What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is essentially digital money which uses cryptography to ensure the integrity of transactions on its network. By translating who's involved and what's being exchanged into an irreversible code, you can guarantee the validity of all exchanges without any centralized banking authority. (The makers of The Big Short can finally rest easy.) Every transaction that's ever happened on the network is tracked on what's called a blockchain. Everyone involved gets a copy of the blockchain, which allows all items to be checked for consistency by mass consensus. It's this level of rigor which allows cryptocurrency to be a legitimate currency, and not just digital money you farmed for on World Of Warcraft.
Yeah, but what is cryptocurrency, exactly? Is it that Bitcoin thing?
Yes, Bitcoin is the most recognized cryptocurrency. But there are others, like Ethereum, LiteCoin, and NameCoin, to mention a few. They work similarly, but differ in their programmed market caps, how their blockchains are implemented, and how adorable their names are. If you want to take advantage of cryptocurrency's flexibility, you can purchase Bitcoin and other alt-coins directly from exchanges. And if you have access to a server with a high-end GPU, you can mine them yourself.