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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Must Know
Cryptocurrencies let you buy items 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 purchase goods and services, but utilizes 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 rates skyward.

Here are seven 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 products and services. Numerous companies have actually issued their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the good or service that the company offers. Think about them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll require to exchange real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the great or service.

Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across many computer systems that handles and records deals. Part of the appeal of this innovation 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 initial 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 total value of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can examine the existing cost to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies appeal to their advocates for a range of reasons. 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, probably prior to they become more valuable Some fans like the fact that cryptocurrency eliminates central banks from handling the cash supply, because in time these banks tend to reduce the worth of money by means of inflation Other supporters like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, due to the fact that it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more safe than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies since they’re going up in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting approval as a method to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies a good financial investment?

Cryptocurrencies may increase in value, but numerous financiers see them as mere speculations, not real investments. The factor? Much like real currencies, cryptocurrencies create no cash flow, so for you to benefit, someone 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 company, which increases its worth over 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 needs to be noted that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet authors have noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some noteworthy voices in the financial investment neighborhood have actually encouraged prospective investors to avoid them. Of specific note, famous investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really effective way of transferring money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of sending money too. Are checks worth a lot of money? Even if they can transmit 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 determine what a reasonable rate is for products. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything however 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 on. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels again.

This price volatility creates a dilemma. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, individuals are less likely to spend and circulate 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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