What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Should 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 items 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 at times driving prices skyward.
Here are 7 things to inquire about cryptocurrency, and what to look out for.
1. What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a type of payment that can be exchanged online for products and services. Lots of business have actually released their own currencies, frequently called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the good or service that the business provides. Think of them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll need to exchange real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the excellent or service.
Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread throughout many computers that handles and records transactions. Part of the appeal of this innovation is its security.
2. How many cryptocurrencies are there? What are they worth?
More than 6,700 different cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a market research site. 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 worth of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can inspect the existing cost to buy Bitcoin here
3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?
Cryptocurrencies appeal to their advocates for a range of factors. Here are some of the most popular:
Supporters see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to purchase them now, presumably before they become better Some fans like the fact that cryptocurrency gets rid of reserve banks from handling the cash supply, since gradually these banks tend to lower the worth of money via inflation Other supporters like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more safe than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because they’re increasing in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting approval as a method to move cash
4. Are cryptocurrencies a good financial investment?
Cryptocurrencies might go up in worth, but many investors see them as mere speculations, not real financial investments. The factor? Just like real currencies, cryptocurrencies generate no cash flow, so for you to profit, 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 organization, which increases its worth gradually by growing the success and capital of the operation.
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.” As NerdWallet authors have noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some significant voices in the investment neighborhood have encouraged would-be investors to steer clear of them. Of particular note, legendary financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really effective method of transferring cash and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a method of sending cash too. Are checks worth a whole lot of cash? Just because they can send money?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it needs to be noted that a currency requires stability so that merchants and consumers can determine what a reasonable rate is for goods. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything but stable through much of their history. For example, while Bitcoin traded at near $20,000 in December 2017, its worth then dropped to as low as about $3,200 a year later. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels again.
This price volatility develops a quandary. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less most likely to spend and circulate them today, making them less feasible as a currency. Why invest a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the value next year?