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Modern Life: what is Cryptocurrency?​

Features | By Annabel Sampson | January 2018


A ‘cryptocurrency’ is a digital currency, an online alternative to the pound in your pocket. Unlike the pound, cryptocurrencies have nothing to do with the Bank of England or the government. As such, they are extremely volatile.  Bitcoin, created in 2009, was the first cryptocurrency. Many more have followed. There are now more than a thousand, from Ethereum to Dogecoin – originally issued as a joke currency, it now has a market capitalisation of around £215 million – and Trumpcoin, created to support President Trump in his vision of ‘making America great again’. Thomas Carper, the senior US Senator for Delaware, has said of the phenomenon, ‘Virtual currencies, perhaps most notably bitcoin, have captured the imagination of some, struck fear among others, and confused the heck out of the rest of us.’  There’s a clue to that confusion in the name. ‘Crypto’ comes from the Greek kruptos, which means ‘hidden’. How does this e-currency...

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