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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to Know
Cryptocurrencies let you purchase items and services, or trade them for profit. Here’s more about what cryptocurrency is, how to buy it and how to protect yourself.

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A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be used to purchase goods and services, but uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to protect online deals. Much of the interest in these uncontrolled currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators at times driving rates skyward.

Here are seven things to ask about cryptocurrency, and what to watch out for.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a kind of payment that can be exchanged online for products and services. Many companies have actually released their own currencies, often called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the good or service that the business offers. Think of them as you would arcade tokens or gambling establishment chips. You’ll need to exchange real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the great or service.

Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread throughout many computers that manages and tapes transactions. Part of the appeal of this innovation is its security.

2. How many cryptocurrencies exist? What are they worth?

More than 6,700 various cryptocurrencies are traded openly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a market research website. And cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate, raising money through initial coin offerings, or ICOs. The total value of all cryptocurrencies on Dec. 18, 2020, was more than $645.7 billion, according to CoinMarketCap, and the total worth of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can inspect the current cost to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies interest their fans for a variety of factors. Here are a few of the most popular:

Advocates see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to buy them now, most likely before they become better Some advocates like the fact that cryptocurrency removes reserve banks from handling the money supply, considering that gradually these banks tend to minimize the value of money via inflation Other fans like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, due to the fact that it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more secure than standard payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because they’re going up in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting acceptance as a method to move cash

4. Are cryptocurrencies a good financial investment?

Cryptocurrencies may go up in worth, but many investors see them as mere speculations, not real financial investments. The reason? Just like real currencies, cryptocurrencies create no capital, so for you to profit, somebody needs to pay more for the currency than you did.

That’s what’s called “the greater fool” theory of investment. Contrast that to a well-managed company, which increases its worth gradually by growing the success and cash flow 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 notable voices in the financial investment community have actually advised prospective financiers to avoid them. Of specific note, legendary investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really reliable way of transmitting money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transferring money too. Are checks worth a great deal of money? Just because they can transmit money?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it needs to be kept in mind that a currency needs stability so that merchants and consumers can identify what a fair rate is for goods. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything however 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 on. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels once again.

This rate volatility produces a dilemma. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less most likely to invest and distribute them today, making them less practical as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the worth next year?

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