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Cryptocurrencies are not traded on Wall Street in the same way stocks are. Still, several publicly traded companies are deeply tied to the world of cryptocurrency or other digital assets.
Cryptocurrency stocks are shares in those companies — typically businesses that operate crypto exchanges, invest in cryptocurrencies themselves or create computer equipment used to mine Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
Any individual stock carries its risks — and crypto stocks may also be vulnerable to potential downturns in the volatile cryptocurrency markets. However, crypto stocks may be worth considering for investors who are comfortable with stocks and want some exposure to digital assets.
9 popular cryptocurrency stocks to consider
Many stocks have some relationship to cryptocurrencies. Here are some of the most popular ones traded on U.S. exchanges.
1. Coinbase Global Inc.
Coinbase (ticker: COIN) runs one of the largest crypto exchanges in the U.S. In April 2021, it became the first pure-play crypto trading platform to go public on Wall Street. Coinbase makes money when people buy and sell a wide variety of digital assets on the platform.
» Learn more about Coinbase stock
2. MicroStrategy Inc.
MicroStrategy (ticker: MSTR) is an analytics software company that has built up a vast reserve of Bitcoin, the first and most valuable cryptocurrency. As of Feb. 14, MicroStrategy said it owned more than $5.2 billion worth of Bitcoin, a number close to the company's total market capitalization at the time.
3. NVIDIA Corp.
NVIDIA (ticker: NVDA) made its name as a producer of graphics cards used for computer gaming. But in recent years, it has expanded the use of its technologies into cryptocurrency mining. This process uses specialized equipment to solve complex mathematical problems as part of the energy-intensive and potentially lucrative bookkeeping process that helps some cryptocurrencies operate without a central monetary authority.
4. Marathon Digital Holdings Inc.
Marathon (ticker: MARA) is another company that is heavily involved in Bitcoin, giving investors a way to gain exposure to that asset without buying it directly. Marathon mines Bitcoin directly and invests some cash in the digital asset. At the end of 2021, Marathon said it owned about $387 million worth of Bitcoin.
5. Block Inc.
Block (ticker: SQ), formerly known as Square, is a financial services and payment processing company. It has several lines of business related to blockchain technology and Bitcoin, and its popular Cash App product allows users to invest in stocks and Bitcoin. Block said it held $317 million worth of the digital asset at the end of 2021.
6. Riot Blockchain Inc.
Riot Blockchain (ticker: RIOT) is another company focused on Bitcoin mining. It says its facility in Rockdale, Texas, is the largest such operation in North America. The company said its mining resulted in a Bitcoin balance of 4,884 coins by the end of 2021, then worth $233 million.
7. Advanced Micro Devices Inc.
Advanced Micro Devices (ticker: AMD) makes computing equipment, including gaming processing units, also known as GPUs. GPUs are often used in cryptocurrency mining. The company has said it has seen elevated demand for these products as interest in crypto has increased.
8. PayPal Holdings Inc.
PayPal (ticker: PYPL) is a well-known technology company that has long been focused on digital payments — a key area of development in cryptocurrency. PayPal has added crypto payment and investing tools to its PayPal and Venmo apps in recent years.
9. CME Group Inc.
CME (ticker: CME) is a financial services company whose businesses include clearinghouse services and derivatives exchanges. Among the products covered by these services are cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum.
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Crypto vs. stocks
If you're thinking about investing in crypto stocks, you might be wondering: What's the difference between buying stocks and buying cryptocurrencies?
A stock represents an individual share of ownership in a company. Any stock you buy on a public exchange, such as the New York Stock Exchange, is issued by a company that has gone through an extensive regulatory process to sell shares of its business to the public. In addition, these companies must issue comprehensive financial statements, which can help you evaluate whether you want to invest.
» Learn more: How to buy stocks
A cryptocurrency is a digital file secured by cryptographic technology that makes it difficult to duplicate or alter without its owner's permission. Cryptocurrencies are not sold on the stock market but on crypto exchanges that decide which assets to list. In addition, certain cryptocurrencies provide users with a share of governing power over the underlying network on which they operate. However, issuing a cryptocurrency is more of a technical endeavor than a regulatory one, and the amount of financial data available to the public can vary.
» Learn more: How to buy cryptocurrency
Here are some points to consider when deciding whether to buy crypto stocks.
Stocks as an investment class have a much longer history than cryptocurrencies. If you're used to evaluating stocks based on companies' financial performance, you may be more comfortable with stocks.
Regulatory requirements for public companies are stricter than those for issuers of cryptocurrencies. This helps encourage companies to return a reasonable amount of value to their investors.
While some traditional stockbrokers sell cryptocurrencies, many do not. As a result, you're likely to have an easier time buying crypto stocks than cryptocurrencies with your retirement account.