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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to 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 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 at times driving rates skyward.

Here are 7 things to ask about cryptocurrency, and what to keep an eye out for.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a form of payment that can be exchanged online for products and services. Many business have actually issued their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the great or service that the business provides. Think of them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll need to exchange genuine currency for the cryptocurrency to access the good or service.

Cryptocurrencies work using an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across numerous computers that manages and tapes transactions. Part of the appeal of this technology is its security.

2. How many cryptocurrencies are there? 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 multiply, 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 overall value of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can inspect the current cost to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies interest their supporters for a range of reasons. Here are a few of the most popular:

Fans see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to buy them now, presumably before they become more valuable Some fans like the truth that cryptocurrency removes central banks from managing the money supply, considering that gradually these banks tend to decrease the value of cash by means of inflation Other supporters like the innovation behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, due to the fact that it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more safe and secure than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies due to the fact that they’re going up in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting approval as a way to move cash

4. Are cryptocurrencies a great investment?

Cryptocurrencies may increase in worth, but lots of financiers see them as mere speculations, not real financial investments. The factor? Just like genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies create no cash flow, so for you to benefit, somebody 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 business, which increases its worth with time by growing the profitability and capital of the operation.

For those who see cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as the currency of the future, it should be kept in mind that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet authors have noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some noteworthy voices in the investment neighborhood have recommended prospective investors to steer clear of them. Of specific note, legendary investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really reliable way of sending money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of sending money too. Are checks worth a whole lot of money? Even if they can send money?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it should be noted that a currency requires stability so that merchants and customers can determine what a fair price is for products. 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 on. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels once again.

This rate volatility produces a conundrum. 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 viable as a currency. Why invest a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the worth next year?

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