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 safeguard yourself.
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A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be used to purchase products and services, but uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to protect online transactions. Much of the interest in these unregulated currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators sometimes driving prices skyward.
Here are seven things to ask about cryptocurrency, and what to keep an eye out for.
1. What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a kind of payment that can be exchanged online for products and services. Numerous companies have released their own currencies, often called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the good or service that the company 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 good or service.
Cryptocurrencies work using an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across many computers that manages and tapes 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 openly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a marketing research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to multiply, raising money through preliminary coin offerings, or ICOs. The overall worth 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 check the present cost to purchase Bitcoin here
3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?
Cryptocurrencies interest their advocates 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, most likely prior to they become more valuable Some advocates like the truth that cryptocurrency eliminates central banks from managing the money supply, because over time these banks tend to decrease the worth of money by means of inflation Other supporters like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, since it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more secure than conventional 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 way to move cash
4. Are cryptocurrencies a good investment?
Cryptocurrencies may increase in value, however lots of investors see them as mere speculations, not real investments. The reason? Much like genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies produce no capital, 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 financial investment. Contrast that to a well-managed company, which increases its worth gradually 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 kept in mind that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet authors have actually noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some noteworthy voices in the financial investment community have actually advised would-be financiers to avoid them. Of specific note, legendary investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very effective method of transmitting money 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 cash? Just because they can transfer money?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it ought to be kept in mind that a currency needs stability so that merchants and customers can determine what a reasonable cost is for products. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have 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 again.
This rate volatility develops a quandary. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less likely to invest and distribute them today, making them less viable as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the value next year?