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Terms + definitions


It is shorthand for alternative coin, meaning other crypto coins that are not Bitcoin.


The most popular cryptocurrency on the market and the first to be mined in 2009.


A type of digital ledger system that tracks and validates transactions through a decentralized network of computers.

Blockchain explorer

A blockchain browser that shows all the details of transactions on a blockchain network.

Blockchain funds

Funds that invest in companies that have operations related to blockchain technology. Blockchain funds allow investors to access the technology behind crypto assets without directly buying, owning or trading crypto.

Centralized finance (CeFi)

CeFi refers to centralized finance, including the traditional financial system and centralized crypto platforms.

Cold wallet

A crypto wallet that stays offline.

Crypto asset

An umbrella term to mean all digital assets that use cryptography (a method of securing data), a peer-to-peer network and a digital ledger system to record transactions.

Crypto asset trading platform

An online trading service that allows investors to buy and sell crypto assets.


A type of crypto asset that is intended to behave like a currency. It can also be saved, retrieved and exchanged at a later date. Unlike traditional currencies, cryptocurrencies are not currently issued or backed by any government or central bank.

Crypto custodian

Provides storage of digital assets for professional and institutional investors in exchange for a fee. Assets could be stored online (hot storage) or offline (cold storage) and may support a multi-approval approach (multi-signature wallets).

Crypto exchange traded funds (ETFs)

A type of exchange-traded fund that tracks crypto assets instead of stocks or bonds that are commonly held by regular ETFs. These products enable investors to access crypto assets without directly buying, owning or trading them.

Decentralized finance (DeFi)

DeFi is decentralized finance. It’s an umbrella term for peer-to-peer financial services on blockchains.

Digital coins

Another name for cryptocurrency.

Digital token

Another name for crypto assets.

Distributed ledger

A digital system in which records of transactions are simultaneously maintained at multiple points through a network of computers. Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger.

Governance token

A crypto token that grants voting and management power to users on a blockchain project. This means users may have the opportunity to determine future rules and goals of the project as well as influence changes to the blockchain architecture.

Hot wallet

A crypto wallet that is connected to the internet.

Initial coin offering (ICO)

A way for businesses to raise money by distributing crypto assets to investors.


A physical ATM that allows you to use cash to purchase crypto assets.


People who operate computers on a blockchain and validate crypto asset transactions. If they add the transaction to the blockchain, they typically receive new crypto assets or fees as a reward.

Non-fungible token (NFT)

A type of digital token that represents a digital or real-world object such as art, music or video. The object is usually one of a kind or part of a limited series. Investors generally buy NFTs in exchange for ownership rights for the object.

Private key

Every address on a blockchain has a private key and public key. The private key is used to access your account and send crypto assets to other people. Similar to an email password, a private key is not meant to be shared.


A system for adding validated transactions to a blockchain, in which a person is chosen to process a particular set of crypto asset transactions based on the amount of crypto assets they hold.


A system of adding validated transactions to a blockchain, which involves computers racing to solve math problems before a set of transactions can be added to the blockchain.

Public key

Every address on a blockchain has a public key and a private key. The public key is used to receive crypto assets from other people and identify your account on the blockchain. Similar to an email address, a public key can be shared.

Security token

A type of digital token used by businesses to raise money with similar characteristics to traditional securities such as stocks or bonds.

Smart contract

A smart contract is programmed to automatically execute once the terms of the contract are met. The contract information can be reviewed on the blockchain and can be used for agreements between individuals, companies or platforms.


A type of crypto asset meant to maintain a stable value and be used as a means to transact with other crypto assets and services. Some claim to be backed by reserves of a single asset, such as the U.S. dollar or gold, or a basket of assets, though these claims are not verifiable in all instances, and others are algorithmic stable coins.

Utility token

A type of digital token that typically has one or more specific functions, such as allowing its holder to access or purchase services or assets based on blockchain technology.


A marketing document that is released by a company to provide potential investors with information about a crypto project. It can include technical information about the crypto concept, statistics and plans for growth.

Knowing the vocabulary of crypto can help you make informed choices.