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Cryptocurrency: Advantages And Disadvantages For Retail Investors

Updated: Jun 30, 2022

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few years, you've probably heard of cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin). They're a new and exciting investment opportunity that has taken the world by storm.

However, as with any new investment opportunity, there are both advantages and disadvantages to investing in cryptocurrencies. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the key advantages and disadvantages of investing in cryptocurrencies as a retail investor.

Let's get started!

What is cryptocurrency?

Before we dive into the advantages and disadvantages of cryptocurrency, let's go through a quick refresher course about what cryptocurrency actually is. If you're already well-versed in the technology involved, feel free to skip ahead!

At its simplest, a cryptocurrency is a digital or virtual asset that uses cryptography to secure its transactions and to control the creation of new units. Cryptocurrency is decentralized, meaning it is not subject to government or financial institution control.

Instead of relying on a central authority to validate transactions, most cryptocurrencies are maintained and continually validated by a network of computers with what is known as a distributed ledger.

A ledger is a record of every transaction made in a cryptocurrency. The distributed aspect just means that the ledger isn't stored in any one place, but rather is constantly being verified and updated by all the computers in the network. This decentralization makes cryptocurrencies more resistant to fraud and tampering than traditional currencies or assets.

Now that we know a little bit more about what cryptocurrency is, let's take a look at some of the key advantages and disadvantages of investing in them.

Advantages of cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrencies offer investors a unique set of advantages that are not found in more traditional investments. Let's take a look at some of the most notable ones.

1. Potential for High Returns

One of the most appealing aspects of investing in cryptocurrencies is the potential for high returns. In 2017, Bitcoin saw its value increase by over 1,300%, while other popular cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Litecoin, and Ripple all saw gains of over 9,000%!

While there is no guarantee that cryptocurrencies will continue to perform so well in the future, the potential for such high returns is certainly attractive to investors.

2. Decentralization

As we mentioned before, cryptocurrencies are decentralized, meaning they are not subject to government or financial institution control. This decentralization gives cryptocurrencies a number of advantages.

For one, it makes them much more resistant to fraud and tampering than traditional currencies or assets.

3. Growing Acceptance

While cryptocurrencies are still in their early stages, they are slowly but surely gaining more mainstream acceptance. In 2017, Bitcoin was added to the futures market on two major exchanges, CBOE and CME.

This allowed investors to speculate on the price of Bitcoin without actually owning any of the currency. While Bitcoin is still far from being universally accepted, this growing acceptance is a positive sign for the future of cryptocurrency.

4. Increased Privacy

Another advantage of cryptocurrencies is that they offer increased privacy compared to traditional investments. When you make a transaction with cryptocurrency, your personal information is not attached to it. This anonymity makes it much more difficult for someone to track your finances or identity theft.

5. 24-Hour Trading

As we mentioned before, the decentralization of cryptocurrencies allows for 24-hour trading. This is because there is no need for a central authority to facilitate transactions. So, whether you're trading on a US exchange or a Japanese one, you can do so at any time of day or night.

Disadvantages of Cryptocurrency

Investing in cryptocurrencies also comes with its own set of risks and disadvantages that potential investors should be aware of. Let's take a look at some of the most notable ones.

1. Volatility

One of the biggest risks of investing in cryptocurrencies is their volatility. Cryptocurrency prices can fluctuate wildly, and often do.

In February 2022, Bitcoin's price dropped by over 13% in only 16 minutes for no apparent reason. However, in other cases it has been known to rise by hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a single day.

This volatility makes cryptocurrencies a risky investment, as it is difficult to predict what their prices will be in the future.

2. Lack of Regulation

Another risk associated with cryptocurrencies is the lack of regulation. Cryptocurrencies are not subject to the same rules and regulations as traditional investments. This means that there is no governmental or financial institution oversight, which could make them more susceptible to fraud or manipulation.

3. Scams

Due to the lack of regulation, cryptocurrencies are also ripe for scams. There have been a number of high-profile cryptocurrency scams in recent years, such as the Africrypt Scam, which defrauded investors of over $4 billion in Bitcoin. While there are steps that can be taken to avoid scams, such as only investing in well-known and reputable cryptocurrencies, it is still a risk that potential investors should be aware of.

4. Limited Use-Cases

At present, cryptocurrencies are mostly used as investment tools due to their penchant for volatility. As a result, many are not yet a viable currency for day-to-day transactions. This could change in the future, but for now, it is something to be aware of.

5. Hacking Risks

Another risk associated with cryptocurrencies is the potential for hacking. Due to their digital nature, cryptocurrencies are stored in wallets which are vulnerable to hacking. If a hacker is able to gain access to your wallet, they could steal all of your coins. This risk can be mitigated by using a well-secured wallet and keeping your coins in cold storage (offline).

Final Thoughts

Investing in cryptocurrencies is a risky proposition, but one that could offer large rewards. Potential investors should weigh the risks and rewards carefully before making any decisions.

By Editsbyty

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