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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to Know
Cryptocurrencies let you buy goods 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 buy products and services, but uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to secure online deals. Much of the interest in these unregulated currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators sometimes driving rates skyward.

Here are 7 things to ask 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. Numerous companies have provided their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the good or service that the business supplies. Think of them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll need to exchange real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the great or service.

Cryptocurrencies work utilizing a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread across many computers that manages and records deals. Part of the appeal of this technology is its security.

2. The number of cryptocurrencies are there? What are they worth?

More than 6,700 various cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a market research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to multiply, raising money through initial coin offerings, or ICOs. The total worth 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 purchase Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

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

Supporters see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to purchase them now, presumably prior to they end up being more valuable Some fans like the fact that cryptocurrency eliminates central banks from handling the cash supply, because over time these banks tend to minimize the value of cash through inflation Other advocates like the innovation behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because 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 value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term approval as a method to move cash

4. Are cryptocurrencies a great investment?

Cryptocurrencies may go up in worth, but many financiers see them as mere speculations, not real investments. The reason? Similar to genuine 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 financial investment. Contrast that to a well-managed company, which increases its value over time by growing the profitability and cash flow of the operation.

For those who see cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as the currency of the future, it ought to be kept in mind 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 neighborhood have recommended would-be financiers to stay away from them. Of specific note, legendary financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really reliable way of transferring money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transmitting money too. Are checks worth a lot of money? Even if they can transmit money?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it should be kept in mind that a currency needs stability so that merchants and consumers can determine what a reasonable rate is for products. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything but stable through much of their history. While Bitcoin traded at close to $20,000 in December 2017, its worth 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 develops a problem. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, individuals are less most likely to spend and distribute them today, making them less feasible as a currency. Why invest a bitcoin when it could be worth three times the value next year?

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