Cryptocurrency, sometimes called crypto, is a form of currency that exists digitally and uses cryptography to encrypt transactions. Unlike traditional currencies that are governed by Central Banks (in the U.S., the Federal Reserve) to determine when they increase or decrease supply, Bitcoin is limited to a certain number of units that can ever be created (21 million).
Cryptocurrencies are tracked on a platform called a blockchain, a record of all transactions updated and held by crypto holders. Units of cryptocurrency are released through a process called mining, which involves using computers to solve complicated mathematical problems that generate coins.
When you own cryptocurrency, you own a key that allows you to move money from one person to another without a trusted third party (bank). It’s a person-to-person system that can enable anyone anywhere to send and receive payments.
The first cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, which was founded in 2009 and remains the best known, and largest, today.