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By now almost everyone has heard of Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency. Most people stop learning about Bitcoin after hearing complicated techy jargon words such as distributed ledger technology, blockchain, and distributed computing. Luckily, you do not need to understand how cryptocurrencies work in order to understand why they are important. This article skips the technological inner workings and delves straight into the most crucial things to keep in mind when the B-word is used in conversation. CRYPTOCURRENCY BEGAN IN THE 1980S The most famous cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, was created in 2009. However, cryptographers have been experimenting with cryptocurrencies over the past four decades. In 1983, an American inventor named David Chaum designed an electronic cash system called DigiCash that was based on cryptographic algorithms. In 1997, a British cryptographer named Adam Back created HashCash that used the proof-of-work scheme to prevent email spam. In 1998, b-money and bit gold were released by Wei Dai and Nick Szabo, respectively. MAJOR BUSINESSES ARE ADOPTING CRYPTOCURRENCY The list of firms that accept Bitcoin is constantly growing. Dell, Microsoft, Virgin Galactic, and Tesla are just some of the firms that accept Bitcoin as payment. However, there are several small and more grass-root firms that also accept Bitcoin, including Etsy, WordPress, Wikipedia, and the Grass Hill Alpacas farm in Haydenville, MA. Several non-profit charities also use Bitcoin in order to making donating easier. The BitGive Foundation supports several campaigns including earthquake relief in Nepal and clean water projects in Kenya. THERE ARE OVER 1000 DIFFERENT CRYPTOCURRENCIES At the time of this writing, Bitcoin is the most famous and the most valuable cryptocurrency. Each Bitcoin is worth approximately $2400 USD. However, several cryptocurrencies were created by copying the open-source code for Bitcoin and then making a minor change. Dogecoin was originally released as a joke cryptocurrency; however, Dogecoin’s market capitalization in June was close to $340 million. CRYPTOCURRENCIES ARE DIGITAL ASSETS SECURED BY CRYPTOGRAPHY Cryptocurrencies are privately competing currencies that compete with other types of money and payment systems. The terms electronic moneyand digital currency are used interchangeably with the term cryptocurrency. Unlike physical currencies, such as gold and U.S. dollars, cryptocurrencies do not exist physically or even digitally. Instead, cryptocurrencies are an accounting ledger that keeps track of how much money each account user owns. Cryptocurrencies are intriguing for economists because each one has a unique monetary policy. THE TOP CRYPTOCURRENCIES ATTEMPT TO SOLVE DIFFERENT PROBLEMS Although Bitcoin is on top, there are several cryptocurrencies that are trying to take Bitcoin’s market share. Ethereum currently has the second highest market capitalization worth approximately $28 billion. Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum is a Turing-complete virtual machine that enables “smart contracts.” The third largest coin, Ripple, is a settlement system that was advertised towards banks, and several banks including UBS and Santander experimented with this cryptocurrency. Investors Follow the Latest Initial Coin Offerings and Token Generating Events In 2017, there has been approximately one new Initial Coin Offering (ICO) or Token Generating Event (TGE) every week. During the second week of June, Bancor raised $150 million in three hours. Before I invest in any coin, I make sure to read the coin’s whitepaper and to read about the coin’s developers. This helps me to avoid fly-by-the-night scammers. THERE ARE SEVERAL EASY WAYS TO BUY BITCOIN Coinbase is the largest exchange in the U.S. A state-issued ID or driver’s license is required to open an account. Coinbase charges 1.49% of each Bitcoin purchase if you use your bank account to buy Bitcoin via ACH transfer. If you buy with a credit card, the fee is 3.99%. Even th Best of luck