What's a cryptocurrency?

A cryptocurrency is just like a digital form of cash. You can use it to pay friends for your share of the bar tab, buy that new pair of socks you've been eyeing up , or book flights ✈️ and hotels 🏨 for your next holiday. Because cryptocurrency is digital, it can also be sent to friends and family anywhere in the world.

Just like PayPal or bank transfers, right?

Well, not really. It's way more interesting! You see, traditional online payment gateways are owned by organizations. They hold your money for you, and you need to ask them to transfer it on your behalf when you want to spend it.

In cryptocurrencies, there isn't an organization. You, your friends, and thousands of others can act as your own banks by running free software. Your computer connects with other people's computers, meaning you communicate directly – no middlemen required!

To use cryptocurrency, you don't need to sign up for a website with an email address and password. You can download a wide variety of apps onto your smartphone to begin sending and receiving within minutes.

Why do they call it cryptocurrency?

The name cryptocurrency is a combination of cryptography and currency. With cryptography, we use advanced math to secure our funds, making sure that nobody else can spend them.

Bitcoin provided the foundation for many other cryptocurrencies. Some were based on the same software, while others took a very different approach. Ok, but what's the difference between all the cryptocurrencies?

To even make a list of all the different cryptocurrencies would take us weeks. Some are faster than others, some are more private, some are more secure, and some are more programmable.

There's a common saying in the cryptocurrency space: Do Your Own Research (or DYOR). We're not saying that to be rude, we promise. It just means that you shouldn't take information from a single source as the truth. Before investing your money into a particular project, make sure you do your due diligence.

In the next section, we're going to talk about the technology that the vast majority of digital currencies are based on, known as blockchain.

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