Cryptocurrencies are starting to receive a great deal of attention in the mainstream press. Until now, cryptocurrencies had been a very niche market with an appeal limited only to the more tech-savvy and those with a specific reason for taking an interest in them. The average person, even now, may have heard of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, but probably knows little about them. Before investing in any cryptocurrency, it is a good idea to do some research and learn how it all works.
The History of Cryptocurrencies
Cryptocurrencies have been around for longer than many people realise, in fact they were first conceived of in the late 80’s. But it is only relatively recently that they have gained traction. The last few years have seen an explosion in the number and variety of businesses which will accept cryptocurrencies as payment. The last few years have also seen quite a dramatic increase of interest in cryptocurrencies among investors.
Throughout 2017, Australia, like much of the world, saw a substantial increase in the interest surrounding cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin remains the most recognisable of all the cryptocurrencies but it is by no means the only one and there are now a number of other players. It is believed by most analysts that a crucial factor in growing the Australian cryptocurrency sector was the shifting regulatory landscape.
In July of last year, the Australian government ended its notorious double taxation regime where Bitcoin was concerned. This led to the introduction of further legislation which formally recognised Bitcoin, and by extension cryptocurrencies more generally, as a legitimate means of payment. Within a month of this recognition, regulations which governed how cryptocurrency exchanges in Australia were allowed to operate were enacted.
As Australia’s regulatory apparatus has expanded and become more suitable for cryptocurrency trading, so too has the domestic user base grown considerably. Stronger regulations inspire confidence among investors and demonstrate that Australia as a nation is serious about incorporating digital currencies into the economy.
In a sign of how cryptocurrencies are becoming mainstream in Australia, 2017 saw the country host its very first initial coin offering (ICO). The ICO generated $17 million AUD in fiat currency, $10.7 million in Ethereum, $6 million in Bitcoin, and $400,000 in Litecoin.
Investing in Cryptocurrencies
Cryptocurrencies are currently a hot investment item. But for all the enthusiasm surrounding investments in cryptocurrencies, there have also been numerous warnings from seasoned financial investors. The volatility of cryptocurrencies makes them a risky investment, as evidenced by the wild price fluctuations that investors have been seeing recently.
There are two methods for investing in cryptocurrencies. The first is to buy the currency itself and hope that it increases in value. The other is to buy futures and bet on the future health of the market.
Despite the steps that various governments have taken to normalise investments and trades involving cryptocurrencies, they are still very different to other types of investment. For one thing, cryptocurrencies are unusually volatile, considerably more than any other currency. Cryptocurrencies are not regulated everywhere, and where they are regulated the regulations are not necessarily the same.
Because the regulations are still being developed in many areas, there is still the possibility that cryptocurrency trading will be outlawed. It is important that before you commit to any investments in cryptocurrency you first carefully consider your decision.
Should You Invest in Cryptocurrency?
There are three reasons that most people choose to invest in cryptocurrencies. The first is because the investor wants to bet their net-worth against the dollar and other established currencies. Some people firmly believe that the traditional currencies that we use now are destined to collapse, leaving cryptocurrency as the most likely replacement.
The second is because the investor is a strong believer in the underlying social and political vision which underpins cryptocurrencies. Many people consider cryptocurrencies to represent new and exciting possibilities for individual freedom and see them playing a prominent role in the societies of the future.
The third and final reason that investors choose cryptocurrencies as an investment opportunity is because they have confidence in the underlying technology, blockchain.
In spite of the current popularity of cryptocurrency investments, it is important to understand what the drawbacks are. Currently, a large number of individuals are falling into the FOMO (fear of missing out) trap. This is when cryptocurrency investors decide to buy the currency simply because other people are and they don’t want to be left out of the latest trend. However, those who are buying now may well be investing in a bubble which could burst at any moment. Investments are never the right way to go about making a fast dollar. If you treat investments like get rich quick schemes then you are doomed to fail.
It is possible to make a lot of money from investing in cryptocurrencies, but it is by no means a sure thing. Just as it is possible to make a lot of money, you could also lose everything! The recent volatility in cryptocurrency values has seen fluctuations of 100’s of billions of dollars within the space of a day. The golden rule of investing is that you should never invest money that you can’t afford to lose.
What Cryptocurrencies are There?
Until relatively recently, Bitcoin was by far the most well known, and most popular, of all the cryptocurrencies. However, it is now far from the only cryptocurrency on the scene, there is now a good deal of choice and other options (like Ripple and NEO). Bitcoin remains the dominant cryptocurrency, but it is now easy to invest in others. In fact, in 2017, Bitcoin’s market share has dropped from 90% to below 40%, and this trend continues in 2018. This shift has seen much of the attention move from Bitcoin to Ethereum and litecoin, although some other coins have also picked up some of the slack.
We have guides here at Cryptohead which delve into the specifics of buying a number of different cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin is still considered to be the ‘standard’ cryptocurrency and forms the staple of any cryptocurrency investment portfolio.
What to do When You Have Bought Your Cryptocurrency
After you have acquired some cryptocurrency, you then need to be able to store it. You can choose to keep it on the exchange where you first purchase it in many cases, however this is inadvisable. There have been a number of high profile hacks and thefts from big cryptocurrency exchanges and people have lost their entire savings as a result. Because there is currently no consumer protection for investors in cryptocurrency, it is important that you keep your crypto coins secure.
The safest way of storing your cryptocurrency is in a wallet that you control. Have a look at our guide on wallets for and how to choose the one right for you. You will find that you will have the most options for a wallet when looking to store bitcoin, which is still the most famous of all the cryptocurrencies.
An offline cryptocurrency wallet will give you total control of your cryptocurrency and is far safer than storing your coins online somewhere.
We have guides here to help you through every step of the cryptocurrency investment process, from identifying the right currency for you, to storing your newly purchased cryptocurrency and everything in between!