Despite the intricate technology associated with and necessary for cryptocurrency investing, speculation and possession, Coinbase has created an apparatus that makes this process remarkably easy and familiar, almost like buying and selling stocks. This screenshot from the Coinbase site shows real-time cryptocurrency prices and doesn't look too different from your ordinary online stock tracker.
Cryptocurrencies are experiencing a moment of unprecedented attention and speculation for several reasons. 1) The value of Bitcoin has been steadily climbing through 2017, with Ether seemingly poised to overtake the cryptocurrency giant any day; 2) Blockchain technology has purposes above and beyond cryptocurrency, and has been hailed by some as the backbone of the future financial system; 3) The increasing number of people who see cryptocurrency as a form of investment similar to gold. If cryptocurrencies stabilize in value, buying Bitcoin or Ether has the potential to be a worthy venture.
For those of you who have not been paying attention to one of the biggest trends in investing and tech, cryptocurrencies are digital currencies using encryption techniques that regulate the generation of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operating independently of a central bank. Units of currency are created through a process referred to as mining.
Since the Bitcoin creation in 2009, the price of this virtual currency remained quite stable until January 2013, reaching a maximum value of approximately 20 U.S. dollars. Afterwards a monthly price growth was observed until October 2013 when the price reached 198 U.S. dollars. This nearly tenfold increase in Bitcoin value proved to be insignificant in comparison to the price rally in November 2013, when the threshold of 1,100 U.S. dollars per coin was broken. After a period of downtrend which followed, Bitcoin price reached 1,349.19 U.S. dollars in April 2017.