Due to its anonymous features and technology, Monero is the first alternative cryptocurrency to get a place next to Bitcoin in the dark market scene. Since then, Monero has reached new heights in price, volume and network hashrate, meaning that, now more than ever, people are mining Monero and making use of its privacy features. The price has grown 8 times in less than 3 weeks and the global hashrate grew by 50%, which shows the influence that deepweb markets have in the cryptocurrency space and that they were ecensial for Bitcoin’s growth. Trade volume for Monero even surpassed Bitcoin on several ocasions during these past weeks.
Despite being chosen as the new currency of the deep web, using Monero alone may not be enough to stay anonymous, and its misuse may have disastorous consequences for its new user base, that now includes deepweb dealers and clients. That is why it’s important to keep up with updates and changes like the upcoming fork that is scheduled for the 21st of September. This hardfork means that Monero will switch from v2 blocks to v3, a change that will enforce coinbase transactions to be split in denominations to prevent unmixable inputs (dust) from being created, which is still possible in this type of transactions. Coinbase transactions are different from others because they are the transaction on which a newly created coin is sent to the user that mined the block, this change ensures that the people that are mining monero can stay 100% anonymous while doing so.
Although most Monero pools are already prepared for this change, solo miners should make sure they are using a 0.9.x version. Users that are running a 0.9.x client are not required to upgrade as it already supports the v3 fork, although the 0.10.0 client will soon be released. This client will support Ring Confidential Transactions (RingCT), an important anonymity feature that hides transaction amounts. It is advised that users update to this version once it is launched, to have the most recent bugfixes and to prepare for the v4 fork, which is scheduled for March 2017. In this version, users will be able to choose between conventional or ring confidential transactions. Normal transactions will eventually be excluded altogether in the v5 fork, to ensure complete anonymity.
Although the v3 fork is scheduled for March 2017, it is still possible that some delays may occur due to the importance of the Ring Confidential Transactions feature, which is currently being tested. Future developments and research by the Monero team will include the creation of an official GUI (graphical user interface) wallet, Multisignature transactions, and Sidechains implementations.
Despite the controversy surrounding hard forks in the Bitcoin and Ethereum communities, Monero does not seem to share this problem as forks are implemented seamlessly, something that may change in the future as the community surrounding this altcoin grows.