Cryptocurrency Whitepaper: What Is It and Why Do We Need It?
A cryptocurrency whitepaper is a powerful tool that allows projects to communicate their objectives and features to the audience effectively. Projects can tailor the information they provide in a whitepaper to address the audience best, but typically they contain an overview of a project's goals, tokenomics, products, and features. In addition, a whitepaper will usually include detailed information about the team behind the project. Whitepapers can be a valuable source during research into a specific project as they provide a comprehensive breakdown of the key aspects of the project.
A whitepaper is typically a document that provides an in-depth exploration of a particular topic or issue. It often informs its readers on the matter and is used to educate users on a given subject. For instance, software developers can create a whitepaper to explain the purpose and features of their product.
A whitepaper in the blockchain space is a document that explains the major aspects and technical specifics of a cryptocurrency or blockchain project. These whitepapers can be related to coins and tokens but can also focus on projects such as a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform or a play-to-earn game.
A whitepaper can present key information in the form of statistics and visuals, providing an overview of the project. This can include explanations about the governing structure of the project, the people working on it, as well as their current and future development plans (i.e., their roadmap).
There is no single, accepted format for creating a whitepaper; instead, each project should create one in a way that best suits its conditions. An effective whitepaper should be both neutral in its presentation and informative, providing a comprehensive picture of the project and its goals. Users should be wary of whitepapers that use overly convincing language or ones that make big promises without providing sufficient supporting information.
Many view cryptocurrency whitepapers as a pre-launch business plan for a crypto project. Such whitepapers give investors a clear understanding of the project's scope and direction. While a business plan usually comes after the launch of a business, whitepapers tend to be released before the release of the cryptocurrency. These whitepapers typically include an outline of the project's plans and intentions.
What Information Can a Whitepaper Provide?
Founders create whitepapers to inform readers of the aims of their project. For example, Bitcoin's whitepaper states: "A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution." At the same time, the purpose of Ethereum's whitepaper is clarified with the statement: "The intent of Ethereum is to create an alternative protocol for building decentralized applications."
Whitepapers can illustrate the practical applications of a crypto project, including how it could address an issue or enhance aspects of our daily lives.
Although it's relatively easy to create a whitepaper, it's essential to be wary of any promises made. The 2017 Initial Coin Offering (ICO) frenzy resulted in thousands of tokens with allegedly ingenious concepts, though many of them failed to deliver what was promised. When considering investing in cryptocurrencies, it's important to remember that simply attaching one to a use case does not mean it will be taken up and used.
In addition to setting goals and making promises, whitepapers can be used to illustrate how a cryptocurrency will practically function. They can explain, for instance, which consensus mechanism is employed to enable network participants to collaborate in a dispersed manner.
A whitepaper could provide a comprehensive overview of tokenomics, including data on token burning, allocations, and incentive structures. Additionally, a whitepaper should feature a roadmap outlining the project timeline and estimated product launch dates. It will give users a better idea of when to expect the project results.
Whitepapers are typically designed to be accessible so that individuals without a significant amount of knowledge can read them and gain a basic understanding of the associated cryptocurrency or blockchain project. However, an effective whitepaper should also provide technical details that confirm the project's credentials.
Why Are Whitepapers Essential?
Whitepapers are an integral part of the crypto landscape. While no established rules exist for creating them, they have become a model to evaluate potential crypto ventures.
To begin your research into cryptocurrencies, it is strongly recommended that you first read the project's whitepaper. By doing so, users can identify any potential drawbacks or promising aspects of the project, as well as keep track of a project's progress against its original objectives and plans.
Project key information can be made public using whitepapers, allowing for transparency and equality among the parties involved. Investors are able to make better-informed decisions, developers can decide on possible involvement in the protocol, and potential community members can make better-informed decisions on joining the project.
What May a Whitepaper Be Like?
In 2008, the renowned "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" whitepaper was published anonymously by a person or group identified as Satoshi Nakamoto.
This whitepaper shows how Bitcoin could be used as an innovative form of money outside the existing banking system. Technical details are provided to demonstrate how the Bitcoin network allows for peer-to-peer transactions without the need for middlemen. Moreover, the whitepaper outlines ways in which the Bitcoin network is safeguarded against censorship and double-spending attacks.
In 2013, Vitalik Buterin, a young programmer, proposed an idea for a whitepaper in a blog post titled "Ethereum: The Ultimate Smart Contract and Decentralized Application Platform." This post presented the concept of a Turing-complete blockchain — a type of decentralized computer that can run any application if it has the necessary time and resources. One year later, the whitepaper was officially published in 2014.
The Ethereum whitepaper describes how its purpose differs from Bitcoin's. While Bitcoin focuses primarily on providing digital peer-to-peer payments, Ethereum's goal is to offer a platform to enable developers to construct and deploy a range of decentralized applications (DApps). These DApps may include cryptocurrencies or decentralized lending services. Further, the whitepaper elucidates the technological mechanisms that made Ethereum possible, such as smart contracts and the Ethereum Virtual Machine.
When reading a whitepaper, it is important to ensure that you understand the goals and objectives of the cryptocurrency project it speaks on. Since the writing of a whitepaper is not regulated, you should exercise caution before taking any action based on the contents of the document. It is essential to consider any potential red flags and risks that may be present in the whitepaper so that you can make an informed decision on the project. Optimal comprehension of the project's aims and processes will ultimately allow you to become acquainted with the project and confidently secure your investment.