What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to Know
Cryptocurrencies let you buy products and services, or trade them for profit. Here’s more about what cryptocurrency is, how to buy it and how to secure yourself.
Numerous or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which items we write about and where and how the item appears on a page. This does not influence our examinations. Our opinions are our own.
A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be used to purchase goods and services, but utilizes an online ledger with strong cryptography to secure online transactions. Much of the interest in these uncontrolled currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators sometimes driving costs skyward.
Here are 7 things to inquire about cryptocurrency, and what to look out for.
1. What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a form of payment that can be exchanged online for items and services. Many companies have released their own currencies, often called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the great or service that the business provides. Think about them as you would arcade tokens or gambling establishment chips. You’ll need to exchange real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the good or service.
Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread throughout numerous computer systems that handles and tape-records transactions. Part of the appeal of this technology is its security.
2. How many cryptocurrencies exist? What are they worth?
More than 6,700 various cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a marketing research website. And cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate, raising money through initial coin offerings, or ICOs. The overall value of all cryptocurrencies on Dec. 18, 2020, was more than $645.7 billion, according to CoinMarketCap, and the overall value of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can check the current rate to purchase Bitcoin here
3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?
Cryptocurrencies attract their supporters for a variety of factors. Here are some of the most popular:
Advocates see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to purchase them now, probably prior to they end up being more valuable Some advocates like the truth that cryptocurrency eliminates reserve banks from handling the cash supply, because with time these banks tend to lower the worth of money through inflation Other supporters like the innovation behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, since it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more safe than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies due to the fact that they’re going up in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a way to move cash
4. Are cryptocurrencies a good investment?
Cryptocurrencies might go up in value, but lots of financiers see them as simple speculations, not real financial investments. The factor? Similar to real currencies, cryptocurrencies create no capital, so for you to benefit, somebody has to pay more for the currency than you did.
That’s what’s called “the higher fool” theory of investment. Contrast that to a well-managed business, which increases its worth over time by growing the profitability and capital of the operation.
For those who see cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as the currency of the future, it needs to be noted that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet writers have noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some noteworthy voices in the financial investment neighborhood have actually encouraged potential investors to steer clear of them. Of particular note, legendary financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s an extremely effective way of transferring money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of sending cash too. Are checks worth a whole lot of cash? Even if they can send cash?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it needs to be kept in mind that a currency requires stability so that merchants and consumers can determine what a fair price is for goods. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been anything but stable through much of their history. While Bitcoin traded at close to $20,000 in December 2017, its value then dropped to as low as about $3,200 a year later. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels once again.
This price volatility produces a dilemma. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, individuals are less likely to spend and circulate them today, making them less practical as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the worth next year?