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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 products and services, however utilizes an online ledger with strong cryptography to secure online deals. Much of the interest in these unregulated currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators sometimes driving rates skyward.

Here are seven 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 items and services. Numerous business have released their own currencies, typically 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 gambling establishment chips. You’ll need to exchange real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the great or service.

Cryptocurrencies work using an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across lots of computer systems that handles and tapes 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 market research site. 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 total value of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can inspect the current rate to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies appeal to their supporters for a variety of factors. Here are some of the most popular:

Fans see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to purchase them now, probably prior to they end up being better Some supporters like the reality that cryptocurrency eliminates central banks from managing the cash supply, since with time these banks tend to lower the value of money through inflation Other advocates 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 traditional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies since they’re increasing in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting approval as a method to move cash

4. Are cryptocurrencies a good investment?

Cryptocurrencies may go up in value, but numerous investors see them as simple speculations, not real financial investments. The factor? Much like real currencies, cryptocurrencies produce no capital, so for you to profit, someone 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 company, which increases its value over time by growing the success and cash flow 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 authors have kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some significant voices in the investment community have encouraged potential investors to avoid them. Of particular note, legendary investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very efficient method of sending money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a method of transmitting money too. Are checks worth a whole lot of money? Just because they can send money?” 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 identify what a fair rate is for goods. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything but stable through much of their history. For instance, 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 price volatility creates a problem. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people 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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