“Crypto” – or “crypto currencies” – are a type of software system which provides transactional functionality to users through the Internet. The most important feature of the system is their decentralized nature – typically provided by the blockchain database system.
Blockchain and “crypto currencies” have become major elements to the global zeitgeist recently; typically as a result of the “price” of Bitcoin skyrocketing. This has lead millions of people to participate in the market, with many of the “Bitcoin exchanges” undergoing massive infrastructure stresses as the demand soared.
The most important point to realize about “crypto” is that although it actually serves a purpose (cross-border transactions through the Internet), it does not provide any other financial benefit. In other words, its “intrinsic value” is staunchly limited to the ability to transact with other people; NOT in the storing / disseminating of value (which is what most people see it as).
The most important thing you need to realize is that “Bitcoin” and the like are payment networks – NOT “currencies”. This will be covered more deeply in a second; the most important thing to realize is that