Key Crypto Terms New Investors Need To Understand

If you’ve just started out on the crypto journey, you’re probably still trying to figure out the jargon. There are so many new words and asking in community groups may just reveal your rookie status. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll unravel the key crypto terms that every new investor should grasp. Whether you’re only just dipping your toes into the crypto sector or you’ve been researching for a while, understanding these terms will empower you to make informed decisions.


Blockchain technology is like a giant, secure public record book. This revolutionary innovation underpins the entire cryptocurrency ecosystem. Blockchain works by spreading information across many compute­rs globally, instead of relying on a single authority’s control. This de­centralized ledge­r keeps data distributed through a vast ne­twork worldwide. Every transaction is meticulously recorded in chronological blocks, which are then cryptographically linked in a chain, creating an immutable and transparent record. This eliminates the possibility of tampering or fraud, fostering trust and security within the network.


Presales offers a chance to get in on the ground floor of a new cryptocurrency project.  Before a project officially launches its token on a public exchange, it might hold a presale, essentially a limited-time fundraising event. Investors who are always on the lookout for the best presale can purchase tokens at a discounted price, potentially reaping significant rewards if the project flourishes.  However, presales are not without risks, Kane Pepi says.  These projects are often in their early stages of development, and there’s a chance they may not succeed.  Investors should meticulously research the project’s team, technology, and roadmap before participating in a presale.  Be wary of unrealistic promises and always prioritize due diligence to avoid investing in potential scams.

Initial Coin Offering

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are a more established fundraising method in the cryptocurrency space.  Similar to presales, ICOs involve selling newly created tokens to raise capital for a project.  However, ICOs typically take place after a project has progressed beyond the initial concept stage, often with a working prototype or a well-defined product in development.  Investors receive tokens that may offer various functionalities within the project’s ecosystem, such as access to a platform, governance rights, or potential future utility.  ICOs can be a great way for innovative projects to secure funding and build a community of early adopters.  However,  ICO regulations vary widely across jurisdictions.  Some regions have implemented strict regulations to protect investors, while others have a more relaxed approach.  As an investor, it’s crucial to understand the regulations in your area before participating in an ICO.

Decentralization (DeFi)

One of the core principles of blockchain technology is decentralization. This means that there’s no single entity controlling the network.  In the traditional financial system, central banks and institutions hold immense power over money creation and financial processes.  Decentralization disrupts this power structure, empowering users and promoting transparency. Decisions regarding the network’s operation are often made through a consensus mechanism, where participants collaboratively agree on changes. This fosters a sense of community ownership and reduces the risk of manipulation by any single entity.


Think of your crypto wallet as your digital bank account. It’s a software application that allows you to store, send, and receive cryptocurrency. There are various types of wallets available, each with its security features and functionalities. Here’s a breakdown of some common wallet types:

  • Hot Wallets: These are software wallets that are connected to the internet, making them convenient for everyday transactions. However, they are also more susceptible to hacking attempts.
  • Cold Wallets: For enhanced security, consider cold wallets. These are hardware devices that store your cryptocurrency offline, significantly reducing the risk of cyberattacks. However, cold wallets are less convenient for frequent transactions.

Public and Private Keys

Your crypto wallet operates using a public-key cryptography system. It’s a secure vault with two keys:

  • Public Key: This acts like your bank account number for crypto. It’s a unique identifier that allows others to send you cryptocurrency. Think of it as the address for your digital vault. You can freely share your public key with anyone who wants to send you crypto.
  • Private Key: This is the highly confidential counterpart to your public key. It’s like your PIN for your crypto vault – treat it with utmost care! Never share your private key with anyone. This key grants you access and the ability to spend the cryptocurrency stored in your wallet.

Mining and Staking

There are two primary ways to earn cryptocurrency rewards:

  • Mining: This process involves verifying and adding new transactions to the blockchain. Miners compete to solve complex mathematical problems, and the winner is rewarded with newly minted cryptocurrency. Mining typically requires specialized hardware and consumes significant amounts of energy.
  • Staking: A more energy-efficient alternative to mining, staking involves locking up your existing cryptocurrency holdings to support a blockchain network.  Think of it as contributing your crypto to the network’s security in exchange for rewards.  The amount of rewards you earn is often proportional to the amount of cryptocurrency you stake.

Smart Contracts

Smart contracts are self-executing agreements stored on the blockchain. These ingenious tools eliminate the need for intermediaries like lawyers or brokers.  Imagine a vending machine – you put in the money, and the machine dispenses the product when the conditions are met.  Smart contracts operate similarly.  The terms of the agreement are coded into the contract, and when pre-defined conditions are fulfilled, the contract automatically executes the agreed-upon action. This can range from facilitating secure financial transactions to automating the distribution of rewards in a decentralized application.


Once a cryptocurrency project has launched its token, it needs a marketplace for users to buy, sell, and trade. This is where cryptocurrency exchanges come in. These online platforms function as the meeting point between buyers and sellers in the crypto world.  There are various types of exchanges, each with its own features, functionalities, and regulatory landscape.

  • Centralized Exchanges (CEXs): These are the most common type of exchange. CEXs operate like traditional stock exchanges, with a central authority managing order books, setting trading rules, and ensuring security.  CEXs often offer a wider variety of cryptocurrencies and trading options, making them user-friendly for beginners.  However, they require users to create accounts and go through a Know Your Customer (KYC) process, which might deter some privacy-focused investors.
  • Decentralized Exchanges (DEXs): These exchanges operate on a peer-to-peer (P2P) basis,  eliminating the need for a central authority.  DEXs offer greater anonymity and control over your crypto holdings. However, they typically have lower trading volumes and can be more complex to navigate for new users.


For new and seasoned investors, a reminder of the key terms surrounding cryptocurrency is always useful. From learning about crypto exchanges, wallets, ICO, and presales, all of these terms are useful. The more you understand each of these terms, the easier and more rewarding your crypto investing journey will be.

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Libby Austin

Libby Austin, the creative force behind, is a dynamic and versatile writer known for her engaging and informative articles across various genres. With a flair for captivating storytelling, Libby's work resonates with a diverse audience, blending expertise with a relatable voice.
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