It’s 2021 and crypto is getting all the headlines. So what is cryptocurrency? Do you need it? Should you buy it?
Check out this article on Bitcoins too.
What is Cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency is a form of exchange, just like the naira, or dollar, but what makes it different is that it is digital in nature. However, unlike the Naira/Dollar or other world currencies, there is no central authority that manages and maintains the value of a cryptocurrency. Instead, these tasks are broadly distributed among a cryptocurrency’s users via the internet.
As Wikipedia puts it,
“A cryptocurrency, crypto currency or crypto is a digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange wherein individual coin ownership records are stored in a ledger existing in a form of computerized database using strong cryptography to secure transaction records, to control the creation of additional coins, and to verify the transfer of coin ownership.”
The most popular form of crypto is Bitcoin. But there are other coins just as important, such as Etherum, Litecoin, Polkadot, XRP and so on.
What can I use it for?
You can use crypto to buy regular goods and services, although many people invest in cryptocurrencies as they would in other assets, like stocks or precious metals. I do however, have a few friends who regularly buy stuff using coins, and it has become an interesting trend to follow.
Though gettiing more popular daily, crypto is still a long way from being globally accepted but some websites now accept crypto as opposed to the usual credit cards, and now Payments giant PayPal recently announced the launch of a new service that will allow customers to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrency from their PayPal accounts – which is great news!
Ok, I get it now. But How does it work?
Cryptocurrencies are exchanged from person to person on the web without a middleman, like a bank or government. It’s like the wild, wild west of the digital world. There’s no marshal to uphold the law, which is one of the reasons the Nigerian government banned it.
Cryptocurrencies operate on what is called blockchain technology. It’s a public record of all of the transactions that have ever happened in a given cryptocurrency.
“Imagine a book where you write down everything you spend money on each day,” says Buchi Okoro, CEO and co-founder of African cryptocurrency exchange Quidax. “Each page is similar to a block, and the entire book, a group of pages, is a blockchain.”
Using Crypto securely for transactions
Using crypto securely to make transactions depends on the purpose itself. For example, Crypto Debit card, BitPay works if you want to spend crypto where they don’t accept it directly. But if the person or retailer accepts cryptocurrency, you’ll need a cryptocurrency wallet, which is a software program that interacts with the blockchain and allows users to send and receive cryptocurrency.
In order to perform various transactions, you’ll need to verify your address via a private key that comes in a set of specific codes. The speed and security often depend on the kind of wallet that you have.
Keep in mind that transactions are not instantaneous as they must be validated using proof of work or proof of stake. Depending on the cryptocurrency, this may take between 10 minutes and two hours.
Proof of work and proof of stake are two different validation techniques used to verify transactions before they’re added to a blockchain that reward verifiers with more cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrencies typically use either proof of work or proof of stake to verify transactions.
So how do I get my first 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. Generally, you create an account on an exchange, and then you can transfer real money to buy cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
About Crypto Wallets
As usual, back to our trusty wiki,
“A cryptocurrency wallet is a device, physical medium, program or a service which stores the public and/or private keys for cryptocurrency transactions. In addition to this basic function of storing the keys, a cryptocurrency wallet more often also offers the functionality of encrypting and/or signing information.”
Most investors will find that when it comes to trading cryptocurrencies, they also need to make other investments to keep their assets safe. One way to do this is to purchase a cryptocurrency wallet that stores the keys in a safe place. Having a secure cryptocurrency wallet functions much like a regular wallet except that the currencies and wallet contents can be hacked through digital means.
Before you dive into crypto,
Before you say good-bye to your dollars and hello to Bitcoin or Ether, there are a few things you need to know.
1. Cryptocurrencies are volatile and risky. The value of cryptocurrencies goes through extreme ups and downs. In 2021, the value of Bitcoin swung between $20,000 and $40,000! Of course, all investing carries a degree of risk. But you should always avoid unnecessary risks, especially when it comes to your hard-earned money.
2. There are lots of unknowns. Only a small percentage of people in the world understand the system and know how to operate it.
3. Cryptocurrencies have an unproven rate of return. Trading in cryptocurrency is like gambling. Because it’s exchanged peer to peer without any tie to regulatory standards, there’s no pattern to the rise and fall of its value. You can’t predict changes or calculate returns like you can with growth stock mutual funds. There just isn’t enough data, or enough credibility, to create a long-term investing plan based in cryptocurrency.
Cryptos are for those who have spare money, I think. When you invest in crypto, be prepared to say good-bye-o to your money. It’s not a good way to build wealth. But that’s not to take away the fact that crypto is definitely here to stay.