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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Should Know
Cryptocurrencies let you buy 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 purchase goods and services, but uses an online journal with strong cryptography to secure online transactions. Much of the interest in these unregulated currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators at times driving prices 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 goods and services. Lots of business have issued their own currencies, frequently called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the great or service that the business offers. Think about 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 utilizing an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread across lots of computer systems that manages and tape-records transactions. Part of the appeal of this technology is its security.

2. How many cryptocurrencies are there? 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 proliferate, raising money through preliminary 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 examine the current rate to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies attract their advocates for a range of reasons. Here are some of the most popular:

Fans see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to purchase them now, probably before they become more valuable Some supporters like the reality that cryptocurrency removes reserve banks from handling the money supply, given that gradually these banks tend to lower the worth of cash through 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 secure than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because they’re increasing in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting acceptance as a way to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies a good investment?

Cryptocurrencies might go up in worth, but many financiers see them as mere speculations, not real investments. The factor? Just like genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies generate no cash flow, so for you to profit, somebody 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 business, which increases its value with time by growing the profitability and capital of the operation.

For those who see cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as the currency of the future, it must be noted that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet authors have noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some notable voices in the investment community have advised potential financiers to stay away from them. Of particular 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 sending money too. Are checks worth a lot of cash? Just because they can send cash?” 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 so that merchants and customers can determine what a fair price is for goods. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything but stable through much of their history. For instance, while Bitcoin traded at near $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 cost volatility develops a conundrum. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, individuals are less likely to spend and circulate them today, making them less feasible as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth three times the worth next year?

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