Cryptocurrencies have been all the rage for the past year or so, creating substantial wealth for investors who bought these virtual coins anytime before the beginning of 2017. Some of the most popular, like Litecoin, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Stellar, and Ripple, have generated enormous returns for anyone who bought, mined, or otherwise acquired these digital currencies soon after they came into existence.

We are talking about gains of between 4,000% and 17,000,000% — potentially life-changing wealth.  Yet as of this writing, almost all of the most well-known cryptocurrencies have lost more than half of their value from their peaks in late 2017 and early 2018. So while some people see now as an excellent time to invest in cryptocurrencies while they’re down, I think today could be one of the riskiest times to buy, and most people should avoid cryptocurrencies as an asset class.  I’m not saying I’ll never own cryptocurrencies.

To the contrary — I expect I will, and maybe sooner rather than later. But for the moment, there are things holding me back.

Before any cryptocurrency has a shot at being a “real” currency, it needs to meet three important criteria: As things stand today, no cryptocurrency can really claim any of these things. They are not easy to spend for mundane, everyday items. And when it comes to security, there have been multiple instances of hackers stealing hundreds of millions of dollars in cryptocurrencies.

And there’s no FDIC insurance to protect you from cryptocurrency stolen from a digital wallet or exchange like there is on the money in your bank account.  Finally, money should have steady, predictable value. Here’s how much value the major cryptocurrencies have lost in the past six months: Bitcoin Close Price data by YCharts. Read more from…

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