Cryptocurrency and Blockchain: An Introduction to Digital Currencies (Coursera)

Cryptocurrency and Blockchain: An Introduction to Digital Currencies is a free online MOOC course, Offered by the University of Pennsylvania via Coursera. This course is 2 of 4 in the Fintech: Foundations & Applications of Financial Technology Specialization.

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Cryptocurrency and Blockchain: An Introduction to Digital Currencies (Coursera)

What is Cryptocurrency and how is it an innovative and effective method of currency?

This course was designed for individuals and organizations who want to learn how to navigate investment in cryptocurrencies. Professors Jessica Wachter and Sarah Hammer will guide you through developing a framework for understanding both Cryptocurrency and Blockchain.

You’ll learn how to define a currency, analyze the foundations of digital signatures and blockchain technology in cryptocurrency, and accurately assess the risks of cryptocurrency in a modern investment portfolio.

By the end of this course, you’ll have a deep understanding of the realities of Cryptocurrency, the intricacies of Blockchain technology, and an effective strategy for incorporating Cryptocurrency into your investment plans. No prerequisites are required, although “Fintech: Foundations, Payments, and Regulations” from Wharton’s Fintech Specialization is recommended.


Module 1: Introduction to Cryptocurrency

In this module, you’ll define Bitcoin and understand its popularity as a currency. You’ll discuss the methodology behind transacting with Bitcoin and gain a deep understanding of the definition of currency and the critical importance of a shared common belief behind a unit of currency. You’ll also analyze the growth of centralized intermediaries that facilitate dollar transactions using cash-alternative methodologies and their role in currency.

By the end of this module, you’ll have a more clearly defined understanding of why cryptocurrency and bitcoin are used as a cash-alternative method, and how Bitcoin derives its potential value in the current market.

Module 2: Rules and Structure of Bitcoin

This module was designed to analyze the problems that a decentralized currency must solve in order to be successful, and how Bitcoin meets these challenges using cryptology and blockchain technology.

After identifying the philosophy of identity behind the concept of property rights, you’ll learn how Bitcoin utilizes digital signatures in their transactions to ensure privacy for individuals. Then, you’ll examine how blockchain technology employs Hash Functions to detect tampering attempts. Finally, you’ll explore the creation and concept of Distributed Consensus Protocol and how Proof of Work incentivizes honest trading and stable currency creation.

By the end of this module, you’ll be able to identify the importance of digital signatures, Blockchain, and Proof of Work in the stability of Bitcoin as a currency.

Module 3: Cryptocurrency as an Asset Class

In this module, you’ll examine Cryptocurrency as an asset class, and delve deeper into whether Cryptocurrency has a place in individual investment portfolios.

Through examining the theory and data perspective of traditional finance, you’ll understand the risks and returns on Bitcoin and its place in a more stable and predictable portfolio. You’ll also learn about the Capital Asset Pricing Model, and key concepts of Modern Portfolio Theory such as Tangency Portfolio and the Sharpe Ratio. By calculating and specifying both Beta and Alpha of Bitcoins, you’ll be able to accurately measure the systematic risk the investor takes in creating a portfolio with Bitcoin.

By the end of this module, you’ll be able to estimate and analyze the values of Beta and Alpha in Cryptocurrency, and effectively optimize utility in incorporating Cryptocurrency as an asset for your portfolio.

Module 4: The Blockchain Ecosystem

In this module, you’ll explore the Blockchain Ecosystem and the numerous use cases for Blockchain in different industries.

Through examination of the key attributes of Blockchain, you’ll discover how Blockchain is built. You’ll also learn about the difference between Proof of Work and Proof of Stake, and the two interoperabilities of Blockchain. Through analyzing the different types of crypto finance, you’ll explore the different use cases of Blockchain in business, gaming, and investing.

By the end of this module, you’ll have a deeper understanding of the fundamentals of Blockchain, be able to utilize Blockchain in many different contexts, and assess how Blockchain will affect both business and society in the future.


  • Jessica Wachter
  • Sarah Hammer

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4 hours/week

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4 Weeks

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English, French, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish

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