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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 safeguard yourself.

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A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be used to buy products and services, however utilizes an online journal with strong cryptography to secure online transactions. Much of the interest in these uncontrolled currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators sometimes driving rates skyward.

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

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a kind of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Many business have issued their own currencies, frequently called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the great or service that the business provides. Think of them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll need to exchange genuine currency for the cryptocurrency to access the excellent or service.

Cryptocurrencies work using an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread throughout lots of computer systems that manages and tape-records transactions. Part of the appeal of this technology is its security.

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

More than 6,700 different cryptocurrencies are traded openly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a market research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to multiply, raising money through initial 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 total value of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can check the current cost to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies attract their advocates for a range 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 purchase them now, most likely before they become more valuable Some fans like the reality that cryptocurrency eliminates central banks from handling the cash supply, because over time these banks tend to lower the worth of cash by means of inflation Other supporters like the innovation behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, since it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more safe than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because they’re going up in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting approval as a way to move cash

4. Are cryptocurrencies a great financial investment?

Cryptocurrencies may go up in worth, but lots of financiers see them as mere speculations, not real financial investments. The factor? Much like real currencies, cryptocurrencies generate 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 value 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 must be kept in mind that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet authors have actually noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some noteworthy voices in the investment neighborhood have recommended prospective financiers to avoid them. Of particular note, legendary financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s an extremely 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 whole lot of cash? Just because they can send cash?” 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 identify what a fair cost is for goods. 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 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 cost volatility develops a problem. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less likely to spend and distribute them today, making them less practical as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth three times the worth next year?

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