Where can I find information about cryptocurrency (like bitcoin)?

Image: bitcoin-2373265_1920 by Many Wonderful Artists on Flickr.

Entry last updated: 13/01/21


A cryptocurrency is a virtual currency built on cryptographie. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency and created by an anonymous computer programmer known as Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009. Many Altcoins or "Alternative coins" like Ethereum, Litecoin, Monero, Ripple, Dash or Zcash launched after Bitcoin's success.

What are cryptocurrencies and how do they work?

Cryptocurrencies are digital decentralised cash systems. Each transaction is controlled by algorithms and takes place directly between users. The amount of money someone owns is stored in a digital wallet on the computer or the cloud, and is protected by an encryption process.

Elementary (Gale in Context)

This is one of the EPIC databases. EPIC is a collection of reliable databases covering lots of different topics. It’s put together especially for New Zealand school students and helps to answer questions like this. Find articles, pictures or news about cryptocurrencies or bitcoin.

  • Enter the keyword 'cryptocurrencies' or 'bitcoin' into the search bar at the top of the page.
  • The symbol next to the resource shows the content level. Keep an eye out for yellow boxes.
  • Use the 'Search within results' search box to narrow your topic down.
Tips: To get to the EPIC resources you will need a password from your school librarian first. Or you can chat with one of our AnyQuestions librarians between 1 and 6pm Monday to Friday and they will help you online. Some EPIC databases may also be available through your public library.

Britannica School

This online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica is a reliable website with great information.

  • Select Secondary and enter the keyword 'Bitcoin'.
  • Go to the main Bitcoin (digital currency) article, or another article of your choice.
  • Use the Related section to explore more.
Tips: Search words, or keywords, are the most important words in our question. Usually it’s better to leave out small words like ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘of’ and just choose the main ones, e.g [bitcoin]. We can always change our keywords or add more if we need to.

Khan Academy

This is a free website filled with educational videos on a range of topics, including cryptocurrencies.

  • Type the keyword 'cryptocurrency' into the search bar at the top of the page.
  • This will bring up a range of videos and articles related to cryptocurrencies e.g Bitcoin: What is it?
Tips: Websites that have .org or .net in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Check the About us link on the website, if you can find one. That can tell you what the organisation’s mission and values are. For example the About link on the Khan Academy page shows us that Khan Academy is partnered with lots of other reliable organisations, like NASA and MIT (the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a very prestigious university).


As cryptocurrencies are becoming more popular, it raises the question of how they should be managed and what risks there are. For example, computer systems being hacked or money transfer errors. All the computers involved in "mining", an important process in Bitcoin, use an enormous amount of energy. The legal status of cryptocurrencies is not always clear. While allowed in New Zealand, some countries have enforced strict laws to ban them. Transactions can be anonymous and untraceable which opens up possibilities for money laundering, tax evasion or the use for criminal activities.

Global Issues in Context

This is another EPIC database with reliable information on worldwide topics. It includes news, global viewpoints, reference materials, information about specific countries, videos and statistics.

  • Type 'virtual currency', 'bitcoin' or 'cryptocurrency' into the search bar.
  • Change the drop down menu to 'Both Global Issues & Opposing Viewpoints' to get additional results.
  • Go into the advanced search and restrict your search to 'Basic' or 'Intermediate' content level.
  • Browse through your results. You will see there are different forms of resources eg images, news, magazines etc.
Tips: Many web pages have links to further information or to other recommended sites. Following these links is a great way to find out more. This searching method is called “pearl growing” because you are picking up pieces of sand to make a beautiful pearl!


There are many books that have been written about this topic - check out your local public or school library to see what they have.

Here are some recommended titles:

SCIS no: 1870135

managed by
proudly supported by

Acceptable Use

Acceptable use means acting like a good citizen online. How you behave online should be the same as how you behave offline (in the real world). AnyQuestions is a free service, staffed by real people from libraries right around New Zealand. Please be respectful and polite to our librarians. We like helping people who show good manners :)

We may end a chat session if we think you are being inappropriate or misbehaving, this includes:

  • Using racist/sexist, offensive or obscene language.

    Please don’t use mean or cruel words when talking to or about someone else; whether they are a male or female, or of another race or skin colour. Obscene language means using words that would upset your grandparents!

  • Using the service to transmit messages that harass or threaten the operators.

    Please don’t be mean to our librarians or act like a bully.

  • Visiting an objectionable website while in session with an operator.

    An objectionable website means a website that you really wouldn’t want your grandparents looking over your shoulder at!

  • Deliberately time wasting in a way that denies service to other legitimate users.

    Time wasting means being silly and not working with our librarians. Time wasting means other students are not getting help, and that isn’t nice!

  • Any form of vandalism, including damaging computer systems or networks and knowingly introducing programs such as computer viruses and worms.

    You might be technically savvy and know about web viruses and worms and how they affect computers but please don’t spread these. It takes our attention away from helping you and other students.

  • AnyQuestions reserves the right to disconnect users at the operator’s discretion. AnyQuestions might also block access to the service for repeat offenders.

    If you act like a troll then we’ll end the chat. Remember everything digital or online can be traced and we can track it back to where you came from and/or your school. If you misbehave on AnyQuestions then we will be in touch with your school or we will block you from accessing AnyQuestions.