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Crypto glossary

Accountant Resources

The Complete Crypto Glossary for Accountants

Last updated: Thursday, 15 September 2022

Need help deciphering what your crypto clients are talking about, or maybe you’re just wondering why they keep misspelling hold… Here’s our definitive crypto glossary to help you navigate all the crypto jargon.

A

Address: An address is a string of numbers and letters that designates the location of a wallet on a specific blockchain - for example, you could send ETH to an Ethereum address.

Airdrop: A crypto airdrop is when a number of tokens or coins are distributed to investors. There can be a number of reasons for this - like holding a number of other tokens, a token launch or as part of a marketing event.

Algorand: Algorand is an open source, pure proof of stake blockchain. The native coin is ALGO. Algorand protocols are designed to process and finalize many transactions at speed, similar to mainstream payment processors. 

All-Time High (ATH): The highest price (in fiat currency) a given cryptocurrency has ever been. 

Allocation: Allocation may refer to individual allocation - for example, the percentage of funds allocated to an individual asset in a single crypto portfolio. It may also refer to the allocation of tokens for a specific crypto project and allocating the percentage of tokens between early members, community, team members and so on. 

Altcoin: Altcoin can be used to refer to any cryptocurrency that is an alternative to Bitcoin.

AML: AML stands for Anti Money Laundering. It refers to a framework of legal and regulatory procedures to stop or minimize cryptocurrency transactions relating to illegal activities. 

API: API stands for Application Programming Interface. An API is a collection of functions that allows two programs to interact with each other. For example, Koinly uses an API to fetch read-only transaction data from crypto exchanges.

ASIC: ASIC stands for an Application Specific Integrated Circuit. ASICs are integrated circuits (essentially, computers) purpose built for a particular use. For the cryptocurrency market, ASICs are used for high performance cryptocurrency mining.

Ask Price: The lowest price a given seller is willing to accept for an asset they're selling on an exchange.

Arbitrage: Arbitrage trading refers to buying and selling assets across multiple crypto markets to make a profit out of price discrepancies. 

ASIC-Resistant: Some cryptocurrencies have a mining algorithm that stops cryptocurrency miners from gaining an advantage by using an ASIC machine. This ensures all investors, regardless of equipment, have an equal opportunity to mine cryptocurrency. An example of this is Monero.

Atomic Swap: An atomic swap is a kind of trade enabled by smart contracts (pieces of code). The smart contract enables investors to trade one cryptocurrency for another with no centralized third party - like a cryptocurrency exchange.

Avalanche: Avalanche Chain is a unique proof of stake blockchain. AVAX is the native cryptocurrency of the Avalanche Chain. Avalanche chain is focused on scaling capabilities (how fast transactions are processed) and smart contract compatibility.

B

Bags: A bag, or bags, refers to the specific portfolio of coins and tokens a given investor holds. 

Bear Market: A market where prices are consistently falling, encouraging many investors to sell. 

BEP-2: BEP-2 refers to a technical standard for tokens on the Binance Smart Chain ecosystem. Technical standards are a set of rules of the issuance and management of tokens.

BEP-20: BEP-20 is a token standard for Binance Smart Chain, equivalent to Ethereum's ERC-20. Token standards dictate how tokens function, how they can be used, traded and what smart contracts they're compatible with.

BEP-721: BEP-721 is a token standard for NFTs on Binance Smart Chain.

Bid Price: The price at which an investor is willing to buy a given cryptocurrency.

Bid-Ask Spread: The difference in price between the lowest ask price and highest bid price on the order book for a particular cryptocurrency.

Bitcoin: One of the first decentralized cryptocurrencies, created by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. It remains the market leader.

Block: A block is a computer file of transaction data relating to a given cryptocurrency. Blocks are arranged in a linear sequence which create a blockchain - a digital ledger of transactions.

Block Explorer: A block explorer is a website that allows any one, anywhere to browse transaction data relating to a specific blockchain, creating transparency for all investors.

Block Reward: The amount of coins or tokens awarded by a blockchain protocol to crypto miners for successfully validating a block.

Blockchain: A blockchain is a digitally distributed and decentralized public ledger that records all transactions related to a specific cryptocurrency in chronological order.

BNB: Binance Coin (BNB) is the native token of leading crypto exchange Binance. It is now also the governance and utility token for the BNB Chain, formerly the Binance Smart Chain and Binance Chain - these merged in February 2022. Investors use BNB to pay transaction fees on BNB, as well as vote on governance issues relating to the chain.

Bounty: A bounty is a reward for a particular activity. One of the most common bounties in the crypto market is a bug bounty - where white hat hackers are financially incentivized to find security vulnerabilities, so they can be fixed.

Bull Market: A market where prices are consistently rising, encouraging many investors to buy.

C

Cardano: Cardano is a unique proof of stake blockchain. The native token is ADA. Cardano's goal is to be the most environmentally sustainable blockchain and avoid energy-intensive consensus mechanisms like PoW, while remaining scalable and flexible. 

Centralized: Centralized refers to a process or structure where power and control are in the hands of a select few. In the cryptocurrency market, this generally refers to a centralized entity - most often a centralized crypto exchange that processes transactions and takes a cut of profits, dictates transaction prices and so on. The opposite to this is a decentralized structure - where power and control is equally distributed across a whole structure or community. 

Cipher: A cipher is an algorithm for encrypting and decrypting data. 

Circulating Supply: The number of tokens or coins available in a given market. For example, the circulating supply of Bitcoin is more than 19.1 million.

CPU: CPU stands for Centralized Processing Unit. It's the part of a computer that processes and executes the instructions of computer programs. You can use a CPU to mine some cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrency: A digital currency used as a medium of exchange in a peer to peer ecosystem, where transactions are verified using cryptography and recorded in a digital ledger or blockchain.

Custody: Custody in crypto refers to who is holding assets. If an investor's assets are held with a centralized crypto exchange - the exchange has custody, while crypto wallets are self-custodial wallets where the investor holds their own assets. 

D

Dai: DAI is a stablecoin for the Ethereum blockchain. It is pegged at a 1:1 ratio with the US dollar and maintained and regulated by MakerDAO - a decentralized autonomous organisation. 

DAO: DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organisation. A DAO is a community-led entity with no central authority, with a set of hard coded rules that defines how that entity operates and the actions it takes. DAOs are fully autonomous and transparent, with smart contracts to execute operations. DAOs are governed entirely by members who propose and vote on decisions for the DAO.

DCA: DCA stands for Dollar Cost Averaging - a strategy where a trader invests a fixed amount of fiat currency in an asset regularly, over a given period of time in order to mitigate risk and losses.

Dead Cat Bounce: A brief increase in the market value of an asset that has otherwise been consistently falling in price, followed by a continuation of the downward trend in market value.

Decentralized Application (Dapp): Also known as a dapp, or dApp. A dapp is an application built on a specific blockchain or network, as opposed to a single computer or server. Dapps can be built to do practically anything you can think of from gaming to lending. An example of a centralized application would be Netflix or Twitter, while popular decentralized dapps include MakerDAO and Compound. Dapps are most commonly built for the DeFi market.

Decentralized Exchange: Also known as a DEX. A dex is an exchange that is not owned or run by a particular third-party. Smart contracts are used to automate transactions and instead of having to deposit their own funds with a third-party, investors utilize liquidity pools to trade directly from their own wallets.

DeFi: DeFi stands for decentralized finance. It refers to the infrastructure, processes, apps and technologies used to decentralize financial markets and structures. The ultimate goal of DeFi is to remove all third party, centralized institutions and create a borderless, fairer financial system.

Delisting: Delisting refers to removing a given cryptocurrency from an exchange or dex. Coins and tokens may be delisted at the request of a given project or by an exchange itself.

Derivative: A crypto derivative is an agreement (contract) between a buyer and seller for the future price of a digital asset. There are many kinds of derivatives including futures, options and swaps.

Dogecoin: Dogecoin (DOGE) is a cryptocurrency, created in 2013 as a satirical joke based on the popular Shiba Inu memes. Despite its humble beginnings, it remains a popular investment. 

DYOR: DYOR stands for Do Your Own Research. It's a common mantra in the crypto market to avoid overly promoted coins, hyped up by marketing campaigns.

E

Ethereum: Ethereum is a decentralized, open source blockchain. The native coin is Ether (ETH). Ethereum switched from a proof of work consensus mechanism to a proof of stake mechanism on September 15 2022, to improve efficiency and reduce energy consumption. It's currently the second largest cryptocurrency by market cap following Bitcoin.

ERC-1155: ERC-1155 is a multi-token standard for fungible and non-fungible tokens on the Ethereum blockchain.

ERC-20: ERC-20 is a technical standard for fungible tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. There are many ERC-20 tokens, some popular examples include UNI, BAT and USDT.

ERC-721: ERC-721 was the first standardized interface to create and trade NFTs on the blockchain

Exchange: A marketplace for cryptocurrencies where investors can conduct a variety of transactions like buying, selling and trading cryptocurrencies. Exchanges can be centralized and run by one company - like Binance, Coinbase or Kraken - or they can be decentralized and maintained and regulated by a DAO and funded by investors - like Uniswap, PancakeSwap and SushiSwap.

F

Falling Knife: A falling knife refers to the strategy of purchasing an asset that is rapidly falling in price on the assumption there will be a dead cat bounce to later sell at.

Fiat: A currency declared to be legal tender by a government. The only country in the world that recognizes a crypto as a legal tender is El Salvador, which recognizes Bitcoin as a legal tender.

Fill or Kill Order: Also known as FOK. A fill or kill order is a buy/sell order that must be executed immediately and in its entirety, or it will be cancelled.

Finality: In crypto, finality refers to the guarantee that transactions cannot be reversed, altered or cancelled. 

Flippening: A word used to describe the moment if/when Ethereum surpasses Bitcoin, in terms of market cap.

FUD: FUD stands for Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. It refers to a marketing strategy used to spread fear and uncertainty among investors. 

Full Node: A full node refers to a computer operating in a given blockchain that hosts and synchronizes a copy of the entire blockchain. Full nodes are essential to keeping blockchains functional and operational. 

Fungible Token: A fungible token is a cryptocurrency token that is not unique - it is exchangeable for another identical token of the exact same value. For example, ETH is a fungible token. There are also non-fungible tokens, which are unique and non-exchangeable tokens. 

Futures Contract: Just like in more traditional markets, crypto futures are contracts to buy or sell a cryptocurrency at a predetermined price in the future. Futures are a kind of derivative contract.

G

Gas: Also known as a gas fee. Gas refers to the fee paid to execute a transaction on the Ethereum blockchain.

Gas Limit: This is the maximum price a user is willing to pay to execute a transaction on the Ethereum blockchain.

Genesis Block: The first ever block of a given blockchain. Also known as block 0 or block 1.

Github: A repository where a given team or community can share and collaborate. Github is commonly used to collaborate on open source code.

Gwei: Gwei is a denomination of Ether and the most commonly used measure of gas prices. 1 gwei is equivalent to  0.000000001 Ether.

H

Halving: Halving is a function built into some blockchain protocols that regulates supply. For example, every four years, Bitcoin is halved, which means mining rewards are cut in half. May 2024 is the next estimated Bitcoin halving - where mining rewards will be cut from 6.25 to 3.125.

Hard cap: A hard cap is the maximum amount of funds an ICO or project can raise.

Hash: A hash is the output produced by a hash function - a cryptographic process that generates a unique and unrepeatable identifier. 

Hash rate: The speed at which a CPU, GPU or ASIC is able to calculate new hashes. 

High Frequency Trading: Also known as HFT, this is a type of algorithmic trading that lets investors execute a number of orders in fractions of a second.

HODL: A deliberate misspelling of hold, based on a typo from bitcointalk. HODL now stands for Hold On for Dear Life - it refers to a strategy to hold assets long-term in the hopes they appreciate in price.

I

ICO: ICO stands for Initial Coin Offering. It's a fundraising method for new projects where early investors gain access to new tokens or coins early and at a theoretically lower price. An ICO is effectively the crypto equivalent of an IPO.

IEO: IEO stands for Initial Exchange Offering. It's a fundraising method similar to an ICO, but where an exchange acts as a trusted third party to reduce risk for investors. 

Immutability: One of the core features of cryptocurrencies, refers to the inability to be changed.

Interoperability: Interoperability refers to the ability of blockchains to be compatible or interact with one another.

Issuance: The process of a generation and distribution of a new cryptocurrency.

J

Jager: The smallest denomination of Binance Coin (BNB).

K

KYC: KYC stands for Know Your Customer. It's a standard verification process that the majority of centralized crypto exchanges must have in order to operate in most countries.

L

Latency: Latency is a time delay. It can refer to two things in cryptocurrency - blockchain latency and exchange latency. Blockchain latency refers to the time difference between submitting a transaction to a network and the first confirmation of acceptance by the network. Exchange latency refers to a measure of an exchange's ability to process and execute large volumes of transactions in their order books. Low latency means this time difference is small, high latency means this time difference is larger.

Layer 2: Layer 2 refers to a secondary protocol built on top of an existing blockchain, to allow for improved or new functionality. Polygon blockchain is an example of a layer two scaling solution for Ethereum.

Ledger: In cryptocurrency, a ledger refers to a digital, public record-keeping system.

Lightning Network: A lightning network is similar to a layer 2 solution. It's a second layer operating on top of an existing blockchain, enabling increased transaction volume and speed.

Liquidity: Liquidity in crypto markets refers to the ease in which one token can be swapped for another token or fiat currency.

Liquidity Mining: Liquidity mining refers to investing assets in a given liquidity pool in order to earn rewards, or liquidity pool tokens.

Liquidity Pool: A liquidity pool is a pool of investor funds, locked in a smart contract that facilitates trades. Anyone, anywhere can add to a liquidity pool and earn transaction fees as a reward for doing so. Most Dapps utilize liquidity pools in order to function.

Liquidity Pool Tokens: Liquidity pool tokens are a kind of crypto token that investors receive in return for their capital in a liquidity pool. For example, if an investor added to a BUSD-BNB liquidity pool, they'd receive a proportional amount of BUSD-BNB liquidity pool tokens in return. An investor may receive more liquidity pool tokens as a reward, or the value of their liquidity pool tokens may increase as they receive rewards.

Liquidity Provider: A liquidity provider is an investor who provides liquidity to a given exchange - whether decentralized or centralized, although the latter is generally more often referred to as a market maker.

Listing: Listing refers to when exchanges or dexes add a crypto to buy, sell and trade to their platform.

M

Mainnet: A blockchain that is fully developed and deployed where transactions are being executed, validated and recorded. 

Mainnet Swap: A mainnet swap refers to when a coin or token moves from one mainnet to another after the testnet phase. For example, when BNB mainnet launched, ERC-20 BNB token holders swapped to the BEP-2 BNB coin.

Maker: A maker is someone who has just placed a buy order, but it does not fill immediately. Instead, the order sits on the books and waits for someone (a taker) to match it.

Margin Trading: Margin trades are trades with leverage - using borrowed funds. 

Market Capitalization: The total trading value of a given coin. The formula to calculate this is the total supply of the coin times the current price.

Masternode: A master node is part of the infrastructure of a blockchain - they verify the new blocks submitted by full nodes, as well as perform other governance duties like executing protocols passed by voting events.

Maximum Supply: Many cryptocurrencies have a finite supply - known as a maximum supply. For example, there will only ever be 21 million Bitcoin.

Mining: Mining is the process of creating and verifying new blocks on a Proof of Work blockchain - like Bitcoin or Dogecoin. Miners are rewarded with the native currency for the activity. 

Mining Farm: A mining farm is a collection of many mining machines - usually ASIC machines - in a large commercial space.

Mining Pool: A mining pool is a group of miners who combine their hashing power (computer power) in order to increase the likelihood of solving the PoW mechanism first and therefore increase the likelihood of a reward.

Monero: Monero (XMR) is an open-source cryptocurrency that is privacy-oriented. Monero transactions are confidential and untraceable. The blockchain uses a unique PoW algorithm (RandomX) which is ASIC resistant - so all miners with all equipment have an equal chance of receiving mining rewards.

Moon: Investor slang for a positive upward price trend of a given cryptocurrency, "to the moon".

Multi-Signature: Multi-signature, or multi-sig, is a digital signature process. It simply means multiple signatures are required to authorize a given transaction.

N

Node: A node is a computer that's part of a blockchain network and helps with the consensus mechanism to validate and process new blocks.

Non-Fungible Token: More commonly known as NFTs, a non-fungible token is a type of digital asset that is unique. Unlike cryptocurrencies like BTC or ETH, you cannot simply trade it for something of the exact equivalent. NFTs have many use cases, but they're most commonly used in gaming currently.

Nonce: Short for "number used only once". Nonce is a four-bit number added to a hashed block in a blockchain. It's used for verification purposes to prevent replicating previous transactions.

O

Off-Chain: Refers to a transaction that occurs away from the mainnet that may later be submitted.

Open-Source Software: Software that anyone, anywhere has the right to use, update and distribute. 

Oracle: An oracle is a third-party entity that takes external data and feeds it to a given smart contract. For example, if an investor is using a DeFi gambling protocol and places a bet, an oracle would feed the result of the bet back to the protocol using real world data so the bet can be settled based on events.

Order Book: An order book is a digital list of open buy/sell orders for a given cryptocurrency. 

P

Paper Wallet: A paper wallet is a piece of paper that has a cryptocurrency address and its private key on it. Despite the risk of loss, it's considered one of the most secure means to store cryptocurrency.

Peer-to-Peer: Also known as P2P, most often used to describe a direct trade between a buyer and seller with no centralized entity. Many platforms offer P2P trading.

Polkadot: Polkadot is an open-source blockchain and the native coin is DOT. Polkadot provides interoperability between blockchains, enabling interaction between otherwise incompatible blockchains.

Polygon: Polygon is a layer two scaling solution for the Ethereum blockchain and MATIC is the native cryptocurrency used to pay network fees, stake and more.

Private Key: A private key is a string of numbers that lets an investor approve transactions relating to a specific cryptocurrency.

Proof of Stake (PoS): A consensus mechanism to verify transactions and add new blocks. In a PoS mechanism, investors stake assets and then investors are randomly chosen to be a validator to verify the transaction and earn the rewards.

Proof of Work (PoW): A consensus mechanism to verify transactions and add new blocks. In a PoW mechanism, validators solve complex mathematical puzzles - the first to solve validates the transaction and earns the reward.

R

Rekt: Slang phrase for when an investment has been a complete failure.

Rug Pull: A rug pull is a specific type of scam. A new project - often overhyped and widely marketed - enters the crypto market and attracts attention and new investment, only to suddenly abandon the project and make off with investor funds. Some notable rug pulls include BitConnect, OneCoin, SquidGame, and Luna Yield.

S

Satoshi: The smallest denomination of Bitcoin, named after Bitcoin's creator. Equivalent to 0.00000001 BTC.

Satoshi Nakamoto: The pseudonym of Bitcoin's creator(s). The identity of the creator(s) is still unknown.

Seed Phrase: A collection of words used to access a cryptocurrency wallet. Also known as a mnemonic seed.

Sell Wall: A large sell order or collection of sell orders all at the same price level on an order book. 

Shiba Inu: Shiba Inu (SHIB) is a cryptocurrency token on the Ethereum blockchain, aimed to be the equivalent of the Dogecoin memecoin.

Smart Contract: A smart contract is a piece of code that executes a certain transaction automatically when predetermined conditions are met. They're used in DeFi protocols to execute a variety of transactions from swaps to loans.

Solana: Solana is an open-source blockchain with smart contract functionality. The native coin is SOL. The blockchain aims to rival Ethereum and provide faster, cheaper transactions.

Stablecoin: A stablecoin is a digital asset pegged to some other store of value. Most often, stablecoins are pegged to a fiat currency like USD. For example, Tether is a popular stablecoin pegged at a 1:1 ratio with the US dollar - so one USDT equals $1. However, some stablecoins are pegged to other cryptocurrencies, or even precious metals. Other stablecoins - like the now infamous Terra Luna - are algorithmic stablecoins that maintain value by adjusting supply automatically.

Staking Pool: A staking pool is a group of investors who stake their assets to a group pool in order to increase the likelihood of being chosen to validate the PoS mechanism and earn rewards.

Stellar: Stellar, or Stellar Lumens, is an open-source, decentralized payment network. Its native currency is Stellar Lumens (XLM).

T

Taker: A taker is someone who places an order that is instantly matched with an existing buy order (maker).

Tether: Tether (USDT) is the third largest cryptocurrency by market cap. USDT is a stablecoin pegged at a 1:1 ratio with the US dollar.

Ticker: A ticker is the trading symbol or shortened name for a cryptocurrency. For example, Bitcoin is BTC, Ethereum is ETH and so on.

Token: Tokens are digital units issued on a particular blockchain. For example, Ethereum is a blockchain and the native cryptocurrency is ETH. There are many ERC-20 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain - like UNI, DAI and WBTC. Tokens may be used for a particular purpose - like governance or to hold a store of value.

Token Lockup: A period of time in which tokens or coins may not be traded or transferred.

Total supply: Total supply refers to the number of coins in circulation currently, while maximum supply refers to the number of coins that will ever be in circulation. For example, there is a total supply of 19.1 million Bitcoin and there is a maximum supply of 21 million Bitcoin.

Transaction ID: Also known as TXID, a transaction ID is a string of characters that labels each transaction on a blockchain. 

Tron: Tron is an open-source, delegated proof-of-stake blockchain and the native coin is TRX. Tron is popular for its algorithmic stablecoin USDD - pegged at a 1:1 ratio with the US dollar.

U

Unspent Transaction Output (UTXO): A UTXO is an output equivalent to the amount of digital currency remaining after a crypto transaction has been executed. Many blockchains - including Bitcoin - are UTXO blockchains. 

USD Coin: USD (USDC) is another top 10 cryptocurrency. It is a stablecoin pegged at a 1:1 ratio with the US dollar.

W

Wallet: Storage for crypto. Hot wallets are devices connected to the internet, while cold wallets or hardware wallets are physical devices that are not connected to the internet.

Web3: Web3 is the new iteration of the internet - focusing on decentralization, privacy, ownership of data and blockchain technology.

Wei: The smallest denomination of Ether - often used in gas fees.

Whale: An individual that holds a large amount of cryptocurrency and can influence the market through their transactions.

Whitelist: A list of trusted devices or addresses.

Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC): An ERC-20 token representing Bitcoin at a 1:1 ratio that allows users to effectively use the value of their Bitcoin on the Ethereum blockchain and various DeFi protocols.

Wrapped Ether (WETH): An ERC-20 token pegged to Ether at a 1:1 ratio.

X

XRP: XRP is the native coin of the Ripple blockchain - a money transfer network. The blockchain hopes to use blockchain technology to move transactions from central databases to a decentralized structure.

Y

Yield farming: Yield farming is an all-encompassing term that applies to a variety of investment strategies that utilize DeFi protocols to maximize returns. Many DeFi protocols 'stack' with one another - enabling investors to earn passive, compound income.

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