Base58 is an encoding system used in cryptocurrency networks to convert large numbers into smaller, less seemingly random strings of characters. It is a method of encoding data that is used to produce a type of shorthand and is similar in nature to Base64 and Base32.
Unlike Base64 which utilizes the + symbol and / symbol to represent single characters, Base58 instead uses a number of alphanumeric characters that are easily recognizable, such as the capital letters (A-Z), the digits (0-9). This results in a shorter representation than other encoding systems such as Base64 which has the advantage of producing a smaller file size whenever the same data is encoded into Base58.
Base58 is most commonly used in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ripple (XRP), and SmartCash (SMART) where it is used to create unique addresses. The algorithm also plays a role in generating security tokens, digital signatures and encrypted messages as well as digital tokens that are used to represent proof of ownership and access rights in decentralized applications.
Because of its properties, Base58 is useful for applications in various areas including computing, telecommunications, software engineering, or general purpose data representation. Its short string output makes it possible to use it for most data encoding requirements where storing large numbers is an issue.