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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to Know
Cryptocurrencies let you buy products and services, or trade them for profit. Here’s more about what cryptocurrency is, how to buy it and how to secure yourself.

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A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be utilized to purchase goods and services, however uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to secure online deals. Much of the interest in these unregulated currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators sometimes driving rates skyward.

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

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a form of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Numerous business have actually provided their own currencies, often called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the good or service that the company offers. Think of them as you would arcade tokens or gambling establishment chips. You’ll need to exchange real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the great or service.

Cryptocurrencies work using an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across many computers that manages and tapes transactions. Part of the appeal of this innovation is its security.

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

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies interest their fans for a range of factors. Here are a few of the most popular:

Fans see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to buy them now, presumably prior to they become more valuable Some supporters like the truth that cryptocurrency eliminates reserve banks from handling the money supply, considering that over time these banks tend to lower the value of money through inflation Other supporters like the innovation behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, since it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more protected than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies since they’re increasing in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a method to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies a good investment?

Cryptocurrencies might go up in worth, however lots of financiers see them as simple speculations, not real investments. The reason? Just like genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies produce 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 investment. Contrast that to a well-managed company, which increases its value over 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 should be noted that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet writers have noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some noteworthy voices in the investment community have actually advised prospective financiers to stay away from them. Of particular note, famous investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very reliable method of transmitting cash 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 money? Even if they can transfer cash?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it should be noted that a currency requires stability so that merchants and consumers can identify what a fair rate is for products. 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. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels again.

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

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