NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- It's called cryptocurrency: Mayor-elect Eric Adams wants to get paid in it, and he wants it taught in schools.
But what is it? And what should you watch out for?
Some stores in New York City are accepting cryptocurrency as payment, and there are Bitcoin ATMs throughout the area that turns cash into crypto.
At Astro West on the Upper West Side, they sell everything from unique stones to fossils to ancient meteorites. And customers can now pay for the oldest objects with the newest form of currency.
"You have to keep changing and adapting or you're going to have a 'closed' sign on your door," owner Marc Tanjeloff said. "I remember at one point we were writing checks and using American Express sliders. It's just the future, it's changing."
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Unlike cash, crypto is an internet based currency. Bitcoin is the older form of cryptocurrency.
There's no single person or organization in charge, so instead of banks processing the transactions, computers do the work for you.
You can spend it, or you can hold onto it and take your chances. Its worth fluctuates, like the stock market.
After Mayor-elect Eric Adams announced he wants his first three paychecks in Bitcoin and for crypto education to be taught tin schools, Patrick Stanley, of CityCoins, launched NYCCoin, a new way to users to invest and, he says, support the city at the same time.
"The thing not to do with Bitcoin is spend your Bitcoin," he said. "The thing to do is hold your Bitcoin...I think from a moral, social, and financial standpoint, (Adams) is doing something that's very visionary. It takes guts, but history will look back well upon him doing that."
But for new investors, there are some things to keep in mind.
"It's risky if you don't know what you're doing," said New York based attorney Max Dilendorf, who specializes in cryptocurrency cases. "There are a lot of exciting opportunities, but there are also pitfalls."
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He says there are three main areas of concern to keep in mind.
First, when you're doing peer to peer transaction, you don't know with whom you're transacting. Next, apps that hold your digital wallet can be a target for hackers. And finally, when converting crypto into cash and depositing the money, banks will want to know exactly where that money came from.
"My advice would be, as a lawyer, don't get adventurous," Dilendorf said.
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