The increase in popularity of cryptocurrency continues to explode, with over 4,000 types of cryptocurrencies already – but is it a good investment?

If you are planning to invest, here are some of the things you should keep in mind!

Remember, it is important to do your research before buying cryptocurrency and to seek the advice of a trained professional such as a financial adviser.

WHAT IS CRYPTOCURRENCY?

In very simple terms – cryptocurrency is money built with code.

Blockchain is the technology that enables the existence of cryptocurrency. There are many types of cryptocurrencies, and some may sound familiar – Bitcoin, Ripple, Litecoin and Ethereum to name a few; but what exactly is it?

Cryptocurrency (crypto) is a digital or virtual asset designed to work as a medium of exchange to buy and sell by using cryptography to secure its transactions, control the creation of additional units, and verify the transfer of assets.

The word “cryptocurrency”, is derived from the encryption techniques which are used to secure the network and can split into two parts. ‘Crypto’ means hidden or secret and ‘currency’ indicates the most obvious reason, digital cash.

Cryptocurrencies pass authority bodies, and payments or transfers can be made using ‘digital cash’ without going through banks, credit card corporations or governments. Swanepoel said,

“Cryptocurrency is money for the digital age. It leverages technology in such a way that it’s able to integrate seamlessly into the digital ecosystem. It is native to the internet, which allows it to work in conjunction with other technologies.”

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF CRYPTOCURRENCY?

Cryptocurrency has become the fastest-growing transactional medium in the world.

Technological advances have produced an incredible number of digital currencies, each with defining characteristics as they compete for a large percentage of market share.

The most popular types of crypto assets according to CoinMarketCap.com are Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano, Tether, Binance Coin and XRP (Ripple).

What are the current top three cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrency Prices by Market Cap as of 24/08/2021

Cryptocurrency Prices by Market Cap as of 24:08:2021

BITCOIN

Bitcoin is the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalisation. It is a peer-to-peer payment system introduced as open-source software in 2009 by pseudonymous developer Satoshi Nakamoto.

There is no physical bitcoin. Bitcoin is created, distributed, traded, and stored by the use of a public ledger system, known as a blockchain.

It is the first decentralised peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users; with no central authority.

Bitcoin price from October 2013 to August 24, 2021

Bitcoin price from October 2013 to August 24, 2021

ETHEREUM

Etherium (Ether) is the name of an Ethereum-based token with its programming language called Solidity.

Ethereum, launched in 2015, is a decentralised platform that runs smart contracts; applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third-party interference.

It is powered by Ether tokens that enable users to make transactions and earn interest on their holdings.

Daily Ethereum value from August 2015 to August 24, 2021

Daily Ethereum value from August 2015 to August 24, 2021

CARDANO

Cardano is a blockchain platform that aims to be a decentralised application (DApp) development platform with a multi-asset ledger and verifiable smart contracts.

The key aspect that stands out about Cardano is its two Ouroboros blockchains. One deals with ordinary transactions whilst the other handles smart contracts.

Cardano price from February 2020 to August 9, 2021

Cardano price from February 2020 to August 9, 2021

HOW DO YOU BUY CRYPTOCURRENCIES?

If you’re new to cryptocurrency, the process of acquiring your first digital assets can seem daunting. The crypto world is full of unfamiliar terms, and it can be difficult to know where to start. So how do you buy crypto?

Specialist exchanges are the most popular way to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This also includes several trading apps and platforms, allowing you to buy cryptocurrencies in either traditional currencies or crypto.

To buy cryptocurrencies, you’ll need a “wallet,” which is an online app that can hold your funds. Typically, you create an account on an exchange, and then you transfer real money to buy cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum.

Coinbase is one of the largest trading platforms and currently supports 50 cryptocurrencies. Other trading platforms include:

Different exchanges have different fees so it’s very important to make sure you know this information before committing.

HOW IS CRYPTOCURRENCY PERFORMING?

Crypto is a rapidly growing industry and they will likely be around for the foreseeable future. In terms of absolute returns, the key crypto currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have performed significantly better than almost any other asset class (Housing, stock market, bonds).

Total Cryptocurrency Market Cap

Total Cryptocurrency Market Cap

As with any industry that sees such rapid growth, it is likely to come under further scrutiny and regulation from governments, which may slow down the growth but make it a more stable investment.

As there are so many cryptocurrencies/blockchains such as Ethereum, we are likely to see growth in the future market, but it is impossible to predict how much.

“For those who see cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as the currency of the future, it should be noted that a currency needs stability.”

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF CRYPTOCURRENCY?

Cryptocurrency carries both great opportunities and great risks to your investment portfolio. Here are some factors to consider:

QUICK TRANSACTIONS

Cryptocurrency is a system of money that enables the transfer of funds directly from one party to another without the use of a financial institution like a bank or PayPal.

For example, Bitcoin allows you to transfer your money straight across to another wallet using only a computer or smartphone.

SECURITY

Cryptocurrency secured its name because it uses encryption to verify transactions. This means advanced coding is involved in storing and transmitting cryptocurrency data between wallets and to public ledgers increasing security and safety for crypto users.

As all transactions are recorded on a public list, it means it is possible to trace the history of payments to prevent people from reversing transactions and spending money they do not own.

INTERNATIONAL TRADE

Cryptocurrency increases international trading accessibility by removing barriers and restrictions to trade, essentially making it easier to accept payments in different currencies, from different countries!

WHAT ARE THE DISADVANTAGES OF CRYPTOCURRENCY?

DATA LOSS

The Developer’s aim was to create an untraceable source code and strong hacking defences for all crypto wallets. All users are given a private key to their wallet however if this is lost, there is no way to return it.

The data will remain locked with your finances stored inside, meaning potentially a huge financial loss.

NO REFUNDS OR CANCELLATIONS

If there is a dispute between individuals or businesses, or if someone mistakenly sends funds to a wrong wallet address, the coin cannot be retrieved or cancelled by the sender.

The only way for your money to be returned is by the receiver transferring the funds back to your wallet.

SUSCEPTIBLE TO HACKS

Despite cryptocurrencies maintaining as high a level of security as possible, there is always still the risk for hackers to access your wallets; as with any normal bank account.

Most exchanges store the wallet data of users to operate their user ID. This data can be stolen by hackers, giving them access to a lot of accounts. There is the solution to store your wallet ‘offline’, which is a way to prevent hackers if there is no trackable network.

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF CRYPTOCURRENCY?

Individuals see cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin as the currency of the future and are racing to buy them now, presumably before they become more valuable.

BITCOIN PREDICTED GROWTH

BITCOIN PREDICTED GROWTH

PAYPAL CRYPTOCURRENCY PAYMENT PLATFORM

PayPal has recently announced they are allowing users in the UK to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrencies using their payment platform.

This service is available on both the web and mobile. The service will initially be available to four cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash. It follows the launch of the ‘Checkout with Crypto’ feature in the US, allowing users to make purchases using crypto funds.

Jose Fernandez da Ponte, vice president and general manager for blockchain, crypto and digital currencies at PayPal, said,

“Our global reach, digital payments expertise, and knowledge of consumer and businesses, combined with rigorous security and compliance controls provides us with the unique opportunity, and the responsibility, to help people in the UK to explore cryptocurrency.

Although, It is not clear if and when the company will allow consumers in the UK to make purchases using cryptocurrency.

FACEBOOK CRYPTOCURRENCY PAYMENT PRODUCT

Facebook aims to “bring the world closer together.”

This is why they are launching the Novi digital wallet tied to Diem blockchain-based payment system.

Novi is designed to allow users to add money to their wallets that would be converted to a Diem digital currency that could then be sent to others worldwide.

COULD CRYPTOCURRENCY MEAN THE END OF CASH?

As the digital world continues to unfold, crypto is being integrated more into users’ lives. According to Age UK, approximately 2.4 million over 65s still rely on cash. Meaning they may not have the accessibility to an electronic device if the world turned cashless.

In light of the future, cryptocurrency is an exciting prospect, but for individuals who rely on traditional paper and coins, this could be a daunting prospect.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

The trending digital currencies can be described as both exciting and highly speculative, therefore it is important to take the time to carry out research and to make sure you understand all factors of cryptocurrency and cryptocurrency exchanges before investing!

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