Although Bitcoin is the first thing that comes to mind when we think about the cryptocurrency market, many alternative digital currencies are worth exploring. Bitcoin was undoubtedly one of the first cryptocurrencies to severely impact how we view money and investments. However, it is still only one among numerous innovative investment opportunities.
Financial decisions should be based on accurate information and honest investment advice from experienced investors who have had a longstanding presence in the crypto space. Many mistakes have been made, but ensure that you protect your digital assets by investigating the topic in depth.
Let's explore the world of cryptocurrencies.
Essentially, a cryptocurrency is a digital currency exchanged in various forms, such as coins and tokens. Cryptocurrency remains, for the most part, in a disembodied state. Only a few currencies in today's market have taken a more physical form and can be used as a dollar equivalent.
For cryptocurrencies to have the ability to be transacted across many decentralized systems, they have to be processed with the inclusion of complex cryptography, hence the name "crypto."
Decentralization is crucial in enabling users to distribute a specific cryptocurrency. More often than not, a currency will be developed as codes by companies responsible for incorporating distribution mechanisms and other risk control services.
The security efficiency that Bitcoin's network has implemented over the years led to an astounding number of newly developed cryptocurrencies that strive to reach the level of popularity that Bitcoin has achieved. Many have failed, but many have grown exponentially regarding their standard and practical application in recent years. Collectively, these alternative currencies are referred to as altcoins.
As there are over 8000 different options in the cryptocurrency market as of January 2022, it is almost impossible to list every single currency in the existing market, which is continuously expanding. We can, however, create an informative list that ranks and compares digital currencies regarding market capitalization.
A cryptocurrency is primarily intended for making payments and being transmitted across decentralized apps and networks. Also known as value tokens, altcoins fall into this category.
Apart from money, certain tokens based on blockchain technology are intended for different purposes. For example, a token could be invested as an initial coin offering segment. This will represent a stake in a decentralized finance project or a blockchain. The tokens are referred to as security tokens if they are associated with the value of a project or even a company.
Examples of tokens with a particular purpose are Storj tokens and Namecoin. People can share files across decentralized networks using Storj. Decentralized Domain Name System services are provided by Namecoin. Collectively, these tokens are referred to as utility coins.
The first cryptocurrency on our list is an alternative to bitcoin called Ethereum. ETH was designed to allow decentralized applications and smart contracts to work efficiently without interference from an external entity. This can run without any control, fraud, or intermission from a third party. The intention behind Ethereum is to host a suite of financial products that anyone, regardless of ethnicity, faith, or nationality, can have access to. This gives individuals in countries with no state infrastructure and identifications the freedom to access loans and insurance to only name two financial products.
Ether is the cryptographic token used by Ethereum that acts as a transporter on the platform. This is especially of interest to investors and developers. By market capitalization, Ether is second only to Bitcoin in being the most far-reaching digital currency in the world.
Ethereum made a smart move by putting Ether on a pre-sale in 2014. This got a great deal of attention which assisted the era of ICO. Ethereum split into two distinct platforms, namely Ethereum and Ethereum Classic, in 2016, following the attack on the DAO.
To have Ethereum's network continuously operate itself with little energy input and a faster transaction rate, Ethereum changed its algorithm to a Proof of Stake consensus in December 2020. This transition made for a more deflationary environment. PoS is also considered a safety measure in terms of transaction processing on the network. Ether is given to all users who do this. This model is similar to an interesting account and differs from the mechanism that Bitcoin implemented in which users are given more Bitcoin for processing payments.
Litecoin, or LTC, has been referred to as the silver alternative to Bitcoin's gold. An ex-engineer of Google created it in 2011.
Litecoin differs from Bitcoin in that it generates blocks faster on the blockchain platform and therefore also confirms transactions at a higher speed. In addition, it isn't controlled by any central authority and uses scrypt following a PoW consensus. This can be decoded with CPUs.
Litecoin has impacted the cryptocurrency market in that a coin currently holds a large value. Numerous merchants have started to accept this cryptocurrency as a valid means of payment.
Cryptography experts, engineers, and mathematicians created this cryptocurrency based on thorough peer-reviewed research. Cardano is an Ouroboros proof-of-stake cryptocurrency that shares co-founder Charles Hoskinson with Ethereum. As a qualified professional, Hoskinson had some concerns regarding how Ethereum was being run, so he took the initiative and became a co-founder of ADA.
Cardano's blockchain resulted from thorough experimentation and research on the market of cryptocurrency. This research formed the fundamental mechanisms on which Cardano was built.
Although Cardano is still just starting out, it has certainly overtaken Ethereum in the functionality of its PoS model.
ADA has an immensely large market cap and aims to provide solutions regarding legal contract tracing, voter fraud, and chain coordination.
Central to Polkadot's protocol is its relay chain. This enables interactiveness between various networks and allows blockchains and oracles to co-act on a single platform. DOT is a PoS cryptocurrency that permits parallel blockchains and parachains to be set up with their native coin.
Developers have the freedom to establish their own blockchain on DOT with the privilege of being able to use the security already established on Polkadot. This differs from Ethereum in that developers would have had to create their own security when creating a new blockchain on ETH. Because all users can utilize the security measures on the blockchain on DOT, it is known to have shared security.
Not unlike Cardano, Polkadot was also founded by one of the creators of Ethereum, Gavin Wood. His opinions expressed concern about the future of Ethereum. Polkadot now has a massive market cap and a relatively high trade value as cryptocurrency prices go.
BCH played a major role in the development of altcoins. Bitcoin cash is an undeniably victorious hard fork of the original cryptocurrency of Bitcoin. This fork took place after miners and developers debated about the functionality of Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency.
Impressionable changes need to be made to the code of the coin or token by varying mechanisms when a cryptocurrency needs fundamental alterations. This is because of the extent to which digital currencies are designed to be decentralized.
When all parties involved in the decision-making process can't agree on an effective strategy for improvement, the cryptocurrency is split into two chains where one chain remains unchanged in its code while the other continues as an altered version of the original coin.
Such a split gave rise to BCH in 2017 after a disagreement regarding the limited scale of Bitcoin blocks. Where Bitcoin had blocks of one megabyte each, Bitcoin Cash changed the block size to eight megabytes per block. This change is said to increase the speed of transactions.
Stellar bridged a significant gap between financial institutions as an open blockchain network. XLM was created to make large transactions between investment firms and banks less costly and time-consuming. Before its intervention, massive transactions would have taken several days and large sums of money to be finalized. XLM improved this process by shortening processing time with little to no cost.
Despite XLM's great contribution as an enterprise blockchain, its use isn't solely designed for investment companies and banks; anyone can use it. Stellar uses Lumens as its currency and allows for substantial cross-border transactions.
In 2021, DOGE was all anybody could talk about as the prices of their coins increased drastically. It has also become an acceptable form of payment by many renowned companies, the most famous of which is SpaceX.
Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer, who are both software engineers, collaborated on the creation of Dogecoin in 2013. At first, their doings were intended as an ironic comment on the public's uninhibited speculation concerning the world of crypto.
As the third-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, Binance coin acts as a payment method for transactions related to the Binance exchange. People can receive discounts on trading if they use the token as their payment currency.
The Binance Coin is one of the most used exchanges today based on trading volume. Founded by Changpeng Zhao, Binance Coin operates on its own blockchain.
This network uses a PoS consensus and was initially a token used on the Ethereum blockchain.
Tether is part of a class called stablecoins. Stablecoins include cryptocurrencies that attempt to stabilize prices and have reserve assets as backups. These coins strive to connect their coin value to an external currency or reference to decrease unpredictability.
This currency targets the more cautious of people by offering stability in terms of fluctuations that are present in most crypto values. Stablecoins aim to present easement to the market by directly tying the price of Thether to the U.S. dollar. Essentially, thether can be described as a USD coin. Thether's system allows for a more effortless transfer from cryptocurrency to dollar.
Thether makes it simpler to use fiat currency on a blockchain platform. As a result, people can participate in transactions with traditional currencies while using a blockchain network. This concept has become exceedingly popular, and Thether became the fourth-largest cryptocurrency in 2022 by market cap.
The growth of Monero is based on donations and steered by the community. XMR is very privatized and secure, making it very popular in the crypto market.
Monero has become a kind of disreputable entity as it has strong ties to many criminal enterprises. This is due to its focus on scalability and decentralization, making it extremely private. XMR implemented a system of ring signatures where only one signature in a list is an actual participant that cannot be distinctively recognized in the group.
Despite its rather bad reputation, Monero has been an excellent aid for oppressed regimes worldwide.
The volatility of digital currencies is something that most people are aware of, but the popular expression, "high risk, high reward," speaks volumes when it comes to crypto investments. Cryptocurrency is probably not the most reassuring way to make money, but it undoubtedly has a very high success rate. Be smart about your investment choices and gather unbiased information before deciding on an altcoin.