Cryptocurrency comes under many names. You have probably read about some of the most popular types of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum. Cryptocurrencies are increasingly popular alternatives for online payments. Before converting real dollars, euros, pounds, or other traditional currencies into ₿ (the symbol for Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency), you should understand what cryptocurrencies are, what the risks are in using cryptocurrencies, and how to protect your investment.
What is cryptocurrency?
A cryptocurrency is a digital currency, which is an alternative form of payment created using encryption algorithms. The use of encryption technologies means that cryptocurrencies function both as a currency and as a virtual accounting system. To use cryptocurrencies, you need a cryptocurrency wallet. These wallets can be software that is a cloud-based service or is stored on your computer or on your mobile device. The wallets are the tool through which you store your encryption keys that confirm your identity and link to your cryptocurrency.
What are the risks to using cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrencies are still relatively new, and the market for these digital currencies is very volatile. Since cryptocurrencies don’t need banks or any other third party to regulate them; they tend to be uninsured and are hard to convert into a form of tangible currency (such as US dollars or euros.) In addition, since cryptocurrencies are technology-based intangible assets, they can be hacked like any other intangible technology asset. Finally, since you store your cryptocurrencies in a digital wallet, if you lose your wallet (or access to it or to wallet backups), you have lost your entire cryptocurrency investment.
What is a blockchain?
Don’t be spooked by the technobabble that people use to describe “blockchain.” A blockchain is just a database. It isn’t a particularly sophisticated one, either – you could create it in a spreadsheet with minimal effort.
There are some peculiarities with these databases. The first is that blockchains are append-only. That means that you can only add information – you can’t just click on a cell and delete stuff that you’ve already added, or change it in any way.
The second is that each entry (called a block) in the database is cryptographically linked to the last entry. In plain English, each new entry must contain a sort of digital fingerprint (hash) of the last one.
A blockchain is immutable: if you change a block, it changes the fingerprint. And since that fingerprint is included in the next block, the next block is changed too. You end up with a domino effect where any change becomes evident. You can’t alter any information without everyone noticing.
As you might have heard, blockchain and cryptocurrencies are already used in a lot of different areas. Undoubtedly, one of the biggest current use cases is speculation.
Trading generally implies a shorter-term approach to generating profit. Traders may jump in and out of positions all the time. But how do they know when to get in and out?
One of the most common ways to make sense of the cryptocurrency market is through an approach called technical analysis (TA). Technical analysts look at price history, charts, and other types of market data to find bets that have a good chance of returning a profit.