Address is a payment instruction for a digital asset. When receiving a payment, the recipient communicates their address to the payor, and the payor can send funds to that address. Ultimately, addresses are derived from the public keys of the recipient.
Airdrop is a token distribution from a team, project, company, or smart contract, that requires no purchase to receive.
Bitcoin means the first system of global, decentralized, scarce, digital money as initially introduced in a white paper titled Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System by Satoshi Nakamoto. When written with a capital “B,” Bitcoin denotes the system, the protocol, and the network. When written with a lower-case “b,” bitcoin denotes the currency and unit of account;
Block is a batch of confirmed transactions on the digital ledger. Blocks are added to an existing blockchain as transactions occur on the network. Miners are rewarded for “mining” a new block;
Blockchain means a cryptographically secure digital ledger that maintains a record of all transactions that occur on the network and follows a consensus protocol for confirming new blocks to be added to the blockchain;
Cold storage means the storage of private keys in any fashion that is disconnected from the internet. Common cold storage examples include offline computers, USB drives, or paper records;
Consensus means agreement among parties. Public blockchain networks use a combination of software, networking, economic and game theoretical mechanisms to achieve consensus among unknown parties on the state of the ledger.
Crypto is a broad term for any cryptography and is often used today to refer to the components of a cryptocurrency market, system, application, or decentralized network;
Cryptocurrency refers to cryptographic currencies like Bitcoin and alternative coins or ‘altcoins’, launched after the success of Bitcoin. This category of digital asset is designed to work as a medium of exchange, store of value, or to power applications. This category is distinct from others like security tokens, non-fungible digital collectibles or governance tokens;
Cryptoeconomy refers to the open financial system built upon public blockchain networks;
Custodial and Non-Custodial refer to methods for storing private keys and therefore digital assets. Custodial services are provided by third-parties who facilitate user access to digital assets via some off-chain process in which the user is relieved from storing the private keys to their digital assets and instead relies on that third party. Non-custodial services, such as Bitcoin hardware wallets, allow users to manage their private keys and therefore digital assets, without relying on any third party.
Decentralization is the process of removing intermediaries in a process and pushing power over a process or system out to the edges of the system. Decentralized systems
DeFi means decentralized finance; a peer-to-peer software-based network of protocols that can be used to facilitate traditional financial services like borrowing, lending, trading derivatives, insurance and more through non-custodial smart contracts carried on public blockchain networks;
Digital Asset means any digital asset built using blockchain technology, including cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, non-fungible digital collectibles and security tokens;
Double Spend means the act of spending the same coins twice. If money can be double spent, it cannot function properly as money as it loses its scarcity and counterparties cannot trust that they alone have received payment. Solving the double-spend problem without the use of a central intermediary had never been accomplished until Bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto prominently featured the fact that Bitcoin solved this problem in the Bitcoin White Paper, whose third sentence reads “we propose a solution to the double-spending problem using a peer-to-peer network.”
Ethereum is a decentralized, public blockchain network that supports composable smart contracts which can support decentralized applications as well as peer-to-peer transfers. “Ether” is the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network;
Fork is an event in open source software development when part of a community breaks away by making changes to the software. The openness of open-source software development allows for deep peer review and collaboration, resulting in fantastic breakthroughs. But the community-driven development model also results in disagreements, schisms, and even feuds between rival factions. When these disagreements over the direction of a project are not resolved, developers may decide to break away the project, taking the source code with them. The new project is a different “branch” of the original, keeping some or all of the original sourcer code but adding changes or upgrades which the original community had rejected or could not agree upon. Similarly, a blockchain fork occurs when the rules of the blockchain are changed, but notably, unlike other types of open-source software, blockchain forks can result in the creation of two or more distinct digital assets. A fork can result from an upgrade to the features of the blockchain, a bug in the consensus algorithm, or changes to the node software. A hard fork refers to a change in rules that is not backwards compatible, and it can result in the creation of a new digital asset (if there is contentious disagreement among the network stakeholders, or simply if some nodes don’t upgrade in time). A hard fork may not create a new digital asset if all participants agree to the changes, install new software, and update dependent software wallets. A soft fork is a backwards compatible upgdate to a blockchain, which add new features without making older versions of the software incompatible with the new upgrade. Soft forks do not result in the split of the blockchain and therefore do not create distinctly new digital assets
Genesis Block is the first block in a blockchain. Because it is the first block in the chain, the Genesis Block does not reference any prior block, as all subsequent blocks will. In Bitcoin’s Genesis Block, Satoshi Nakamoto embedded a message—“The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”—a headline from The London Times. It is believed that Satoshi included this message both as a political statement positioning Bitcoin as an alternative to the current monetary system and as a sort of “proof of life” to prove to the world that Satoshi hadn’t “premined” the blockchain (unfairly mined blocks ahead of the network’s public launch).
Hash or Hash Function a hash function enables the mapping of data of variable size to a new set of data at a fixed size in a way that the reverse computation is impossible. Said differently, a hash function allows the ability to create a unique fingerprint for a set of data, but the fingerprint cannot be used to reveal the content of the underlying data that it represents. Cryptographic hash functions require specific properties to be secure, and different digital assets may use different hash functions.
Hash Rate is the sum count of attempted hashes by Proof of Work miners during a given time interval. Individual mining machines, mining operations, or the entire Bitcoin network can be said to have a hash rate. The higher the hash rate is, the more attempts are being made to create a Bitcoin block. As of September 2021, the 90-day average of all bitcoin miners combined hashrate is more than 117 EH/s (117,000,000,000,000,000,000 per second), which is more computations than all the world’s other computers combined.
Miner means the individuals or entities who operate a computer or group of computers that add new transactions to blocks and submit those blocks to the rest of the network. Miners collect transaction fees and are rewarded with new tokens for their services;
Mining means he process by which new blocks are created, and thus new transactions are added to the blockchain. The term “miner” typically refers to an entity that participates in block production on a Proof of Work network, whereas “validator” typically refers to an entity that participates in block production on a Proof of Stake network.
Multi-sig is short for “multi-signature” and is a feature of Bitcoin and other digital asset networks that enables the creation of addresses that require some number of multiple private keys to be used to sign a transaction and move funds. Pragmatically speaking, multi-sig setups add additional security, because a user can require a certain threshold of keys must sign before a transaction is considered valid, making it possible for one or several keys to be lost or compromised without compromising the underlying digital assets. Digital asset custodians typically use multi-sig setups.
NFT means non-fungible tokens. For example, money (or a single unit of bitcoin) is fungible—each one unit is considered equal to any other unit of identical size. Conversely, artwork is not fungible—no two paintings are identical. Non-fungible tokens represent unique digital property, whether a collectible, artwork, intellectual property, or something else, which cannot be exchanged 1:1 with another unit;
Node is software that can function as non-mining transaction validators and digital asset wallets for the network and network participants they serve. Bitcoin full nodes download the entire copy of the blockchain—the history of every transaction ever conducted back to Satoshi Nakamoto’s first transfer to Hal Finney—and validate that each new transaction and block adhere to the network’s rules. Nodes typically also relay transactions to other nodes, forming an essential piece of a public blockchain’s network topology.
On-chain and Off-chain refer to transactions that occur on the main public blockchain network vs. outside the public blockchain network. Off-chain transactions may eventually settle on-chain, such as in the case of Bitcoin’s Lightning Network or transactions that occur on Ethereum’s rollup platforms Arbitrum or Optimism. Crucially, the development of a robust off-chain ecosystem that inherits the security properties of the on-chain network is viewed as an important avenue to scale blockchains.
Oracle is an entity or process that submits data from off-chain to be used by on-chain participants, including smart contracts. Public blockchains cannot be aware of off-chain events without being told about them, a function performed by oracles. These events could include the market price of a digital asset, the weather, political actions, the outcomes of sporting events, or the result of a contract between parties.
Private Key in asymmetric cryptography is a piece of data held in secret by an entity. It is used to compute digital signatures upon other data that can be verified by a third-party cheaply simply by knowing the public key.
Proof of Stake is the mechanism by which some public blockchain networks issue new assets and decentralize the block creation process. In contrast to Proof of Work, in a Proof of Stake system the cost to create a block is borne by the opportunity cost of locking the funds, and the risk that, if blocks are incorrectly produced, those funds will be seized and destroyed by the network. In Proof of Stake, validators are assigned the right to create a block, usually based on the size of their stake, rather than competing through costly computation with others, as in Proof of Work.
Proof of Work is the mechanism by which Bitcoin creates a cost of production for bitcoin the asset and ensurs immutability of the ledger in a trustless manner. The cost of production is primarily derived from the energy expenditure required to conduct the necessary computational work to create new blocks. Because each update to the ledger block contains a costly proof of work, this cost makes it expensive to re-write the ledger, increasing Bitcoin’s security.
Public Key in asymmetric cryptography is a publicly shareable piece of data that is computed from a private key and can be shared with a third party directly or shared via addresses, which are derived hashes of public key(s). Public keys are used with digital signatures to validate that the holder of a cryptocurrency coin did legitimately authorize the transfer of that coin to a new address or entity.
Protocol is a set of standards. This is true for diplomatic protocols, parliamentary protocols, or computer protocols. In the cryptoeconomy, the term protocol often refers to a blockchain network like Bitcoin, or a set of interlocking smart contracts, which has a set of rules that must be followed by participants who seek to interact with it;
Satoshi is currently the smallest denomination of a bitcoin. One bitcoin can be split into one hundred million units, and each unit is called a satoshi, or a “sat” for short. Thus, one satoshi = 0.00000001 BTC.
Satoshi Nakamoto is the creator or creators of Bitcoin. Satoshi Nakamoto presented the concept of Bitcoin in a publicly released white paper, Bitcoin: Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Nakamoto registered Bitcoin.org and communicated regularly with developers via email and on BitcoinTalk.org under this pseudonym. Despite the claims of many, no person has ever presented valid proof they are Satoshi Nakamoto, and Nakamoto’s true identity remains unknown to this day.
Smart Contract is software, typically carried on a decentralized public blockchain, that can execute or enforce pre-determined actions or agreements without the intervention of a centralized intermediary
Staking is the act of participating in the validation process of a Proof of Stake system. Staking typically involves locking up funds (putting funds “at stake”)
Stablecoins means the tokens designed to track the value of an off-chain asset, such as a fiat money or exchange traded commodity, most commonly U.S. dollars;
Token means any digital asset built using blockchain technology, including cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, and security tokens;
Wallet is a tool that stores public and private keys and enables the user to use those keys to interact with a blockchain network. Wallets can be software, hardware, or physical (paper, metal, etc.).
WBTC stands for “Wrapped Bitcoin” and is an Ethereum-based tokenized version of a bitcoin. The bitcoin itself is held in escrow on the Bitcoin blockchain, and WBTC is an Ethereum-based synthetic representation of that locked bitcoin.