What is Monero?
When Monero (literally, “coin” in Esperanto) first made its entrance three years ago, it was almost as if someone decided to reboot of one of the early precepts of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general: a new crypto that promised to do away with the pseudo-anonymity of mainstream crypto and establish crypto transactions that were closer to true anonymity.
While its origins are as mysterious as Bitcoin’s (its creator was pseudo-anonymous), the ideas behind it were hard-coded by yet another pseudo-anonymous individual into a crypto called Bytecoin. But open-source coders who disagreed with the direction simply forked it in 2014 to create Monero’s current form.
It announced itself as a “secure, private, untraceable currency” which ensured that only the owner of Monero would be responsible for funds, with accounts and transactions “kept private from prying eyes”.
For it to achieve these purposes, Monero had to be developed differently from the masses of other cryptocurrencies that were inspired or derived from Bitcoin. Although its underlying CryptoNote protocol was influenced by Bitcoin, it operated on a significantly different algorithm that involved “blockchain obfuscation”.
Effectively, this meant that transactions on the Monero blockchain are deliberately obscured. While the blockchain is still a public ledger, Cryptonote transactions cannot be followed directly to reveal the sender or receiver of coins. The actual amount is also unavailable, with only approximate amounts revealed. The only parties to whom all this information is available are the sender and receiver.
Somewhat obscure itself, Monero finally gained widespread recognition two years after its launch when dark market giant Alpha Bay adopted it as a currency in 2016. Its price jumped more than 25 times to over $22, making it the highest-performing crypto last year, tempting new miners and a community keen to exploit the privacy that Monero promised. Today, it has doubled to about $45, and continues to gain popularity with steady development backing it.
Many believe that there is more yet to come from this coin, despite many other competitors competing in the “anonymous” sphere. Monero will always be the Bitcoin of anonymous crypto, the first that comes to mind when speaking of anonymous methods that hides addresses, hides amounts and hides spends.
What’s unique about Monero?
Although there are several cryptocurrencies based on the same CryptoNote protocol, Monero (XMR) was the choice anonymous crypto adopted by the dark markets, specifically Alpha Bay traders. This alone caused Monero to be more widespread. Even Alpha Bay’s eventual fall to an international crackdown did nothing to affect Monero value.
With XMR, users have “optional transparency”, whereby users are also given the choice as to the degree of anonymity, paying more miner fees for increasing layers of anonymity. It works on the CryptoNight algorithm, and has a soft cap on production, thereafter producing units at less than 1% annual inflation to continue providing miner incentives. Unlike Bitcoin, Monero is also GPU-resistant, allowing amateur CPU miners (as opposed to specialised ASIC miners) to enter the market more easily.
Monero also does not have a fixed block size, meaning that is theoretically very scalable, fitting as many transactions as necessary into a block.
How does Monero compare to other cryptocurrencies?
Monero’s innovative introduction:
There are currently three techniques that XMR protects privacy on the network. The first is through “stealth addresses” that generates encrypted addresses for receiving Monero, therefore, hiding the recipient. Recipients are able to access funds on stealth addresses but these cannot be linked back to the owner.
The second is “ring signatures”, which groups together each transaction with up to a hundred other transactions (at the sender’s choosing), mixing in the spender’s address with those of strangers. This technique makes it exponentially more difficult to follow a spend with each following transaction.
The third is “ring confidential transactions” which makes the actual amount of transactions ambiguous (though is close to the actual).
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1. Ease of use
There’s quite a bit to learn about Monero before using it, especially if you’re new to cryptocurrency. Unlike most other cryptocurrencies with Simple Payment Verification (SPV) wallets, Monero’s secure wallet is extremely heavy on computer resources and can cause most normal users to experience noticeable slowing down on home computers. It does have a Beta GUI wallet but not if you’re on older 32-bit Windows.
There are some good guides on installing the wallet through a command line. Or read the Monero FAQ and ask the community for help if you run into problems.
When receiving payments, you only provide the sender a “payment ID”, which is a randomly generated 64-character hexadecimal string plus your Monero address. After payment is sent, you can check it against your wallet using the payment ID.
On the upside, since XMR uses stealth addresses, you only need 1 Monero address.
Monero does have a growing community and development team. A planned fourth anonymising technique is in the works, that will see a concealment of the origin node for transactions in the Invisible Internet Project (I2P), with a router being developed for this. The Monero Research Lab is also constantly working to improve existing techniques.
However, XMR does already suffer from bloated blocksize due to its variable blocksize and increasing demand, although a current penalty system is keeping this in check. It also uses a lot more resources than most other cryptos and is seen as a current obstacle to future growth. This year, a lot of discussion is also taking place around its input selection method, which is criticised for being too easy to guess the actual transaction input.
3. Adoption and popular support
The spike in transaction volume from Oasis and Alpha Bay trade in 2016 paved the way for major adoption, at least among the current community of users. However, critics point out that beyond dark markets, there is little or no real use of XMR.
As governments like US and Australia clamp down on “offshore gambling”, however, Monero could see a fresh intake of users seeking to anonymise their gambling habits. Since October 2016, a number of crypto casinos have already added XMR to their list of cryptocurrencies accepted, and this number can only grow.
How does Monero compare in terms of gambling use?
With variable blocksize, you can be assured that virtually all transactions broadcasted should be picked up by miners in the next block. As blocks are found approximately every 2 minutes, you should easily get 5 confirmations in about 10 minutes, making XMR one of the quickest ways to get your deposits and withdrawals confirmed.
The official wallet does require 10 confirmations to consider funds fully secured so that means a 20 minute wait for deposits to mature before they can be used again.
Because you pay for anonymity, it costs more to add layers of obfuscation on your transaction. Nevertheless, the average fee per transaction on the Monero network is just above $1 today. A quick check at some gambling sites reveal the a flat fee ranging from 0.009 XMR ($0.45) 0.04 XMR ($1.90). This means it is among the most expensive cryptos in terms of transaction cost.
Of all the cryptos in our guide, XMR easily wins the battle for anonymity, as this is its specific feature. With its three techniques constantly refined and a fourth in the works, this is about as best as it gets when it comes to gambling privately. Most sites allowing XMR wagers are also accessible through browsers such as TOR or VPNs.
OK I’m interested! How do I start?
First of all, there is no GUI wallet for XMR yet from its creators, at least not beyond test wallets. So if you want a fully secure wallet for your Monero riches, you’ll have to download and run the full node.
There are other web wallets you can try, such as Cryptonator, which also allows you to exchange XMR within the wallet to other cryptos. Mobile wallet Freewallet is also known to work well with XMR.
Alternatively, you can keep to using site or casino wallets, but remember the golden rule: if you want full control and safety, always use a wallet where you control private keys.
If you’re curious about how XMR works, you can always try sending Bitcoin through a intermediary XMR service at xmr.to. You send it Monero and it pays Bitcoin to a deposit address you specify.
Where do I get Monero from?
You may find it difficult to purchase XMR for your fiat, but there are plenty of options to exchange crypto like BTC for a bit of XMR:
- Shapeshift.io Instant exchange from most major cryptos
- Poloniex.com USDT (tether), BTC, LTC and some other cryptos
- HitBTC.com SEPA, USD bank wires, BTC, ETH
- Kraken.com USD, EUR bank wires, BTC
- Bittrex.io USDT, BTC
Show me 5 gambling sites that accept Monero today!
Ready to try out almost fully anonymous gambling? Wager your XMR at the following crypto casinos.
The Crypto-Games casino was one of the earliest to embrace Monero, adding XMR in October 2016 to make it 8 totaly cryptocurrencies supported. Play Dice, Roulette, Plinko, Blackjack and lotto, while taking advantage of Jackpots, giveaways and an impressive player loyalty system. With incremental faucets and even a chance to invest in the site bankroll, there’s plenty to do here while wagering XMR.
The in-built exchange system also allows you to instantly exchange any supported currency into XMR at fees that put some exchanges to shame, so you can even obtain your first Monero here.
This Russian sportsbook is quick to adapt to the gambling scene and is growing at a rapid pace. With an emphasis on anonymity, they also accept Monero and have one of the biggest selections in terms of online gambling, with a casino, Toto, Poker and Live Dealers completing the sweep. Join now for a 100% Bonus on your first deposit.
Perhaps more famous for their Bitvest.io Plinko game, 777coin offers four unique slots, three variations of Plinko (Bit Drop), three simple card games, two Roulette style games, black jack, baccarat and Satoshi Sliders. Don’t let the basic design put you off: you’ll appreciate the quick plays and incredible payouts (up to 62,500x on Satoshi Sliders!). Did we forget? You can wager XMR through a Shapeshit plugin on the site.
Of course we haven’t forgotten about dice games. And where better to roll your first XMR bet than at MoneroDice? Co-created by Riccardo Spagni, a Monero Core team member, you won’t find a casino that’s more reputable than this.
As its name suggests, SafeDice is all about anonymous play. And what better currency to offer than XMR, right? Choose a username, deposit and play dice with the “lowest 0.5% variable house edge” in the industry. Oh, and you can use Bitcoin too.