The primary benefit of Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies based on blockchain technology is that many of them lack a central authority, payment processor, or company owner. From this stems several other benefits, such as ease of transactions, potential for higher return for traders, and even relatively good network security.
Since crypto networks tend to be peer-to-peer, meaning that people can transact directly with one another. Let’s look at some of the advantages of cryptocurrency in this crypto guide.
Benefits of Owning Crypto in 2023
1. Easy Transactions
Crypto transactions can be made easily, generally at a low cost, and in a relatively private manner. Using a smartphone app, hardware wallet, or exchange wallet, almost anyone can send and receive a variety of cryptocurrencies.
Some types of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum, can be purchased with cash at a Bitcoin ATM. A bank account isn’t always required to use crypto, so it’s possible that someone could buy Bitcoin at an ATM using cash, then send those coins to their digital wallet or phone. This may be a huge advantage for people who might lack access to the traditional financial system.
2. Relatively Secure
Because cryptocurrencies are rooted in cryptography and blockchain security, decentralized cryptocurrencies tend to make for secure forms of payment. As such, the relative security of cryptos may be one of the biggest benefits for users.
Crypto security, in large part, is determined by hash rate. The higher the hash rate, the more computing power is required to compromise the network. Bitcoin is considered to be the most secure cryptocurrency, as it tends to have a higher hash rate than other networks.
Note, though, that using a crypto exchange is only as secure as the exchange itself, however. Most incidents of crypto being hacked involve exchanges being hacked or users making mistakes, like falling for phishing scams.
3. Short Settlement Times and Low Fees
While some people may only want to invest in cryptocurrency to take advantage of (prospective) price appreciation, others might find benefit in the ability to use crypto as a medium of exchange.
Bitcoin and Ether transactions can range from a few cents, to several dollars or more. Other cryptocurrencies, like Litecoin, XRP, and others, might be able to be sent for less. Payments for most cryptos settle within minutes, and some within seconds. Conversely, wire transfers at banks can cost significantly more, and often take three to five business days to settle.
4. Exponential Industry Growth
The cryptocurrency industry has been one of the fastest-growing markets that most of us have seen in our lifetimes, especially since the industry got its start with the debut of Bitcoin back in 2009. The total market cap of the cryptocurrency market in 2013 was about $1.6 billion. By September 2022, it’s worth more than $930 billion. That, too, is including the so-called “crypto winter” that the crypto markets experienced for much of 2022.
So, while the industry as a whole has seen incredible growth over the past decade, it’s important to keep in mind that markets ebb and flow.
5. The Possibility of Outsized Returns
Bitcoin has been one of the best-performing assets of the last 13 years. When it debuted in 2009, Bitcoin essentially had no value, but in the following years, it would rise to a fraction of a penny, and then eventually to tens of thousands of dollars. This represents millions of percentage points’ worth of gains. By comparison, the S&P 500 index of stocks returns an average of about 8% per year.
💡 Recommended: Bitcoin Price History: 2009-2023
Some altcoins have outperformed Bitcoin by wide margins at times, although many of those later saw their prices collapse. Gains like these might be among the most well-known cryptocurrency benefits. The losses, on the other hand, may be among the most well-known drawbacks. And that’s important to note, as crypto prices have fallen quite a bit, as of late. For example, during 2022, Bitcoin’s price has fallen by more than 60% as of September.
That type of volatility has characterized prices in the crypto space, which has been one of the key benefits of cryptocurrency for day traders and speculators, too. Taking advantage of the fluctuations in price can help traders earn returns, even if prices fall.
6. More Private Transactions
Privacy can be a big benefit of cryptocurrency, but crypto isn’t always as private as some people might think. Blockchains create a public ledger that records all transactions forever. While this ledger only shows wallet addresses, if an observer can connect a user’s identity to a specific wallet, then tracking transactions becomes possible.
While it’s worth noting that most crypto transactions are pseudonymous, there are ways to make more anonymous transactions. Coin mixing services group transactions together in a way that makes it hard to pick them apart from one another, which can make it difficult to track for outside observers. Individuals who run a full node also make their transactions more opaque because observers can’t always tell if the transactions running through the node were sent by the person running the node or by someone else.
Methods like these are for more advanced users and could prove difficult for those new to crypto. So while absolute privacy is really not one of the main positives of cryptocurrency, transactions are still generally more private than using fiat currency with third-party payment processors.
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7. Portfolio Diversification
Cryptocurrency has become known as a non-correlated asset class. Theoretically, crypto markets largely function independently of other markets, and their price action tends to be determined by factors other than those affecting stocks, bonds, and commodities. Though that theory has been tested this year, as assets of all types of slipped, including cryptocurrencies. It’s worth noting, though, that during the last few years, cryptos have begun to sometimes trade in tandem with stocks for short periods of time.
So, in terms of diversification, cryptocurrencies offer investors another vehicle with which to try and grow their money outside of stocks, ETFs, or bonds. Crypto has its own unique risks, but it is another avenue for potential returns for investors.
8. Potential Inflation Hedge
Mineable cryptocurrencies with a limited supply cap, like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Monero, to name a few, were traditionally thought to be good hedges against inflation. Because monetary inflation can occur when central banks and governments print more money (increasing the supply), things that are more scarce tend to appreciate in value.
With more and more new dollars chasing fewer and fewer coins, the price of these fixed-supply coins as measured in dollars has a higher chance of going up. Additionally, the Bitcoin protocol, for example, is also designed to keep those coins scarce regardless of what happens with monetary policy.
The potential of cryptos to stand up to inflation has been yet another test this year, as we’ve experienced higher rates of inflation than in several decades. As mentioned, crypto prices have fallen, but it’s hard to say how much of that has to do with inflation. Crypto may still serve as a hedge, but it may not be as ironclad of a concept as it once was.
9. Cross-Border Payments
Cryptocurrencies have no regard for national borders. An individual in one country can send coins to someone in a different country without any added difficulty. With traditional financial services, getting funds across international borders can take a long time and come with hefty fees. In some cases, doing so might not even be possible due to regulations, sanctions, or tensions between specific countries.
But again, cryptocurrency gets around all of that, as users can engage in peer-to-peer transactions from anywhere in the world.
10. A More Inclusive Financial System
Some of the benefits of cryptocurrency extend to people who don’t have access to, or perhaps don’t trust, the traditional financial system. Due to its decentralized and permission-less nature, one of the benefits of cryptocurrency is that anyone can participate outside of that system.
People don’t need permission from any financial authority or government to use the crypto ecosystem. (Though it’s worth noting that Bitcoin mining is banned in China, and that there may be other local rules and regulations to take not of.) Participants also don’t necessarily need to have a bank account. There are billions of people today who are “unbanked,” meaning they have no access to the financial system, including bank accounts. With crypto, however, the only thing those people need is a smartphone, and they can essentially become their own bank.
11. Transactional Freedom
One of the great benefits of crypto is that it can be used to exchange value between two parties. This can be done independently of any third-party, making the transaction about as free as it can get. It’s similar to handing a dollar bill to a friend on the street.
Banks, or other payment processors, can choose to cut off services to anyone for any reason. This can make things difficult for some journalists, political dissidents, or other individuals working in nations with oppressive government regimes. Because there is no central authority governing Bitcoin or most other cryptocurrencies, it’s very difficult to stop anyone from using them.
12. Always-Open Markets
Stock markets, like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), are only open on weekdays during the regular business hours of 9:30 am to 4:30 pm Eastern Time. During nights, weekends, and on holidays, most traditional financial markets are not open for business.
Crypto markets, on the other hand, operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without exception. Some of the only things that could interrupt a person’s ability to trade cryptocurrency would be a power outage, internet outage, or centralized exchange outage.
Some cryptocurrency projects take measures to become more efficient or resource-intensive. That’s a big difference between, say, the traditional banking system, which is often stuck utilizing outdated technologies and protocols.
One example: “The Merge,” which involved Ethereum moving from a Proof-of-Work model to a Proof-of-Stake model, effectively ending mining operations, and instead, adopting a much more efficient operating model. The ability of cryptos to change things up in a big way, and on a widespread, operating level, means that it has another advantage over traditional systems.
Some cryptos can be designed specifically for certain projects or uses. Some cryptos, for instance, are designed to work with metaverse projects or games, and can be used to help create in-game assets or tokens.
Transactional freedom, security, and ease of transaction are among the most important advantages of cryptocurrency. Many cryptos are designed to have unique advantages over fiat currencies or the traditional banking system, even if they don’t have widespread use or adoption yet.
Of course, there are potential flaws as well — volatility being a major downside. As with anything, though, those interested in buying, selling, and trading crypto would be wise to do their research before getting involved in the crypto market.
If you’re ready to invest in crypto, consider setting up a crypto trading account from SoFi Invest®. You can buy and sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Cardano and more.
Is cryptocurrency a good investment?
Cryptocurrency can be a worthwhile investment, and has numerous benefits for investors. It is, however, a speculative investment, and there are lots of risks unique to the crypto markets. As such, investors should do their homework before getting in the market.
What should you know before trading cryptocurrency?
There are many considerations to take into account before trading crypto, including the fact that there are numerous exchanges, ways to trade, and coins on the market. Prospective traders should also know that fees may be involved, and that crypto is a highly volatile asset class.
How do I weigh up the pros and cons of each cryptocurrency?
Many cryptocurrencies are similar, but most are their own, individual projects. As such, researching how they each work, what their intended use is, and what the potential drawbacks are for each crypto is a good place to start when weighing pros and cons.
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