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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to 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 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 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 prices skyward.

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

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a type of payment that can be exchanged online for items and services. Many companies have actually released their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the great or service that the business supplies. Consider 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 utilizing a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across lots of computer systems that manages and records transactions. Part of the appeal of this technology is its security.

2. The number of cryptocurrencies exist? What are they worth?

More than 6,700 different cryptocurrencies are traded openly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a marketing research website. And cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate, raising money through initial coin offerings, or ICOs. The total 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 inspect the current cost to purchase Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies appeal to their advocates for a variety of factors. 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, presumably before they end up being more valuable Some supporters like the reality that cryptocurrency removes reserve banks from managing the cash supply, considering that gradually these banks tend to minimize the value of money through inflation Other supporters like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more secure than conventional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies since they’re going up in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a way to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies a great investment?

Cryptocurrencies may go up in worth, however numerous investors see them as simple speculations, not real investments. The reason? Similar to 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 greater fool” theory of investment. Contrast that to a well-managed organization, which increases its worth gradually 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 noted that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet authors have actually noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some significant voices in the investment community have recommended potential financiers to stay away from them. Of particular note, legendary financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very reliable method of transmitting cash and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transmitting cash too. Are checks worth a whole lot of cash? Even if 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 identify what a fair price is for goods. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything but stable through much of their history. For example, while Bitcoin traded at near 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 once again.

This cost volatility produces a problem. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, individuals are less likely to spend and circulate them today, making them less viable as a currency. Why invest a bitcoin when it could be worth three times the worth next year?

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