Depending on their operating network, virtual currencies are classified as follows:
Closed virtual currency
A closed virtual currency, as the name suggests, operates in a controlled and private ecosystem. It cannot be converted into another virtual currency or into a real-world fiat currency. Examples of closed virtual currencies are currencies in gaming systems. Though such currencies can be used in their respective environments (in this case games), they cannot be converted into real-world cash. Another example of closed virtual currencies is airline miles. They are issued by private parties, can only purchase additional miles, and cannot be converted into their associated monetary value.
Open virtual currency
Open virtual currencies are also known as convertible virtual currencies because they can be converted to other forms of money. They operate in open ecosystems and can be converted into another currency either within the platform or outside it. Examples of open virtual currencies are stablecoins and cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and Ethereum, the two biggest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, can be converted into other cryptocurrencies or certain fiat currencies. This conversion process is considered a trade transaction by the IRS and is taxed.
Though most open virtual currencies have a decentralized setup, certain cryptocurrencies like Ripple’s XRP are centralized in design, meaning a central agency is responsible for their production and distribution.