We here in the Midwest are always late to the party. We don’t start wearing the new trends until they have already waned in popularity on the Coasts. When we ask our Big City friends, What is that app you’re using? They give us the stink eye and explain it in elementary language. Clearly telling us by their body language that we are out of touch with what’s going on in the world.

Bitcoin and altcoins are all the rage in 2018. All the smart online people are saying, Did you see how cryptocurrencies shot up over 1000% in value in 2017? I feel like they are saying to me, you Midwesterner had your head in the sand again. You missed out on this amazing new trend.

Confession. I hated skinny jeans when they first came out. As a true Midwesterner, I thought, surely this fad is too ugly to stick around. I was one of the last women to catch on to the trend. But now cryptocurrency is the new trend in town. And it’s a trend that is based on the mindblowing super awesome blockchain technology, it’s a trend that I don’t want to miss out on.

I’m not going to bet the farm on it. But I do want to understand what cryptocurrency is. How you invest in it. How you exchange coins. What are tokens? What are ICOs? How do you store coins? What are the storage options? How do you keep your coins safe from cyber thieves? What pushback to expect from the institutions that will defend traditional currencies in a fight to the death.

The only people I have found to give answers (with any meat on the bone) are nerdy tech people who don’t speak Midwestern language. It’s like having to learn a whole new dialect of English. I am YouTubing, Podcasting, Blogging and googling in order to uncover the answers to these questions.

I have learned quite a bit so far, but not from one sole source. I have had to piece many bits of information together.

I also made my first investment into cryptocurrency, which has been the best learning experience of all. Through that exercise, I learned two things. Investing in cryptocurrency is not developed enough yet for the masses to invest in because it is too cumbersome and confusing to figure out. Which leads me to believe that maybe I’m not too late to the party.

However, I also learned that demand for cryptocurrency has exploded in recent months, which means tons of people are coming to the party even though the directions to the party are incredibly unclear. I don’t know what that means for the financial future of cryptocurrencies. It sounds like this is why many of the smart online people are saying that cryptocurrency is a bubble that will soon pop. For us crypto lovers, hopefully, it will just mean a correction, not a complete pop, burst and dissolution.

In fact, there were so many people who must have had the same thought as me, hey I don’t want to miss out on the cryptocurrency party, I need to jump on board!, that the huge amount of new registers flooded the cryptocurrency exchanges and most of them temporary cut off any new registrants. This leads me to believe that perhaps I am too late to the party.

I will give you my findings in plain English for any fellow Midwesterners who are interested in how to get started in cryptocurrency.

One, you need to purchase cryptocurrency on an exchange. There are many exchanges that offer different brands of cryptocurrencies. You will be limited to the exchanges that are legal in your country, and that are accepting new registrants. These two constraints led me to register on Coinbase.com for my first purchase.

Two, many of the cryptocurrencies require that you purchase them with other major cryptocurrencies. For example, to purchase IOTA, you may not be able to purchase them with USD. You will first have to convert your USD to Bitcoin or Ether on a site like coinbase.com, and then go to an exchange like binance.com and purchase the IOTA with your Bitcoin or Ether. Confusing, right?

Three, the biggest weakness and potential for somebody to steal your cryptocurrency is on the exchanges. So you don’t want the money you purchase on the exchange, but rather transfer it to a “soft” or “hard” wallet. This is the tech nerdy dialect I was talking about.

Soft wallets are apps on your computer that will store the cryptocurrency. And there isn’t one soft wallet that will store all types of cryptocurrency. You may need several of them. Or a hard wallet is a little device that looks like a jumpdrive (USB port) that has a fancy encryption process that you go through to move your money from the exchange to the hard wallet.

In conclusion, investing is cryptocurrency is exciting. Understanding blockchain technology is important to me because I believe it will disrupt many many industries and transform the way we do business. However, it is in the toddler stage. A two-year-old who can communicate with its parents better than what a newborn baby can, but yet is still a ton of work to take care of.

I’m the type of girl who still has bootcut jeans in my closet, just because I can’t bear parting with them. So maybe I will feel the same way about not wanting to completely abandon fiat currency in order to embrace cryptocurrency wholeheartedly. But by golly, I’m not going to be late to this party.