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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, but utilizes 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 sometimes driving costs skyward.

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

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a form of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Many business have issued their own currencies, frequently called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the great or service that the company 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 an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread throughout numerous computer systems that handles and records transactions. Part of the appeal of this innovation is its security.

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

More than 6,700 different cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a marketing research website. And cryptocurrencies continue to multiply, raising money through preliminary 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 present cost to buy 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:

Advocates see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to buy them now, presumably before they become better Some supporters like the reality that cryptocurrency gets rid of central banks from handling the cash supply, because gradually these banks tend to reduce the worth of cash through inflation Other advocates like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more protected than conventional payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because they’re increasing in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting approval as a method to move cash

4. Are cryptocurrencies an excellent investment?

Cryptocurrencies may increase in value, however numerous financiers see them as simple speculations, not real financial investments. The reason? Much like genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies generate no cash flow, so for you to benefit, 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 company, which increases its worth over time by growing the success 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 noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some noteworthy voices in the investment neighborhood have advised would-be financiers to steer clear of them. Of specific note, legendary financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really effective method of sending cash and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of transferring cash too. Are checks worth a great deal of money? Even if they can transmit cash?” 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 so that merchants and consumers can determine what a fair rate is for goods. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything but stable through much of their history. For example, while Bitcoin traded at close 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 again.

This price volatility creates a quandary. 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 feasible as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the value next year?

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