BEAM is loosely based on the design ideas of Bitcoin, the world's first decentralized cryptocurrency. The main innovation of Bitcoin is the Blockchain, which breaks up the record of transactions into blocks, each one crypographically connected to the previous. BEAM modifies Bitcoin ideas to implement the Mimblewimble protocol, two major advancements which include confidential transactions and pruning of the blockchain to decrease it's size. BEAM is traded on bitni.com.
Blockchain based cryptocurrencies like BEAM work by grouping transactions together in data blocks, then linking the blocks cryptographically. The chain of blocks is stored across a decentralized network of nodes, and distributed as peer-to-peer shared files. More advanced than some cryptocurrencies, BEAM prunes the blockchain to reduce it's size. Quantities of BEAM are stored at addresses, cryptographic sequences paired with a private key used to spend the amount at the address. The user's wallet keeps track of all their BEAM addresses and adds up the balance.
BEAM was created by team of programmers as an attempt to technically improve Bitcoin, by implementing the Mimblewimble protocol, an anonymously published paper detailing a means of confidential transactions and blockchain pruning. The first tweak increases privacy. The second makes downloading the blockchain easier, since it is much smaller. BEAM is maintained by the Beam Foundation, and released as open source, so anyone can build on it.
BEAM is used for anything money is used for - buying, selling, donations. But BEAM can also be used for even more things than fiat currency: A means of accepting donations or facilitating commerce that cannot be shut down by governments or the banking system. Also storing up wealth that cannot be confiscated. Beam is even more private than most cryptocurrencies.
BEAM has more value than Fiat Currency because it's more useful: It's anonymous, decentralized, irreversible, cannot be devalued, cannot be confiscated, can be sent over the internet to anywhere in the world in minutes. Things that are very useful and scarce tend to be valuable. One reason BEAM has value because it fulfills all of the requirements of money: Store of Value, Medium of Exchange, Unit of Account.
The maximum supply of BEAM is limited to 263 million. The amount of BEAM mined is reduced by half every 4 years, from an initial reward of 80 per block. In the year 2152 the reward will be effecively 0, thus mining will end with no coins left to mine. 25% of the mining reward goes to the Beam Foundation, which helps fund further development and innovation.
A BEAM transaction is a transfer of value from one address to another. The transaction spends the outputs of previous transactions as it's input. The entire value of an output is spent, so any remainder may be sent back to the sending address - this is called the "change". A transaction is created by a user on their BEAM client software, then broadcast out to all the other nodes and becomes part of the Blockchain.
The blockchain is a public record of all transactions by all addresses. BEAM is specifically designed to be extremely difficult to link the history of transactions. An address is just a number - it doesn't reveal anything about the identity of the one using it, like a street address can. As long as this number is never linked to an human identity, the BEAM user is safe. There is no way to "trace" a BEAM address to the person using it - unless they leave clues connecting their BEAM address to their physical identity. bitni.com has maximum anonymity - we don't ask for personal details.
BEAM mining is the computational process of adding new blocks to the blockchain. New transactions are grouped together in a block. New blocks must cryptographically connect to previous blocks with a proof-of-work hash function. Mining hardware is designed to the hashing function as quickly as possible. Miners are paid a small transaction fee for including new transactions in blocks. Mining also creates new BEAM coins, which go to the miners - except in the case of BEAM, some coins go to Masternodes.
BEAM was not designed to be taxed. If no one reports their BEAM gains, there is no way an authoritarian regime can know who gained what. However, centralized exchanges with accounts and IDs do report their user's BEAM balance to tax authorities. If you want privacy from authoritarian regimes, you need an accountless exchange that doesn't ask for your ID - bitni.com is the best exchange in this regard.
BEAM ATMs allow a customer to buy BEAM by inserting physical cash, like a vending machine, or send BEAM to receive physical cash. (The former are called "1 way" ATMs and the latter are called "2 way".) If the BEAM ATM is from a trusted manufacturer and operator, it should be safe to use. Different BEAM ATMs have differing AML/KYC requirements.
BEAM has scaled to handle millions of transactions per month. BEAM is software, and it can evolve to scale - the code can be modified with better algorithms and the network then upgrades to the more advanced version. BEAM was modified from Bitcoin as an attempt to help to solve scaling issues, by pruning unneccessary data from the blockchain, which allows it to be shared much easier among nodes.
Anyone who knows the private key can move the coins from an address. If the private key is not known, it's not possible to spend the coins at an address. BEAM stored in the wallets of a centralized exchange can be stolen - it happens all the time. At a Non-custodial exchange like bitni.com, you are in charge of your wallet at all times.
If the BEAM network could be hacked, it would have already happened. The blockchain is decentralized across thousands of independent nodes - the more nodes on the network, the higher the security. If any one node is compromised, it will not compromise the others. However, centralized BEAM exchanges are hacked all the time! That's why you need a non-custodial exchange like bitni.com.
The data of all BEAM transactions is stored in a public ledger (blockchain) distributed as peer-to-peer shared files. Each node has a complete copy of all transactions ever made - the blockchain. So the blockchain is stored in the cloud - not on a centralized server, but on thousands of independent nodes. Each user's BEAM balance is also kept track of in their wallet.
A BEAM wallet stores all of the user's BEAM addresses. The sum value of all of the addresses in a wallet is automatically added up - this is the total balance of a wallet. Centralized exchanges store the user's wallet, which is risky. Non-custodial exchanges like bitni.com do NOT store user's wallets, which is much safer.
Millions of people everywhere in the world use BEAM for all the same things as any other money is used for - buying, selling, and donations - and the number of users is growing rapidly. Anyone needing to transfer wealth internationally, especially outside the grasp of authoritarian regimes, for ridiculously low cost, will find BEAM useful if they are not already using it. BEAM is also used as an investment and a hedge against inflation.
Many merchants, especially online, accept cryptocurrencies as payment. Charities like Wikipedia accept donations in crypto. Web Hosts and Domain registrars often accept crypto. Large brick and mortar stores are starting to accept crypto payment. Some local restaurants are also coming on board. bitni.com accepts BEAM to convert to other currencies, of course.
The reason why a cryptocurrency is the future can be summed up in 3 words: Because it's better. BEAM is a huge improvement over fiat currency. It is also an improvement over precious metals - they can't be wired over the internet. If central banks continue destroying the value of fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies will become even more important to the future of money.
If BEAM were going to crash to zero, it would have probably done it already. There have been wild price swings - because it's new and there's a lot of speculation, like the internet when it first came out. But there are wild price swings with other commodities like oil. BEAM's low after it's all-time high of several dollars is about one-tenth of that. For BEAM to crash to $0, demand would need to be zero or supply would need to be infinite - a highly unlikely scenerio.
The Original Bitcoin has gone from pennies to thousands and thousands of dollars in less than a decade, utterly blown away the stock market, even gold and other precious metals, and far outperformed pretty much any other investment. While BEAM has not reached Bitcoin's high, it has performed relatively well, going from pennies to a few dollars at it's high - a pretty good investment.
Exchanges are where BEAM is bought and sold, however there are several types: Centralized Exchanges store the user's coins like a bank and require ID. Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) facilitate peer-to-peer buying and selling between users - and these can be done locally in-person or online. Non-Custodial exchanges like bitni.com are a quick and easy way of swapping cryptocurrencies without signing up.
Many Centralized exchanges have rigorous requirements for identification, such as uploading a scan of passport or other government documents. Decentralized exchanges usually have less stringent requirements for identification, especially if the transaction is in-person. Non-custodial exchange bitni.com does not require identification for crypto-to-crypto swaps. If you want BEAM without SSN, you've come to the right place.
KYC stands for Know Your Customer. Many regimes have become increasingly authoritarian towards cryptocurrency and seek to crack down on anonymous trading, by requiring the customer to upload documents proving their identity. Many exchanges have caved in to the pressure and now have KYC policies. Centralized exchanges almost always have KYC, some Decentralized exchanges do as well. bitni.com does not require KYC for crypto-to-crypto swaps.
Gold has been used as money for millenia. BEAM has been used as money for a few years. Gold has a proven track record as a relatively stable store of value. It has gone up and down over the years, but no severe crashes or jumps. BEAM on the other hand is unstable, can swing wildly in a day. Gold has been physically confiscated by governments in the past. BEAM is mathematically impossible to confiscate by anyone who does not know the private key.
Most BEAM trading is done by buying and selling coins directly by individual investors. However, there are cryptocurrency funds listed on stock markets. A Cryptocurrency Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) holds assets in single cryptocurrencies or a basket of them. It may be more convenient to buy into one basket fund instead of manually managing dozens of different cryptos and their respective wallets. In the case of BEAM, it is probable some Cryptocurrency ETFs are holding it.
Tens, hundreds, or even thousands for a BEAM coin may seem speculative, but BEAM's high is already several dollars. BEAM started out at practically nothing and rose in a parabolic curve to it's high five times higher than the starting price. $10 is only five times higher than the all time high. If the long term trend continues, BEAM could reach new highs orders of magnitude greater.
A new block on the BEAM blockchain is added every minute. The number of transactions in each block is limited to 1000. Transactions paying higher fees are given priority over those paying lower fees, which must sometimes wait to be included in future blocks instead of the current one. A BEAM transaction time can be as short as the generation of one block in 1 minute. However, 30 levels of blocks is needed for irreversibility, thus the safe transaction time is 30 minutes.
A BEAM transaction can be tentatively completed in as little as 1 confirmation in 1 minute. However, the latest blocks in the blockchain are changeable until more blocks are added after them. For irreversibility, 30 levels of blocks and thus 30 confirmations are needed. The latest block in the process of being added to the blockchain is changeable. Not till several more blocks have been added after it is that part of the blockchain considered immutable.
A BEAM transaction fee is the cost of having transaction data included in blocks added to the blockchain permanent record, which fluctuates under market supply and demand. The highest fees are about in the thousands of GROTH, the lowest are 100 GROTH. (Occasionally there are 0 fee transactions.) Lots of factors affect BEAM transaction fees, such as the cost of electricity, the hardware capacity and competition between miners, the number of simultaneous transactions competing to be included in a block.
BEAM transactions are records of balances moved amongst addresses. Blocks are 1mb groups of BEAM transactions for the purpose of easier verification and sharing accross the network. New blocks are generated at a fixed time interval of 1 minute. Each block is connected to the one chronologically preceeding it by a cryptographic hash. Once a block has been verified, it is distibuted to the other nodes as a peer-to-peer shared file. BEAM adds pruning to the blockchain to make it easier to share across nodes.
A BEAM address is a sequence of characters associated with a balance of BEAM coins on the blockchain. Cryptographically, an address is just a Public Key, which is generated from a Private Key. Anyone with a Private Key can "sign" a transaction for a corresponding Public Key. Anyone with a Public Key can verify a signature. Signing a transaction approves a transfer of value at the current address to a different address.
The BEAM network is a completely decentralized connection of peer-to-peer nodes, which process transactions and record them on the blockchain. Anyone anywhere with internet and a computer can join the BEAM network by running a node. Any node can process transactions into blocks, which are added to the final blockchain by consensus of the network as a whole. Voting power is determined by hashing power, the ability to complete proof-of-work.