What Is Cryptocurrency: Beginner's Guide

What Is Cryptocurrency: Beginner's Guide

What Is Cryptocurrency?

While the term “cryptocurrency” has existed for a long time, its popularity and use have grown astronomically in the last two decades. Essentially, cryptocurrency is a type of currency.

The concept of currency is familiar; it is a widely accepted medium for exchanging goods and services. The practice of using a tangible item for trade has ancient roots, spanning from the barter system to the contemporary fiat currency structure. This modern monetary system developed during the 17th and 18th centuries as governments established central banks and formalized their monetary frameworks. Furthermore, with the advancement of industrialization and globalization, numerous nations embraced the centralized fiat currency system, shaping the financial landscape we recognize today.

Cryptocurrency is a compound word that can be divided into the words “Crypto,” meaning secret or hidden, and “Currency,” which denotes a means of exchange. It is a digital form of currency usually backed by a cryptographic process using blockchain technolog. Unlike fiat, as mentioned above, cryptocurrencies are not tangible. Nevertheless, they can be used as a means of product and service exchange and transferred from one person to another.

Brief history — eCasH and the Early Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin stands as the apex cryptocurrency, introduced in 2009 following the implementation of its blockchain technology — a year after the release of its original white paper. It holds the distinction of being the most widely embraced cryptocurrency. However, cryptocurrencies predated Bitcoin, yet they didn’t capture widespread notice until a few years after Bitcoin’s introduction in 2009. The first ever cryptocurrency, eCash, was formulated by DigiCash in 1990, with its concept originating from the mind of the American cryptographer David Chaum. He envisioned a form of currency token that could be securely and privately exchanged between individuals; with remarkable resemblances to contemporary cryptocurrencies.

Chaum, who authored the paper “Blind Signatures for Untraceable Payments” in 1983, laid the groundwork for eCash. Chaum created a technique known as a “blinding formula” designed for encrypting information exchanged between individuals. This innovation allowed for the secure transfer of “Blinded Cash” between parties, possessing both an authentic signature and the capacity to be altered without leaving a trace. Similarly, in the years after 1983, E-Gold, Bit Gold, B-Money and HashCash were some of the early cryptocurrencies released that predated Bitcoin, however, they were not very successful. Although numerous efforts were made, it took over two decades for the concept to evolve into the well-known cryptocurrency we recognize today, Bitcoin.

Cryptocurrency Generation Process

Typically, cryptocurrencies are generated through a process known as cryptocurrency mining (or minting). This process entails miners utilizing specialized computers and engaging in solving intricate mathematical problems on the blockchain. The initial successful solver not only earns a specified value of the cryptocurrency but also gains the opportunity to append a new block of transaction records to the blockchain. While cryptocurrency mining is fundamental to creating new digital currencies, it also plays a crucial role in upholding the security and decentralization of the blockchain network.

The Value and Use Cases

Since their introduction, cryptocurrencies have gained popularity and increased in value exponentially. The first transaction using Bitcoin was made by Laszlo Hanyecz, a programmer who, on May 22, 2010, purchased two large pizzas for 10,000 Bitcoin. In 2024, the value of that meal has soared into millions of US dollars, and it continues to be commemorated annually as “Bitcoin Pizza Day.”

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology play a crucial role in enhancing financial inclusion. Individuals without access to traditional banking services or residing in underserved communities can now achieve financial participation with an internet connection and a device to manage their digital wallets, facilitating swift and effortless global transactions. The decentralized structure of the blockchain network contributes to heightened security and transparency, eradicating the risks of fraud and data tampering. The introduction of cryptocurrency and blockchain has not only transformed the financial sector but is progressively discovering applications in various industries like healthcare, supply chain, and real estate.


Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum are digital currencies generated through mining and serve as a medium of exchange for goods and services. Despite sharing functional similarities with fiat currency, cryptocurrencies boast distinctive features. With the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, there is a potential for significant transformation across various industries and the financial landscape as a whole.

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