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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Must Know
Cryptocurrencies let you buy goods 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 used to purchase products and services, but uses an online journal with strong cryptography to secure online transactions. Much of the interest in these uncontrolled currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators sometimes driving prices skyward.

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

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a type of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Numerous companies have issued 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 real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the good or service.

Cryptocurrencies work utilizing a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread across numerous computers that manages and tapes 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 various cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a market research website. And cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate, raising money through initial 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 rate to purchase Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies interest their advocates for a range of reasons. Here are some of the most popular:

Advocates see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to buy them now, most likely before they become better Some advocates like the reality that cryptocurrency eliminates reserve banks from managing the cash supply, because in time these banks tend to lower the worth of money through inflation Other fans like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more secure than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because they’re increasing in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a way to move cash

4. Are cryptocurrencies an excellent financial investment?

Cryptocurrencies may go up in worth, but many investors see them as mere speculations, not real financial investments. The factor? 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 financial investment. Contrast that to a well-managed business, which increases its worth 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 should be noted that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet writers have noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some noteworthy voices in the investment community have encouraged potential investors to steer clear of them. Of specific note, famous investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s an extremely efficient way 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 great deal of money? Even if they can send money?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it needs to be noted that a currency requires stability so that merchants and customers can identify what a fair rate is for items. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything but stable through much of their history. For instance, while Bitcoin traded at near $20,000 in December 2017, its worth then dropped to as low as about $3,200 a year later on. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels again.

This cost volatility creates a dilemma. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less likely to spend and flow 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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