To fill that huge space and reach the great potential of cryptocurrency, coding, and programming skills are undeniably essential.