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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 used to purchase goods and services, but utilizes 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 rates skyward.

Here are 7 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 products and services. Many companies have provided their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the good or service that the company supplies. Think of them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll require to exchange real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the great or service.

Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread across lots of computers that manages and tape-records deals. Part of the appeal of this technology 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 website. And cryptocurrencies continue to multiply, raising money through initial coin offerings, or ICOs. The overall 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 examine the current cost to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies appeal to their fans for a range of factors. Here are some of the most popular:

Supporters see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to purchase them now, most likely prior to they end up being better Some fans like the fact that cryptocurrency gets rid of reserve banks from managing the cash supply, since with time these banks tend to minimize the worth of money through 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 since they’re going up in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting acceptance as a method to move cash

4. Are cryptocurrencies an excellent investment?

Cryptocurrencies might increase in value, however numerous investors see them as mere speculations, not real investments. The reason? Just like genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies create no capital, so for you to benefit, 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 success and cash flow of the operation.

For those who see cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as the currency of the future, it must be kept in mind that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet authors have actually kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some noteworthy voices in the investment neighborhood have actually recommended would-be investors to steer clear of them. Of specific note, famous investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really effective method of transferring money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transferring cash too. Are checks worth a whole lot of money? Just because they can transfer money?” 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 so that merchants and customers can identify what a reasonable price is for products. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been anything but stable through much of their history. For instance, while Bitcoin traded at near $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 again.

This cost volatility creates 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 invest a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the worth next year?

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