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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 protect 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 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 costs skyward.

Here are seven things to inquire about cryptocurrency, and what to keep an eye out for.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a kind of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Numerous companies have actually released 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 using an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread throughout lots of computers that handles and tape-records transactions. Part of the appeal of this innovation is its security.

2. The number of 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 initial 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 total value of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can inspect the present rate to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

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

Supporters see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to buy them now, most likely before they end up being better Some advocates like the fact that cryptocurrency eliminates reserve banks from handling the cash supply, because with time these banks tend to minimize the worth of cash by means of inflation Other fans like the innovation behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more protected than standard payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies due to the fact that they’re increasing in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a way to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies an excellent investment?

Cryptocurrencies might increase in worth, but many financiers see them as simple speculations, not real investments. The reason? Just like genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies produce no cash flow, so for you to benefit, someone has 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 company, which increases its value with time by growing the success and capital of the operation.

For those who see cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as the currency of the future, it ought to be noted that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet authors have kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some notable voices in the financial investment community have actually advised would-be investors to avoid them. Of particular note, legendary investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very reliable 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 lot of money? Even if they can send cash?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it must be noted that a currency needs stability so that merchants and customers can identify what a fair rate is for goods. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been anything however 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 develops a problem. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, individuals are less 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 worth next year?

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