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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to Know
Cryptocurrencies let you purchase products 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 items and services, but utilizes an online journal with strong cryptography to secure online transactions. Much of the interest in these uncontrolled currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators sometimes driving prices 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. Many business have actually released their own currencies, often called tokens, and these can be traded particularly 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 genuine currency for the cryptocurrency to access the good or service.

Cryptocurrencies work utilizing a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread throughout lots of computers that manages and tapes transactions. 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 openly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a marketing research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to multiply, raising money through preliminary coin offerings, or ICOs. The overall value 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 examine the current price to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies appeal to their supporters for a range of reasons. 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, presumably before they become more valuable Some supporters like the fact that cryptocurrency eliminates central banks from managing the money supply, because over time these banks tend to minimize the value of money through 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 standard payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because 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 great financial investment?

Cryptocurrencies may increase in worth, however many investors see them as mere speculations, not real investments. The factor? Just 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 greater fool” theory of investment. Contrast that to a well-managed business, which increases its worth with time by growing the success and capital of the operation.

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.” As NerdWallet authors have kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some significant voices in the financial investment community have advised potential investors to avoid them. Of specific note, famous financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really effective method of sending money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transmitting cash too. Are checks worth a lot of cash? Just because they can transfer money?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it should be kept in mind that a currency needs stability so that merchants and customers can determine what a reasonable rate is for items. 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 value then dropped to as low as about $3,200 a year later. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels again.

This rate volatility creates a conundrum. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less likely to spend and distribute 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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