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Between 2019 and 2021, it seemed as if Bitcoin could do no wrong. The price of Bitcoin rose from $7,200 in 2019 to a whopping $68,990 in Nov. 2021.
But like Icarus flying too close to the sun, this dizzying climb ended abruptly in 2022. Cryptocurrency crashed and burned, with Bitcoin dropping by over 50% to $26,000 in May, according to Consumer Affairs. From Ether to Ripple, other cryptocurrencies saw similar losses.
Several factors seem to have played a role in this global crypto crash, reports Fortune, from rising inflation to Russia’s war in Ukraine. But cryptocurrency has always been volatile, and lately, we’ve seen promising signs of an upturn.
Given all these ups and downs, you’ll need to be fully prepared if you’re planning to ride the cryptocurrency waves. If you’re interested in investing, read on for a closer look at today’s cryptocurrency market and what the recent downswing might mean for you.
What Is Cryptocurrency?
Cryptocurrency has changed the way people think about money. Rather than tangible cash in your wallet, cryptocurrency is a 100% digital currency you can invest in or use to make purchases online.
While you can’t hold cryptocurrency in your hand, you can use it to pay for certain goods and services. You can also store it in a digital wallet. Or, if you’re ready to trade, you can exchange it for other coins or traditional currency (e.g., U.S. dollars).
Cryptocurrency is decentralized, meaning the government does not regulate it. Instead, it runs on a digital ledger called the blockchain and is created through a process called mining.
There are thousands of cryptocurrency coins and tokens out there. Two of the most popular are Bitcoin and Ether, but there are many others. The value of these coins and tokens fluctuates all the time.
This fluctuation means that some crypto investors have made a lot of money in a short time. On the flip side, it also means some investors lose a big chunk of their money practically overnight.
For the full story about crypto, check out our beginner’s guide to cryptocurrency.
How Is the Cryptocurrency Market Doing?
The cryptocurrency market has seen better days. In May and June 2022, more than $1 trillion in crypto assets were wiped away as the overall market value of publicly traded tokens and coins plummeted, reports Yahoo Finance.
This value peaked at $2.97 trillion in Nov. 2021, according to U.S. News, but plunged to $1.31 trillion by the end of May 2022. The price of Bitcoin, which had reached $68,990 in November last year, fell below $26,000 in mid-May 2022.
Other cryptocurrencies lost value, too. According to LiveMint.com, Ether fell by 23%, XRP by 34%, Solana by 38%, and Cardano by 35%. Almost anyone who invested in crypto near the end of 2022 saw big losses.
Despite this dramatic downturn, the crypto market is showing signs of recovery. Bitcoin’s value rose almost 7% in the last week of May, reported CoinDesk, breaking above $31,000 at the month’s end.
Cryptocurrency will likely continue to be volatile for some time, however, and investors may be wary of diving in headfirst after the losses of the past few months.
Is Crypto a Good Investment?
Despite crypto’s recent crash, investing in digital currency has proven profitable over the past few years. Bitcoin had an average return on investment (ROI) of 1,645% compared to major stock indexes over the past five years.
But as mentioned, investors can see massive losses overnight, making crypto one of the riskiest investments you can make. If you’re comfortable with this gamble — and won’t feel tempted to pull your money out the second there’s a dip in the market — it could be worth investing in cryptocurrency.
If you prefer a safer bet, you might be better off investing in an index fund or exchange-traded fund that tracks an established stock market index, such as the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones. While this traditional investment may lead to more modest returns, it could also protect you from significant losses.
How to Invest in Bitcoin
If you’d like to get a piece of the Bitcoin action, you can invest in Bitcoin via a cryptocurrency exchange or an online brokerage. Unless you’re willing to drop $30,000 into Bitcoin, you’ll likely be purchasing a fraction of a Bitcoin.
1. Purchase Bitcoin Through an Exchange
Some leading cryptocurrency exchanges are Coinbase, Binance, Kraken, and Gemini. You’ll need to create a crypto wallet while opening an account with one of these exchanges. While your crypto wallet won’t technically store your crypto (it will live on the blockchain), it will give you a secure key to access it.
Once you’ve taken these steps, you’ll connect your crypto wallet to your bank account. You may also be able to connect your bank account directly to your exchange account, but this option may be less secure than using your wallet.
You can then purchase a fractional amount (or more) of Bitcoin.
2. Invest in Bitcoin Through a Brokerage Account
Your other option for investing in bitcoin is an online brokerage account. These days, some leading financial services companies let you invest in cryptocurrency alongside traditional stocks, mutual funds, and other investments.
Some companies, like SoFi and Robinhood, offer free stock in exchange for opening an account, which you could then sell and invest in crypto. Note that your brokerage account might set a cap on how much you can hold in crypto.
You’ll also want to keep an eye out for trading and other account fees and track your earnings for tax purposes.
How Is the Stock Market Doing?
Cryptocurrency isn’t the only market that’s been suffering in 2022. The stock market has also been declining this year. All the major U.S. stock indexes are close to or have fallen into bear markets, which means their value has gone down by more than 20% from a recent high.
One factor hurting the stock market today is rising inflation. According to Axios, the rate of inflation was 8.5% in March, the highest it had been in 40 years. Higher prices are not only a burden on consumers (we’ve all cringed at the price of gas lately) but can also hurt profit margins and bring down share values.
To fight inflation, the Federal Reserve has been raising interest rates, reports U.S. News & World Report, a move that can slow down stock market growth further. Other factors, like the war in Ukraine and supply chain issues, can hurt the markets.
As inflation slows, the market may even out. Some financial experts predict that a recession is on its way, says The Washington Post. In contrast, others simply say to buckle up and expect volatility in the coming months.
How to Invest in the Stock Market
Despite the ups and downs in the stock market, investing remains a smart way to build wealth. Once you’ve built up an emergency fund, investing your extra savings could help protect them from losing value due to inflation.
Plus, if you invest for the long-term, your investments may be able to weather ups and downs in the market. There are a few ways to start investing as a newbie. One is to invest in a tax-advantaged retirement savings account. You can invest in a 401(k) if your employer offers one or an IRA on your own.
You can open up a low-fee IRA with a company such as Vanguard, Fidelity, or Betterment. If you’re not comfortable cherry-picking stocks and other investments, you could put your money into a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund that tracks a major index.
Besides opening a retirement savings account, you can also open a brokerage account. As mentioned, some brokerage accounts let you invest in a mix of stocks, mutual funds, and cryptocurrency, letting you keep your crypto and non-crypto investments in one place.
Several investing apps allow you to invest right from your phone. Some investing apps worth checking out include Public, Stash, and Robinhood.
How Do NFTs Work?
Maybe you finally got a grip on what cryptocurrency is all about, but now you’re hearing about these things called NFTs. What exactly are these “non-fungible tokens,” how do NFTs work, and where do they fit in the wide world of cryptocurrency?
NFTs are digital assets that people typically buy and sell with cryptocurrency. Like cryptocurrency, NFTs can be an investment because they shoot up and down in value.
More specifically, NFTs have become an increasingly popular way to buy and sell digital art. This artwork could be anything from a Bored Ape Yacht Club cartoon ape to Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first-ever Tweet (it read: “just setting up my twttr”).
However, like the crypto and stock market, the NFT market has seen massive losses this year. According to Yahoo Finance, the value of NFTs fell more than 80% from their market peak.
Just take that Dorsey tweet that sold for $2.9 million in March 2021. When its owner tried to sell it in April 2022, the highest bid was less than $14,000.
Should I Invest in NFTs?
Like cryptocurrency, NFTs are a volatile investment. Purchasing an NFT can net you a significant return or a major loss, depending on which NFT you buy and when you buy it.
If you hold on to your investment for a long time, you might have a better chance of seeing a positive ROI. Internet personality and founder of VaynerMedia, Gary Vaynerchuk, said the recent crash is just a correction to the overvaluation of NFTs that happened last year.
“NFTs are here forever,” Vaynerchuk said at his NFT conference. On the other hand, John Reed, former chief of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s office of internet enforcement, appears to disagree.
In an interview with Vice, Reed criticized NFTs and similar investments, saying, “It’s one big giant get-rich-quick scheme.”
In the end, your decision about whether you should invest in NFTs may come down to whether you believe in the future of this technology and your interest in digital art collecting.
Will Bitcoin Go Back Up?
While no one can predict how Bitcoin will perform in the future, its history has always been marked by sharp increases and decreases.
Bitcoin broke $1,000 for the first time in January 2017 and climbed to $19,000 by December of that year. But it was down to just over $3,200 in December 2018 before rising to $7,200 at the end of 2019. As mentioned, Bitcoin peaked at over $68,000 near the end of 2021 but is around $30,000 as of June 2022.
While we can’t predict whether Bitcoin will go back up, it will probably continue to be highly volatile.
What Is the Stock Market Like Today?
The stock market is in a downturn, but stock prices change every day, multiple times per day. You can track the performance of individual stocks in your portfolio by signing into your online accounts. Or you can track an index, such as the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), or Nasdaq Composite Index.
As these indexes track well-established companies, their performance can be considered a barometer for the stock market as a whole. Some updated stock market data resources include MarketWatch, CNN, Yahoo Finance, and the Wall Street Journal.
Investing in crypto and NFTs is risky, but you might feel excited to dip your toes into the waters of this futuristic market. Fortunately, getting started with a small investment is possible by buying a fraction of Bitcoin, Ether, or another coin. To begin your investment journey, you can open an account with an exchange or an online brokerage account.
Avoid investing more than you can afford to lose to protect your finances. And consider investing for the long haul rather than panicking and withdrawing your money during a downswing. If the historical price of Bitcoin has taught us anything, it’s that what goes down usually comes up again.