What Is Cryptocurrency?

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Cryptocurrency is decentralized digital money, based on blockchain technology. You may be familiar with the most popular versions, Bitcoin and Ethereum, but there are more than 5,000 different cryptocurrencies in circulation, according to CoinLore.
Though you can use crypto to make purchases, many people invest in cryptocurrencies as they would in other assets, like stocks or precious metals. While cryptocurrency is a novel and exciting asset class, purchasing it can be risky as you must take on a fair amount of research to fully understand how each system works.
How Does Cryptocurrency Work?
A cryptocurrency is a medium of exchange that is digital, encrypted and decentralized. Unlike the U.S. Dollar or the Euro, there is no central authority that manages and maintains the value of a cryptocurrency. Instead, these tasks are broadly distributed among a cryptocurrency’s users via the internet.
Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, first outlined in principle by Satoshi Nakamoto in a 2008 paper titled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.” Nakamoto described the project as “an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust.”
That cryptographic proof comes in the form of transactions that are verified and recorded in a form of program called a …

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