Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that uses cryptography for security. A cryptocurrency is difficult to counterfeit because of this security feature. A defining feature of a cryptocurrency, and arguably its biggest allure, is its organic nature; it is not issued by any central authority, rendering it theoretically immune to government interference or manipulation.
Cryptocurrencies are classified as a subset of digital currencies and are also classified as a subset of alternative currencies and virtual currencies. Bitcoin, the first and most widely used cryptocurrency, was created in 2009. There are more than four thousand cryptocurrencies in existence as of January 2021, with the total market capitalization exceeding one hundred billion US dollars.
Cryptocurrencies are decentralized systems that allow for the secure transfer of digital assets from one person to another. They operate on a distributed ledger called a blockchain, which is a record of all the transactions in the cryptocurrency. The blockchain is maintained by a network of computers that work together to validate and record the transactions. Transactions in a cryptocurrency are recorded in a public ledger, and the ownership of each cryptocurrency is recorded on the blockchain through the use of private and public keys.
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