The most commonly known blockchain-based digital asset and largest by market capitalization (~US$800b). Launched in 2008 in response to the GFC, Bitcoin is the worlds first engineered money, purposely designed to satisfy the principles of sound money; durability, portability, divisibility, fungibility and scarcity. For this reason, Bitcoin is said to represent hard money, meaning resistant to debasement or artificial manipulation. Due to its open-source, pre-programed nature, Bitcoin is not subject to supply side variability in the way gold (mining production dependent on price) and currencies are (80% of US dollars in circulation printed after Jan 2020).
A form of DLT characterized by a cryptographically secured, shared transaction ledger, maintained individually by a decentralized network of nodes that uses consensus to continuously verify the accuracy of the ledger. Updates to the ledger are made on a regular basis by adding a data packet of new transactions known as a block.
Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)
A centralized digital asset issued and managed by a government that would replace traditional government issued currency like the Australian Dollar, allowing greater control over economic policy, the issuance of programmable money, and greater surveillance capabilities. Many of the worlds largest countries have openly stated that they are currently developing CBDCs, expected to be launched in the coming years.
A system of securing the communication of information through encryption, involving conversion of readable information into an unreadable state, which can be sent to another party holding a “key” that can be used to reconstruct the original information into a readable state. Any party without the key is unable to read the information. While it is theoretically possible to break an encryption system, it is infeasible in practice.
An operating methodology that relies on separating various functions across many independent entities, known as nodes, in order to achieve efficiency, performance or reliability improvements.
Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO)
An entity fully governed by a set of encoded rules, relying on the contribution of participants in the decentralized ecosystem to operate automatically, without the need for any owners or employees in the traditional sense. Contributors are incentivized, often with native digital assets, to perform certain business functions, develop or maintain infrastructure, or collectively make decisions.
Decentralized Exchange (DEX)
In contrast to a centralised exchange (e.g. ASX) a decentralised exchange allows peer-to-peer trading activity to take place without the need for an intermediary. A DEX may employ a range of tools in order to fulfil the necessary operations of an exchange, using incentive design to draw engagement from the decentralised environment. A common example of this is offering a yield (funded by exchange transaction fees) in return for staking assets on the protocol, that can be used by the DEX to provide liquidity to markets.
Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
The term used to refer to decentralised applications that capture the function of traditional financial services, offering similar or improved functionality without the need (and cost associated with) intermediaries. Examples of traditional financial services most commonly captured within DeFi include lending, broking, insurance, and various yield-generation opportunities. The ability to set the parameters (timeline, contingencies, rights, obligations etc.) of a DeFi service is enabled by the ability to create and enter into smart contracts.
Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT)
A decentralised database of information that is managed by multiple nodes, in order to eliminate issues inherent to centralised systems including but not limited to reliability, pressures of undue influence, and security exposures.
The second-largest blockchain-based digital asset, launched in 2013 Ethereum provides the infrastructure on which decentralised applications, projects and businesses can be built and operated. Decentralised Finance (DeFi) is an example of an application type that can be built on a protocol like Ethereum. Multiple protocols exist that provide this element of digital asset infrastructure (e.g. Fantom, Solana, Avalanche), which are referred to as layer 1 protocols.
Referring to the cost of utilising a blockchain protocol to perform an action in isolation or with another participant or group of participants. (commonly; trading, creating smart contracts, and creating new and unique tokens (NFTs)). Gas fees are paid in the native token of the protocol on which the action is taking place, for Ethereum this is the token; ETH.
A term commonly used to refer to the wide range of peer-to-peer interactions and engagement enabled by blockchain, digital and decentralised technology. Most often visualised and accessed in a computer-game style, virtual environment, where users control a character that can interact with other users or applications. Meta (formerly Facebook) is the most notable entry of a traditional player into the metaverse space.
Referring to the way users and businesses operate in a collaborative way in a decentralised environment, whereby the development and maintenance of any application is conducted by any number of contributors on an open-source basis. For context, web1 refers to the original version of the internet which was “read-only” (brochures, catalogues etc.), and web2 refers to the user-generated content version of the internet which is ”read-write” (Facebook, Shopify etc.). Web3 in this context would refer to a version of the internet whereby users of an application may also own, operate and make decisions for that application, often referred to as a Decentralised Autonomous Organisation.
The underlying leg-work that enables the ongoing operation of decentralised, blockchain protocols and all the applications that operate within them. Network verification is an incentive-driven, pre-programmed system for ensuring nodes continue to operate per the protocols foundational rules. The proposal of an amendment to a protocols underlying rules (a change to the code base) is known as a fork, named because of how it represents a ”fork in the road”. In this case both versions exist in parallel, forcing nodes to decide which road to deploy their mutually-exclusive leg-work to, representing a vote of confidence in one codebase over the other.
Also known as crypto-native assets, exist entirely within blockchain infrastructure and can represent rights with real economic value, that may cover a limitless range of use cases from interaction within a protocol to the right of redemption of a physical asset.
Proof of Stake (PoS)
A method of incentivising network verification that relies on proving a sufficient holding of the protocols native tokens to confirm a motivation to act in the interests of the protocol. Under PoS systems, the commercial loss associated with the protocol failing is deemed significant enough to sufficiently sized token holders, to incentivise ongoing legitimacy. Alternatively, a node with no proven motivation to uphold network legitimacy, may introduce fraudulent activity for commercial windfall, without exposure to commercial downside of protocol failure.
Proof of Work (PoW)
A method of incentivising network verification that relies on proving a contribution of resources (most often energy, to operate purpose-built computers) to confirm a motivation to act in the interests of the protocol. Under PoW systems, the resource cost of introducing fraudulent activity outweighs the potential benefit of that activity. Bitcoin uses PoW verification, which represents the most decentralised and resilient system.
A privately issued token designed to maintain a stable value, that can be used as a standardised trading unit. Generally achieved by backing tokens 1:1 with existing currencies like the US dollar, or more recently as an algorithmic token that uses on-chain assets as the basis for maintaining stable value.
Refers to the locking up (forfeiting of discretion for an agreed period) of assets within a protocol, in order to facilitate a decentralised function. This function can be anything from using locked-up assets to provide liquidity to markets, to verification of a particular intention or motivation (e.g. voting, unbiased arbitration). Staking allows markets to access and utilise the value associated with discretionary asset ownership by participants, something that is very difficult to achieve in purely physical marketplaces.
Referring to the ability to program the execution of any contract on the blockchain, subject to an unlimited number of pre-agreed parameters. DeFi is a common example of a smart contract application, but this function can extend to a wide range of contract types and draw on on-chain and off-chain information to verify outcomes. On-chain aggregators of information that can be used in smart contract execution are known as “oracles”.