What Is Cryptocurrency?

Still wondering what cryptocurrency actually is, how it works, and how to use it? We’ve got the answers in this crypto beginner’s guide.

Jun 02, 2023
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What Is Crypto Nologo

Key Takeaways:

  • Cryptocurrency is a type of digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for secure transactions and operates on a decentralised technology called blockchain.
  • Blockchain is a transparent and distributed ledger that records transactions across a network, ensuring transparency and security, and eliminating the need for intermediaries.
  • Cryptocurrencies get their name from cryptography and currency, leveraging cryptographic techniques to secure transactions.
  • Cryptocurrencies potentially offer advantages like financial inclusivity, faster cross-border transactions, and programmable money through smart contracts.

Introduction

In the digital age, cryptocurrencies have emerged as a revolutionary form of currency, capturing the attention of individuals and institutions around the world. Many have likely heard of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and maybe even Dogecoin, but may still be wondering what cryptocurrency is exactly. 

This article has the answers.

What Is Cryptocurrency?

At its core, cryptocurrency is a type of digital or virtual currency that utilises cryptography for secure and verifiable transactions. Unlike traditional fiat currencies issued by governments, cryptocurrencies are decentralised and operate on a technology called blockchain.

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain is a distributed ledger that records all transactions across a network of computers. This decentralised nature eliminates the need for intermediaries like banks, allowing for peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions and reducing transaction costs.

Decentralisation

One of the key features of cryptocurrencies is the decentralisation made possible by blockchain. Instead of being controlled by a central authority, such as a government or central bank, cryptocurrencies are governed by consensus amongst participants in the network. This consensus is achieved through different mechanisms, such as Proof of Work (PoW) or Proof of Stake (PoS), which validate and confirm transactions.

Learn more about decentralised finance (DeFi) here.

Bitcoin

The most well-known cryptocurrency is Bitcoin (BTC), introduced in 2009 by an anonymous person or group of people using the pseudonym ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’. Bitcoin paved the way for the development of numerous other cryptocurrencies, often referred to as altcoins.

Read our full guide to Bitcoin.

Why Is It Called Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies are called so because they combine elements of cryptography and currency. Let’s break it down:

  1. Cryptography: Cryptography refers to the practise of securing communication and information through encryption techniques. It involves using complex mathematical algorithms to encode data in such a way that it can only be accessed or understood by authorised parties. Cryptography plays a crucial role in ensuring the security and integrity of transactions and user information within cryptocurrencies.
  1. Currency: Currency refers to a medium of exchange that is widely accepted in transactions for goods and services. Traditional currencies, like the US dollar or euro, are issued and regulated by central banks and governments. Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, are digital or virtual currencies that can be created by anyone, and which utilise cryptography to secure transactions and control the creation of new units. They aim, on some level, to function as a medium of exchange, just like traditional currencies.

By combining elements from the concepts of cryptography and currency, the term ‘cryptocurrency’ was coined to describe these digital assets. Cryptocurrencies leverage cryptographic techniques to secure transactions, verify the transfer of funds, and maintain the integrity of the overall system. The use of the word ‘currency’ emphasises their intended purpose as a medium of exchange in the digital realm, further distinguishing them from other types of digital assets or tokens.

Read more about cryptography and how it works.

Why Is It Called Blockchain?

Blockchain is a revolutionary technology that serves as the underlying foundation for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. At its core, blockchain is a decentralised and transparent digital ledger that records transactions across multiple computers in a network. 

Each transaction, or ‘block’, is securely linked to the previous one, forming a continuous chain of information. Insofar as blockchains are distributed and immutable, they ensure transparency and trustlessness in the recorded data. 

Beyond cryptocurrencies, blockchain has found use cases in various industries, including supply chain management, healthcare, finance, and more, offering enhanced efficiency, traceability, and decentralised solutions.

Read our introduction to blockchain here.

Advantages of Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies offer several advantages over traditional forms of payment. For example, they have the potential to provide greater financial inclusivity, as anyone with an internet connection can access and use cryptocurrencies. Additionally, cryptocurrencies can enable faster and more efficient cross-border transactions, in contrast to traditional banking systems and their associated delays.

Moreover, cryptocurrencies introduce the concept of programmable money through smart contracts, which are self-executing agreements with predefined conditions written into code. Smart contracts automatically execute and enforce the terms of an agreement, eliminating the need for intermediaries — and ensuring trustless transparency.

How to Get Started With Cryptocurrency

The Crypto.com App supports over 250 popular cryptocurrencies, and users can start buying them following a quick onboarding process. 

After downloading the Crypto.com App, the first step is creating an account, which requires providing an email address and phone number, plus completing identity verification. This KYC process varies by jurisdiction but usually involves submitting a valid form of identification. 

Once the identity documents are verified, it’s time to decide on a payment method. The Crypto.com App supports fiat currencies, credit/debit cards, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and other cryptocurrencies, depending on user region.

Once set up, users can buy cryptocurrency for as little as US$1 with over 20 different fiat currencies. 

Click here for a detailed first-time crypto buying guide.

Final Words on Cryptocurrency

Entering the world of cryptocurrency for the first time is an exciting process. 

Before proceeding, it’s crucial to consider the risks and conduct proper research. Staying abreast of industry developments and trends aids in making informed decisions when participating in the cryptocurrency market. 

To learn more, head over to Crypto.com University for an abundance of crypto information.

Due Diligence and Do Your Own Research

All examples listed in this article are for informational purposes only. You should not construe any such information or other material as legal, tax, investment, financial, cybersecurity, or other advice. Nothing contained herein shall constitute a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer by Crypto.com to invest, buy, or sell any coins, tokens, or other crypto assets. Returns on the buying and selling of crypto assets may be subject to tax, including capital gains tax, in your jurisdiction. Any descriptions of Crypto.com products or features are merely for illustrative purposes and do not constitute an endorsement, invitation, or solicitation.

Past performance is not a guarantee or predictor of future performance. The value of crypto assets can increase or decrease, and you could lose all or a substantial amount of your purchase price. When assessing a crypto asset, it’s essential for you to do your research and due diligence to make the best possible judgement, as any purchases shall be your sole responsibility.

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