What Is a Cryptocurrency?

A cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency in which all peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions are verified and recorded using cryptography, making it very difficult to counterfeit or hack. Cryptocurrencies are built to enable a decentralised financial (DeFi) system where anyone can send and receive payments from anywhere in the world. 

Unlike paper money, which is a tangible item, cryptocurrencies are kept in virtual wallets and exist purely as entries in a distributed database known as a blockchain. In terms of security, cryptocurrency transactions are verified through a process known as ‘mining’, an energy-intensive system in which computers compete to solve mathematical puzzles and verify transactions. As a reward, these miners receive a newly created cryptocurrency. 

The first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was created in 2009 by a pseudonymous figure named Satoshi Nakamoto. Following Bitcoin’s success, developers have used the concepts that power its network and created numerous variants of cryptocurrencies. This group of cryptocurrencies is known as ‘altcoins’, which include Ethereum, Cardano, XRP, and Polkadot, to name a few. 

Key Takeaway

Cryptocurrency is a peer-to-peer (P2P) digital payment system that relies on cryptography and blockchain technology to verify transactions and maintain security.

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