Whether you’re into crypto or not, you can’t ignore that it’s getting more mainstream. So don’t be left behind like the folks who got their first email accounts two years ago.
Here are the crypto terms we think everyone should know.
Worst case, you can at least sound smart at parties.
Blockchain – A public ledger that records cryptocurrency transactions. Think of it as a digital notebook where the whole world can see every transaction ever made. And the notebook is not owned by any single entity, nor is it stored in any single location. And it’s like our app, Metal Pay, where you can see everyone’s transactions. So you can discover Katie paid Becky $35 for hot, forest yoga and Todd paid Barry $40 for dude’s night and the Mamma Mia soundtrack. You can’t remove anything from the blockchain, which means transactions are irreversible.
PoPP or Pop– PoPP stands for Proof-of Processed-Payments. PoPP acts as a provable way of identifying users and distributing new currency into the system. When you use the Metal Pay app and we prove that you are involved in a processed payment, we give you a bonus of up to 5% on the transaction, whether you sent it or received it. The bonus is paid in our cryptocurrency, Metal. We call this bonus is the “Pop”. Say you send $100 using the Metal Pay app. Both you and the receiver each get up to $5 in Metal! Pop it! And even if you live in the south, it’s still called Pop.
Cryptocurrency – A digital currency that uses code to secure it from thieves and unauthorized users, that operates without the use of a central bank. Cryptocurrency uses cryptography (aka public and private keys) to keep it secure and unable to be counterfeited.
Bitcoin is the most popular cryptocurrency, even more popular than Beyonce. This will be controversial, but Bitcoin is actually queen B.
Decentralized Applications (dApp) – dApps are software applications that run off a blockchain network and aren’t controlled by a central authority. They’re kind of like apps in the app store if no one ran the app store. Anyone can publish a dApp and there isn’t one authority, like Apple for example, that can control or censor it. dApps use back-end code that runs on the Ethereum network. Back-end means the code that isn’t seen by you, the user. Other “platforms” other than Ethereum are also designed to make it easy for dApps to be built, such as NEO or ICON (ICX) for example.
Smart contracts – Smart contracts are like contracts in the real world, except they’re digital. They’re basically code that lives on the blockchain and cannot be changed. Unlike real life contracts, which require lawyers or middlemen, smart contracts do not. Say we created a smart contract and agreed to pay you $50 to fart out the Jeopardy theme. As soon as you squeeze out the last note, the smart contract would automatically pay you $50, even if we later decide that was not a great use of money. By the way, smart contracts are also visible to the public, so our shame would live on forever on the blockchain for all to see.
In a regular transaction, you just send money from A to B, with a smart contract you send money from A to B on the condition that C happens.
Wallet – What’s a wallet? Well, it’s a digital place that essentially stores your coins, much like your bank account or your mattress. Example: When the check comes you can say, “I forgot my crypto wallet.” See, still works. Note that we say “essentially” stores your coins. Technically, it stores your private key and public key information.
Cold storage – Is a way to store your cryptocurrency offline, safely away from hackers. The key word is offline. It’s like storing your headshots or that unfinished garage band rock opera on a USB drive or other device that remains offline. Hardware or paper wallets are examples of cold storage. One disadvantage of cold storage is that it is not ideal for quick or daily transactions. Day-trading crypto is more difficult if your funds are in cold storage.
Fork – Crypto is open-source code, meaning anyone can use it. A fork occurs when someone copies the original code and changes it slightly, effectively making a new cryptocurrency. For example, Bitcoin forked into Bitcoin Cash. Someone copied Bitcoin’s code, changed a few things and created Bitcoin cash. It’s like copying someone else’s style, but putting your own spin on it. Like how Ed Sheeran forked Rupert Grint’s hairstyle.
Node – A node is any computer that participates in a network such as the bitcoin network and keeps a copy of the blockchain on it. And no, a node does not receive a participation trophy.
There are 3 types of nodes: Full client nodes who store and maintain the entire blockchain. Whoa, that’s a lot of blockchain. There are currently around 10,000 full nodes running the bitcoin network.
The second type are light nodes, which keep a partial copy of the blockchain. Light nodes are just kind of dabbling in the node business, they’re taking it slow, waiting to see how date #3 goes.
And mining nodes which verify transactions and add them to the public ledger. They’re the workforce nodes. Computers that process the transactions on the network.
Block – A block is data that’s permanently recorded on the blockchain. It’s a block of transactions, or chain. They make up the blockchain. Think of a bunch of blocks held together by a chain. Block. Chain. And each block is basically one page of transactions in a huge book. Or the first page of your unfinished novel. The chain would be made up of all of the blocks. The blockchain cannot be altered, which means an individual block cannot be altered, nor can it be removed.
Altcoin – Any cryptocurrency that is an alternative to Bitcoin. Ethereum and Litecoin are examples. These are the coins that drive motorcycles and are into some new kind of fusion music.There are over thousands of altcoins today, many of which are associated with dApps. Some such as Ethereum or NEO or ICON are associated with platforms that aim to make it easier for a user to create their own dApps.
Address – An address is a unique series of letters and numbers used to store, send, or receive cryptocurrency. It’s like a bank account number. Or your cryptocurrency’s home. “Go to your home, cryptocurrency!” Your private key is an address. Your public keys are also addresses. You wallet stores these addresses and allows you to send and receive cryptocurrency via the blockchain. You can have many addresses, and many wallets. You can think of each wallet as a key ring, and each address as a key on the key ring.
Public/Private Key – A public key is your publicly available address. Your private key is private only to you. Think of your private key like your username and password to your bank account. With that information, you can access any of your funds and send them anywhere. With that information, someone else could get into your account and do the same thing. Keep your private keys private! Think of your public key like your PayPal username. With it, your friends can see what transactions you’ve made. They can also send funds to your account because they have your username. However, they can’t take any money out. The private key (password) is required for that. Your private key and public key both work together to secure your crypto. Like in movies when two secret agents simultaneously turn keys unlock the missiles. One has the public key, the other the private key. Then, The Rock comes in and saves the day.
Hashing – A process that transforms a string of characters of any size into a string of alphanumeric characters of a fixed size. It’s like sending a very long secret love letter to Beyonce. Hashing will not defend you from the restraining order. Have you ever used a URL shortener to shorten a URL? That’s kind of what hashing is. But once you put the string of characters in, you can never get back the original input. Hashing is a very important part of the blockchain. Miners run computer programs that essentially try to “guess” a number, called the ‘nonce’, which when combined with all of the existing data on the blockchain outputs a certain hash that the blockchain decides is the “solution” to a problem. Whoever guesses the number first receives the mining reward, such as bitcoin.