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What Is Viacoin (VIA)? | Beginner’s Guide

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What Is Viacoin?

Viacoin is an older cryptocurrency (2014 launch) based on the Bitcoin protocol with a few fundamental differences. Like most other classic cryptos, it’s meant for secure, peer-to-peer transactions.

In this beginner’s guide, we touch on the following:

How Does Viacoin Work?

 

 

Viacoin implements some unique features that provide you with relatively fast transaction times and interoperability with more popular blockchains. Let’s take a look at each of them individually.

Scrypt Merged Mining (Auxiliary Proof-of-Work)

Viacoin mining utilizes the Scrypt mining algorithm, initially a popular choice for coins due to its ASIC-resistance. It lowered the effectiveness of ASICs by a factor of ten compared to Bitcoin’s SHA-256 algorithm, leveling the mining playing field. Now, however, several companies produce ASIC miners that specialize in Scrypt. So, the algorithm’s ASIC-resistance no longer exists.

Alongside just a handful of coins, Viacoin implements merged mining. Also called Auxiliary Proof-of-Work, merged mining is a process in which you can mine two coins simultaneously. In this practice, an auxiliary chain, Viacoin in this instance, piggybacks off the hash power of a more established parent chain. Most miners set Litecoin as Viacoin’s parent chain.

Merged mining has several advantages. As a miner, you don’t need to expend additional power to mine both chains, but you still receive rewards from both. Auxiliary chains gain extra security through the hash power of their parent chain. And, the parent chains experience negligible blockchain bloat when they include hashes from auxiliary chains.

However, these advantages do come with more work. Auxiliary chains require development work to implement merged mining and miners/mining pools have added set-up and maintenance to support it.

Nearly all of the total 23,176,392 VIA are already in circulation, so the inflation rate is significantly lower than other cryptocurrencies.

SegWit and the Lightning Network

Viacoin supports both Segregated Witness (SegWit) and the Lightning Network. These features help the network to scale by reducing transaction sizes and opening up off-chain payment channels, respectively.

Another benefit to these implementations is atomic swapping with other cryptocurrencies. Using cross-chain atomic swaps, you can directly exchange Viacoin for Bitcoin, Litecoin, Decred, Vertcoin, and other similar currencies without reliance on centralized exchanges.

Schnorr Signatures

The development team is currently in the process of switching Viacoin’s signature mechanism from Elliptic Curve Digital Signatures to Schnorr Signatures. The primary benefit of the switch is the ability to verify a batch of signatures at one time rather than having to do so individually. This change could reduce the blockchain’s bandwidth use by over 25 percent.

Viacoin Features

Viacoin Features

Viacoin Past, Present, and Future

Viacoin launched in 2014 and currently has a core team of seven. The majority of the team has chosen to stay anonymous just sharing their GitHub account and sometimes their Twitter.

The 2018 Viacoin roadmap is packed with improvements including:

  • Trezor support (complete)
  • General Bytes ATM support (complete)
  • Multi-signature wallets
  • Anonymous Samourai wallet
  • Viacoin implementations in Golang (complete), .NET (complete), and Java
  • Schnorr signatures
  • Ethereum compatible smart contracts

Competitors

Viacoin competes with almost any other transactional-focused cryptocurrency. So, your first instinct may be to see Bitcoin and Litecoin as two competitors. But, because Viacoin can atomically swap with these coins, they should work together instead. Ideally, if one blockchain becomes bloated, you’d just swap to a cryptocurrency that’s less congested for the transaction. Following the exchange, you swap back.

Cryptocurrencies unable to perform an atomic swap with Viacoin compete more directly. Nano, for example, uses a Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) instead of a blockchain. Nano has the advantage of free, almost instant transactions. However, DAG technology is mostly untested compared to blockchain tech.

Bitcoin Cash is another competitor. The hard fork into Bitcoin Cash was primarily due to the split in the community between increasing block sizes or implementing SegWit to help with scaling. The Bitcoin Cash supporters chose the block size solution. Therefore, Bitcoin Cash cannot perform atomic swaps with Viacoin and competes as a transactional currency.

Trading

At launch, the VIA price was volatile jumping from about $0.10 (~0.00016 BTC) to around $0.34 (~0.0006 BTC) in less than a month. Just a year later, though, you could get VIA for only $0.004 (~0.000018 BTC), an almost 99% drop in USD price. And you thought the current bear market was bad!

VIA sat dormant for almost two years before hitching along to the rest of the market for the rises and falls we saw throughout 2017 and the first half of 2018. As a small cap coin (<$50 million market cap), VIA price movement mainly follows the movement of Bitcoin.

It’ll be interesting to see what effect the Lightning Network and atomic swaps will have on the value of VIA. With increased Bitcoin adoption, we could see Viacoin become a reasonable transactional alternative when the Bitcoin or Litecoin networks get too congested. If that becomes the case, the VIA price should increase accordingly.

Where to Buy VIA

Although you can technically still mine VIA, the rewards at this point are so low that it probably isn’t worth it. The good news is that you have plenty of exchange options on which you can buy VIA as well.

With almost 40 percent of the trading volume, Binance is by far the most popular platform to purchase VIA on. On Binance, you can exchange either BTC or ETH for VIA.

Bittrex is another recommended exchange where you can trade BTC for VIA.

If you’re interested in buying VIA with fiat currency, you could consider Coinroom. Coinroom supports VIA purchases using USD, EUR, GBP, and PLN. Be wary, though, as Coinroom isn’t nearly as reputable as Binance or Bittrex.

Where to Store VIA

The Viacoin team has created a whole suite of wallets for you to choose from for your VIA storage. The Core wallet is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

Mobile wallets more your style? Copay is available on Android. You also have the Vialectrum wallet at your disposal.

If security is your priority, you have additional options. The project has paper wallet capabilities. Or, you can store VIA using Ledger or Trezor hardware wallets.

Conclusion

Viacoin is a p2p cryptocurrency that complements the more well-known Bitcoin and Litecoin. With atomic swaps, all three coins are directly interchangeable. And through merged mining, you can mine Litecoin and Viacoin simultaneously.

Although you may not have heard of it before today, Viacoin could become a household name as Bitcoin adoption grows and atomic swappable chains become even more interconnected.

Additional Resources

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Getting Started Gold Bars.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Based in Austin, TX, Steven is the Executive Editor at CoinCentral. He’s interviewed industry heavyweights such as Wanchain President Dustin Byington, TechCrunch Editor-in-Chief Josh Constine, IOST CEO Jimmy Zhong, Celsius Network CEO Alex Mashinsky, and ICON co-founder Min Kim among others. Outside of his role at CoinCentral, Steven is a co-founder and CEO of Coin Clear, a mobile app that automates cryptocurrency investments. You can follow him on Twitter @TheRealBucci to read his “clever insights on the crypto industry.” His words, not ours.