4 Things You Find in Crypto That Aren’t in Traditional Finance

Bart Millican July 17, 2023
4 Things You Find in Crypto That Aren’t in Traditional Finance

In recent years, the world of finance has witnessed a paradigm shift with the emergence of cryptocurrencies. This digital revolution has introduced several unique aspects that distinguish it from traditional finance. While both realms share the common goal of managing and growing wealth, the methodologies and characteristics differ significantly. In this exploration, we will delve into four distinctive elements found in the crypto sphere that are notably absent in traditional finance.

1. Decentralization and Trustless Transactions

In traditional finance, centralized institutions such as banks and governments play a pivotal role in overseeing financial transactions. These institutions act as intermediaries, validating and facilitating exchanges. However, cryptocurrencies, built on blockchain technology, introduce a groundbreaking concept – decentralization.

Decentralization refers to the absence of a central authority or intermediary. Instead of relying on banks or governments, cryptocurrency transactions occur directly between peers on a distributed ledger. This eliminates the need to trust a central entity, making transactions trustless.

In traditional finance, trust in intermediaries is fundamental. When you deposit money in a bank, you trust the bank to safeguard your funds and execute your transactions honestly. In contrast, cryptocurrencies operate on trustless principles. Smart contracts, self-executing agreements with the terms of the contract directly written into code, facilitate trustless transactions. These contracts automatically execute when predefined conditions are met, eliminating the need for intermediaries.

The advantages of decentralization and trustless transactions include enhanced security and reduced counterparty risk. In traditional finance, disputes and fraud often arise due to the reliance on intermediaries. In crypto, transactions are transparent, irreversible, and immutable, minimizing the potential for fraud.

2. Accessibility and Financial Inclusion

Traditional finance has historically been exclusionary, with access restricted to those who meet certain criteria, such as a minimum income or credit score. Cryptocurrencies, on the other hand, have the potential to democratize finance, promoting financial inclusion.

Accessibility in the world of cryptocurrencies is unparalleled. Anyone with an internet connection and a smartphone or computer can participate in the crypto market. This accessibility breaks down barriers that have excluded millions from the traditional financial system.

Crypto wallets, software or hardware tools for storing and managing cryptocurrencies, can be created and accessed by anyone. No approval from a bank or financial institution is required. This means that people in underserved or unbanked regions can access financial services, send and receive money, and invest in digital assets.

Furthermore, cryptocurrencies enable cross-border transactions without the need for costly intermediaries and foreign exchange fees. This accessibility empowers individuals in regions with limited access to traditional banking services to participate in the global economy.

3. Volatility and Speculation

One of the most distinctive features of cryptocurrencies is their volatility. Unlike traditional financial assets such as stocks or bonds, which tend to exhibit relatively stable price movements over time, cryptocurrencies are known for their extreme price fluctuations.

The crypto market is characterized by rapid price swings that can lead to substantial gains or losses in a short period. While traditional finance encourages a long-term investment approach, crypto attracts a significant amount of speculation and day trading.

The extreme volatility in the crypto market has both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, it offers opportunities for traders to profit from price swings. On the other hand, it poses risks for investors who may experience significant losses if they fail to time their trades correctly.

Speculation plays a central role in the crypto ecosystem. Many individuals invest in cryptocurrencies not for their utility or as a store of value but with the hope of making quick profits. This speculative behavior has led to the emergence of numerous altcoins (alternative cryptocurrencies) and Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), where new tokens are offered to the public, often with limited utility beyond speculation.

In traditional finance, while speculation exists, it is not as pervasive as in the crypto world. Traditional investments, such as stocks and bonds, are typically based on the underlying performance of companies or government entities, making them more stable in comparison.

4. Privacy and Pseudonymity

Privacy and pseudonymity are concepts deeply ingrained in the crypto sphere but are largely absent from traditional finance. In traditional finance, individuals are required to disclose personal information when opening bank accounts, applying for loans, or conducting financial transactions. This information is used for identity verification, regulatory compliance, and security purposes.

In contrast, cryptocurrencies offer a higher degree of privacy and pseudonymity. When you make a crypto transaction, your real identity is not necessarily tied to the transaction itself. Instead, transactions are associated with cryptographic addresses, which are long strings of alphanumeric characters. These addresses act as pseudonyms, providing a degree of anonymity to users.

This level of privacy has both legitimate use cases and potential for misuse. On one hand, it allows individuals to maintain financial privacy, which is particularly important in regions with oppressive governments or surveillance. On the other hand, it can facilitate illicit activities such as money laundering and tax evasion.

In response to these concerns, some cryptocurrencies have implemented privacy features such as confidential transactions and ring signatures. These features enhance privacy by obfuscating transaction details and sender/receiver information, making it more challenging to trace and monitor transactions.

While traditional finance has stringent Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations, cryptocurrencies have grappled with finding a balance between privacy and compliance. Some crypto exchanges and services require user identification and adhere to KYC/AML regulations, while others operate in a more privacy-centric manner.


Cryptocurrencies have introduced a myriad of novel concepts and features that set them apart from traditional finance. These departures from the traditional financial system have reshaped the way we perceive and interact with money and investments. Decentralization, accessibility, volatility, and privacy are just a few of the unique aspects that make crypto a fascinating and evolving domain.

As the crypto ecosystem continues to evolve and mature, it will likely face increasing scrutiny and regulation from governments and financial institutions. Striking a balance between innovation and responsible governance will be crucial for the long-term success and sustainability of cryptocurrencies.

While traditional finance and cryptocurrencies coexist in the broader financial landscape, they represent two distinct approaches to managing and growing wealth. Whether you are a seasoned investor, a technophile, or simply curious about the future of finance, understanding these differences is essential for navigating the evolving financial landscape.

Bart Millican