What is Bitcoin? Key cryptocurrency terms and what they mean

As Bitcoin soared to a record high on March 5th, the complex world of cryptocurrency has once again captured public attention.

For many, however, the jargon surrounding this digital currency ecosystem – from blockchains and wallets to the newly popular “spot ETFs” – remains perplexing.

Fear not.

Whether you’re a newcomer to the crypto scene or simply seeking a recap, here’s a breakdown of some essential terms and their meanings.


Known even to those barely acquainted with cryptocurrency, Bitcoin stands out as the flagship digital currency. Unlike conventional currencies such as the dollar or pound, Bitcoin operates independently of central financial authorities, appealing to those favoring decentralization for its promise of financial autonomy. Yet, its lack of centralized control also accounts for its notorious price volatility, with its value susceptible to dramatic fluctuations based on market dynamics.

February 2024 witnessed a significant surge in Bitcoin’s price, culminating in a new peak. However, as history shows, such highs are often followed by equally swift declines, underscoring the cryptocurrency’s unpredictable nature.


At the heart of all cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, is blockchain technology. Think of it as a digital ledger that meticulously records every crypto transaction in interconnected “blocks”. This decentralized database is maintained by a vast network of individuals, who use specialized software to verify transactions. Contributors are incentivized through Bitcoin rewards, a process known as mining. Despite its central role in the crypto economy, mining is criticized for its substantial energy consumption.

The concept of “halving” is also integral to Bitcoin. With a total of 21 million Bitcoins available for mining, this process reduces the reward for mining new blocks by half approximately every four years, with the next halving event anticipated in spring 2024.

Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

ETFs are investment funds traded on stock exchanges, mirroring the performance of their underlying assets, which can range from precious metals to diverse company shares. Spot Bitcoin ETFs, which invest directly in Bitcoin at current market prices, have gained traction, especially following their approval in the US in January 2024. This development has opened the doors for major investment firms to engage with Bitcoin without the complexities of managing digital wallets or navigating cryptocurrency exchanges.

Crypto Exchange

Crypto exchanges serve as the digital marketplaces for buying, selling, and trading cryptocurrencies. Functioning akin to traditional brokerages, these platforms facilitate the conversion of conventional money into digital currencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum, typically incurring transaction fees.

Crypto Wallet

A crypto wallet is essentially a digital vault for your cryptocurrency holdings. It comes in two forms: hot wallets, which are online and facilitate quick transactions, and cold wallets, which are offline physical devices designed for secure, long-term storage.


Ethereum refers to both a leading cryptocurrency, second only to Bitcoin, and its underlying blockchain platform, which supports a wide array of applications and digital assets, including non-fungible tokens (NFTs). In 2022, Ethereum transitioned to a more energy-efficient system, distinguishing it from Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Related Articles