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What is a Cryptocurrency?

The name cryptocurrency which can be abbreviated to “crypto,” is derived from the two words, cryptography and currency.  Cryptography is the use of practice of creating secure communication, typically through encryption.  A cryptocurrency is the use of encryption to create decentralized digital currency through encryption.  These virtual currencies have a variety of purposes and can be traded on exchanges.

The main technology behind these these cryptocurrencies is called, Blockchain.  Blockchain is a decentralized public ledger that helps facilitate secure digital transactions.  This means that all transactions are recorded and broadcasted out to the public but all records are encrypted and use public and private keys for security purposes to access accounts and read parts of transactions.

Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency, which is used as a payment system.  Other cryptocurrencies like, Ethereum, use smart contracts to create contracts that are stored on the blockchain and run on the network.

Since cryptocurrencies are decentralized, trust on the network is created through a process known as mining.  Miners use computing power to confirm transactions in a block.  They are rewarded a block reward if they are the first to confirm the block.  A block in Bitcoin or on a blockchain is a group of transactions bundled together that will be placed on the blockchain as public record.  Several of these blocks linked together is a blockchain.  On the Bitcoin network, every 10 minutes a block is confirmed by miners and is officially added to the growing blockchain.


Related Terms

Blockchain A blockchain is a decentralized public ledger that helps facilitate secure digital transactions. It is a public database that is managed by the network.
What is a Cryptocurrency Fork? A fork or hard fork is a the a blockchain to splitting into another branch, allowing for the development of other features or maintenance of different data.
What is a Blockchain and Why it’s Important? Blockchain is the system that underpins Bitcoin and all the other cryptocurrencies. This techology has the chance to shape many new and old industries.
What Are Bitcoin Futures and How Do They Work? Bitcoin futures were created as a hedge against the future price of the asset. It it allows for traders to short the currency without actually owning any.