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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 buy goods and services, but uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to secure online deals. Much of the interest in these uncontrolled currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators sometimes driving rates skyward.

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

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a kind of payment that can be exchanged online for products and services. Lots of companies have actually issued their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the great 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 an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across many computers that manages and tapes transactions. Part of the appeal of this technology 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 value 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 check the current price to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies interest their advocates for a variety of factors. Here are some of the most popular:

Advocates see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to purchase them now, presumably before they become more valuable Some advocates like the fact that cryptocurrency gets rid of central banks from handling the cash supply, considering that with time these banks tend to reduce the worth of money through inflation Other advocates like the innovation behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more secure than conventional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies due to the fact that they’re increasing in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting acceptance as a method to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies an excellent investment?

Cryptocurrencies might increase in value, however many investors see them as mere speculations, not real investments. The factor? Similar to real currencies, cryptocurrencies create no capital, so for you to profit, 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 organization, 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 must be noted that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet authors have kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some notable voices in the financial investment neighborhood have actually recommended potential investors to stay away from them. Of particular note, famous financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really reliable method of transferring money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transmitting cash too. Are checks worth a great deal of cash? Just because they can transfer 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 identify what a fair price is for goods. 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 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 produces 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 viable as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the worth next year?

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