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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 protect yourself.

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A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be utilized to purchase products and services, but 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 at times driving costs skyward.

Here are seven things to inquire about cryptocurrency, and what to look out for.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a form of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Many business have issued their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the great or service that the company supplies. 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 utilizing a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread throughout numerous computers that handles and records transactions. Part of the appeal of this innovation 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 proliferate, raising money through initial 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 value of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can examine the current price to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies appeal to their fans for a variety 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 buy them now, presumably prior to they end up being more valuable Some fans like the truth that cryptocurrency removes reserve banks from managing the cash supply, given that over time these banks tend to reduce the worth of money by means of inflation Other fans like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, due to the fact that 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 method to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies a good investment?

Cryptocurrencies might go up in worth, however many financiers see them as simple speculations, not real financial investments. The reason? Just like genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies produce no capital, so for you to profit, someone needs to pay more for the currency than you did.

That’s what’s called “the greater 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 needs to be kept in mind that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet authors have noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some notable voices in the financial investment community have recommended prospective investors to avoid them. Of specific note, legendary financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really effective way of sending money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transferring cash too. Are checks worth a lot of cash? Just because they can transmit cash?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it needs to be noted that a currency needs stability so that merchants and consumers can determine what a reasonable cost is for items. 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 worth then dropped to as low as about $3,200 a year later. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels again.

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

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