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How to Start a Cryptocurrency – The 6 stages of a successful blockchain-based currency

Basics of Cryptocurrency | Last updated November 11, 2019

Since the creation of Bitcoin in 2009, people have launched thousands of cryptocurrencies, and only a few of the coins and tokens have been successful.

If you’re wondering how to start a cryptocurrency, know that the technical skills are the least of your worries. Therefore, in this article, we will explore how to make a cryptocurrency and where you need to pay attention to succeed in the process.

Before everything else, we need to clarify that a cryptocurrency is a digital currency, based on a coin or a token, in which the generation of units and transfer of funds verification is regulated through encryption techniques, independently of a central bank.

Cryptocurrency allows peer-to-peer transactions, with low to no fees, anywhere in the world. It also provides great privacy and is difficult to hack due to the consensus validation mechanism.

P.S. We won’t be getting into the coding specifics as the technical processes are already detailed by experts on the internet.

1. Define the purpose of your Cryptocurrency

When launching a cryptocurrency you first need to define the purpose it will serve. Identify a problem or an unmet request on the market, and create your cryptocurrency as a solution to that problem.

It’s important to understand that most cryptocurrencies have no intrinsic value, and no governmental institution backing them. Their monetary value comes from the people empowering them. When it comes to people that invest in crypto, there are at least two kinds: the investors and speculators.

The investors are those who are in it for the long run. They either buy the coin or token in its ICO stages or buy-in along the way. The investors help to raise the value by keeping the currency for longer periods and acquiring products and services.

The speculators are those who only buy-in and cash-out shortly for profit. Most of the new altcoins are reduced to dust soon after their launching because of speculations. Even Bitcoin and other popular altcoins are affected by speculators, especially when their value increases significantly.

However, a well-taught plan and a revolutionizing concept raise the chances of success considerably.

For example, Bitcoin came out as a purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash. It was meant to allow online payments to be sent directly from one to another without going through a financial institution. Even though it’s far from perfect, people believed in it and continue believing, making Bitcoin the #1 cryptocurrency.

Besides Bitcoin, there is Ethereum, the pioneer for blockchain-based smart contracts, which has kept its position as the #2 cryptocurrency for years.

SIDENOTE. A smart contract is a self-executing contract with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code.

In both scenarios, the initiators came up with revolutionary concepts.
For Bitcoin, it was a purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash. In Ethereum’s case, it consisted of Smart Contracts and Distributed Applications built on top of an existing blockchain. The investors have stuck with them for better or worse.

2. Create a brand identity

2. Create a brand identity

According to CoinMarketCap, there are 3,025 Coins and tokens. If you want to start a cryptocurrency, you are going to need a brand. And well, a brand is an emotional and/or philosophical concept. It is closely related to what people think of you.

To create a brand, you first need to design a brand identity. The brand identity refers to the visual components that represent the brand ideas.

To create a cryptocurrency brand identity, focus on the next 3 elements:

  • Name
  • Symbol
  • Logo

The name you choose can be related to the purpose or totally made up. However, you will have to give it meaning through your story because the name you choose will become your brand. Even more, it has to be catchy so you can build a community around it.

Besides being catchy, your name also needs to be easy to pronounce correctly. Getting too creative with the spelling and pronunciation will only get you in the situation where your audience doesn’t say your name the way you intended.

If you are inclined to use tails like coin, token, or cash, just drop them. In the early years of Cryptocurrency, it was a common practice to use “coin” in the name (Bitcoin, Litecoin, Dogecoin) but it became overused.

After you find a suitable name, you will also need a suitable symbol.

Your cryptocurrency’s symbol must be a combination of 3-4 letters, preferably an abbreviation of the name. It has to be unique, easy to remember, and easy to associate with the name. The symbol will also be used in listings and exchanges to identify your cryptocurrency.

Next up is the logo. It will be the first graphical element of your identity that investors will see. When you get into the cryptocurrency market you need to make sure your logo is easily identifiable and looks good in a small format on listings. Nowadays cryptocurrency exchanges and listings are essential.

Mainly, your token or coin will be added to a table together with other currencies. If your logo can draw attention inside those listings, it will be easier to extend your community.

Effective branding may kickstart a project and keep it flying. Back in the days, DogeCoin (DOGE) took an internet meme and turned it into a cryptocurrency. The well known Shiba Inu meme was used to brand the coin and the community found it quite entertaining and chose to support it massively.

While Dogecoin is getting listed on Binance, in 2019 the concept of the doge meme-coin seems to be replicated by DogeCash and DogeToken. By looking at CoinMarketCap, the two new currencies don’t seem to be doing well. This situation may just illustrate how important is to be original and innovative when you’re trying to create a new cryptocurrency.

3. Do you want to build a coin or a token?

Before going forward with creating your cryptocurrency you should first decide between creating a coin or creating a token.

Coins are a store or exchange of value. There are also other uses like being used to back applications, transactions, smart contracts, even for staking.

Tokens are representations of particular assets or utilities, tradable to commodities, loyalty points, cryptocurrencies, and others.

Coins took over many characteristics of tokens. The main difference between them is that a coin is based on its own blockchain, independently of any platform. A token is based on top of a protocol through a smart contract, built on a blockchain platform such as Ethereum or NEO. 

4. Check the potential legal issues

4. Check the potential legal issues

Before going forward with the creation of a new cryptocurrency, make sure to check the legislation in your area.

Digital coins and tokens are largely unregulated. However, the fear of illicit usage, high volatility, and investment risks stirred the reticence of governmental agencies.

Besides other countries, China has already banned cryptocurrency, and Russia and Vietnam issued cryptocurrency payment for goods or services as illegal.

To make sure of the legal compliance, you can even ask for an external audit.

5. Create your cryptocurrency

5. Create your cryptocurrency

There are several ways to create a cryptocurrency. You can either build it on top of an existing blockchain, or customize your own blockchain, or start it from scratch.

Create a cryptocurrency on top of an existing protocol

If you have decided to build a token you can make use of the smart contracts functionalities of networks like Ethereum and NEO. With ERC-20, respectively NEP-5, you can set up your token pretty quickly without needing too much technical skill.

Even more, you can search the internet and find step by step tutorials on how to build tokens on top of these blockchains, and how to deploy them to the main net.

The greatest advantage of building a cryptocurrency on top of an existing protocol is that you can piggyback an existing network (like Ethereum) and rely on it to update, manage, and improve the technical side of the cryptocurrency.

However, that comes with a major downside. You will have little to no autonomy and always be dependent on the hosting blockchain. You won’t have any say in the future development of the Blockchain, you may have to pay certain fees to complete transactions (like Gas in Ethereum), and if it shuts down, the smart contracts your token is built on will shut down as well.

Create a cryptocurrency by forking an Existing Blockchain

While launching a blockchain, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can simply take the open-source code of an existing blockchain and add modifications to serve your own purposes.

For example, the open-source code of Bitcoin was released in January 2009 and since then anyone could launch his own private cryptocurrency based on it. 

However, getting access to the source code doesn’t spare you the work you have to put in to build a network large enough to have your blockchain considered secure.

You can try forking Bitcoin manually, or automatically with a fork generator like ForkGen.

Being able to develop your own blockchain using existing already-proven code is a big plus. But creating your own fork out of a consecrated blockchain is the least complicated part.

You may have the autonomy of a coin but the big downside is that you have to get the community’s support in order to succeed. And in case your network won’t be large enough, you will be susceptible to a 51% Attack.

SIDENOTE. A 51% Attack is an attack on the blockchain by a miner (or group of miners) who owns more than 50% of the network’s mining hash rate or computational power. A 51% attack is also known as a Majority Attack.

Create your own blockchain

If you’ve got the money, the time, knowledge, and the team, you can just go forward and build your own blockchain from scratch and base your coin on it. This may be the case especially if your vision cannot be supported by any of the existing protocols.

When you create your own cryptocurrency from scratch, you get the best control over it, especially what consensus mechanism to use.

In Blockchain, the consensus mechanism refers to the system of rules in which the transactions are approved on a chain. To define the identity of your cryptocurrency, you should also look into the current Consensus Mechanisms and choose the most fitting.

There are quite a few of distributed consensus mechanism, and the Proof of Work (POW) and Proof of Stake (POS) are the most spread.

Proof of Work is based on members of the blockchain to solve computational puzzles through hash functions. The members are called miners and are rewarded with a fraction of the coin, each time they solve an equation.

With the energy consumption and mining cost continuously growing, the need for a new consensus mechanism manifested in Proof of Stake. PoS, a significantly cheaper and environmentally friendly mining method, doesn’t require powerful computers but as the confirmation of operations through existing coins.

The more coins someone is holding, the more chances he has to validate. In a PoS consensus mechanism, the people who stake their coins are called validators.

The great advantage is that you will be autonomous and may bring significant innovations to the Blockchain technology. On the other hand, starting from scratch is the costliest option. You will need a passionate team to develop the project and gain the support of a vast enough community, to form an extensive network of nodes.

SIDENOTE. There are dedicated development companies you can employ and commission to build Blockchain for you. These companies are called Blockchain as a Service (BaaS).

6. ICO or IEO?

6. ICO or IEO

Congratulations on building a cryptocurrency. Once you have reached this step you might as well want to give it value. To do so you are going to need investors and to acquire investors you can approach an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) strategy or an Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) strategy.

ICOs had a boom in 2017 and 2018, raising billions of USD. However in 2019. IEOs seem to be taking the lead.

If you have decided on ICO, go ahead and check our previous article on how to market an ICO.

If you have decided to go with an IEO, the crypto exchange is the one who manages the crowd sale, the KYC (Know Your Customer), AML (Anti-Money Laundering), and most of the Marketing activities as well. Some of the best crypto exchanges that offer services for IEOs are Binance Launchpad, Bittrex, and Kucoin Spotlight.

In January 2019, BitTorrent launched a token sale on Binance Launchpad and managed to raise $7.2 million, hitting the hard cap in less than 15 minutes.

However, BitTorrent was a significant brand, to begin with.

When launching an IEO you should also pay attention to your website and whitepaper. Keep it real and connect with your community on social media. You can even go forward and have some press releases published about you.

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