logo > Cryptocurrencies

What exactly are cryptocurrencies, and how do they function?

Any kind of currency that exists digitally or electronically and makes use of cryptography to safeguard transactions is referred to as cryptocurrency. The term "cryptocurrency" is often used interchangeably with "crypto." The recording of transactions and the distribution of new units is handled by a decentralized network in cryptocurrencies, as opposed to a centralized authority as is the case with traditional currencies.

Cryptocurrency refers to a decentralized digital payment system that does not rely on traditional financial institutions to validate transactions. It is a decentralized, peer-to-peer system that enables users to make and receive payments regardless of their location. Payments made using cryptocurrencies exist solely as digital entries to an online database recording individual transactions. This is in contrast to traditional currencies, which are represented by actual money that can be moved about and traded in the real world. When you send or receive money using a cryptocurrency, the transaction is added to a public ledger where it can be viewed by everyone. Digital wallets are used for the storage of cryptocurrency.

The fact that cryptocurrency relies on encryption to authenticate transactions is where the term "crypto" comes from. Because of this, the storing of cryptocurrency data and the transmission of that data between wallets and to public ledgers requires a high level of technical expertise. Encryption's primary purpose is to serve as a safety and security measure.

Popular Cryptocurrencies By Market Capitalization

Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency ever created. Despite its age, it is still the most well-known digital money in use today. The majority of people who are interested in cryptocurrencies do so in the hopes of making a profit through trading; as a result, prices are often driven through the roof by speculators.

The blockchain is a decentralized public ledger that keeps a record of all transactions and is maintained by the holders of cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies are decentralized digital currencies.

Mining is the process of creating new units of cryptocurrency by employing computer power to solve complex mathematical problems that generate coins. This process is referred to as "cryptocurrency mining." Users may also acquire the currencies from brokers, then store them in cryptographic wallets and use those wallets to spend or store the currencies.

You do not actually have any physical possessions if you hold any cryptocurrencies. You are in possession of a key that enables you to transfer a record or a unit of measurement from one individual to another without the involvement of a reliable third party.

Even though Bitcoin has been present since 2009, other cryptocurrencies and financial applications of blockchain technology are just now beginning to emerge, and it is anticipated that even more usage will emerge in the years to come. In the future, transactions involving financial assets such as stocks, bonds, and other monetary instruments may be conducted utilizing the technology.

There are many of different cryptocurrencies now available. Among the most well-known are the following:

Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency ever created, and it is still the digital asset that is exchanged the most often. It was launched in 2009. It is commonly thought that Satoshi Nakamoto is a pseudonym for an individual or group of persons whose specific identity continues to be unknown. Satoshi Nakamoto was the person who established the currency.

Ethereum is a blockchain platform that was developed in 2015 and has its own cryptocurrency known as Ether (ETH) or Ethereum. Ethereum was named after its namesake. After bitcoin, it is the cryptocurrency with the most widespread use.

Litecoin is a digital currency that is most comparable to bitcoin, however it has developed new improvements far more rapidly than bitcoin has. These innovations include speedier payment methods and procedures that enable more transactions.

Ripple is an example of a distributed ledger system that was developed in 2012. Ripple was established in 2012. Ripple is not limited to merely the tracking of bitcoin transactions; it can also be used to track other types of transactions. The business that is responsible for it has collaborated with a number of different banks and financial organizations.

To differentiate them from the original cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies that are not Bitcoin are referred to collectively as "altcoins."

You might be curious in how to purchase cryptocurrencies in a risk-free manner. In most cases, there are three stages involved in the process. These include:

Step 1: Selecting an Appropriate Platform

The first thing that has to be done is to choose the platform that will be used. In most cases, you have the option of dealing with either a conventional broker or a cryptocurrency exchange that is purely digital.

Brokers in the traditional sense. These are online brokers that provide clients with the ability to purchase and sell cryptocurrencies in addition to traditional financial assets such as equities, bonds, and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These platforms often provide reduced trading prices but have a more limited selection of crypto features.
Exchanges for various cryptocurrencies. There is a diverse selection of cryptocurrency exchanges available, each of which provides a unique selection of cryptocurrencies, wallet storage choices, account types that can earn interest, and other features. A great number of exchanges impose fees that are asset-based.
When comparing various platforms, it is important to take into consideration the cryptocurrencies that are available, the fees that are charged, the security measures that are offered, the alternatives for storing cryptocurrency and withdrawing funds, and any educational materials that may be available.

Proceed to Step 2 to Fund Your Account

After deciding which trading platform to use, the following step is to put money into your account so that you may start trading. The majority of cryptocurrency exchanges enable customers to buy cryptocurrency with fiat currencies (i.e., currencies issued by governments) such as the United States Dollar, the British Pound, or the Euro by using their debit or credit cards, although the specifics of this process vary depending on the platform.

Credit card purchases of cryptocurrency are seen as high risk, and as a result, some exchanges do not support them. There are other credit card providers that do not permit cryptocurrency transactions. For this reason, it is not advisable to risk getting into debt or potentially incurring large credit card transaction fees for some assets. This is because cryptocurrencies are very volatile, and it is not wise to risk going into debt for certain assets.

There are several systems that will furthermore acknowledge wire transactions and ACH transfers. Each platform has its own unique list of acceptable payment methods and unique processing times for deposits and withdrawals. In a similar vein, the time it takes for deposits to become available for use differs depending on the type of payment used.

The cost of the service is an essential component to take into account. These may include costs associated with making deposits and withdrawals, in addition to fees associated with trading. It is important to do preliminary study on the various payment methods and platforms available because fees may differ.

The third step is to place an order.

You can place an order by using the online or mobile interface that is provided by your broker or exchange. You may acquire cryptocurrencies by selecting "buy," selecting the order type, entering the quantity of cryptocurrencies you wish to purchase, and completing the order. If you are interested in purchasing cryptocurrencies, you can do so by following these steps: The "sell" orders follow the same procedure as the other orders.

Investing in cryptocurrency can also be done in a number of other ways. Payment services such as PayPal, Cash App, and Venmo are examples of these. These services enable users to purchase, sell, or store bitcoins. In addition, there are investments available in the following vehicles:

Bitcoin trusts: If you have a standard brokerage account, you may use that to purchase shares in Bitcoin trusts. The stock market provides an entry point for regular investors to gain exposure to cryptocurrency through the use of these vehicles.
Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and Bitcoin mutual funds are both available to investors to pick from.
You may also invest in cryptocurrencies in a roundabout way by purchasing stocks or exchange-traded funds issued by firms that specialize in the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies and the transactions using them. You also have the option of purchasing stocks or exchange-traded funds issued by businesses that implement blockchain technology.
Your investing objectives and level of comfort with taking on risk will determine which choice is most suitable for you.

When you have completed the purchase of bitcoin, the next step is to keep it securely so that it is not vulnerable to being hacked or stolen. Bitcoin is typically kept in digital wallets, which can either be physical hardware or online software. These wallets are intended to safely keep the private keys associated with a user's cryptocurrency holdings. There are certain exchanges that also offer wallet services, making it simple for users to keep their assets directly on the platform. On the other hand, not every exchange or broker will routinely provide you their wallet services by default.

Tweets by CoinMarketCap
Tweets by CoinDesk
Tweets by FXStreetNews

There are a variety of wallet providers available for your consideration. The following examples illustrate the use of the phrases "hot wallet" and "cold wallet":

Storage in a "hot wallet": A "hot wallet" is a type of cryptocurrency storage that stores your assets using online software to safeguard the private keys to your assets.
Storage for cold wallets Unlike hot wallets, cold wallets (also known as hardware wallets) rely on offline electrical equipment to safely store your private keys. This is in contrast to hot wallets, which store your private keys online.
In general, cold wallets are the ones that impose fees, whereas hot wallets are the ones that don't.

Bitcoin was designed from the beginning to function as a medium for day-to-day transactions. It was supposed to make it possible to buy anything from a cup of coffee to a computer or even high-priced items like real estate. However, the initial launch of Bitcoin failed to live up to these expectations. This has not quite come to pass, and despite the fact that an increasing number of businesses are beginning to accept cryptocurrencies, major transactions that use cryptocurrency are still very uncommon. Despite this, it is still feasible to use cryptocurrency to make purchases from e-commerce websites for a wide range of different things. Here are several examples:

E-commerce and technology websites:, AT&T, and Microsoft are just a few examples of corporations that offer technology items and also accept cryptocurrency payments on their websites. E-commerce platform Overstock was one of the first online establishments to start taking Bitcoin payments. Additionally, it is accepted at Shopify, Rakuten, and Home Depot.

Luxury items There are certain retailers in the luxury goods industry who accept cryptocurrency as a means of payment. One example of this is the online luxury shop Bitdials, which accepts Bitcoin as payment for high-end timepieces such as Rolex, Patek Philippe, and others.

Automobiles: Some dealerships, ranging from those that sell mass-market brands to those who sell high-end luxury vehicles, have begun to accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment.

Insurance: The Swiss insurance company AXA made the announcement in April 2021 that it has started taking Bitcoin as a means of payment for all of its lines of insurance, with the exception of life insurance (due to regulatory issues). In the United States, homeowners and drivers can purchase insurance plans through Premier Shield Insurance, which also acknowledges Bitcoin as a valid form of payment for policy premiums.

It is possible to utilize a bitcoin debit card, such as the one offered by BitPay in the United States, in order to spend cryptocurrency at a merchant that does not take it directly.

Frauds with cryptocurrencies often involve:

Fraudulent websites are bogus sites that incorporate fake testimonials and crypto jargon, and they promise large, guaranteed returns on investment as long as the investor continues to invest.

Criminals using cryptocurrencies market chances to invest in digital currencies that do not exist and create the idea of enormous profits by paying off old investors using the money from new investors. These scams are known as virtual Ponzi schemes. One fraudulent scheme, known as BitClub Network, was able to steal more than 700 million dollars from investors before its perpetrators were caught in December 2019.

"Celebrity" endorsements: Scammers appear online as millionaires or well-known individuals, promising to quadruple your investment in a virtual currency but instead stealing what you pay them. These scammers are referred to as "celebrity" endorsements. They could even utilize messaging applications or chat forums to spread the false information that a well-known entrepreneur is supporting a particular cryptocurrency. After the con artists have succeeded in convincing investors to purchase their money and driven up the price, they sell their holdings, which causes the value of the currency to decrease.

Scams involving romantic relationships: The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a warning about a growing trend in online dating scams, in which con artists persuade people they meet on dating apps or social media to invest or trade in virtual currencies. During the first seven months of 2021, the Internet Crime Complaint Centre of the FBI received more than 1,800 reports of romantic scams involving cryptocurrency. The total damages from these scams amounted to $133 million.

If this is not prevented, criminals may pretend to be honest virtual currency dealers or set up fake exchanges in order to con unsuspecting victims into sending them money. Another type of cryptocurrency fraud is making deceptive sales pitches for individual retirement accounts that are invested in crypto assets. On the other hand, there is the more conventional kind of cryptocurrency hacking, in which criminals attempt to steal virtual cash by breaking into the digital wallets that individuals use to hold it.

Blockchain technology is almost always employed while developing cryptocurrencies. The term "blockchain" refers to the process by which transactions are grouped together into "blocks" and then timestamped. The procedure is fairly sophisticated and complicated, but the end result is a digital record of bitcoin transactions that is difficult for cybercriminals to alter in any way.

In addition, a two-factor authentication procedure must be completed before any transactions may take place. To begin a transaction, for example, you may be required to input a login and password before proceeding. After that, you could be required to input an authentication code that was delivered to your personal mobile phone in the form of a text message.

Even while there are security measures in place, it does not guarantee that cryptocurrency cannot be hacked. Start-up bitcoin businesses have incurred significant losses as a result of many high-dollar breaches. Two of the most significant thefts of cryptocurrencies in 2018 occurred when cybercriminals targeted Coincheck, where they stole $534 million, and BitGrail, where they stole $195 million.

The value of virtual currencies, in contrast to the value of money guaranteed by the government, is solely determined by supply and demand. This can cause huge swings in the market, which can result in enormous profits or large losses for investors. Moreover, investments in cryptocurrencies are protected by a far lower level of regulation in comparison to traditional financial instruments such as equities, bonds, and mutual funds.

Although there is always the possibility of losing money on an investment, bitcoin is often regarded by industry professionals as one of the riskiest investment options currently available. If you are thinking about investing in cryptocurrencies, the following advice can assist you in making informed decisions.

Do your homework on the exchanges: Before you put money into cryptocurrencies, you should educate yourself on the various exchanges. According to some estimates, users may pick from more than 500 different exchangers. Before moving further, it is recommended that you conduct research, read reviews, and engage in conversation with investors who have more expertise.

Learn how to keep your digital money if you plan on investing in cryptocurrencies. If you acquire cryptocurrency, you are required to store it. You have the option of keeping it in a digital wallet or on an exchange. There are many various kinds of wallets, each of which has its own set of advantages, technological prerequisites, and level of safety. Before you invest, you should do research on the various storage options available, just as you do with exchanges.

Diversify your holdings: Diversification is the cornerstone of every successful investment plan, and this tenet remains unchanged when it comes to the realm of cryptocurrency investment. For instance, you shouldn't invest all of your money into Bitcoin simply because that's the moniker you're familiar with. There are dozens of different alternatives, and it is recommended that you diversify your investment among a number of different currencies.

Be ready for volatility The market for cryptocurrencies is quite volatile, so you should be ready for both ups and downs in price. You should be prepared for wild fluctuations in pricing. It's possible that bitcoin is not the best option for you if your current financial situation or mental health can't manage the volatility of the market.

Keep in mind that cryptocurrency is still in its relative infancy and is regarded as a highly speculative investment, despite the fact that it is currently all the rage. Be ready for the difficulties that will inevitably arise if you decide to invest in anything novel. If you want to take part, you need do some research first, and your initial investments should be quite safe.

Utilizing a full-featured antivirus program is among the most effective measures you can take to protect yourself while you're online. You will be protected from malware infections, spyware, and the theft of data, and your online payments will be secure thanks to the bank-grade encryption that an Internet Security System provides.



Reviewed by Arpita Singh

Arpita SinghArpita Singh is the main writer at As a senior investment professional with 10+ years of experience working at top-tier Private Equity and Sovereign Wealth Fund; she is also responsible for fact-checking concepts, reviews, and related details about brokers and exchanges listed on this website. Full Bio.