If you are new to the crypto space, it can be difficult to navigate all of the terms, concepts, and types of digital assets that are available. However, there is no need to worry! We are here to help you understand some of the basics.
What is Cryptocurrency?
To put it simply, cryptocurrencies are digital assets. Most digital assets are decentralized, which means they are not controlled by a single governing body, and this is what makes them more unique than traditional fiat.
How Does Crypto Work?
Since crypto is decentralized, it is important that some rules exist to assure that transactions involving digital assets are legitimate. The blockchain stores all transaction data, chronologically tracking the public digital asset transactions that take place all over the world.
While this may sound simple, this level of data storage takes an incredible amount of work. That is why computers called miners are constantly processing advanced computations to confirm transactions. When someone chooses to use their personal hardware to mine, they are issued a small amount of crypto called a block reward.
How Do I Get Involved?
If you would like your very own digital assets, it is likely that you will need to purchase some bitcoins (BTC) using fiat. You can use our Banxa/Gem integration for this if you are using the new ShapeShift.
After you purchase your BTC, you may trade it for any of the 50+ digital tokens available.
Above, we have put some words in bold that you may not fully understand. We have defined them below.
- Decentralized - Something that has had power moved away from a specific authoritative body is decentralized.
- Fiat - Fiat currencies are centralized currencies, such as the U.S. Dollar or the Euro.
- Blockchain - The ledger that tracks digital asset transactions into sequential order.
- Miners - Computers that confirm transactions on the blockchain using a series of advanced computations.
- Confirm - Confirmations are necessary for a successful transaction. The number of confirmations is based on the number of times that the network has accepted the transaction. The more confirmations, the more likely the transaction is to be legitimate. The fewer the confirmations, the more likely it is that coins could potentially be double-spent.
- Block reward - New digital assets rewarded to a miner for participating in the mining process.
- Address - An address is an alphanumeric string of letters and numbers that is unique to a wallet. It is what is used to route digital assets across the network to a particular destination. Different coins have unique address formats.
There are a number of digital assets that exist, but some of the most common are:
If you are interested in other coins that ShapeShift offers, visit us at ShapeShift.com and view all of our available coins.
ShapeShift.com is a fantastic tool for anyone that wants to exchange one digital asset for another. We offer thousands of exchangeable tokens and our platform is easy to use. If you need help utilizing our services, please visit this article.
If you are getting started with app.shapeshift.com instead, you will also be able to view your assets within your hardware wallet. Learn more about ShapeShift here.
I Want to Learn More
We encourage our users to learn as much about the crypto world as possible, so we try to provide as much information as we can. If you are new to the space, we recommend starting with some of our beginner topics:
If you have more questions, visit our Help Center. If you have a question that our Help Center cannot answer, or if you have a failed exchange, feel free to reach out to us.