So you want to start your own cryptocurrency. You’re fed up with the international banking system, which seems like an antidemocratic relic responsible for multiple major financial catastrophes over the past few years. You’re impressed by the Boston area’s two Bitcoin ATMs, and undeterred by the market fluctuations of the dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, or the recent collapse of the major Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox. You’re a talented programmer who’s studied the open-source coding behind Bitcoin, Litecoin, and the other big players in the field. Now you just need one crucial thing: a name.
Cryptocurrencies—virtual tokens that are generated through complex mathematical computing feats and traded online—are at an inflection point. There are more than 200 currently ranked on the website Crypto-Currency Market Capitalizations, with some 10 to 20 new ones, David Yermack of NYU’s Stern School of Business said, appearing every week. But the atmosphere surrounding the currencies is still very Wild West. They’re most famous for their shadier uses, including money-laundering and selling drugs via the Internet; they’re a refuge for speculators; and most ordinary citizens are still put off by their volatility and the confusing process behind cryptocurrency mining.