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Someone in your life is talking about cryptocurrency — maybe your partner or best friend. Or maybe you’ve seen it in the news or on social media. Either way, you want to understand this new technology that people are telling you to invest in. 

Below, Select dives into what makes up a cryptocurrency, and what to look for before you invest.

Cryptocurrency 101

What is blockchain and cryptocurrency?

At its most basic, a cryptocurrency is a digital asset that utilizes computer code and blockchain technology to operate somewhat on its own, without the need for a central party — be that a person, company, central bank or government — to manage the system. 

A blockchain is a ledger which keeps track of cryptocurrency transactions. This ledger of transactions is maintained across computers that are linked across a distributed network. Transactions in cryptocurrency protocols are combined into blocks, and these blocks are then linked together in a historical record of everything that’s happened on that blockchain. 

Bitcoin, the first cryptocurrency created, was developed initially to act as a payment mechanism native to the online world. Faster, cheaper, censorship resistant and not beholden to any government or central bank’s whims. 

Today, there are thousands of cryptocurrencies. These still act as payment mechanisms but have also been