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Cryptocurrencies let you buy goods and services, use apps and games or trade them for profit. Here’s more about what cryptocurrency is and how to protect yourself.Written by Kevin VoigtAndy RosenReviewed by Michael Randall Jun 13, 2022

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What is cryptocurrency?

A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital asset that can circulate without the need for a central monetary authority such as a government or bank. Instead, cryptocurrencies are created using cryptographic techniques that enable people to buy, sell or trade them securely.

How does cryptocurrency work?

Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies are supported by a technology known as blockchain, which maintains a tamper-resistant record of transactions and keeps track of who owns what. The creation of blockchains addressed a problem faced by previous efforts to create purely digital currencies: preventing people from making copies of their holdings and attempting to spend it twice[1].

Individual units of cryptocurrencies can be referred to as coins or tokens, depending on how they are used. Some are intended to be units of exchange for goods and services, others are stores of value, and some can be used to participate in specific software programs such as games and financial products.

How are cryptocurrencies created?

One common way cryptocurrencies are created is through a process known as mining, which is used by Bitcoin. Mining can be an energy-intensive process in which computers solve complex puzzles in order to verify the authenticity of transactions on the network. As a reward, the owners of those computers can receive newly created cryptocurrency. Other cryptocurrencies use different methods to create and distribute tokens, and many have a significantly lighter environmental impact.

For most people, the easiest way to get cryptocurrency is to buy it, either from an exchange or another user.rmdfm

» Ready to invest? How to buy cryptocurrency

Complete list of cryptocurrencies

Below, you can find all of the major cryptocurrencies listed by market capitalization.https://embeds.nerdwallet.com/embeds/1148814.html?nwaMode=embed