Tax Glossary


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Last updated on:
March 17, 2024

Cryptocurrency represents a revolutionary digital currency that operates on a decentralized network, independent of traditional financial institutions and governmental oversight. Unlike the balances in online banking which represent digital representations of fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies are entirely digital and utilize blockchain technology to secure transactions and control the creation of new units.

Distinction Between Cryptocurrency and Online Cash

  • Decentralization: The core feature that distinguishes cryptocurrencies from online fiat currency is their decentralized nature. Unlike fiat currencies controlled by central banks, cryptocurrencies operate on a distributed ledger technology, making them immune to central authority manipulation or interference.
  • Blockchain Technology: Cryptocurrencies leverage blockchain technology to ensure transparency, security, and integrity of transactions. This technology facilitates peer-to-peer transactions without the need for intermediaries like banks.

Popular Cryptocurrencies

Several cryptocurrencies have gained prominence, each serving unique purposes beyond mere transactions:

  • Bitcoin (BTC): Often considered the first and most well-known cryptocurrency, Bitcoin serves as a digital gold, providing a store of value and medium of exchange.
  • Ethereum (ETH): Beyond a currency, Ethereum enables smart contracts and decentralized applications (DApps), offering a wide range of uses from financial services to gaming.
  • XRP: Designed for fast, inexpensive international transactions, XRP aims to streamline cross-border payments, reducing the friction associated with traditional banking systems.

The Purpose of Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies serve various functions depending on their design and intended use cases:

  • Facilitating Transactions: Cryptos like Bitcoin and Litecoin are designed as digital currencies to facilitate online transactions securely and anonymously.
  • Smart Contracts and DApps: Platforms like Ethereum and Cardano enable the creation and execution of smart contracts and decentralized applications, extending crypto's use beyond mere currency.
  • Financial Inclusion: Cryptocurrencies can provide financial services to unbanked populations, offering access to the global economy.
  • Digital Art and Ownership: The rise of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) has introduced a new use case for cryptocurrencies in authenticating and transferring ownership of digital art and collectibles.


Cryptocurrency is more than just digital cash; it's a multifaceted digital asset that offers a wide range of applications, from facilitating secure online transactions to enabling the creation of decentralized applications and the exchange of digital art. As the cryptocurrency landscape continues to evolve, it's poised to transform various sectors, challenging traditional notions of currency and asset ownership.

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