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

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A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be utilized to buy goods and services, but uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to protect online transactions. 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 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 products and services. Numerous companies have actually provided their own currencies, often called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the excellent or service that the business supplies. Think of them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll need to exchange genuine currency for the cryptocurrency to access the excellent or service.

Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across many computer systems that manages and tape-records transactions. Part of the appeal of this technology is its security.

2. How many cryptocurrencies exist? What are they worth?

More than 6,700 different cryptocurrencies are traded openly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a market research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate, 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 overall worth of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can examine the existing cost to purchase Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies attract their advocates for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of the most popular:

Advocates see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to purchase them now, most likely before they become more valuable Some supporters like the fact that cryptocurrency gets rid of reserve banks from managing the cash supply, given that over time these banks tend to lower the worth of money via inflation Other fans like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because 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-lasting approval as a method to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies a good financial investment?

Cryptocurrencies may increase in worth, but many investors see them as mere speculations, not real financial investments. The factor? Just like genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies generate no cash flow, so for you to benefit, somebody needs to pay more for the currency than you did.

That’s what’s called “the greater fool” theory of investment. Contrast that to a well-managed business, which increases its worth gradually 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 needs stability.” As NerdWallet writers have noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some notable voices in the financial investment community have actually recommended potential financiers to steer clear of them. Of specific note, famous financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very effective method of transmitting money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of sending cash too. Are checks worth a great deal of money? Just because they can transfer cash?” 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 so that merchants and customers can identify what a fair cost is for items. 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. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels once again.

This price volatility develops a dilemma. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, individuals are less most likely to spend and circulate them today, making them less practical as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth three times the value next year?

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