What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Must Know
Cryptocurrencies let you purchase products and services, or trade them for profit. Here’s more about what cryptocurrency is, how to buy it and how to protect yourself.
Numerous or all of the products included here are from our partners who compensate us. This might affect which items we write about and where and how the item appears on a page. This does not affect our assessments. Our viewpoints are our own.
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 costs skyward.
Here are seven things to ask about cryptocurrency, and what to look out for.
1. What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a form of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Lots of companies have provided their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the good 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 technology spread throughout numerous computers that manages and tape-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 different cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a marketing research website. And cryptocurrencies continue to multiply, 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 existing cost to purchase Bitcoin here
3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?
Cryptocurrencies interest their fans for a range 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, presumably before they become better Some supporters like the truth that cryptocurrency eliminates reserve banks from managing the money supply, since with time these banks tend to reduce the worth of cash via inflation Other advocates like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, due to the fact that it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more protected than conventional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies due to the fact that they’re going up in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a method to move money
4. Are cryptocurrencies a great investment?
Cryptocurrencies may go up in worth, however lots of investors see them as mere speculations, not real financial investments. The factor? Just like real currencies, cryptocurrencies create no cash flow, so for you to profit, someone needs 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 value with 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 needs to be kept in mind that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet authors have actually noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some notable voices in the financial investment community have actually advised potential financiers to steer clear of them. Of particular note, famous investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very effective method of sending cash and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transferring cash too. Are checks worth a great deal of money? Even if they can transmit cash?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it needs to be noted that a currency needs stability so that merchants and customers can determine what a fair rate 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 again.
This price volatility develops a problem. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, individuals are less most likely to spend and flow them today, making them less viable as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth three times the worth next year?