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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 utilized to purchase goods and services, but utilizes an online ledger 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 seven things to inquire about cryptocurrency, and what to keep an eye out for.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a type of payment that can be exchanged online for items and services. Lots of companies have actually released their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded specifically 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 genuine currency for the cryptocurrency to access the good or service.

Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread across numerous computers that handles and tape-records deals. Part of the appeal of this innovation 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 proliferate, 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 total worth of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can inspect the existing price to purchase Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies appeal to 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, probably before they become better Some fans like the truth that cryptocurrency removes reserve banks from managing the cash supply, because in time these banks tend to decrease the worth of cash through 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 conventional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies since they’re going up in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting approval as a way to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies an excellent financial investment?

Cryptocurrencies may go up in worth, but numerous investors see them as mere speculations, not real investments. The reason? Similar to real currencies, cryptocurrencies create no cash flow, so for you to benefit, 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 business, 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 must be noted that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet authors have kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some notable voices in the financial investment community have actually encouraged prospective financiers to avoid them. Of specific note, legendary investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s an extremely reliable method of transmitting money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transmitting money too. Are checks worth a whole lot of cash? Just because they can transmit 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 requires stability so that merchants and consumers can determine what a fair price is for goods. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been anything but stable through much of their history. For example, 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 once again.

This cost volatility creates a conundrum. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less most likely to spend and circulate them today, making them less viable as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth three times the value next year?

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