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January was another exciting month for virtual currency, with bitcoin's price reaching new heights, but the best read Virtual Currency Today stories focused more on the "basics" of virtual currency and blockchain technology. This is not surprising, given the fact that virtual currency is still a very new industry.
The single most viewed story was "How blockchain technology disrupts securities registration" by Chris Horlacher, the CEO of Equibit Development Corporation, a Toronto-based company which offers software products aimed at decentralizing securities registration and management. The story posted on Jan. 2, 2017.
Blockchain technology, which supports the leading virtual currency, bitcoin, is having its greatest influence on the financial services sector. Horlacher's company is one of many financial technology players that are leveraging blockchain technology to improve some aspect of financial services.
Horlacher's story explored the benefits of blockchain technology over older technologies used in the securities industry. He noted that U.S. securities regulators began requiring new companies to list securities digitally using technologies like the Direct Registration System provided by Computershare.
The DRS system, like all other current digital share registration systems, is centralized, creating a security vulnerability.
Established transfer agents providing registration and transfer services for shares face the task of investing in IT infrastructure and security to make their products viable, while still failing to eliminate another weakness: the single point of failure inherent in centralized services.
Horlacher's company, Equibit Development Corporation, will add decentralization to digital share register technology by integrating blockchain technology, thereby creating a distributed method of equity registration and information tracking.
A company holding an initial public offering could register its shares on the Equibit network, decentralizing their management and securing it with the blockchain.
The second best read story was "What exactly are initial coin offerings?" by Tim Zagar and Jani Valjavec, co-founders of Iconomi, a Slovenia-based fund management platform for blockchains and virtual currencies. The story posted on Dec. 2, 2016 and it explored the commonly used method for many virtual currency- and blockchain-related funding campaigns, the initial coin offering, commonly known as an ICO. In an ICO, investors get coins or tokens that represent shares of the company on a blockchain.
ICOs are common in the virtual currency realm, but people who are just learning about the field are not familiar with this common funding mechanism.
The third most popular story, "Is bitcoin mining still profitable?" was from Sept. 19, 2016. It was the second most popular story in December 2016 and the most popular story in November.
It is no surprise that an article examining mining profitability has drawn strong reader interest nearly every month since the bitcoin mining reward halving took place this past July. In July, the bitcoin mining reward was cut in half from 25 bitcoins to 12.5 bitcoins. It marked the first such reward halving since 2012.
Bitcoin has a built-in limited supply of 21 million bitcoins, and the reward for mining is designed to be halved when every 210,000 blocks are mined.
When the mining reward was previously cut in half on Nov. 28, 2012, it had little impact on miners due to the low number of miners. Miners in 2012 were mainly individuals interested in the new virtual currency.
But since 2012, bitcoin has gained a much greater following, and more miners have become active. There was also an influx of large mining organizations.
Since the July halving, bitcoin mining is still profitable, even though competition is getting tighter due to the growing demand for bitcoin.
"Bitcoin for beginners 101," which posted on Mar. 21, 2016, was the fourth most popular story in January and the best read story in December. This story's popularity demonstrates the fact that many people are still learning about bitcoin. The article gave an overview of how to use bitcoin, bitcoin's volatility, the need for a bitcoin wallet, the basics of its underlying blockchain technology, and the need to stay up to date with new developments.
"How to create a new virtual currency, part 1," by Demir Selmanovic, lead technical editor at Toptal, a company that provides freelance engineering talent, including virtual currency engineers, was the fifth best read story in January.
This story covered some of the same information as bitcoin basics stories, as it includes an explanation of the key elements of a virtual currency: decentralized sharing, cryptographic hashing, digital signatures and the workings of virtual currency transactions.