What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Must 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 safeguard yourself.
Many or all of the items featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may affect which items we discuss and where and how the item appears on a page. This does not influence our assessments. Our opinions are our own.
A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be utilized to buy goods and services, however uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to protect online transactions. Much of the interest in these uncontrolled currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators sometimes driving costs 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 items and services. Lots of business have released their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the great or service that the company offers. Think of them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll need to exchange real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the excellent or service.
Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread across many computer systems that manages and 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 market research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to multiply, 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 examine the current price to buy Bitcoin here
3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?
Cryptocurrencies appeal to their advocates for a range of reasons. 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 more valuable Some fans like the reality that cryptocurrency removes central banks from managing the money supply, because gradually these banks tend to lower the value of money by means of inflation Other advocates like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, due to the fact that it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more protected than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies since they’re going up in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a method to move cash
4. Are cryptocurrencies a great financial investment?
Cryptocurrencies might go up in worth, however many financiers see them as mere speculations, not real investments. The factor? Similar to real currencies, cryptocurrencies produce no capital, so for you to profit, someone 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 value 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 ought to be noted that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet writers have kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some significant voices in the financial investment neighborhood have encouraged prospective investors to steer clear of them. Of particular note, famous investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very efficient way of transferring cash and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a method of transferring cash too. Are checks worth a lot of money? Just because they can send cash?” 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 so that merchants and customers can identify what a fair price is for items. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything but stable through much of their history. For example, 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 again.
This cost volatility develops a quandary. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, individuals are less most likely to invest and distribute them today, making them less practical as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth three times the worth next year?