In four words or less: Anonymous, untraceable digital cash
Monero (XMR) is a secure, private and untraceable cryptocurrency. Most cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, have open or transparent blockchains. This means that transactions can be viewed by anyone making it possible to link blockchain addresses to a person's real-world identity. For some use-cases this would not be desirable and there is therefore a need for an anonymous cryptocurrency. Some potential use cases are buying prohibited items on the dark web and hiding assets from an authoritarian regime.
What problem does Monero solve:
Monero meets the demand for private transactions. If you agree that it is no else’s business what you spend your money on, including the government, then privacy focused coins fulfil this important use-case. If the world moves to a cashless society – there will be a demand for untraceable cryptocurrency. If governments phase cash out, they may put government issued fiat currencies on state run blockchains. That would mean the government can track every transaction you make. If a person wanted to make an anonymous transaction to pay a sex worker or buy marijuana a privacy coin like Monero would be useful for this.
Properties of Monero:
Monero runs on CryptoNote, a blockchain protocol that favours privacy
Monero transactions are opaque. Your identity and the transactions you make are private
Monero is fungible. With some cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, because the ledger is open, it is possible to trace individual bitcoins back to illegal transactions such as buying drugs. This has the potential to taint that bitcoin. With Monero, since all transactions are private, it’s not possible to know what transactions Monero coins have gone through previously. This means Monero is fungible
Monero uses three different privacy technologies: ring signatures, ring confidential transactions (RingCT), and stealth addresses. These hide the sender, amount, and receiver in the transaction, respectively. All transactions on the network are private by default
Monero has a core team of mostly anonymous developers. The flamboyant Riccardo “fluffypony” Spagni is the most vocal non-anon developer though to discourage dev-worship he has been known to troll detractors and has even actively discouraged new investors to buy Monero
New Monero initiatives are funded by the active Monero community
Adoption and penetration:
Monero is the 10th largest crypto coin by market cap. It is increasingly being used as the currency of choice on the dark web. If the demand for privacy coins and anonymous transactions continues to grow, Monero may have a strong future.
Management and governance:
Monero’s governance aim is for Sovereign-Grade Censorship-Resistance. That means they value decentralisation.