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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to 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 protect yourself.

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A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be used to purchase items and services, but uses an online ledger 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 type of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Numerous companies have actually released their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the excellent or service that the company offers. Think of them as you would arcade tokens or gambling establishment 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 technology spread across many computer systems that handles and records transactions. Part of the appeal of this innovation is its security.

2. The number of 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 initial coin offerings, or ICOs. The total 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 existing cost to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies appeal to their supporters for a range of reasons. Here are some of the most popular:

Supporters see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to purchase them now, presumably before they become more valuable Some fans like the fact that cryptocurrency gets rid of central banks from handling the money supply, because in time these banks tend to lower the value of cash via inflation Other advocates like the innovation 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 since 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 good investment?

Cryptocurrencies may go up in value, however lots of financiers see them as simple speculations, not real investments. The reason? Much like genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies produce no capital, so for you to benefit, 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 company, which increases its worth 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 should be kept in mind that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet writers have noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some significant voices in the investment community have actually advised would-be investors to avoid them. Of particular note, famous financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very efficient method of transmitting money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a method of sending cash too. Are checks worth a lot of cash? Even if they can transfer 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 consumers can identify what a reasonable rate is for goods. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been anything but stable through much of their history. For instance, 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 once again.

This rate volatility produces a problem. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, individuals are less likely to invest and distribute them today, making them less practical as a currency. Why invest a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the value next year?

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