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Cryptocurrency is going mainstream — and becoming increasingly difficult for investors to ignore.  

Coinbase made headlines recently as the first crypto exchange to go public on the Nasdaq, and established firms like Fidelity are adding crypto to their investment offerings. The adoption of online payments using crypto is growing too, thanks to brands ranging from legacy publisher (and NextAdvisor partner) TIME to digital payment facilitator PayPal and international auction house Sotheby’s

You may be wondering what to make of cryptocurrency and whether it has a place in your portfolio. But if you’re not familiar with digital currencies or blockchain technology, even the basic concept can be overwhelming. 

Here’s our guide to crypto, and why so many people are talking about it these days.

What Is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a type of currency that’s digital and decentralized. Cryptocurrencies can be used to buy and sell things, and their potential to store and grow value has also caught the eye of many investors.

There are thousands of different cryptocurrencies available today. The most popular