How Does Cryptocurrency Work? A Beginner’s Guide

how to use cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency has become a popular topic of discussion in recent years. It is a digital form of money that operates independently of banks or financial institutions. In this beginner’s guide, we will explore how cryptocurrency works and provide you with the essential information you need to know before entering the world of digital currencies.

What is cryptocurrency?

how to use cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency, often referred to as crypto, is a digital payment platform that eliminates the need to carry physical money. It exists solely in digital form and can be used for online transactions as well as some physical purchases. Unlike traditional money that is printed by the government, cryptocurrency is created and sold by various companies.

Cryptocurrencies are fungible, which means that their value remains the same when bought, sold, or traded. However, it’s important to note that cryptocurrency is distinct from non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which can have varying values based on the digital asset they are attached to. Additionally, while cryptocurrency is not regulated by governments, it is still considered a taxable asset, and any profits or losses must be reported to the Internal Revenue Service.

How are cryptocurrencies created?

The process of creating cryptocurrency is known as mining. When a transaction is made using cryptocurrency, it needs to be validated, and mining performs this validation while also generating new cryptocurrency. Mining involves using specialized hardware and software to add transactions to the blockchain, which is an unchangeable ledger that records and tracks assets and trades.

However, not all cryptocurrencies are created through mining. In some cases, developers create new currencies through a process called a hard fork. This creates a new chain in the blockchain, with one fork following the new path and the other following the old. Cryptocurrencies that cannot be mined are typically used for investments rather than for making purchases.

Cryptocurrency vs. traditional currency

One key difference between cryptocurrency and traditional currency is that the government produces and backs traditional currency, while cryptocurrency operates independently of any government, bank, or financial institution. Traditional currency comes in the form of paper bills and coins that can be carried and used for transactions, whereas cryptocurrencies are stored in digital wallets.

While traditional currency held in bank accounts is insured against loss, cryptocurrency has no such recourse in the event of a loss. Furthermore, traditional currency can be subject to restrictions such as ATM withdrawal limits, whereas cryptocurrencies offer more flexibility in this regard.

What are the advantages of cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency offers several advantages over traditional currency. One significant advantage is privacy. When making a purchase with cryptocurrency, you do not need to provide any personal information, which protects you from potential identity theft and other fraudulent activities. Additionally, regardless of what happens to the government, your investment in cryptocurrency remains secure.

Another advantage of cryptocurrency is its global nature. There is no need to figure out or pay foreign exchange rates when using cryptocurrency for international transactions, although it’s essential to note that cryptocurrency is not legal in some countries. Moreover, cryptocurrency eliminates concerns related to bank account restrictions, such as ATM withdrawal limits.

Types of cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency is available in two forms: coins and tokens. Coins can be virtual, digital, or tangible and operate on their own blockchain. Tokens, on the other hand, are assets that exist on an existing blockchain and can be used as currency or to represent asset ownership.

Bitcoin is the most well-known and commonly traded cryptocurrency. Ethereum is the second most valuable and can be used for complex transactions. Other popular cryptocurrencies, known as altcoins, include Cardano, Solana, Dogecoin, and XRP.

How to get started with cryptocurrencies

If you’re interested in getting started with cryptocurrencies, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Choose a broker or crypto exchange: An exchange is an online platform where you can trade cryptocurrencies directly, while brokers use interfaces that interact with exchanges. Select a platform that suits your needs and preferences.
  2. Create and fund your account: Once you have chosen a broker or exchange, open an account, and verify your identity, if required. Once your account is set up, you can fund it to start trading. The funding process may take a few days, depending on the method you choose.
  3. Buy crypto: After your account is funded, you can make your first cryptocurrency purchase. Choose the cryptocurrency you want to buy, enter the ticker symbol and the amount you wish to purchase. Some commonly traded cryptocurrencies include Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Dogecoin (DOGE), Tether (USDT), USD Coin (USDC), and Uniswap (UNI).
  4. Select a storage method: Most often, you will store your cryptocurrency in a digital wallet. When purchasing through an exchange, you may have the option to choose between a hot wallet or cold wallet. A hot wallet offers online storage that can be accessed from various devices, while a cold wallet is offline storage, typically in the form of an external device like a USB drive.

Ready to get into cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency offers various opportunities for investing, trading, and employment. If you would like to dive deeper into the subject, you can learn more about crypto technology and how it works through online courses. Platforms like Coursera offer courses such as “Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies” by Princeton University and “Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Explained” by the University of Michigan.


Q: What is cryptocurrency?
A: Cryptocurrency is digital money that operates independently of banks or financial institutions. It exists only in digital form and can be used for online transactions as well as some physical purchases.

Q: How are cryptocurrencies created?
A: Cryptocurrencies are created through a process called mining, which involves validating transactions and generating new cryptocurrency using specialized hardware and software. Some cryptocurrencies are also created through a hard fork, where a new chain is created in the blockchain.

Q: What are the advantages of cryptocurrency?
A: Cryptocurrency offers advantages such as privacy, global accessibility, and security of investments. When using cryptocurrency, you don’t need to provide personal information, it eliminates the need for foreign exchange rates, and your investment remains secure regardless of government actions.


Cryptocurrency has become an increasingly popular form of digital money. Understanding how it works and its advantages is crucial for anyone considering entering the world of cryptocurrencies. By grasping the basics and taking the necessary steps to get started, you can navigate this exciting and ever-evolving space with confidence. So why not explore the world of cryptocurrency and see what possibilities it holds for you?

How to use cryptocurrency

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