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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Should 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 protect yourself.

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A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be utilized to purchase goods and services, however 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 sometimes driving prices skyward.

Here are 7 things to ask about cryptocurrency, and what to watch out for.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a kind of payment that can be exchanged online for items and services. Lots of companies have provided their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the good or service that the company provides. 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 great or service.

Cryptocurrencies work utilizing a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread throughout many computers 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 publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a marketing research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to multiply, raising money through preliminary coin offerings, or ICOs. The total value 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 check the current cost to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies attract their supporters 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 prior to they become more valuable Some supporters like the reality that cryptocurrency eliminates reserve banks from handling the cash supply, considering that over time these banks tend to reduce 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 safe and secure than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because they’re increasing in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a method to move cash

4. Are cryptocurrencies an excellent investment?

Cryptocurrencies may increase in worth, but numerous investors see them as simple speculations, not real investments. The reason? Just like real currencies, cryptocurrencies produce no cash flow, so for you to profit, somebody has 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 service, which increases its value in time 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 needs to be noted that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet authors have kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some significant voices in the investment community have recommended prospective financiers to steer clear of them. Of particular note, famous financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really reliable way of transferring money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a method of transmitting cash too. Are checks worth a whole lot of money? Even if they can send cash?” 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 consumers can identify what a reasonable rate is for goods. 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 once again.

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

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