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What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography to secure its transactions and to control the creation of new units. Cryptocurrencies are decentralized, meaning they are not subject to government or financial institution control. Bitcoin, the first and most well-known cryptocurrency, was created in 2009.

Cryptocurrencies are often traded on decentralized exchanges and can also be used to purchase goods and services. Bitcoin, for example, can be used to purchase items from, Expedia, and other retailers.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a payment system, first proposed by an anonymous person or group of people under the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. Bitcoin is unique in that there are a finite number of them: 21 million. As of June 2019, over 17 million bitcoins had been mined.

Bitcoins are created as a reward for a process known as mining. They can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services. As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment.

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts: applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of fraud or third party interference. Ethereum was proposed in late 2013 by Vitalik Buterin, a cryptocurrency researcher and programmer.

Ethereum was crowdfunded during its early development stage. The Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss nonprofit, gathered more than $18 million in bitcoin and ether in August 2014 to fund the project.

What is a Cryptocurrency Exchange?

A cryptocurrency exchange is a platform where cryptocurrencies are bought, sold, or traded. Cryptocurrency exchanges allow users to trade cryptocurrencies for other assets, such as conventional currency or other cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrency exchanges can be centralized or decentralized. Centralized exchanges are operated by a single company or individual, while decentralized exchanges are run by a network of users.

What is a Blockchain?

A blockchain is a digital ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. It is constantly growing as "completed" blocks are added to it with a new set of recordings. Each block contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. Bitcoin nodes use the block chain to differentiate legitimate Bitcoin transactions from attempts to re-spend coins that have already been spent elsewhere.

What is Mining?

Mining is how new bitcoin and ether are created. Miners are rewarded with cryptocurrency for verifying and committing transactions to the blockchain. Ethereum miners are rewarded based on their share of work done, rather than their share of the total number of blocks mined.

Mining is done with specialized hardware and software. Miners search for an acceptable hash by trying to solve a complex mathematical problem. When a miner finds a solution, they present it to the rest of the network for verification. If the solution is valid, the new block is added to the blockchain and the miner is rewarded in cryptocurrency.

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