Cryptocurrency is a digital asset that allows people to transfer value securely and instantly globally. Transactions are verified and recorded on a database called the blockchain, a record that cannot be changed or deleted. Bitcoin is the best-known cryptocurrency, but there are many others. Some are similar to Bitcoin, while others use different technology or have new features.
One of the biggest risks with crypto is its high volatility. The prices of some cryptocurrencies can move up or down more than 10% in a single day. This makes them risky investments that should make up only a small part of your overall portfolio.
It’s important to research the investment you’re considering and only buy from trusted sources. Honest investment managers or advisors will be happy to explain how their products work and provide details about how they’re regulated. If a manager or company gives you big promises without giving you any details, look for other reviews online. Scammers will often try to lure you in with fake websites or emails.
Another issue with cryptocurrencies is that they aren’t widely accepted as a means of payment. Traditionally, money comes in the form of a nation’s currency, which is accepted by most businesses to purchase goods and services. Surveys show that only a small percentage of people who hold cryptocurrencies use them to buy things. Also, the large price fluctuations of some cryptocurrencies mean that they aren’t an effective store of value.
Some people like to use crypto as a way to diversify their investments or hedge against the volatility of other assets, such as stocks and bonds. However, it’s essential to understand how volatile cryptocurrencies are before investing. High volatility can erode your returns over time and make it difficult to establish a long-term plan for your portfolio.
There are also some concerns about how cryptocurrencies may be used by criminals and terrorists, given that they can be transferred across borders anonymously and quickly, without the need for a bank to verify the transactions or charge a fee. This can make them appealing to criminals who want to hide their activity or to evade sanctions against their country.
One final point about cryptocurrencies is that it’s easy to lose access to your funds if you don’t back up your private key in multiple places. Your private key is a long string of characters that you generate when setting up your wallet and is needed to sign and write transactions to the blockchain. Keep a physical copy of this string somewhere safe and be sure to backup it in case you ever need to access your funds.
Despite these challenges, the popularity of crypto is growing. Its ability to transfer value across the globe in seconds, for low fees, can be useful for anyone who wants to buy something online or send money to a friend abroad. Its borderless nature can expand the reach of economic freedom in parts of the world where governments exercise tight control over citizens’ finances.