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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to Know
Cryptocurrencies let you buy 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, but uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to secure online transactions. Much of the interest in these uncontrolled currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators at times driving costs skyward.

Here are seven things to inquire about cryptocurrency, and what to watch out for.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

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

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

2. How many cryptocurrencies exist? What are they worth?

More than 6,700 different cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a marketing research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate, 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 total value of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can examine the current cost to purchase Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies appeal to their advocates for a range of reasons. Here are a few of the most popular:

Supporters see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to purchase them now, most likely before they end up being better Some fans like the reality that cryptocurrency removes central banks from managing the cash supply, since gradually these banks tend to minimize the worth of money through inflation Other advocates like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, due to the fact that it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more secure than conventional 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 method to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies an excellent financial investment?

Cryptocurrencies may go up in worth, however numerous financiers see them as simple speculations, not real investments. The reason? Much like genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies produce no cash flow, so for you to profit, 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 value 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 ought to be kept in mind that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet writers have actually kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some significant voices in the financial investment neighborhood have advised potential financiers to stay away from them. Of particular note, legendary investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very reliable method of sending cash 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? Just because they can transfer 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 consumers can determine what a fair rate is for products. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been anything however stable through much of their history. For instance, 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 creates a problem. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, individuals are less likely to invest and flow them today, making them less feasible as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth three times the worth next year?

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