In May 2010, Laszlo Hanyecz made history when he purchased two large pizzas from Papa John’s for 10,000 bitcoins, about $30. Today, that same purchase would equate to more than $560 million.

In just the past year, cryptocurrency’s total value has skyrocketed by nearly 500%. And Bitcoin, which was worth less than a penny when it launched, hit a high of $61,683 per coin last week. Here’s an introduction to this mysterious currency and how it works.

WHAT IS CRYPTOCURRENCY?Cryptocurrency is virtual money based on software. When you purchase cryptocurrency, you purchase a digital asset based on an algorithm.

It’s virtual money represented as tokens. Your token represents a specific amount of cryptocurrency you own based on the current market value. You can sell that token, or you can cash it out at market value.

Unlike centralized currency, which is government controlled, cryptocurrency is decentralized. Its value is controlled by the network based on supply and demand.

TOP 10 CRYPTOCURRENCIESAccording to the nonprofit news organization, there are more than 7,800 cryptocurrencies in existence and more are popping up all the time. Here are the top 10 based on total value.

HOW CRYPTOCURRENCY WORKSMost cryptocurrencies run on the power of blockchain technology. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies couldn’t exist without this technology and the “miners” who verify the transactions.

(1) When you buy or transfer cryptocurrency, your money goes into your digital