Cryptocurrency or crypto is a new form of digital money that makes it easier to transfer value online. Individual coin ownership records are stored in a digital ledger in a form of a computerized database that uses strong cryptography to secure transaction records, and to verify the transfer of coin ownership.
The first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, has become the most valuable and commonly held among the thousands of cryptocurrencies that have since been created. Bitcoin was created in 2009 to be an electronic peer-to-peer cash system, but has also attracted investors as a store-of-value currency, comparable to gold.
The entire cryptocurrency market — now worth more than $3 trillion — is based on the idea realized by Bitcoin: money that can be sent and received by anyone, anywhere in the world without reliance on trusted intermediaries, such as banks and financial services companies.
Today there are more than 13,000 crypto coins, also known as altcoins, available. Each coin was created to serve a specific need. Some are used for payment of fees on specific platforms or games while others, like Dogecoin, are designed for general transaction use.
Many people hold crypto as an investment hoping for long term gains. Other actively trade crypto on exchanges hoping to benefit from the asset classes volatility.