On last night’s episode (March 11) of “Last Week Tonight,” John Oliver laid out an extensive report on Cryptocurrencies. Oliver took a delicate approach to the intimidating and technical topic. The comedian joked that cryptocurrencies are “everything you don’t understand about money combined with everything you don’t understand about computers.” Oliver broke his presentation down into three sections: Bitcoin, Blockchain, and cryptocurrencies in general.

Bitcoin in a nutshell

Bitcoin is a decentralized, digital currency that has had its value skyrocket in the past year. According to “Last Week Tonight,” the virtual coin was worth $1,000 in January and $20,000 in the December of that same year.

Some people, such as 18-year-old Erik Finman, were able to use the virtual coin to increase their wealth tremendously. According to a CNBC report, Finman invested in Bitcoin when the coin’s value was only $12. Since then, he has been able to use Bitcoin to reach millionaire status before his 20th birthday.

Oliver further explains Bitcoin saying, “the fundamental reason that Bitcoin has value is because people agree that it has value.” However, Bitcoin is far from perfect. Oliver uses the example of the Miami Bitcoin Conference, which stopped accepting Bitcoin to purchase tickets. The currency isn’t quite ready to be used for everyday transactions just yet. In fact, according to Oliver, Bitcoin has lost nearly half its value this year.

What is Blockchain?

Next, Oliver goes on to explain the possibly revolutionary technology that Bitcoin utilizes.

Blockchain keeps a record of every Bitcoin transaction in a ledger. That ledger is stored on a vast number of computers across the world. This is where the term decentralized comes from. Instead of having one central point for hackers to attack, like banks and traditional companies, Bitcoin keeps its information scrambled across a myriad of different computers. Don Tapscott, co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute, compares trying to hack Blockchain with trying to turn a chicken nugget back into a chicken. Essentially, while it may technically be possible someday, Blockchain remains secure today.

Cryptocurrencies in general

John Oliver wraps up the segment by going over cryptocurrencies in general. Cryptocurrencies can be made by anyone, and there are nearly 1,500 cryptocurrencies available to be traded with today. Their names range anywhere from TrumpCoin to JesusCoin, and they are just as unreliable as they sound. Instead of aiming to be a usable currency sometime in the new future, most of these coins are issued by companies instead of stock.

Companies attempt to raise money using the virtual coins. One company was able to raise $35 million in just 30 seconds. This can be dangerous, Oliver explains. Some companies are not putting forth the products that they promised; instead, these companies continue to raise expectations while showing no tangible results.

The fervor around cryptocurrencies has created an internet sub-culture. Oliver explains a few terms that are popular on the internet, the most pertinent of which is “hodl,” based on a misspelling of the word “hold.” The basic principle is not to go running scared when the volatile market driving these virtual currencies goes down. Instead, keep your money invested so you don’t miss out when the coin jumps in value again.

Are cryptocurrencies the future?

At the end of John Oliver’s show, Keegan Michael Key delivers a hilariously informative speech, warning new investors to be part of that #craefulgang. Essentially, cryptocurrencies could very well be something that changes our lives and economic habits forever, or they might be the latest fad that could potentially lose a lot of money for a lot of people. Michael Key puts it best when he says, “Never invest more than you are willing to lose.”