Cryptocurrency, sometimes called crypto-currency or crypto, is any form of currency that exists digitally or virtually and uses cryptography to secure transactions. Cryptocurrencies don’t have a central issuing or regulating authority, instead using a decentralized system to record transactions and issue new units.
What Is Cryptocurrency
Cryptocurrency is decentralized digital money that is based on blockchain technology and secured by cryptography. To understand cryptocurrency, one needs to first understand three terminologies – blockchain, decentralization, and cryptography.
In simple words, blockchain in the context of cryptocurrency is a digital ledger whose access is distributed among authorized users. This ledger records transactions related to a range of assets, like money, house, or even intellectual property.
The access is shared between its users and any information shared is transparent, immediate, and “immutable”. Immutable means anything that blockchain records is there for good and cannot be modified or tampered with – even by an administrator.
How does cryptocurrency work?
Cryptocurrencies run on a distributed public ledger called blockchain, a record of all transactions updated and held by currency holders.
Cryptocurrencies (which are completely digital) are generated through a process called “mining”. This is a complex process. Basically, miners are required to solve certain mathematical puzzles over specially equipped computer systems to be rewarded with bitcoins in exchange.
In an ideal world, it would take a person just 10 minutes to mine one bitcoin, but in reality, the process takes an estimated 30 days.
How to buy cryptocurrency
You may be wondering how to buy cryptocurrency safely. There are typically three steps involved. These are:
Step 1: Choosing a platform
The first step is deciding which platform to use. Generally, you can choose between a traditional broker or dedicated cryptocurrency exchange:
Traditional brokers. These are online brokers who offer ways to buy and sell cryptocurrency, as well as other financial assets like stocks, bonds, and ETFs. These platforms tend to offer lower trading costs but fewer crypto features.
Cryptocurrency exchanges. There are many cryptocurrency exchanges to choose from, each offering different cryptocurrencies, wallet storage, interest-bearing account options, and more. Many exchanges charge asset-based fees.
Should You Invest In Cryptocurrency?
There are many advantages to dealing in cryptocurrencies, and a fair share of disadvantages as well. Here are the top three reasons that work in favor of and against cryptocurrencies.
They are private and secure: The blockchain technology that fuels cryptocurrencies ensures user anonymity. It also assures high levels of security through cryptography, which we discussed before.
They are decentralized, immutable, and transparent: The entire system functions on shared ownership, where data is available to all permissioned members and is tamper-proof.
They are a hedge against inflation: Cryptocurrency makes for a great investment in times of inflation. For example, investors often compare cryptocurrency to gold. One of the reasons behind this is that, just like gold, they are in limited supply, as there is a cap on mining any type of cryptocurrency.
Is cryptocurrency safe?
Cryptocurrencies are usually built using blockchain technology. Blockchain describes the way transactions are recorded into “blocks” and time stamped. It’s a fairly complex, technical process, but the result is a digital ledger of cryptocurrency transactions that’s hard for hackers to tamper with.
In addition, transactions require a two-factor authentication process. For instance, you might be asked to enter a username and password to start a transaction. Then, you might have to enter an authentication code sent via text to your personal cell phone.
Cryptocurrencies are also highly volatile, so it is recommended to start small and diversify your investments. Simply put, do not place all your eggs in one basket. As a beginner, it helps if you initially rely on expert advice and gradually grow your own expertise by researching the subject. For this type of research to be successful, it is also important to develop an understanding of your country’s historic and current policies on cryptocurrency. And as always, don’t invest more than you can afford to lose.