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What Is Cryptocurrency? Here’s What You Should 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 protect yourself.

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A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be used to buy goods and services, but utilizes an online ledger with strong cryptography to secure online deals. Much of the interest in these uncontrolled currencies is to trade for profit, with speculators sometimes driving prices skyward.

Here are seven things to inquire about cryptocurrency, and what to keep an eye out for.

1. What is cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency is a type of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Many companies have actually provided 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 genuine currency for the cryptocurrency to access the great or service.

Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized innovation spread throughout numerous computers that manages and tape-records 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 publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a market research site. And cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate, raising money through initial coin offerings, or ICOs. The overall value of all cryptocurrencies on Dec. 18, 2020, was more than $645.7 billion, according to CoinMarketCap, and the overall value of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $421.7 billion. (You can examine the present 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 purchase them now, probably prior to they become more valuable Some advocates like the reality that cryptocurrency removes reserve banks from handling the money supply, given that over time these banks tend to lower the worth of money by means of inflation Other fans like the innovation 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 due to the fact that they’re going up in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-lasting approval as a method to move cash

4. Are cryptocurrencies a good financial investment?

Cryptocurrencies may increase in value, however numerous investors see them as simple speculations, not real investments. The reason? Much like real currencies, cryptocurrencies generate no cash flow, so for you to benefit, 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 worth with 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 noted that a currency needs stability.” As NerdWallet writers have kept in mind, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin might not be that safe, and some significant voices in the financial investment neighborhood have actually encouraged prospective investors to stay away from them. Of particular note, famous investor Warren Buffett compared Bitcoin to paper checks: “It’s a really efficient way of transferring cash and you can do it anonymously and all that. A check is a method of sending cash too. Are checks worth a whole lot of cash? Just because they can transmit money?” 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 cost is for items. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have actually 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 produces a conundrum. If bitcoins might be worth a lot more in the future, people are less likely to spend and distribute them today, making them less practical as a currency. Why spend a bitcoin when it could be worth three times the value next year?

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