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A cryptocurrency, crypto-currency, or crypto is a collection of binary code that is intended to function as a medium of exchange. Individual coin ownership records are stored in a ledger, which is a type of information system that employs strong cryptography to secure transaction records, control the creation of additional coins, and verify the transfer of coin ownership between two parties. In order to keep the cryptocurrency running, certain crypto schemes make use of validators. In a proof-of-stake mechanism, token owners put their tokens up as collateral to protect their investments. In exchange, they are granted control over the token in proportion to the amount of money they have staked in the token. Token stakers often gain increased ownership in the token over time as a result of network fees, freshly issued tokens, or other similar compensation mechanisms. When compared to traditional money, cryptocurrency is devoid of any physical form (unlike paper money) and is not produced by any government or other institution. Decentralized control, as opposed to a central bank digital currency, is the norm for cryptocurrencies in most cases (CBDC). Censorship is often applied to digital currencies while they are minting or creating prior to release, or when they are released by a single issuer. Individual cryptocurrencies operate on the basis of distributed ledger technology, often a blockchain, which serves as a public financial transaction database when deployed with decentralised governance.

A decentralised cryptocurrency, Bitcoin was the first to be created and distributed as open-source software in 2009. There have been a slew of new cryptocurrencies introduced since the introduction of bitcoin in 2009.