Cryptocurrency is gaining traction in the investment landscape. In 2022, 86% of Americans said they’d heard of crypto, and 16% say they invested or traded it, according to a Pew Research Center survey1.
But, just because cryptocurrencies are becoming more popular doesn’t mean investors have a solid understanding of them. In fact, there are many misconceptions about cryptocurrency that may prevent investors from fully reaping the benefits of this new asset class.
Cryptocurrencies are digital assets that use encrypted technology to store and process transactions. While cryptocurrencies have existed in different forms for decades, they’ve become more prominent in recent years as more consumers and institutions embrace them. As a result, they’re increasingly being used as alternatives to traditional investments and payment systems.
While some people may use cryptocurrencies for speculative purposes, others see them as a way to store wealth and gain financial independence. While there are several risks to cryptocurrency, the biggest concerns include price volatility and regulation. In addition, cryptocurrencies don’t offer the same level of investor protections that come with investing in stocks or mutual funds.
When it comes to regulating cryptocurrency, regulators are still debating whether they should be classified as securities or currencies, and what oversight they would need. As a result, cryptocurrencies can be subject to sudden changes in regulatory policy that could have a significant impact on the price of a particular coin.
Another risk to cryptocurrency is that it is unregulated, which can make it difficult for investors and merchants to determine whether a crypto project has a viable business model or can be trusted. In addition, cryptos are typically stored on exchanges or custodians, and there’s no guarantee that those entities won’t lose them.
The most popular cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, which has seen its value rise and fall over the past decade. But, there are thousands of other cryptocurrencies that can be used to buy products or services online. Many cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology, which is a distributed ledger that records and processes transactions on the currency’s network.
When you purchase a cryptocurrency, the blockchain verifies it by matching a public key with a private key, which proves ownership. When you transfer or sell your cryptocurrency, the blockchain updates your balance to reflect the transaction. The blockchain also makes it impossible to double-spend a cryptocurrency because each user’s copy of the blockchain is identical to everyone else’s.
In addition, the blockchain makes it impossible to delete or change data from a previous block because anyone can view past versions of that record. The transparency of the blockchain is what makes some experts compare it to gold – both are fungible (can’t be duplicated), durable because they can’t be destroyed, and scarce due to their finite supply. Because of these features, some experts believe cryptocurrencies could have similar long-term value to other hard assets like real estate or stocks. However, if you’re not prepared for the ups and downs of volatile prices, it might be best to steer clear.