What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Need to Know
Cryptocurrencies let you purchase 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 products and services, but 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 prices skyward.
Here are seven things to ask about cryptocurrency, and what to watch out for.
1. What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a type of payment that can be exchanged online for items and services. Numerous companies have issued their own currencies, often called tokens, and these can be traded particularly for the good or service that the business offers. Think of them as you would arcade tokens or casino chips. You’ll need to exchange genuine currency for the cryptocurrency to access the excellent or service.
Cryptocurrencies work using an innovation called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread throughout many computers that handles and tape-records deals. Part of the appeal of this innovation is its security.
2. The number of cryptocurrencies exist? What are they worth?
More than 6,700 various cryptocurrencies are traded openly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a marketing research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate, raising money through initial 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 inspect the current cost to purchase Bitcoin here
3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?
Cryptocurrencies attract their supporters for a variety of reasons. Here are a few of the most popular:
Supporters 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 truth that cryptocurrency eliminates reserve banks from managing the cash supply, given that in time these banks tend to lower the worth of money by means of inflation Other supporters like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more safe than standard payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies since they’re increasing in worth and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting acceptance as a way to move cash
4. Are cryptocurrencies a good investment?
Cryptocurrencies might increase in worth, however many financiers see them as simple speculations, not real financial investments. The factor? Similar to genuine currencies, cryptocurrencies create 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 in 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 ought to be kept in mind that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet writers have kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin may not be that safe, and some notable voices in the investment community have encouraged potential investors to stay away from them. Of particular note, legendary financier Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very reliable way of sending money and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a way of sending money too. Are checks worth a lot of money? Just because they can transmit money?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it must be noted that a currency needs stability so that merchants and consumers can determine what a reasonable cost is for products. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually been anything but stable through much of their history. For instance, 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 again.
This rate volatility develops a conundrum. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less most likely to spend and circulate them today, making them less viable as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the worth next year?