What is cryptocurrency?

One of our GOAT listeners called in with a question about cryptocurrency, and Ryan is psyched. Crypto is everywhere right now, but it can be kinda hard for kids (and grown-ups!) to know how it all works. We’ll head to the far reaches of the internet to learn about the promise and peril of crypto, and why any form of money only works if you believe it will … whoa.

Arnel Alinea

Money Talks

Your kid might not be ready to put their allowance in bitcoin, but they’re likely already seeing tons of ads, online videos and news stories about crypto. Here are some questions you can ask to check their understanding.

  1. How is cryptocurrency different from a dollar bill in your pocket?
  2. Why do some people like the idea of using cryptocurrency?
  3. Why would other people not want to use cryptocurrency?

Tip Jar

A big takeaway from this episode is how much the whole idea of “money” depends on a group of people agreeing that something has value and choosing to use it among themselves. Our very first episode talked about this, highlighting ancient people who traded bones and shells. You might try to home in on your kid’s interests here: Do they swap food with their friends at lunch? Collect Pokémon cards? Buy Fortnite V-Bucks? Who decides what these things are worth?

This video from the International Monetary Fund is a nice refresher on this episode’s key points — with fewer goofy sound effects. If your kid is getting the basics, check out this great Investopedia article for next steps to keep the discussion going.

For grown-ups interested in learning more about crypto, our podcast “Make Me Smart” has a great episode on the winners and losers as bitcoin goes more mainstream. If you’re curious about bitcoin mining, here’s a story explaining the process in plain English.

Gimme 5

We’d love to hear your kids’ money jokes, money poems and best money tips so we can feature them on the podcast! Send them to us using this online form.

And we want to hear what parents think about “Million Bazillion”! You can help us by filling out a short audience survey: marketplace.org/survey

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