Making sense of cryptocurrencies and NFTs

Cryptocurrency has broken into the mainstream. but how does it work and how safe is it? A primer on crypto, blockchains, and non-fungible tokens.

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(AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

(AP Photo/Kin Cheung, File)

Cryptocurrency, once a fringe platform used by tech-savvy investors — and favored by cybercriminals — appears to be moving into the mainstream, with thousands of digital currencies available, like Bitcoin, Ethereum and Tether. New York City Mayor Eric Adams, athlete Aaron Rogers and other notable figures are asking for crypto paychecks. Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, of art, videos and code are selling for record amounts. The flurry of crypto ads that aired during the Super Bowl this month left many of us feeling like we’d better get in on the action before it’s too late.

Cryptocurrency has a lot of vocal proponents, with big financial stakes, but there are also many critics who warn that it’s all a scam. This hour, we’ll try to make sense of where the crypto truth lies.  New York Times technology columnist KEVIN ROOSE guides us through the crypto frontier with a primer on virtual currencies, blockchains and NFTS, their potential risks, and how and where they could work.

Recommended reading

The New York Times, Maybe There’s a Use for Crypto After All – “One of the most frequent questions asked by crypto skeptics is: What can you actually do with crypto, besides financial speculation and crimes?”

The Atlantic, The Crypto Backlash Is Booming – “The anger at Web3 carries echoes of the fury over the subprime-mortgage meltdown almost 15 years ago.”

Mother Jones, Bitcoin Miners Revived a Dying Montana Coal Plant—and Emissions Soared – Such thirst for power is common in crypto—globally, bitcoin mining consumes more electricity than Norway, a country of 5.3 million people.

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