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Introduction to cryptocurrencies

What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies are the future of finance and technology. A cryptocurrency is available in digital form, as opposed to paper (banknotes) or coin currency. An important distinction between digital, virtual and cryptocurrency has to be made. 



How much money exists on Earth?

That answer depends on how you define money. There are several measures of money supply: 

  • M0: consists of coins and banknotes. Valued around  ~USD 5 Trillion.
  • M1 (a.k.a narrow money): consists of M0 + quickly accessed money e.g. checking deposits. Valued around ~USD 27 Trillion.
  • M2 (a.k.a broad money): consists of M1 + saving and time deposits + money market accounts. Valued around ~USD 80 Trillion. 

This means only around 6% of money is in physical form. The rest is stored in some digital form



In 2014, the the European Banking Authority (EBA) defined virtual currency as "a digital representation of value that is neither issued by a central bank or a public authority, nor necessarily attached to a fiat currency, but is accepted by natural or legal persons as a means of payment and can be transferred, stored or traded electronically”. Examples of virtual currencies: airline miles, game points, online credits, etc.



Cryptocurrency is a portmanteau of the words cryptography and currency. Cryptocurrency can be both: digital and virtual. The distinction is that the currency is based on a cryptographic algorithm e.g. SHA-256 or Scrypt. Examples of cryptocurrency include bitcoin, litecoin and ethereum.  


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