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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 secure yourself.

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A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be used to purchase goods and services, however utilizes an online journal with strong cryptography to secure online transactions. Much of the interest in these unregulated currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators sometimes driving costs skyward.

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

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a kind of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Numerous companies have provided their own currencies, frequently called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the good or service that the business supplies. Consider them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll need to exchange genuine currency for the cryptocurrency to access the great or service.

Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread throughout numerous computer systems that manages and tape-records deals. 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 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 inspect the current 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 purchase them now, most likely prior to they become more valuable Some advocates like the reality that cryptocurrency eliminates central banks from managing the money supply, because gradually these banks tend to decrease the worth of money by means of inflation Other fans like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, since it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more safe than traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because they’re going up in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting acceptance as a method to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies an excellent financial investment?

Cryptocurrencies might go up in value, however lots of investors see them as simple speculations, not real financial investments. The factor? Similar to real currencies, cryptocurrencies generate 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 greater fool” theory of financial investment. Contrast that to a well-managed service, which increases its worth 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 should be kept in mind that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet authors have kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some notable voices in the financial investment community have encouraged prospective investors to avoid them. Of specific note, famous financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very efficient way of transmitting cash and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a method of transmitting cash too. Are checks worth a lot of money? Even if 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 requires stability so that merchants and consumers can determine what a fair 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 on. By December 2020, it was trading at record levels again.

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

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