A cryptocurrency (or “crypto”) is a digital currency that can be used to buy goods and services, but uses an online ledger with strong cryptography to secure online transactions.
The most popular cryptocurrency; Bitcoin, Ethereum has had volatile price moves the in the recent times.
1. What is cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a form of payment that can be exchanged online for goods and services. Many companies have issued their own currencies, often called tokens, and these can be traded specifically for the good 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 good or service.
Cryptocurrencies work using a technology called blockchain. Blockchain is a decentralized technology spread across many computers that manages and records transactions. Part of the appeal of this technology is its security.
Cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual currency that is secured by cryptography, which makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many cryptocurrencies are decentralized networks based on blockchain technology—a distributed ledger enforced by a disparate network of computers.
2. How many cryptocurrencies are there? What are they worth?
More than 14,500 different cryptocurrencies are traded publicly, according to CoinMarketCap.com, a market research website. And cryptocurrencies continue to proliferate. The total value of all cryptocurrencies on Nov. 19 2021, was more than $2.5 trillion, having fallen off an all-time high above $2.9 trillion days earlier. The total value of all bitcoins, the most popular digital currency, was pegged at about $1.1 trillion.
3. Why are cryptocurrencies so popular?
Cryptocurrencies appeal to their supporters for a variety of reasons. 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, presumably before they become more valuable
Some supporters like the fact that cryptocurrency removes central banks from managing the money supply, since over time these banks tend to reduce the value of money via inflation
Other supporters like the technology behind cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, because it’s a decentralized processing and recording system and can be more secure than traditional payment systems
Some speculators like cryptocurrencies because they’re going up in value and have no interest in the currencies’ long-term acceptance as a way to move money
Cryptocurrencies hold the promise of making it easier to transfer funds directly between two parties, without the need for a trusted third party like a bank or credit card company. These transfers are instead secured by the use of public keys and private keys and different forms of incentive systems.
In modern cryptocurrency systems, a user's "wallet," or account address, has a public key, while the private key is known only to the owner and is used to sign transactions. Fund transfers are completed with minimal processing fees, allowing users to avoid the steep fees charged by banks and financial institutions for wire transfers.
4. How do I buy cryptocurrency?
While some cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, are available for purchase with U.S. dollars, others require that you pay with bitcoins or another cryptocurrency.
To buy cryptocurrencies, you’ll need a “wallet,” an online app that can hold your currency or hardware wallet. Generally, you create an account on an exchange, and then you can transfer real money to buy cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or Ethereum. Here's more on how to invest in bitcoin.
Coinbase is one popular cryptocurrency trading exchange where you can create both a wallet and buy and sell bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Also, a growing number of online brokers offer cryptocurrencies, such as eToro, Tradestation and Sofi Active Investing. Robinhood offers free cryptocurrency trades (Robinhood Crypto is available in most, but not all, U.S. states).
Blockchain.com is also one of the most popular platform to buy cryptocurrency.
And many more...