Ever since I began learning about cryptocurrency in 2012 (and more seriously in 2014), I knew that it was going to fundamentally change the way that we think about money, commerce, and contracts. I was surprised by just how few of my friends and colleagues knew what even the most well known coin, Bitcoin, was.

Since then, I’ve taken every opportunity to teach others about crypto and make myself available for questions that they have. These are without a doubt the most frequent questions I have heard while talking to newcomers about blockchain based currencies and how I’ve answered them.

“So this is fake, Internet money?”

One of the most challenging aspects of speaking to people new about Bitcoin is helping them navigate beyond the dichotomy of “real” vs “digital.” Since physical cryptocurrency tokens are extremely uncommon, many of those I’ve spoken to have a difficult time viewing digital currency as legitimate. To counter this, I usually question whether they feel the same way about direct deposit checks, credit cards, and online banking. Demonstrating to people that something they already trust and use is virtual as well often helps them realize that cryptos are indeed as real as the assets they already have.

“So, how do you get Bitcoins and the other ones?”

Acquisition of Bitcoin seems to be a particularly mysterious concept for the cryptocurrency neophyte. I have found that this is especially true for non-investors. Since most people do not have assets in the form of stock positions or forex positions, the idea of having to buy an asset on an exchange may be foreign to them.

Mining and minting are also an interesting ideas to explain, and understandably so. Telling someone that they can receive money for running a program on a computer usually turns some heads. I do explain that mining is almost entirely not profitable if you’re a solo miner or do not have access to free electricity. This means that I often warn individuals from trying to acquire coins in this way and suggest faucets -even though those have all but dried up- to get acquainted with small amounts of coins.

The method of getting coins people are most readily able to understand is payment. Companies and individuals are more than willing to pay for your services in the form of cryptos. Most people are familiar with the concept of paid work, so this is usually the quickest part of my answer to this question.

“Isn’t Bitcoin for buying drugs and other dubious goods and services?”

Cryptos have been plagued in the past by scandal. Sites on the deep web that accepted cryptos as payment methods gained some attention on news stations when some of those sites were shut down, and they brought crypto under the same scrutinous light. For these reasons, some approach the idea of crypto with trepidation. However, it is easy to explain that Bitcoin just acts as tender for debts, much like fiat cash. What an individual uses the tender for is not the fault of the currency itself. In fact, many philanthropic endeavors have been funded in part or whole by cryptos as well.

So the next time you are speaking with someone who does not know what cryptocurrency is, or they have a poor understanding of it, keep questions in mind. I hope my experiences and answers better equip you to tackle the questions of new arrivals to the world of cryptocurrency. Checkout part 2 of the article here.

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Dariusz is a Digital Anthropologist who has been closely following the world of cryptocurrencies since 2014. He has been somewhat of a crypto-evangelist, trying to educate more people on the exciting realm of cryptocurrency. During his time at University College London, his Master's dissertation focused on how communities inhabit, modify, and create virtual places via social media.