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Only a decade ago, cryptocurrency was a term used by financial professionals and analytics experts to describe digital assets that could be used to purchase real products. Cryptocurrency is known for its safety and security as a medium for transactions, giving it a substantial advantage over centralized exchange systems.  But where does the future of the currency lie?

In most cases, the first successful cryptocurrency is considered to be 2009’s Bitcoin – it’s certainly the most famous. That said, it wasn’t the true first source of crypto. The world’s true first cryptocurrency was ecash, implemented through 1995’s Digicash system, but Ecash never developed a true following. Bitcoin’s success and rapid ascent to the top of the global marketplace has left many economists contemplating cryptocurrency’s future as a worldwide method for transactions.

In the last decade, more than 4000 alternate versions of Bitcoin have popped up – these include Zcash, Monero, Ether, and Ripple. Despite their vaguely strange names, these ‘altcoins’ have become just an important part of the cryptocurrency field – but Bitcoin itself seems to be the most successful, maintaining high values even while altcoins fall by the wayside. Of course, from time to time, Bitcoin fluctuates but the future of it still seems pretty bright.

One aspect of cryptocurrency that’s going to become more common in coming years is investments by governments and corporations – increases in regulatory standards have made Bitcoin and fellow cryptos a safer bet, and by some estimates, these investments are projected to increase the price of Bitcoin to $250,000 by 2022. That said, the possibility of attacks by hackers or a worldwide cryptocurrency crash has kept the rate of investments low – any increases will be gradual rather than immediate.

Speculation by futurists indicates that cryptocurrency will become a far more common part of our everyday lives as the 21st century moves forward, but many find it hard to move past the theoretical nature of the currency – the fact that they can’t touch it physically makes it seem more vulnerable to being lost than a twenty dollar bill. It bears noting, however, that cryptocurrency was considered a thought experiment even thirty years ago; now it’s a reality that shapes the worldwide marketplace every day. There’s no telling where the future of cryptocurrency lies .. but if the futurists are right, we should all be investing.