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Money Guide: Cryptocurrency 101

Cryptocurrency 101: Here are the basics.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In this 13 ON YOUR SIDE Money Guide, Michigan State University criminal justice professor, Tom Holt, is giving us a crash course as we dive into a new form of payment that’s growing in popularity around the world: cryptocurrency.

What is it? 

Cryptocurrency is a logged form of payment that can be seen by anyone online, but the information is encrypted. This refers to information that has been turned into a code, which only those authorized can understand.

There are many different types of cryptocurrencies, the most well-known being Bitcoin:

  • Bitcoin (BTC)
  • Ethereum (ETH)
  • Binance Coin (BNB)
  • Cardano (ADA)
  • Solana (SOL)

Cryptocurrency payments can be viewed on what’s called the Blockchain, which allows users to validate that a payment has moved between two different accounts.

You can find the Blockchain through various sources but you’ll want to make sure you’re using a trusted site like Coinbase, recognized as an industry leader. Using Coinbase, you can view the Blockchain, where payments are logged. This is also a safe place to buy and sell cryptocurrency.

So, where can you spend cryptocurrency?

There are a growing number of companies currently accepting this form of payment. Some use third party apps which allow you to make purchases, or buy and sell cryptocurrency.

Here are some of the companies accepting cryptocurrencies:

  • PayPal
  • AT&T
  • Starbucks
  • Home Depot
  • Whole Foods
  • Etsy
  • Microsoft
  • Overstock

Some people are simply purchasing cryptocurrencies as a form of investment, with the chance that it might increase in value.

Meanwhile, if you’re planning on using crypto for purchases, keep in mind there are different regulations on cryptocurrencies. Here in the U.S., using crypto to pay for something could mean having to pay capital gains tax on it later.

It’s important to understand exactly what you’re getting into, and start small.

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