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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 used to buy goods and services, but utilizes 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 sometimes driving rates skyward.

Here are 7 things to inquire about cryptocurrency, and what to watch out for.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a kind of payment that can be exchanged online for items and services. Lots of companies have issued their own currencies, often called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the good or service that the business provides. Think about them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll need to exchange genuine currency for the cryptocurrency to access the great or service.

Cryptocurrencies work utilizing a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread throughout numerous computers that manages and 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 marketing research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate, raising money through preliminary coin offerings, or ICOs. The overall worth 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 inspect the current rate to purchase Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies attract their supporters for a range of factors. Here are a few 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 more valuable Some advocates like the reality that cryptocurrency gets rid of central banks from handling the cash supply, because over time these banks tend to minimize the worth of money via inflation Other fans like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, since it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more secure than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies since they’re going up in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term approval as a method to move cash

4. Are cryptocurrencies a great investment?

Cryptocurrencies might go up in worth, but many financiers see them as mere speculations, not real financial investments. The factor? Much like real currencies, cryptocurrencies generate no capital, so for you to benefit, somebody 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 company, which increases its value with time 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 must be noted that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet writers have actually kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some notable voices in the financial investment neighborhood have encouraged potential financiers to avoid them. Of specific note, famous financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s an extremely reliable method of transmitting money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a method of transferring cash too. Are checks worth a whole lot of cash? Even if they can transmit cash?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it must be noted that a currency requires stability so that merchants and customers can identify what a reasonable rate is for items. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything but 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 on. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels again.

This rate volatility creates a problem. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less most likely to spend and flow them today, making them less feasible as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the value next year?

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