Cryptocurrencies, or “cryptos”, are being billed as the future of money. While some people see them as having limitless potential and uses, others are less than convinced.

Cryptos are not yet mainstream, but a growing number of companies and financial institutions are buying into them and their burgeoning influence around the world.

Let us help you make sense of what cryptocurrencies are and learn why they will matter in the near future.

What are cryptos?

Cryptos are just like any other currency. You can buy goods and services with them or trade with them. Where they differ from traditional paper currencies we have in our wallets is that there are no physical coins or notes – the money is completely virtual.

Units of cryptocurrency can be bought from brokers or generated through an online process called “mining” and used to make payments or store money anonymously.

While they are popularly depicted as coins similar to casino chips, the physical coin is worthless without the printed code inside it.

According to Investopedia, there were more than 4,000 cryptocurrencies in circulation at the beginning of 2021. More and more are being launched all the time.

Bitcoin, which you may have heard of, was the original cryptocurrency, and it continues to be the most widely recognised by people. Given its success at global recognition, Bitcoin has become a yardstick for all the other altcoins, or “alternative coins,” that came after it.

However, as of March 2021, Bitcoin has become only the second-largest traded crypto, having been unseated by Tether. Both
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