After years of talk, the world's most familiar digital payment platform, Paypal, is finally embracing cryptocurrency as a form of accepted currencies for all its US users.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and Litecoin will be the cryptocurrencies accepted by PayPal. "The shift to digital forms of currencies is inevitable," said Dan Schulman, president, and CEO of PayPal in an October 21st press release.

Experts in the crypto world have often linked the volatility and shortcomings of cryptocurrencies to its lack of accessibility in markets, so this new acceptance on part of Paypal might just be what's needed to propel cryptocurrency use into the mainstream economy. Paypal will develop complementary cryptocurrency educational resources on its website.


Currently, you can get on the waitlist to trade cryptocurrency on PayPal, as it's not officially tradable yet. Beginning sometime early next year, users will be able to not only buy and sell the currency but also use it to make purchases to any of Paypal's 26 million merchants.

What Is Cryptocurrency?

You may have heard the words "cryptocurrency" or "Bitcoin" before; you may even know what they are. Pop culture has long depicted futures in which money has gone completely digital. With the growing acknowledgment of cryptocurrency, that future may not be far away.

The Dutch bank ING released an extensive survey about cryptocurrency, in September, revealing that while almost three-quarters (74%) of people know that cryptocurrency is a type of digital money, nearly the same amount of (73%) incorrectly identified the governing body for cryptocurrency, or said they did not know how it worked.

Cryptocurrency is a type of digital currency secured by cryptography technology that makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit. Cryptocurrency is not controlled by any government or entity, and the middle man (AKA the bank) is cut out of the equation.

How Does It Work?

cryptocurrency blockchain technology

Cryptocurrencies allow you to make secure transfers online which are denominated in terms of tokens. Behind the scenes, the network shares a blockchain (digital ledger) that records all transactions.

How Can I Use Cryptocurrency?

In order to buy cryptocurrency, you need an online application, known as a "wallet" to digitally store it in. This can be done through an app such as the Bitcoin Wallet, or through a free investment app such as Robinhood.

You can use your cryptocurrency to buy goods or services from many retailers and merchants that accept cryptocurrency, transfer it directly to other cryptocurrency users, or exchange it for other digital or paper currencies.

Cryptocurrency can also be earned through mining, which is often referred to as the process of digitally mining for gold.

cryptocurrency mining Money Work GIF by Mr.Cryply Giphy

Types of Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin was the first of its kind and is still the most popular cryptocurrency used today. Other alternative cryptocurrencies have come out since, including the Litecoin and Ethereum.

Bitcoin

The original Bitcoin code was developed in 2009 by the individual or group known by the anonymous pseudonym, Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin is not owned by any individual or company. All users are able to use and develop the bitcoin software.

Today, Bitcoin is split into two different cryptocurrencies: the original Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). The main difference between the two is that the latter was created to increase the speed of transaction processing. Some experts worry about the security of the newer Bitcoin cash, as the program doesn't necessarily follow the guidelines in programming set out by Nakamoto. As it is, Bitcoin still remains the most widely used of the two.

Cryptocurrency Benefits

Since cryptocurrency operates in a decentralized manner, cutting out the middleman in currency transactions (AKA the bank) can have many benefits.

  • Cryptocurrency transactions are instant and direct, unlike transfers that need to run through banks and can sometimes take days to process.
  • Cutting out the need for the bank reduces inflation and reduces fees.
  • Transactions are not limited by time, location, or bank holidays.
  • More secure transactions from cryptographic technology.
  • Cryptocurrency allows much clearer transparency since the data stored in the blockchains are available for anyone to view.

Cryptocurrency Disadvantages

  • The inability to make payments with cryptocurrency.
  • Cryptocurrency is unregulated, which makes it an attractive means of illegal activity and overall is considered a high-risk investment.
  • Cryptocurrency does not hold any intrinsic value-such as that of fiat currency backed by gold or a governing body. Berkshire Hathaway's billion-dollar CEO, Warren Buffet, is a longtime opposer of cryptocurrency. In an interview with CNBC, Buffet said that he would never invest in cryptocurrency because he believes it holds no value.

What's Next?

According to a 2019 survey, only 10% of people understand cryptocurrency. However, it does have backing from the SpaceX and Tesla founder, Elon Musk, who sees potential in Bitcoin. The future of cryptocurrency heavily relies on its ability to further reach into the retail economy.

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The Federal Reserve sets the guardrails for the federal funds rate, and through that helps control the money supply for the nation.

When you take out a loan for a car, charge something to your credit card, or get a personal line of credit, there is going to be an interest rate that applies to your loan.

A lot of different factors go into what you will be charged, including your own personal credit score. But even those with flawless credit still see a minimum charge that they can't get around. That all goes back to the Federal Funds Rate.

One thing consumers rarely realize is that all of our banks are lending money to each other every night. Banks are legally required to maintain a certain percentage of their deposits in non-interest-bearing accounts at the Federal Reserve to ensure they have enough money to cover any withdrawals that may unexpectedly come up. However, deposits can fluctuate and it's very common for some banks to exceed the requirement on certain days while some fall short. In cases like this, banks actually lend each other money to ensure they meet the minimum balance. It's a bit hard to imagine these multibillion-dollar financial institutions needing to borrow money to tide them over for a bit, but it happens every single night at the Federal Reserve. It's also a nice deal for those with balances above the reserve balance requirement to earn a bit of money with cash that would normally just be sitting there.

The Federal Reserve The Federal Reserve


The exact interest rate the banks will charge each other is a matter of negotiation between them, but the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) (the arm of the Federal Reserve that sets monetary policy) meets eight times a year to set a target rate. They evaluate a multitude of economic indicators including unemployment, inflation, and consumer confidence to decide the best rate to keep the country in business. The weighted average of all interest rates across these interbank loans is the effective federal funds rate.

This rate has a huge impact on the economy overall as well as your personal finances. The federal funds rate is essentially the cheapest money available to a bank and that feeds into all of the other loans they make. Banks will add a slight upcharge to the rate set by the Fed to determine what is the lowest interest that they will announce for their most creditworthy customers, also known as the prime rate. If you have a variable interest rate loan (very common with credit cards and some student loans), it's likely that the interest rate you pay is a set percentage on top of that prime rate that your lender is paying. That's why in times of low interest rates (it was set at 0% during the Great Recession), a lot of borrowers should go for fixed interest rate loans that won't increase. However, if the federal funds rate was relatively high (it went up to 20% in the early 1980's), a variable interest rate loan may be a better decision as you would be charged less interest should the rate drop without the need to refinance.

The federal funds rate also has a major impact on your investment portfolio. The stock market reacts very strongly to any changes in interest rates from the Federal Reserve, as a lower rate makes it cheaper for companies to borrow and reinvest while a higher rate may restrict capital and slow short-term growth. If you have a significant portion of your investments in equities, a small change in the federal funds rate can have a large impact on your net worth.

Getty Images/Maria Stavreva

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