What is Monero (XMR)?
By Romanon N, Updated on: Apr 07 2023.
Monero is the oldest and most recognised private cryptocurrency in existence. The Monero community jokingly says that “Monero is what you thought Bitcoin was when you bought it”. This cryptocurrency uses ingenious ways of making all transaction data invisible by the use of Ring signatures, stealth addresses and confidential transactions, ensuring maximum privacy during the times of mass surveillance.
Monero allows people to have peace of mind while the world around them becomes more transparent and tyrannical. Knowing everything that there is to know about Monero will allow you to be one step ahead of the new global digital concentration camp that’s being rolled out in front of our eyes. One might say it’s inexcusable not to know how Monero works. Let’s not waste a second and jump right in.
Case study - The world in 2030
The year is 2030. Steve and Bianca met online and immediately something clicked between these two young people. Today our lucky couple is finally meeting each other for a date at a local restaurant. Meat has been outlawed (because cow farts apparently cause holes in the ozone layer), so this is why the restaurant is serving the best insect burgers in town. Yummy!
After exchanging their digital blockchain based medical ID, both Steven and Bianca verify that they have been “up to date” on the required medications and that both are in good health, being pumped up with the latest chemicals, antibiotics and genetically modified nanotechnology. It’s all for our protection of course...
Their chip implants monitor everything about their biological activity, including the amounts of nutrients they consume. Since Steve’s body has been “too high in sodium”, his CBDC (blockchain based central bank digital currency) has been automatically reprogrammed to prohibit him buying any salty food for a period of 3 months. No bacon cheese burgers for Steve. He’ll need to eat a salad.
Bianca on the other hand has been hitting the red wine a bit too often for the past month, so her chip automatically tells the restaurant only to serve non alcoholic drinks. The “lucky” couple dines to their heart’s content and heads off to the cinema for a film about man made global warming and forced reduction of human population. How romantic!
Both Steve and Bianca don’t own a car or a house (because private ownership of property has been banned by the world government), so they will have to order an electric taxi. They effortlessly split the bill using their chip implants and call it a night.
After a while of dating Bianca has learned that Steve (although being the man of her dreams), has been posting “inappropriate content” on his social media back in 2019. This means his credit score is currently very low. Not only is he now banned from travelling internationally, the risk of Bianca’s social credit score suffering by just being with Steve is now very real.
Without a second thought Bianca dumps Steve for another man with an impeccable social credit score. Steve drowns his sorrow in energy drinks and virtual reality gaming, while Bianca will spend the rest of her life with someone who “looks good” on paper.
If you think this is just some exaggerated dystopian science fiction, think again! This world is being built in front of our eyes as we speak. We’ve only scratched the surface, but the point is clear. We are heading into an Orwellian nightmare and the concerns regarding the importance of privacy are pretty obvious. Let’s see how we can protect ourselves from this scary scenario.
What is Monero?
Monero is a proof of work cryptocurrency that centers on the concept of fungibility and privacy. In short, Monero is working on becoming Digital Cash. Translated from Esperanto, Monero means coin. Let’s break it down to bite sized pieces to understand it better.
When we talk about SOLID and RELIABLE forms of money, we are talking about something that’s;
- Store of value
- Universally accepted by people
If we really want to understand Monero, let’s try bouncing Bitcoin off these principles of money shall we?
Bitcoin is as durable as it gets. You can even engrave your private key on a stone tablet for permanent storage. As long as the internet is around and the miners are humming away, processing transactions and securing the network, Bitcoin will be around forever.
Compared to gold, Bitcoin (and cryptocurrency in general) are as portable as it comes. Anyone can simply remember 12 or 24 word recovery phrases and cross any border in their underwear, having literally ALL of their wealth in their head. No need to bribe the border patrol or insert gold bars into your intimate anatomy.
Again we have this covered. You can literally divide 1 Bitcoin into 10 million tiny pieces called Satoshi’s (named after the anonymous Bitcoin creator: Satoshi Nakamoto).
This is where things get interesting. You see, fungibility simply means that 1 piece of something is completely the same as another. Theoretically 1 BTC is always 1 BTC. However, should your 1 BTC originate from a nefarious source (for example a blacklisted Bitcoin account belonging to a hacker or someone involved in deep web markets) suddenly this 1 Bitcoin NO LONGER becomes fungible. The Bitcoin blockchain is completely visible to anyone who cares to look. Hence BITCOIN IS NOT FUNGIBLE, but is open and transparent to anyone who looks at the blockchain transaction data.
Store of value
Again the same principle goes here. How can something be a store of value if it can be blacklisted and refused as money (due to lack of fungibility)? Hence only CLEAN Bitcoin can be considered a store of value.
Accepted by people
All the talk of “mass adoption” aside, we still can’t say anything good about all the Blacklisted BTC of course. Meaning: not ALL Bitcoin can be accepted by people. Only the “clean” and “untainted” Bitcoin is welcome into circulation. If you have bought Bitcoin that has been sloshing around in illegal activities, you’re going to have a hard time selling it to any legit exchange or official buyer.
As you can see, Bitcoin does NOT check all the boxes to be considered as reliable digital currency. Bitcoin’s transaction history has a long digital tail and companies such as Cyphertrace and Chainalysis are eager to sniff out the origin of every Satoshi that lives on the blockchain. This is exactly why Monero exists today.
Monero is Money
As you can see, when we throw Bitcoin against the wall of the criteria for being a stable monetary unit, the lack of privacy and fungibility just doesn't stick to the concept of being a perfect digital monetary unit. With Monero things are quite different. Let’s tackle the biggest misunderstanding that people have about Monero.
We are talking about fungibility. You see, when you pass a $20 note to a friend, both of you don’t care where this note originated from and if it has (or doesn’t have) a “digital trail” that can be analysed by Cyphertrace. A $20 note is just a $20 note. In the USA, South Africa or the North Pole. It’s in fact: Fungible! Besides, if this transaction takes place out of the view of “Big Brother”, suddenly your $20 usd exchange also becomes private (unless you had the back luck to receive some marked cash by the FBI). Not bad at all!
Remember those criteria that we used for Bitcoin? Let's see what happens when we bounce Monero off these fundamental principles. Now suddenly Monero becomes:
Monero is as durable as it gets. It can be mined using pretty much any computer (no matter how small). So in theory you can even mine Monero on your automated coffee maker with a built-in processor. No special hardware or huge industrial mining farms are needed. While overly simplified, the point is clear. Again we can store our private key on a stone tablet, ensuring that even our great grandchildren will be set for life.
Remember our exhibitionist traveller mentioned in our cryptocurrency guide who loves to cross international borders in his underwear? The same principle applies here. Monero can be transported inside your memory using a mnemonic phrase (usually consisting of 12 to 24 words). Our tropical border dweller will subsequently use this phrase to “restore” a crypto wallet when he reaches his final destination. Nice!
Monero can be divided by 12 decimals, so the smallest amount of Monero you can own is 0.000000000001 XMR. Try doing this with physical gold.
This is where Monero (XMR) is fundamentally different from Bitcoin. There are a total of 3 distinctive technologies that makes Monero fully fungible: Ring signatures, stealth addresses and kovri I2P router. Don’t let the technical lingo intimidate you. We will look at all of these technologies in greater detail below. It’s important to know that 1 XMR equals 1 XMR. No matter where your coins come from or where they have been in the past, your Monero is 100% fungible just like a dollar bill or a silver coin. No matter the origin and history thereof.
Store of value
Again here is where Monero outshines Bitcoin. While we don’t have a fixed supply of XMR coins, the inflation of these coins is very low and as we move further into time it will get even lower. So in case you’re wondering, yes Monero is a store of value that can give gold and silver a run for their money.
Accepted by people
We’ll not beat around the bush and tell it straight like we always do. Currently Monero has a bad reputation. That amazing fungibility and privacy preserving DNA of this orange coin makes it the ideal tool for small criminals and online hackers.
Of course we all know that the biggest criminals usually wear bespoke suits and ties. These people love to hang out in New York, London and Basel Switzerland. Currently even these professional criminals have started to use Monero in order to keep their digital transactions private, while pitching the idea of mythical “transparency” and “blockchain based central bank digital currencies” to everyone else. They want privacy for themselves, but not for you. All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.
As you see, Monero is a true peer to peer anonymous digital cash. It’s actually designed to be the same as a normal cash banknote that’s used by the people without the government poking its nose into their business. The insanely low inflation rate (that’s planned to be reduced to almost 0% in just a few years) will make Monero an even better alternative than cash or physical precious metals.
Now let’s take a moment to see how Monero works and what makes it so unique in this vast crypto space.
How does Monero work?
If our amazing orange privacy coins want to compete for the honor of being a true digital cash of the common folk, there are a few criteria it needs to achieve. One of the most important criteria is off course speed and low cost of transactions.
Here’s where Monero’s proof of work consensus comes in. Today is September 2021. If we were to send an ETH or BTC transaction, it would cost us an easy double digit amount in transaction fees alone. When it comes to Monero, we are talking about transactions that cost only pennies! Even your local bank can’t match that.
It’s hard to believe, but for being a proof of work blockchain (meaning the transactions are secured by the computers called miners), Monero is ruthlessly efficient and cheap to work with. All this thanks to the 2018 “Bulletproof” upgrades.
Without descending into academia, it’s important to know that private transactions are way bigger and complex than your normal Bitcoin transactions. The slabs of privacy tech on top of your normal transaction data makes the blockchain fat and bulky, as well as your block size substantially bigger than Bitcoin’s.
It takes more than 1 full hour to FULLY confirm a Bitcoin transaction. A fully confirmed transaction means that there are several blocks that have been added to the blockchain AFTER your transaction has been added to the entire blockchain. So more than 1 full hour for BTC, but only 21 minutes for Monero. Using XMR to buy a cup of coffee or that snazzy new outfit that caught your eye makes sense now!
When we look at functionality, on the core level Monero actually works in the same way as Bitcoin. The transactions are “mined” by decentralised computers and blocks of transaction data get appended to the blockchain. Done deal.
Now let’s take a look at the privacy tech that makes Monero the leading cryptocurrency for privacy conscious people world wide.
When a user sets up a non custodial crypto wallet, they will be able to hold the holier than thou “private keys” to their coins. Same happens with Monero. Any user who holds Monero in their own storage will have access to and control of their private key.
In order to ensure solid privacy, every sender can generate a random address in order to send coins to other Monero users. This “stealth address” is basically just a single serving address that’s discarded after every transaction. Imagine owning a magic debit card where your account number constantly changes with every new transaction you send. Pretty cool right? For the sake of convenience, the receiver still uses 1 Monero address to receive all incoming payments.
Here it’s very important to know about the types of keys that are used in Monero. In total we have;
- Private spend key (this allows you to make payments)
- Private view key (this key allows you to sniff around on Monero’s blockchain and look for incoming transactions that are sent to your account)
- Public address (this is used for receiving all incoming transactions that people send to you)
Your private spend and view key should be kept safer than nuclear missile launch codes. The public address however can be sent to literally anyone who likes to send some XMR your way. You can even send your public address to the US authorities. There’s no way to deduce your private keys using only a public address (just like you can’t deduce your debit card’s pin number by only knowing your bank account number).
Aside from this amazing tech, there’s something called the “Kovri I2P router” that’s being used by the Monero network. This amazing tech hides the IP addresses from Monero users whenever they broadcast a signal to the network. Remember how Morpheus and Neo were hacking their way into the Matrix without being tracked? The method here is very similar.
It’s no secret that the 3 letter organisations are scouting the entire internet, looking for yummy metadata. Having your IP address registered somewhere in Washington DC, London, Moscow or Beijing is definitely a violation of privacy. Luckily for us the Kovri I2P router takes care of that too. It’s incredibly difficult to explain in just 1 article. This tech works in a similar manner as the TOR browser. Very interesting to take a deeper look when you have the time.
Stealth addresses and the Kovri I2P router alone are of course not sufficient. There’s more happening under the hood. Let’s check out the other signatory feature of Monero’s privacy.
Great news! Next week it’s your dad’s birthday. You have gone out of your way to get him a perfect manly gift that he’s been salivating over for the past few years (a Norwegian made hunting knife with a lifetime warranty). You know that your other 4 siblings are not as financially solvent as you are, so you decide to tell your dad that his 1 gift comes from all 5 siblings. It’s up to him to guess from whom exactly.
Result; your dad is very happy with his gift and your 4 poor siblings can save face by avoiding a rather embarrassing situation.
This is exactly how ring signatures work in the Monero network. A transaction input (meaning a transaction that’s being sent to someone) gets mixed up with a whole lot of dummy transaction inputs and fed through the digital meat grinder of the Monero network.
There’s literally no way of telling who sent how much to whom. The father (in this case the authorities) cannot deduce the origin of the sender (siblings). At best our 2 friends Cyphertrace and Chainalysis can only “estimate” at this point.
For now the sender and transaction amount are hidden. You can literally take your public address, share it with the lord of darkness himself if you wish and literally receive countless transactions into this public address if you desire to do so. Nobody will ever know the amount of XMR you received and from what addresses these transactions originate.
What’s perhaps most important to mention here, is that ALL the privacy features of Monero happen by default and they are non negotiable (such as the case with ZCash, where we have opt-in privacy). Monero is private by default, protecting ALL users from prying eyes of the authorities.
So far Monero is looking like a damn good proposition! The core developers stick to their principles and deliver amazing results. If you have been in crypto for a while you know that when it comes to proof of work cryptocurrencies, there are many hidden dangers you should definitely know about.
How is monero created?
One of the biggest dangers to all proof of work cryptocurrencies is of course “miner centralisation”. If we are playing the symphony of Monero, this is a particularly sensitive string.
Miners are nothing more than computers that secure the network and validate transactions 24/7. These computers are the lifeblood of the network and for their effort and (honest) work, these machines are rewarded with newly created (or mined) Monero. This is how Monero comes into existence. The decentralised computers that power and secure the network are rewarded with newly issued XMR for their damn good job and effort.
The fastest mining machines in the world are called ASIC’s. This stands for “Application Specific Integrated Circuit”. These machines are created with a single purpose: to mine only one particular algorithm with a nauseatingly high speed and ruthless efficiency. Here are a few examples:
|Coin that can be mined
|Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, ...
|Litecoin, Dogecoin, …
|Zcash, Komodo, …
|Ethereum, Ethereum classic, …
There are only a handful of companies that build ASIC miners. Most of them are from China. Having these kinds of industrial capabilities and being able to churn out tens of thousands of these high speed machines means that China (or large clients with very deep pockets) can literally own a big part of the mining power of any given proof of work coin. This is a big NO for the Monero community.
Why did the Monero community decide to use the RandomX algorithm then?
Very simple. First this algorithm is specifically tailored to be CPU (central processing unit) friendly. It can be mined on literally ANY computer with a CPU on board. You can now with full confidence dust off your old laptop and get some Monero mining software running on this old bastard in order to mine some sweet XMR coins.
Second most important advantage of RandomX, is that this algorithm changes every 6 months. Say you are a Chinese ASIC manufacturer and you wish to release specialised ASIC miners that can mine Monero at hypersonic speeds (monopolising the largest chunk of the total network speed in the process). You naturally send off your R&D engineers onto a caffeine-infused round of development and mass production just to crank out tons of very highly specific mining hardware that will ONLY mine Monero.
After 5 months you have your first batch of ASIC miners, but suddenly the RandomX algorithm changes to something new and all you are left with is a pile of extremely expensive paperweights and door stoppers. This is because you CANNOT reprogram the ASIC chips to mine other mining algorithms than what’s been literally baked into the silicon wafer during the manufacturing process.
The owners of the ASIC miner production facilities know NOT to screw around with Monero miners, simply because the constant capricious nature of the RandomX mining algorithm is so damn unpredictable. Why not just focus on making faster Bitcoin and Ethereum miners right?
Now you know how the XMR coins come to life and why the big daddies in China simply don’t bother making specialised mining hardware for it. The result is of course: decentralised mining that gives anyone a chance to earn some sweet XMR on even the oldest PC that’s gathering dust in the attic. Now let’s talk about Monero’s native coin; the XMR.
XMR - Private, fungible and fair
XMR (Monero) at the time of writing is currently sitting at a comfortable 39th place in the top charts with a very respectable 4.5 Billion dollars market capitalization. Not bad at all!
With only 17.9 million coins in circulation, to a seasoned crypto OG, XMR is criminally undervalued. Let’s take a look at tokenomics.
In total only 18.4 million XMR will be mined. After this happens, there will be what’s called “tail emission” of 0.6 XMR created with every new block. This mechanism should go into effect from May 2022. But why will this inflation take place?
Very simple. The Monero community wants to provide an incentive to all the miners to keep their machines running and support the network in the best and most decentralised way possible. This is truly very smart thinking. When it comes to storing your XRM, there are many amazing options such as;
- Centralised exchanges (when you actively trade your Monero)
- Hot wallets (Exodus, Atomic Wallet, Monero GUI, … )
- Cold storage wallets (Ledger, Trezor, … )
- Mobile Wallets (Exodus, Cake, … )
- Paper wallets (can be easily generated using offline tools provided by Monero community)
One important aspect of storing your XMR for the long term is the need to “rescan” the blockchain. You see all this amazing privacy tech makes the Monero blockchain very large and bulky. It really helps to “rescan” the entire blockchain by leaving your wallet open to do its job every 2 to 3 weeks. This way your blockchain will always be up to date and you will have the possibility of sending and receiving your XMR very fast.
Before you can receive your coins, it’s important to buy them first. Now how do we do that?
Where to buy Monero?
Before we go out and splurge some crisp banknotes on XMR, it’s worth mentioning that the authorities are doing their very best to crack down on this amazing privacy preservation tool as much as they physically can. This means of course exerting a python-like squeeze on the centralised exchanges.
Not all the exchanges have kissed the rings of the current financial popes. Let’s analyse all the options of how you can get your hands on some of that sweet XMR;
- Get paid in XMR for your products of services
- Buy XMR locally (via P2P services like Local Monero and others)
- Use centralised exchanges such as (Kraken, Binance, etc)
- Mine XMR using your own hardware
- Use Atomic Swaps to exchange BTC to XMR
While most of the methods are pretty self explanatory, the concept of Atomic Swaps deserve extra attention.
An atomic swap is a method of exchanging one cryptocurrency to another without the use of centralised parties. Currently the BTC - XMR atomic swap is fully operational and is working like a Swiss Watch. What does this mean?
This means even if the regulators would force ALL centralised exchanges to delist Monero (Yes that has been happening too), the crypto investors can now simply buy BTC and convert their BTC directly into XMR without having to show ANY type of identification or annoying paperwork.
The next time you hear our favourite saliva gushing pseudo journalists mention the “delisting of Monero”, you can rest assured that this is just propaganda ordered by the owners of these “media channels”. It’s as close to the truth as a bird trying to be a crab.
Tokenomics aside, do you know what makes any crypto worth your attention? You guessed right! The people behind it. Let’s take a closer look at the watercooler gossip at camp Monero.
People behind Monero
Literally everything regarding Monero is community driven. We are talking about open source code, passionate and driven developers and a fanatic world wide community of people that love and support this fascinating project.
While most of the developers that tinker and improve the Monero network are anonymous, the most famous of them is Ricardo Spagni (aka Fluffypony) is a true crypto OG, working on Monero since 2011.
Currently Ricardo is in custody of the authorities and is no longer one of the core members of Monero. The Monero community is adamant that the charges of fraud (dating back more than 10 years ago) are dug up with the sole intent of destroying everything that Monero stands for.
When it comes to important aspects such as network upgrades and implementation of new tech (that will always be a few steps ahead in order to protect your privacy), the Monero community uses CCS (Community Crowdfunding System).
Any member of the Monero community can support or fund any project proposed by anyone. Talk about being a true democracy. Anyone can check the Monero developer forum and actively participate in making this privacy coin even better than it is today.
To give you an example of how fast the Monero community is, let’s consider the following example.
On monday the following “news” comes out: “Cyphertrace has cracked Monero’s privacy once and for all”. Again as we all know, this is nothing more than propaganda.
The next day the Monero community responds with the following: “Cyphertrace didn’t do jack shit! The only potential step they can take, is to have a “probabilistic” approach towards guessing the origin of a transaction sender. That’s it!”. The developers also issue helpful advice to the crypto community: “Guys! If you want to be truly safe after you have received an XMR transaction? Just wait 1 hour before sending your coins to a new address”. That’s it!
We have no doubt that the new upgrade will fix many issues for Monero and patch up even more potentially exploitable issues that are still unknown. Now, all we’ve learned so far begs the following question:
Is Monero worth it?
Who would have known that learning about cryptocurrency means learning about the financial system, corrupt central banking practices and even the new globalist agenda for enslavement of humanity? What the conspiracy theorists talked about just a few years ago is playing out before our very eyes.
The brutal propaganda that’s gushing from every bought and paid for pseudo media source, instilling endless fear, obedience and passive tolerance into the very essence of our minds. People who know their history are definitely paying attention to these disturbing trends.
In the middle of all that chaos lives a coin that proudly pounds itself on the chest for being a true creation “of the people, by the people and for the people”.
Now we have learned the in’s and the out’s of Monero, we can finally see what value this orange coin can give us and the communities around us.
Make no mistake, there’s a long way to go for the supporters, miners and developers of Monero. There will be FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt), there will be exchange delistings and further scandals. Gallons of liquid ignorant journalistic manure will be poured over the Monero project, trying to demonize it and soil its long and resilient reputation.
As we transition into a fully digital world, Monero definitely makes sense, simply because new restrictions, laws and regulations are on the horizon already. It makes sense to prepare for a dystopian future, while we still have the chance. No matter the magnitude of the next global financial earthquake, one thing is certain; just like a stubborn cockroach, Monero will live, grow and soldier on.