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What is cryptocurrency?
What is cryptocurrency?
Sam avatar
Written by Sam
Updated over a week ago

In short, cryptocurrency is digital money. It used to be that currency was something physical we gave value to - gold, silver, paper money, etc. Now money is often not a tangible object but instead has become digital through systems like credit cards and online banking. Cryptocurrency is a relatively new and exciting form of virtual currency!

A Brief History of Cryptocurrency

  • In 2009, the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, went live and had its first transaction.

  • In 2011, the first rival cryptocurrencies called “altcoins” emerged and tried to improve on the original Bitcoin structure.

  • In 2016, Ether, one of the most notable Bitcoin alternatives, was introduced.

  • Presently, while Bitcoin remains the world’s well-known cryptocurrency, thousands of cryptocurrencies exist with a combined market cap of over $2 trillion as of Oct. 2021. Major companies, such as Microsoft and Overstock, now accept one or more cryptocurrencies as payment. Cryptocurrencies have gone from a relatively underground phenomenon used among a small group of people to an interesting investment opportunity for a growing number of people.

How is investing in crypto different than investing in Stocks and Funds?.



Buying, selling, or holding crypto assets

Buying ownership of a small portion of a business

Can be traded 24/7

Traded only during market hours

Not issued by a central authority, but backed by a (usually) decentralized blockchain

Issued by public companies

Quickly evolving regulatory regime that is relatively new. Crypto trading and custodying businesses are primarily regulated by the Bank Secrecy Act and the US Patriot Act at the federal level, and by money transmitter laws at the state level. A patchwork of different federal and state government agencies share responsibility.

Long established regulatory regime. Overseen primarily by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Also regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), state governments, and stock exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and Nasdaq.

Tend to have high volatility relative to stocks. “Large-cap” cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum can see meaningful swings in price relative to “large-cap” stocks.

Wide range of volatility. Blue-chip or “large-cap” stocks can be relatively stable, while “penny stocks” can be highly erratic.

What is Blockchain technology?

Blockchain technology is the foundational technology on which many cryptocurrencies are built. Blockchain is a type of digital record-keeping system that functions as a ledger for transactions. Information about a transaction comes in and is stored in a block which is then chained or linked to the previous block. Once the data is entered, it cannot be changed or erased, creating a permanent (and decentralized) digital record of transactions!

Another important factor here is that most cryptocurrency blockchains are decentralized. So instead of one company or government maintaining and operating the records, the data is spread across thousands of computers, called ‘nodes.’ If the data is tampered with in one location, the blockchain can reference thousands of other nodes to find the error and correct it. This makes the blockchain ‘ledger’ permanent and unchangeable and relatively difficult to hack since there is no single point of weakness!

Where are the crypto assets I invest in on Public stored?

Crypto on Public is powered by Apex Crypto, which provides cryptocurrency execution and custody services. Public provides a place for members to buy, sell, and hold crypto. Currently, we do not provide a crypto wallet, but we understand that this is something that some of our members may want and are working toward this in the future.

So, where are the crypto assets you invest in on Public ultimately stored?

Apex Crypto partners with some of the biggest, most trusted wallet providers in the United States to ensure the safety and security of the crypto assets you invest in. These assets are stored in one or more omnibus-hosted wallets, which means assets held by Public investors are stored alongside the assets held by other investors on the platform.

As a reminder, cryptocurrencies, on the whole, are not securities and are not FDIC or SIPC insured.

Which cryptos can you find on Public?

You can buy, sell, or hold 27 coins and tokens currently on Public via Apex Crypto:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)

  • Ether (ETH)

  • Solana (SOL)

  • Cardano (ADA)

  • Shiba Inu (SHIB)

  • Dogecoin (DOGE)

  • Terra (LUNA)

  • Uniswap (UNI)

  • Avalanche (AVAX)

  • Chainlink (LINK)

  • Litecoin (LTC)

  • Polygon (MATIC)

  • Algorand (ALGO)

  • Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

  • Stellar (XLM)

  • Ethereum Classic (ETC)

  • Dash (DASH)

  • Zcash (ZEC)

  • SushiSwap (SUSHI)

  • Basic Attention Token (BAT)

  • Ren (REN)

  • Decentraland (MANA)

  • Cosmos (ATOM)

  • Fantom (FTM)

  • The Graph (GRT)

  • Loopring (LRC)

  • Curve DAO (CRV)

  • Tezos ($XTZ)

  • Aave ($AAVE)

You can search for these cryptos via the Explore page (🔎) to learn more about them and get context and information before making a decision to invest. We’ve also added Volatility Reminders (labels) on the cryptos we offer since crypto prices can move significantly in the short term.

The list of cryptos we offer may be expanded in the future and we’ll keep you posted as new options become available.

Occasionally, some of these crypto assets may not be available for trading due to limited liquidity available in the markets.

Thank you for being a part of our community - reach out to our experienced Member Support team anytime at

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