New Chia cryptocurrency promises to be greener than Bitcoin, but may drive up hard drive prices

Wednesday 05 May 2021, 6:04 AM AEST - 1 week ago

It has been a big year for cryptocurrency. Bitcoin is worth six times what it was 12 months ago, and the joke currency Dogecoin has seen a hundredfold increase in price. A boom in non-fungible tokens, or NFTs – tradable tokens based on the same technology as cryptocurrency – is transforming the art market.

With this growth has come renewed scrutiny, with critics attacking Bitcoin in particular as a speculative bubble that uses vast amounts of electricity and produces no real value.

A new cryptocurrency called Chia, which has just begun trading, sets out to remedy these flaws while upholding cryptocurrencys promise of a secure, decentralised form of payment.

Chia is the brainchild of Bram Cohen, who invented the BitTorrent peer-to-peer filesharing system. He claims it will be more reliable than other cryptocurrencies, and more environmentally friendly too.

What is cryptocurrency?

Unlike traditional currencies such as the dollar or euro, which are issued by central banks and rely on trust in governments, cryptocurrencies rely on a decentralised database called a blockchain, secured by sophisticated cryptographic tools.

The first cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, released in 2009, and today there are at least 5,922 cryptocurrencies available. Bitcoin is still by far the biggest; the total value of all Bitcoin now in existence is some US$1.2 trillion.

Despite this booming popularity, very few retailers accept cryptocurrency as payment.

Governments around the world are also exploring digital currencies. The Bank of England is hiring a dedicated team to explore the possibilities in this area, while the Australian Stock Exchange is

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