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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to Know
Cryptocurrencies let you buy goods 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 items and services, however uses 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 7 things to ask about cryptocurrency, and what to look out for.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

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

Cryptocurrencies work utilizing a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread throughout lots of computers that handles 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 market research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate, 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 overall worth of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can check the current rate to purchase Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

Cryptocurrencies attract their advocates for a variety of reasons. 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 more valuable Some advocates like the reality that cryptocurrency removes reserve banks from managing the money supply, considering that gradually these banks tend to decrease the value of money via inflation Other advocates like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, since it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more secure than standard payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies due to the fact that they’re increasing in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term approval as a method to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies a great financial investment?

Cryptocurrencies might increase in worth, but many investors see them as simple speculations, not real investments. The factor? Similar to genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies generate 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 investment. Contrast that to a well-managed organization, which increases its worth gradually 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 noted that a currency requires stability.” As NerdWallet authors have noted, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some notable voices in the financial investment neighborhood have advised would-be financiers to avoid them. Of specific note, legendary investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very efficient way of transferring cash and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of sending cash too. Are checks worth a lot of money? Even if they can transfer money?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it needs to be noted that a currency requires stability so that merchants and consumers can determine what a reasonable price is for items. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been anything but stable through much of their history. 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 price volatility creates a conundrum. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less most likely to spend and distribute them today, making them less feasible as a currency. Why invest a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the value next year?

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