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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 protect yourself.

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A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be used to buy items and services, however uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to secure online transactions. Much of the interest in these unregulated currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators at times driving rates skyward.

Here are 7 things to inquire about cryptocurrency, and what to look out for.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a form of payment that can be exchanged online for products and services. Many companies have actually issued their own currencies, frequently called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the great or service that the company supplies. 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 an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread throughout many computer systems that manages and records 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 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 total value of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can inspect the existing cost to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies interest their fans for a range 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, most likely prior to they become more valuable Some supporters like the truth that cryptocurrency gets rid of central banks from handling the cash supply, considering that over time these banks tend to reduce the worth 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 than standard payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because they’re going up in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a method to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies a great investment?

Cryptocurrencies might increase in value, but lots of investors see them as simple speculations, not real investments. The reason? Similar to real currencies, cryptocurrencies create no capital, so for you to profit, someone has to pay more for the currency than you did.

That’s what’s called “the higher fool” theory of investment. Contrast that to a well-managed business, which increases its value 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 ought to be noted that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet writers have kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some notable voices in the financial investment neighborhood have recommended potential financiers to steer clear of them. Of specific note, legendary financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really efficient way of transferring cash and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a method of sending money too. Are checks worth a great deal of money? Just because they can send money?” 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 determine what a reasonable rate is for items. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything but stable through much of their history. For example, while Bitcoin traded at near $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 cost volatility develops a conundrum. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less likely to spend and circulate them today, making them less practical as a currency. Why invest a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the value next year?

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