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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to Know
Cryptocurrencies let you buy 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 products and services, however utilizes 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 7 things to ask about cryptocurrency, and what to keep an eye 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 actually released their own currencies, frequently called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the great or service that the business supplies. Think about them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll need to exchange real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the good or service.

Cryptocurrencies work utilizing an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread throughout lots of computer systems that manages and records deals. Part of the appeal of this technology is its security.

2. The number of cryptocurrencies are there? What are they worth?

More than 6,700 different cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a marketing research website. 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 check the current cost to purchase Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies appeal to their fans for a variety of factors. Here are some of the most popular:

Supporters see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to buy them now, presumably before they become better Some supporters like the reality that cryptocurrency eliminates reserve banks from managing the cash supply, given that over time these banks tend to reduce the worth of cash by means of inflation Other supporters like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, since it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more protected than standard payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies since they’re going up in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a method to move cash

4. Are cryptocurrencies a good financial investment?

Cryptocurrencies may increase in value, however numerous financiers see them as mere speculations, not real investments. The reason? Much like real currencies, cryptocurrencies produce no cash flow, so for you to benefit, 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 gradually by growing the profitability and capital of the operation.

For those who see cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as the currency of the future, it needs to be noted that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet writers have kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some noteworthy voices in the investment community have advised prospective investors to avoid them. Of specific note, legendary financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really effective 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 whole lot of money? Even if they can transmit cash?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it ought to be kept in mind that a currency needs stability so that merchants and customers can identify what a reasonable rate is for products. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have 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. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels once again.

This price volatility creates a problem. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, individuals are less likely to spend and distribute them today, making them less viable as a currency. Why invest a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the value next year?

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