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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 purchase items and services, but utilizes an online ledger with strong cryptography to protect online deals. 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 keep an eye out for.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a kind of payment that can be exchanged online for products and services. Many companies have released their own currencies, typically called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the excellent or service that the business provides. Consider them as you would arcade tokens or gambling establishment chips. You’ll need to exchange real currency for the cryptocurrency to access the excellent or service.

Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across numerous computers that manages and tapes transactions. Part of the appeal of this innovation is its security.

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

More than 6,700 different cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a marketing research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate, raising money through preliminary 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 worth of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can examine the existing cost to buy Bitcoin here

3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?

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

Supporters see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to buy them now, probably prior to they end up being better Some supporters like the fact that cryptocurrency gets rid of reserve banks from managing the money supply, considering that with time these banks tend to minimize the value of cash through inflation Other supporters like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more safe and secure than standard payment systems Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because they’re going up in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term approval as a method to move money

4. Are cryptocurrencies a good investment?

Cryptocurrencies might go up in value, however many financiers see them as simple speculations, not real financial investments. The factor? Similar to real currencies, cryptocurrencies generate 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 financial investment. Contrast that to a well-managed company, which increases its value 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 must be noted that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet writers have actually kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some significant voices in the financial investment neighborhood have encouraged would-be investors to avoid them. Of specific note, famous investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a very effective way of transmitting cash and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a method of transmitting cash too. Are checks worth a whole lot of money? Even if they can transfer cash?” For those who see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future, it needs to be kept in mind that a currency requires stability so that merchants and consumers can identify what a reasonable rate is for products. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been anything however 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 problem. 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 practical as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth 3 times the value next year?

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