A cryptocoin or “cryptocurrency” is digital money that uses a cryptographic algorithm (called “hashing”) to record the transactions to an accounting ledger called the “blockchain”.
What makes cryptocurrencies unique is that they are decentralized, as opposed to having a central bank, inflation is generally stable or non-existent, and many are open-source and can be validated by anyone with the technological know-how. They are designed to be rapid, global, and have low transaction fees. But since they do not have a central authority like a central bank or FDIC, you are completely responsible for what happens to your money, and if you send it to the wrong address, you most likely won’t get it back.
The first widely adopted cryptocurrency was Bitcoin, launched in January 2009.