Bitcoin
Bitcoin (BTC)
$59,960.00 2.2214
Bitcoin price
Ethereum
Ethereum (ETH)
$3,184.78 0.95821
Ethereum price
BNB
BNB (BNB)
$535.46 1.22862
BNB price
Solana
Solana (SOL)
$145.03 4.07369
Solana price
XRP
XRP (XRP)
$0.5300330 -0.99692
XRP price
Shiba Inu
Shiba Inu (SHIB)
$0.0000172 -0.15277
Shiba Inu price
Pepe
Pepe (PEPE)
$0.0000087 1.05753
Pepe price
Bonk
Bonk (BONK)
$0.0000234 4.77989
Bonk price
Bitcoin
Bitcoin (BTC)
$59,960.00 2.2214
Bitcoin price
Ethereum
Ethereum (ETH)
$3,184.78 0.95821
Ethereum price
BNB
BNB (BNB)
$535.46 1.22862
BNB price
Solana
Solana (SOL)
$145.03 4.07369
Solana price
XRP
XRP (XRP)
$0.5300330 -0.99692
XRP price
Shiba Inu
Shiba Inu (SHIB)
$0.0000172 -0.15277
Shiba Inu price
Pepe
Pepe (PEPE)
$0.0000087 1.05753
Pepe price
Bonk
Bonk (BONK)
$0.0000234 4.77989
Bonk price
Bitcoin
Bitcoin (BTC)
$59,960.00 2.2214
Bitcoin price
Ethereum
Ethereum (ETH)
$3,184.78 0.95821
Ethereum price
BNB
BNB (BNB)
$535.46 1.22862
BNB price
Solana
Solana (SOL)
$145.03 4.07369
Solana price
XRP
XRP (XRP)
$0.5300330 -0.99692
XRP price
Shiba Inu
Shiba Inu (SHIB)
$0.0000172 -0.15277
Shiba Inu price
Pepe
Pepe (PEPE)
$0.0000087 1.05753
Pepe price
Bonk
Bonk (BONK)
$0.0000234 4.77989
Bonk price
Bitcoin
Bitcoin (BTC)
$59,960.00 2.2214
Bitcoin price
Ethereum
Ethereum (ETH)
$3,184.78 0.95821
Ethereum price
BNB
BNB (BNB)
$535.46 1.22862
BNB price
Solana
Solana (SOL)
$145.03 4.07369
Solana price
XRP
XRP (XRP)
$0.5300330 -0.99692
XRP price
Shiba Inu
Shiba Inu (SHIB)
$0.0000172 -0.15277
Shiba Inu price
Pepe
Pepe (PEPE)
$0.0000087 1.05753
Pepe price
Bonk
Bonk (BONK)
$0.0000234 4.77989
Bonk price

What Is Cryptocurrency?

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What Is Cryptocurrency?

What is cryptocurrency? Even after 15 years of existence, a huge percentage of the global population does not understand cryptocurrencies. Research shows that only about 425 million people have used virtual currencies. Are you surprised that a small number of the world’s population ‘trusts’ cryptocurrencies? Maybe not; the riddle of whether digital currencies are safe or not still has no clear answer. But the fact that these assets have been there since 2009 should tell you something. Want to know more about crypto? This explainer will outline why millions have joined the blockchain currency bandwagon

Cryptocurrency explained

What does crypto mean? Cryptocurrencies are digital currencies that leverage cryptographic systems in distribution and storage, operating on decentralized networks free from centralized control. This decentralization fosters transparency and reduces the risk of censorship or manipulation. Cryptocurrencies have a key feature: they have a set or limited amount, usually determined by a specific rule or system. This fixed amount makes them scarce, like gold, which can affect their value. Also, cryptocurrencies allow safe and private online transactions through their blockchain technology. This means people can send money directly to each other without needing a middleman, giving them more control over their money.

History of cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency kicked off in 2009 with Bitcoin, aiming to shake up the traditional financial scene by introducing a digital currency free from centralized control. Bitcoin also introduced blockchain, which is a system that makes transactions transparent and secure. This paved the way for many other cryptocurrencies, known as Altcoins, each with its own unique features. They’re not just currencies anymore; they’re exploring cool stuff like smart contracts, decentralized finance (DeFi), and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). As cryptocurrencies keep growing and changing, people are wondering how they’ll be regulated and used in the future of finance.

How do cryptocurrencies work?

Let’s explore how cryptos work.

Blockchain technology

As digital assets, cryptocurrencies’ functionality primarily leverages online and programmed systems. They leverage systems called blockchains in holding and transferring. Blockchains store every record of a cryptocurrency transaction. These transactions come in blocks that are posted on the ledger. The blockchain ledger has the following attributes:

  • Online 24/7. By being online, transaction details recorded in the blockchain are accessible to any network participant at any time. 
  • Public/transparent. Transaction details are public for network participants to view and audit. 
  • Decentralized. Blockchain decentralization means no centralized authority controls cryptocurrencies’ creation, issuance, and distribution.
  • Immutable. The ledger is immutable, meaning it stores all transaction details permanently. It is almost impossible to fake crypto assets since the ledger is immutable.

Wallets

Owning a code called private keys is proof of ownership of a digital currency. Private keys help you authorize any transactions within these public ledgers. 

The private keys use unique storage systems called wallets. Wallets ensure the keys are safe but also easy to access and use. A crypto wallet is the most fundamental tool needed to own cryptocurrencies. Once you sign up for wallet services, you can get cryptocurrencies using the methods discussed later in this guide. 

How are cryptocurrencies created?

The creation and generation of cryptocurrencies differ depending on the coins you are using. However, mining and staking are the most popular methods of generating these coins.

Mining

Mining in the crypto space is a process that involves solving cryptographic equations to get a particular hash, add a block, and earn new coins. It leverages a heavy resource-consuming consensus mechanism called proof of work. The idea of mining is to ensure transactions are validated and added to the ledger. 

Staking

Another method used in validating transactions within the blockchain ecosystem is proof of stakestaking. PoS staking essentially involves holding some amount of crypto collateral to get a chance to verify, validate and add transactions to the ledger. Staking is environmentally friendly and consumes minimal resources.

Types of cryptocurrencies

Here are the top 3 cryptocurrencies by their market capitalization:

What Is Cryptocurrency? - 1
Source: CoinMarketCap, June 13, 2024

Bitcoin (BTC)

Bitcoin, the very first and widely recognized cryptocurrency, was born in 2009, courtesy of someone (or a group) going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto. It runs on a decentralized network and mainly serves as a digital currency for transactions between individuals. Thanks to its clever blockchain technology, Bitcoin keeps things transparent and secure, making it a go-to choice for storing value and investing.

Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum is like a digital playground where developers can create and run smart contracts and decentralized apps (DApps). It was cooked up by Vitalik Buterin in 2015 and does way more than just handling simple transactions. ETH) is the main cryptocurrency used on Ethereum for transactions and making those smart contracts tick.

Tether (USDT)

Tether, also known as USDT, is a unique type of cryptocurrency called a stablecoin. Its main job is to keep its value steady by linking it to reserves of regular currencies like the US dollar. For every unit of Tether, there’s one US dollar sitting safely in reserve.USDT stays steady, unlike other cryptos, whose prices can be unpredictably volatile. People often turn to Tether to trade and move money between cryptocurrency exchanges.

How to get crypto?

There are a lot of different ways to get cryptocurrencies. They include:

Buying crypto in exchanges

Crypto exchanges allow everyone to gain access to digital assets. Investors can see the wide range of assets and buy at the prevailing market prices. Also, when purchasing cryptocurrency on exchanges, consider the methods of payment supported and fees. 

Mining and staking

Mining and staking crypto assets can also be an excellent way to get more crypto assets. Both mining and staking offer good rewards in the form of new coins or transaction fees. 

Other methods

Airdrops, giveaways, bounties, and other systems can help users access crypto. However, you may need to complete some activities to earn crypto. However, you must be very careful when dealing with giveaways, airdrops, or bounties. 

The legality of cryptocurrencies mainly depends on the region and the country of residence. In most countries, there is no legal framework for crypto. 

Cryptos are not similar to fiat: no government or related entity controls the issuance or supply of cryptocurrencies. However, watchdogs struggle to create policies to control crypto circulation and trading.

For instance, the Financial Action Task Force made recommendations in 2019 to ensure crypto transfers are subject to anti-money laundering rules. SEC in the US has constantly been trying to take a grip of the crypto ecosystem. The constant fights against cryptocurrencies like Ripple aim to control the entire crypto landscape. 

El Salvador and the Central African Republic appear to be the countries to open the doors for the crypto ecosystem fully, making BTC a legal tender. In Japan, the Payment Services Act defines BTC as a legal piece of property. Countries like China banned BTC and altcoins. Before owning a cryptocurrency, do thorough research on the legality. 

Uses of cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies have changed the way we think about money in the digital era. They’re like digital cash but with some cool advantages over regular money. For starters, they’re super secure, with lower fees and quicker transactions — especially when you’re sending money across borders. When you use cryptocurrencies, you’re the boss of your money. Your transactions stay between you and whoever you’re dealing with, all thanks to the blockchain system. Let’s explore some ways people are putting cryptocurrencies to work today.

Payments and transactions

Cryptocurrencies have become quite the game-changer for payments and transactions. They offer fast, secure, and global transactions, without needing traditional banks. This has made them a hit in various industries, from online shopping to sending money abroad. And get this — big players like Wikipedia, Microsoft, Burger King, KFC, Subway, Twitch, Dallas Mavericks, and others are all on board with accepting BTC as payment.

Investment and trading

Cryptocurrencies are like the new stars of the investment world, drawing in folks looking to make money and mix up their investment portfolios. Lots of them have seen their prices shoot up, making early investors pretty happy. And get this — the cryptocurrency market never sleeps, so traders can jump in any time to try their luck and make profits using trading platforms and exchanges.

DeFi (Decentralized Finance)

Decentralized finance (DeFi) is like the rebel of the finance world — it uses blockchain tech to offer financial services without relying on big banks or middlemen. With DeFi platforms, you can do stuff like borrow money, lend out your cash, stake your coins, and even try your hand at yield farming, all without dealing with the usual banking hassle. This means more people can get in on the financial action, and everything’s way more transparent and efficient.

Smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps)

Think of smart contracts as digital agreements where all the terms are written in code. They’re like magic spells that make transactions happen automatically on blockchain networks, without needing anyone to watch over them. Decentralized applications (DApps) use these smart contracts to offer many sorts of services, like decentralized exchanges, gaming platforms, and prediction markets.

Tokenization of assets

The tokenization process involves converting real-world assets, such as art or commodities, into digital tokens on a blockchain. These tokens are tradable and transferable, which enhances liquidity and accessibility for investors. Additionally, asset tokenization opens up new investment opportunities and reduces barriers to entry for traditionally illiquid assets.

Benefits of cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies come with a bunch of cool advantages that are changing how we do finance and transactions.

Privacy and security of transactions

Cryptocurrencies give you a big edge in keeping your transactions private compared to regular money. While fiat transactions are easily traceable, certain cryptocurrencies offer enhanced privacy features, and coin mixers/tumblers provide additional anonymity to investors.

Low-cost money transfers

One of the key advantages of cryptocurrency is its ability to offer low-cost money transfer solutions, particularly for international transactions. Traditional methods often involve significant fees, but cryptocurrencies like Stellar provide cost-friendly alternatives for international transfers.

No middlemen

Cryptocurrencies eliminate the need for intermediaries like banks, resulting in faster and more affordable transactions. Unlike traditional banking systems, which involve various fees and lengthy processes, cryptocurrency transactions are direct and efficient.

Ever growing profits

Cryptocurrencies have emerged as a class of deflationary assets, with many coins experiencing significant value appreciation over time. This potential for substantial profits has attracted investors and contributed to the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies as beneficial assets in investment portfolios.

Challenges and risks

Cryptocurrency encounters various challenges and risks that need attention as well: 

Volatility 

Cryptocurrency markets are super unpredictable, with prices changing really fast. While this can be a chance to make money, it also comes with big risks. Unexpected price swings can cause big losses and make people doubt if cryptocurrencies are really a safe way to keep value.

Regulators fighting the blockchain space

Regulatory uncertainty remains a significant challenge for the cryptocurrency industry. Governments and regulatory bodies worldwide are grappling with how to regulate cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. This uncertainty creates challenges for businesses operating in the blockchain space and may deter mainstream adoption.

Problems with scalability 

Scalability is a critical issue facing many blockchain networks. As the number of users and transactions on a blockchain increases, the network’s capacity to process transactions quickly and efficiently becomes strained. Scalability issues can lead to network congestion, slower transaction times, and higher fees, hindering the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies for everyday use. Addressing scalability concerns is essential for cryptocurrencies to realize their full potential as scalable and efficient payment systems.

The future of cryptocurrency

The future of cryptocurrency looks perspective, with lots of exciting developments ahead. As blockchain tech improves and more people get involved, cryptos are set to change how we handle money, making things easier for everyone. With faster transactions, better privacy, and clearer rules, using cryptocurrencies will become a normal part of our lives. And with big investors and companies joining the fray, it’s clear that cryptocurrencies are here to stay. Even though there are still challenges ahead, the future of cryptocurrency seems promising, shaking up how money moves around the world.

FAQs

How can I start investing in cryptocurrencies?

Getting started with cryptocurrency investing is pretty straightforward. First things first, sign up on a reliable cryptocurrency exchange platform. These platforms are like online hubs where you can buy, sell, and trade different cryptocurrencies using regular money or other digital assets. Once you’re in, take some time to research various cryptocurrencies. Find out which ones match up with what you’re aiming for with your investments and how much risk you’re comfortable taking on.

What are the main challenges facing cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies have some hurdles to overcome. One major issue is how their prices can change in a moment, which is pretty nerve-wracking for investors. Then there’s the uncertainty around rules and regulations, which can leave businesses in the crypto sphere feeling a bit lost about what they can and can’t do. And don’t forget about scalability issues, like slow transactions and network jams, which hold back cryptocurrencies from being used smoothly in everyday life. Sorting out these hurdles is key for cryptos to become the widely used payment systems we hope they can be.