Cryptocurrencies are digital tokens — not coin or cash — but digital money which allow people to make payments directly to each other through an online system set-up to allow peer-to-peer transactions without needing a bank. Cryptocurrency payments exist purely as digital entries into an online database that describes specific transactions.
Cryptocurrency is stored in a digital wallet. Cryptos came into existence after the 2008 financial market crisis when a need was felt to democratise how currencies are held, exchanged and regulated. That year a person under the anonymous name Satoshi Nakamoto invented Bitcoin. Cryptos today also include Ethereum, Tether, Cardano, and Dogecoin, among others.
Cryptos are more democratic in nature – you can use them in any part of the world, but as much as you want and use them anywhere. There is a network of people and their computers which maintains a ledger and any transaction must be validated by all those present in that network. The ledger then gets updated to reflect the transaction. This technology is called blockchain.
Cryptos also express values in units similar to traditional currency and some people also consider Bitcoin comparable to gold as they are finite in number and supply and need to be mined. Mining is the process by which new cryptos enter circulation and is also a critical component of the maintenance and development of the blockchain ledger.