According to a new investor study from Ascent, 50 million Americans are likely to make their first investments in cryptocurrencies in the next year. The skyrocketing popularity of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has convinced even former skeptics such as Warren Buffett that these digital currencies should be taken seriously. One reason why many doubters are becoming believers is because of the transformative blockchain technology that underlies cryptocurrency transactions. Blockchains are databases that record all transactions in a way that anyone can see and no one can delete or change, bypassing the need for banks, brokerage companies, or even advisors to serve as the middleperson for these transactions. Blockchains have become such a legitimate technology for digital transactions that even the U.S. government is now thinking issuing digital dollars at some point in time.
However, it’s important to remember that the reliability and transparency of Blockchain in no way lessen the highly speculative and unregulated nature of cryptocurrency trading. Those who are thinking about investing in any of the thousands of cryptocurrencies available may want to limit the amount of money they invest and treat it as a gambling activity—meaning they should be prepared to lose everything. Those starting out should stick with known cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum and use established exchanges like Coinbase and Kraken to trade them. Those who don’t feel comfortable purchasing cryptocurrencies directly may want to consider investing in exchange traded funds that invest in these digital currencies.
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