I'm having a little bit of trouble with these terminologies regarding some crypto assets. From what I understand, cryptocurrencies are the superset; i.e. both crypto coins and crypto tokens are different types of cryptocurrencies. But there are many sites that consider tokens to be different from cryptocurrencies; i.e. they only consider crypto coins to be cryptocurrencies.

Which is correct?

1 Answer 1


I don't think you will get a consistent answer on this. I would say cryptocurrencies are intended to be used as a currency (e.g. Bitcoin) in the broader economy to exchange and transfer value. They aren't attached to a particular use case (e.g. decentralized storage, messaging, browser usage) or "equity" in a particular business model or protocol. In these cases I would call the asset attached to the blockchain a token rather than a cryptocurrency. We don't call fairground tokens or shares in a company (e.g. Apple) "currency" in the conventional economy.

For some historical context there was a ICO (Initial Coin Offering) craze in 2017 where a number of projects (Filecoin, Tezos, Kik etc) raised tens or hundreds of millions of dollars for tokens you would need to use their incomplete protocols. Almost without exception these turned out to be terrible investments.

The latest thing venture capitalists are very enthusiastic about is NFTs (non-fungible tokens). In this case you purchase a token representing ownership in digital art (e.g. a jpeg). Digital art is easily replicable and these NFTs do not represent anything legally (no copyright or trademark rights).

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