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A cryptocurrency, crypto-currency, or crypto is a digital currency designed to work as a medium of exchange through a computer network that is not reliant on any central authority, such as a government or bank, to uphold or maintain it.
Individual coin ownership records are stored in a digital ledger, which is a computerized database using strong cryptography to secure transaction records, to control the creation of additional coins, and to verify the transfer of coin ownership. Despite their name, cryptocurrencies are not necessarily considered to be currencies in the traditional sense and while varying categorical treatments have been applied to them, including classification as commodities, securities, as well as currencies, cryptocurrencies are generally viewed as distinct asset class in practice. Some crypto schemes use validators to maintain the cryptocurrency. In a proof-of-stake model, owners put up their tokens as collateral. In return, they get authority over the token in proportion to the amount they stake. Generally, these token stakers get additional ownership in the token overtime via network fees, newly minted tokens or other such reward mechanisms.
Cryptocurrency does not exist in physical form (like paper money) and is typically not issued by a central authority. Cryptocurrencies typically use decentralized control as opposed to a central bank digital currency (CBDC). When a cryptocurrency is minted or created prior to issuance or issued by a single issuer, it is generally considered centralized. When implemented with decentralized control, each cryptocurrency works through distributed ledger technology, typically a blockchain, that serves as a public financial transaction database.
A cryptocurrency is a tradable digital asset or digital form of money, built on blockchain technology that only exists online. Cryptocurrencies use encryption to authenticate and protect transactions, hence their name. There are currently over a thousand different cryptocurrencies in the world, and their supporters see them as the key to a fairer future economy.
Bitcoin, first released as open-source software in 2009, is the first decentralized cryptocurrency. Since the release of bitcoin, many other cryptocurrencies have been created.