It’s safe to say that cryptocurrency has already become a major part of the finance industry. Cryptocurrencies are paving new ways of doing business that was not possible before because central banks could not maintain control over inflation and currency exchange rates across borders. In fact, cryptocurrencies have even begun competing with banks with their accessibility, speed of transactions, lack of fees, and many other benefits that do not require existing bank accounts or credit cards (like check payments).
Central banks control the money supply by issuing or removing money from circulation. Central banks print new money and put it into circulation. The difference between fiat and cryptocurrency is that with fiat, the government says this new currency is legitimate because the government issues it.
In contrast, cryptocurrencies have real value because they are used as an investment (or a store of value) and that is demonstrated through their market caps (i.e., the total capitalization of tokens in circulation). Transparency in cryptocurrency is completely decentralized, which means there is no central body that controls money supply or regulation. Every token has unique metadata attached to it, which means that the price is determined by supply and demand.
Blockchain technology provides the basis for most cryptocurrencies and is the main technological innovation behind them (reducing fees and centralization). Blockchain systems typically work by connecting all transactions (financial or otherwise) in a network that cannot be altered without the consent of all other users, who are also known as nodes. All transactions in the blockchain are automatically recorded using cryptography. The process is decentralized, therefore there can be no privileged entities controlling it, such as a company or organization that could benefit from capturing more than half of all money supply.
Decentralization has benefits for society. It is one of the reasons why cryptocurrency is gaining popularity among merchants, merchants still have to spend time and resources getting their payments processed, which is expensive. Merchants also have to store their personal data on a centralized server, which can be hacked. In contrast, blockchain technology allows merchants to store their own data and use it for transactions in a completely decentralized manner without sacrificing security or losing control over their personal data.
Many skeptics believe that cryptocurrencies do not exist but are just frauds designed to make a fast buck (there are examples of this, however). Even though fraud is a problem in the cryptocurrency market, it is a relentlessly changing and highly competitive market. This means that cryptocurrency will never stop evolving because there are always new cryptocurrencies coming out in the market. For example, there are thousands of new coins that you can invest in. If a coin proves to be fraudulent or scammy, this would be an immense disadvantage for investors because they would have to sell their coins at ridiculously low prices (also, they may not get any money back if the transaction was not audited).
Cryptocurrencies have already begun to gain popularity among merchants and consumers because of their low fees and fast transaction speed. With real-time payments and a decentralized network, merchants who use cryptocurrency have significantly lower transaction fees (which means more money for them) and also significantly faster transaction times. This means that a merchant has one fewer obstacle when it comes down to accepting payment from someone. That is why many online merchants (such as Amazon) are considering implementing cryptocurrency payments because their customers prefer using cryptocurrencies to fiat, which is not surprising since you pay less money for your purchase but can get your money quicker.
Another incentive for consumers to adopt cryptocurrencies is the low risk of fraud and scam. With a central database and centralized database, fraud is inevitable and therefore there will always be bad actors in the market which will try to steal people’s money. In contrast, the decentralized nature of blockchain databases makes it incredibly difficult for criminals to hack into a database and steal information because there is not one authoritative database but many at the same time. Blockchain and blockchain smartphones are inherently built to prevent fraud, which means that transactions with cryptocurrencies are less likely to lead to identity theft or other types of fraud.
With the current financial markets being increasingly integrated into a global economy, cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly relevant in today’s market. The anonymity that comes with cryptocurrency transactions is a disadvantage to many governments because they want more oversight and control over their citizens’ money. However, the benefit that cryptocurrencies have over fiat currencies is their unregulated nature, which means that they cannot be controlled by a government or other central authority. Some governments have even in the past (like China) tried to ban the use of cryptocurrencies only to find out that it was impossible. This has led many people to believe that cryptocurrency is here to stay and will only keep evolving as time goes on.
The fact that cryptocurrencies are intangible assets with no physical existence makes it hard for traditional investors and venture capitalists to get involved in this market. On the other hand, blockchain technology has generated increasing interest from established businesses and investors because of its utility and security.