Bitcoin has not only been a trend, ushering in a wave of cryptocurrencies based on a decentralized peer-to-peer network, but it has also become the de facto standard for cryptocurrencies, encouraging a slew of followers and spinoffs.
- A cryptocurrency is a type of digital token or "coin" that exists on a distributed and decentralized ledger known as a blockchain.
- Aside from that, the area of cryptocurrencies has grown tremendously since the debut of Bitcoin over a decade ago, and the next big digital token may be issued tomorrow.
- In terms of market value, user base, and popularity, Bitcoin continues to lead the pack of cryptocurrencies.
- Other virtual currencies, such as Ethereum, are assisting in the development of decentralized financial (DeFi) networks.
- Some altcoins have been recognized for having newer features than Bitcoin, such as the capacity to process more transactions per second or employ alternative consensus techniques, such as proof of stake.
What Is the Definition of Cryptocurrency?
Before we go into some of these Bitcoin (BTC) alternatives, let's take a step back and define concepts like cryptocurrency and altcoin. A cryptocurrency, in general terms, is virtual or digital money in the form of tokens or "coins." Though some cryptocurrencies have entered the real world through credit cards or other schemes, the vast majority remain completely intangible.
The term "crypto" refers to the complex encryption that enables the creation and processing of digital currency and its transactions across decentralized platforms. Along with this crucial "crypto" aspect is a shared commitment to decentralization; cryptocurrencies are often developed as code by teams that include methods for issuance (often, but not always, through a process known as mining) and other regulations.
Cryptocurrencies are nearly always supposed to be free of government manipulation and control—though, as the sector has risen in popularity, this fundamental characteristic has come under scrutiny. Altcoins, and in some cases shitcoins, are cryptocurrencies that are based after Bitcoin and have frequently attempted to promote themselves as updated or improved versions of Bitcoin. Though some of these currencies may have some amazing features that Bitcoin does not, an altcoin has yet to meet the level of security that Bitcoin's networks attain.
Other than Bitcoin, we'll look at some of the most important digital currencies below. But first, a disclaimer: it is impossible for a list like this to be completely comprehensive. One reason for this is that there are over 8,000 cryptocurrencies in circulation as of January 2022.
Despite the fact that many of these cryptocurrencies have little to no following or trading volume, some are quite popular among committed groups of backers and investors.
Aside from that, the area of cryptocurrencies is always evolving, and the next big digital token might be issued tomorrow. Despite the fact that Bitcoin is usually regarded as a pioneer in the realm of cryptocurrencies, analysts use a variety of methodologies to evaluate tokens other than BTC. Analysts, for example, frequently place a high value on ranking currencies compared to one another in terms of market capitalization. We've taken this into account, but there are other reasons why a digital token may be on the list.
Top 25 Gainers: January 31, 2022
The Different Kinds of Altcoins
Cryptocurrencies are designed for payments, sending value (similar to digital money) through a decentralized network of users. Many altcoins (those that are not Bitcoin or Ethereum) are categorised in this manner and are frequently referred to as value tokens.
There are other blockchain-based tokens that have a function other than monetary value. A token issued as part of an initial coin offering (ICO) that represents a stake in a blockchain or decentralized finance (DeFi) initiative is one example. Security tokens are tokens that are connected to the value of a company or project (as in securities like stocks, not safety).
Other tokens provide a specific purpose or perform a specific function. Storj tokens, which let individuals transfer files over a decentralized network, or Namecoin, which provides decentralized Domain Name System (DNS) service for Internet addresses, are two examples. 23 These are referred to as utility tokens.
While many crypto users recognize and appreciate these distinctions, traders and lay investors may miss them since all types of tokens tend to trade in the same way on crypto exchanges.
1. Ethereum (ETH)
Ethereum (ETH), the first Bitcoin alternative on our list, is a decentralized software platform that allows smart contracts and decentralized apps (dApps) to be written and run without downtime, fraud, control, or intervention from a third party. The purpose of Ethereum is to establish a decentralized suite of financial goods that anybody in the world, regardless of nationality, race, or creed, may freely access. 4 This element makes the consequences for individuals in certain nations more appealing, because those who lack state infrastructure and official identity may obtain bank accounts, loans, insurance, and a number of other financial items.
Ethereum (ETH), the first Bitcoin alternative on our list, is a decentralized software platform that allows smart contracts and decentralized apps (dApps) to be written and run without downtime, fraud, control, or intervention from a third party. The purpose of Ethereum is to establish a decentralized suite of financial goods that anybody in the world, regardless of nationality, race, or creed, may freely access. This element makes the consequences for individuals in certain nations more appealing, because those who lack state infrastructure and official identity may obtain bank accounts, loans, insurance, and a number of other financial items.
Ethereum apps are powered by ether, the platform's proprietary cryptographic currency. Ether (ETH) is a vehicle for moving about on the Ethereum platform, and it is mostly sought by developers trying to construct and operate apps within Ethereum, as well as investors wishing to acquire other digital currencies using ether. Ether, which debuted in 2015, is now the second-largest digital currency by market value behind Bitcoin, albeit it lags well behind the dominating cryptocurrency. Ether's market valuation is little more than half that of bitcoin, trading at roughly $2,500 per ETH in January 2022.
In 2014, Ethereum held an ether presale, which garnered a massive reaction, ushering in the age of the ICO. Ethereum claims that it can be used to "codify, decentralize, secure, and exchange just about anything." Following the 2016 attack on the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), Ethereum was divided into two coins: Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC).
Ethereum's consensus mechanism will switch from proof-of-work (PoW) to proof-of-stake (PoS) in December 2020. (PoS). This change is designed to allow Ethereum's network to function with considerably less energy and faster transaction speeds, as well as to create a more deflationary economic climate. PoS enables network users to "stake" their ether to the network. This procedure aids in the security of the network and the processing of transactions. Those who do so are rewarded with ether, much like an interesting account. This is an alternative to Bitcoin's PoW algorithm, which rewards miners with additional BTCs for processing transactions.
2. Litecoin (LTC)
Litecoin (LTC), which debuted in 2011, was one of the first cryptocurrencies to follow in Bitcoin's footsteps and has been dubbed the "silver to Bitcoin's gold." 11 Charlie Lee, an MIT graduate and former Google developer, designed it.
Litecoin is built on an open-source worldwide payment network that is not governed by any central authority and use script as a PoW that can be decoded by consumer-grade central processing units (CPUs). Litecoin is similar to Bitcoin in many aspects, except it has a higher block production rate and consequently a faster transaction confirmation time.
Aside from developers, there is an increasing number of shops that take Litecoin. Litecoin has a market capitalization of $7.3 billion and a per-unit worth of roughly $105, making it the world's 22nd-largest cryptocurrency as of January 2022.
3. Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Cash BCH is significant in altcoin history since it was one of the first and most successful hard forks of the original Bitcoin. A split occurs in the bitcoin realm as a consequence of disagreements and arguments between developers and miners. Because digital currencies are decentralized, wholesale changes to the code underpinning the token or coin at hand must be made by broad consensus; the method for this process differs depending on the cryptocurrency.
When various groups cannot agree, the digital currency is occasionally split, with the previous chain remaining faithful to its original code and the new chain starting as a new version of the preceding coin, replete with code modifications.
4. Dogecoin (DOGE)
Dogecoin (DOGE), considered by some to be the first "meme coin," made a sensation in 2021 when its price surged. The coin, which features an image of a Shiba Inu as its avatar, is accepted as payment by a number of big corporations, including the Dallas Mavericks, Kronos, and, probably most importantly, SpaceX, an American aerospace manufacturer owned by Elon Musk.
In 2013, two software programmers, Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer invented Dogecoin. Markus and Palmer apparently designed the coin as a joke, reflecting on the cryptocurrency market's rampant speculation.
During the week that Musk was set to appear on Saturday Night Live, the price of DOGE reached an all-time high of around 0.74 cents. Dogecoin has a market valuation of $18 billion as of January 2022, and one DOGE is worth roughly 14 cents, making it the 11th-largest cryptocurrency.
5. Cardano (ADA)
Cardano (ADA) is an "Ouroboros proof-of-stake" cryptocurrency developed by engineers, mathematicians, and cryptography professionals using a research-based methodology. 13 Charles Hoskinson, one of Ethereum's five original founding members, co-founded the project. He left Ethereum after some issues with the way it was headed and eventually helped to build Cardano.
Cardano's blockchain was established through considerable testing and peer-reviewed research by the Cardano team. The project's researchers have published over 120 papers on blockchain technology covering a wide range of issues. Cardano is built on this study.
Cardano appears to stand out among its PoS counterparts as well as other significant cryptocurrencies as a result of this rigorous approach. Cardano has also been branded the "Ethereum killer" due to its blockchain's ability to do more. Cardano, on the other hand, is still in its early phases. While it has surpassed Ethereum in terms of PoS consensus, it still has a long way to go in terms of DeFi applications.
Cardano aspires to be the world's financial operating system by developing DeFi products comparable to Ethereum's as well as solutions for chain interoperability, voter fraud, and legal contract tracking, among other things. Cardano is the sixth-largest market value at $33 billion as of January 2022, and one ADA trades for roughly $1.05.
6. Polkadot (DOT)
Polkadot (DOT) is a one-of-a-kind PoS coin that aims to provide compatibility with other blockchains. Its protocol connects permissioned and permissionless blockchains, as well as oracles, allowing systems to collaborate under one roof. Polkadot's essential component is its relay chain, which enables network interoperability. Parachains, or alternative blockchains with their own native coins, are also supported for certain use cases.
Polkadot differs from Ethereum in that instead of only establishing dApps on Polkadot, developers may design their own blockchain while still benefiting from the security that Polkadot's chain currently possesses. Developers may establish new blockchains with Ethereum, but they must create their own security mechanisms, which might leave new and smaller projects vulnerable to attack because the larger a blockchain, the more secure it is. This is known as shared security in Polkadot.
Polkadot was built by Gavin Wood, another member of the Ethereum project's core founders who had divergent views on the project's future. Polkadot has a market valuation of almost $19 billion as of January 2022, and one DOT is worth $17.70.
As a result of one of these splits, BCH was born in August 2017. The discussion that led to the formation of BCH was over scalability; the Bitcoin network has a block size restriction of 1 megabyte (MB). BCH raises the block size from 1MB to 8MBs, with the theory that larger blocks may carry more transactions and hence boost transaction speed. 18 Other changes include the elimination of the Segregated Witness protocol, which has an impact on block space.
BCH has a market capitalization of roughly $5.3 billion and a value per coin of $280 as of January 2022.
7. Binance Coin (BNB)
Binance Coin (BNB) is a utility cryptocurrency that is used to pay for trading costs on the Binance Exchange. By market capitalization, it is the third most valuable cryptocurrency.
Those that utilize the token as payment for the exchange can trade at a lower price.
Binance Coin's blockchain also serves as the foundation for Binance's decentralized exchange. Changpeng Zhao launched the Binance Exchange, which is now one of the world's most popular exchanges in terms of the trading volume.
Binance Coin began as an ERC-20 token that ran on the Ethereum network. It finally had its own mainnet. The network employs a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus methodology. Binance Coin has a market capitalization of $62.5 billion as of January 2022, with one BNB worth $372.
8. Stellar (XLM)
Stellar (XLM) is an open blockchain network that connects financial institutions to provide corporate solutions for massive transactions. Massive transactions between banks and investment firms, which used to take several days, involve a number of middlemen, and cost a lot of money, may now be completed very instantly with no intermediaries and at little to no cost to the parties involved.
Despite its positioning as an enterprise blockchain for institutional transactions, Stellar is still an open blockchain that anybody may utilize. The technology supports cross-border transactions in any currency. Lumens are Stellar's native currency (XLM). To transact on the network, users must have Lumens in their possession.
Stellar was established by Jed McCaleb, a founding member of Ripple Labs and the creator of the Ripple protocol. He later left Ripple to co-found the Stellar Development Foundation. Stellar Lumens have a market capitalization of $5 billion and are worth 20 cents as of January 2022.
9. Tether (USDT)
Tether (USDT) was one of the earliest and most popular of a class of cryptocurrencies known as stablecoins, which try to limit volatility by tying their market value to a currency or other external reference point. Because most digital currencies, even big ones like Bitcoin, have undergone regular bouts of extreme volatility, Tether and other stable coins aim to smooth out price variations in order to attract users who may otherwise be wary. Tether's value is directly proportional to the value of the US dollar. The mechanism enables users to make transfers from other cryptocurrencies back to US dollars more quickly than converting to regular money.
Tether, which was founded in 2014, presents itself as "a blockchain-enabled platform...to make it simpler to utilize fiat currency digitally." This coin, in effect, lets users use a blockchain network and related technologies to deal in traditional currencies while limiting the volatility and complexity that are sometimes associated with digital currencies.
Tether is the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization as of January 2022, with a market cap of $78.3 billion and a per token value of (you guessed it!) $1.
10. Monero (XMR)
Monero XMR is a private, secure, and untraceable cryptocurrency. This open-source crypto currency was established in April 2014 and quickly gained popularity within the cryptography community and its supporters. This cryptocurrency's development is entirely donation-based and community-driven.
Monero was established with a heavy emphasis on decentralization and scalability, and it provides perfect privacy through the use of a specific technology known as "ring signatures." With this strategy, a collection of cryptographic signatures appears, each of which has at least one genuine participant, but the genuine one cannot be identified because they all look to be authentic.
Monero has earned an ugly image as a result of its extraordinary security mechanisms—it has been tied to illicit enterprises all over the world. Though this is an excellent option for anonymous illegal transactions, the secrecy inherent in Monero is also beneficial to dissidents in repressive governments all over the world.
Monero has a market capitalization of $2.6 billion and a token value of $143 as of January 2022.
Mentions of Merit
|More Top Altcoins|
|Solana||SOL||$91||$28.6||Solana is a decentralized blockchain built to enable scalable, user-friendly apps for the world.|
|Avalanche||AVAX||$66.5||$16.2||Avalanche is the fastest smart contracts platform as measured by time-to-finality, and has the most validators securing its activity of any proof-of-stake protocol.|
|USD Coin||USDC||$1.00||$49.8||A digital dollar stable coin issued by Circle.|
|Chainlink||LINK||$17.25||$8.0||Chainlink decentralized oracle networks provide tamper-proof inputs, outputs, and computations to support advanced smart contracts on any blockchain.|
|Algorand||ALGO||$0.93||$6.1||Algorand removes the technical barriers that can undermine mainstream blockchain adoption: decentralization, scale, and security.|
|Polygon||MATIC||$1.57||$10.7||Polygon is a protocol and a framework for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks. Aggregating scalable solutions on Ethereum supporting a multi-chain Ethereum ecosystem.|
|VeChain||VET||$0.05||$3.5||VeChain is a public blockchain that derives its value from activities created by members within the ecosystem solving real-world economic problems.|
|Tron||TRX||$0.06||$6.0||TRX is the basic unit of accounts on the Tron blockchain. TRX is also a natural medium currency for all TRC-based tokens. TRX connects the entire Tron ecosystem with abundant application scenarios that power transactions and applications on the chain.|
|ZCash||ZEC||$90.85||$1.1||Privacy and security-focused digital currency.|
|EOS||EOS||$2.25||$2.0||EOS.IO is a highly performant open-source blockchain platform, built to support and operate safe, compliant, and predictable digital infrastructures.|
|Tezos||XTZ||$3.35||$2.9||A flexible and security-focused smart contracts platform.|
|Neo||NEO||$19.15||$1.4||Neo is an open-source community-driven blockchain platform for building dApps.|
|Dash||DASH||$90.60||$0.95||Digital currency is based on privacy and fast confirmation speeds.|
|Stacks||STX||$1.5||$1.6||Stacks enables DeFi, NFTs, apps, and smart contracts for Bitcoin.|
|NEM||NEM||$0.10||$0.90000||NEM, which stands for the New Economy Movement, is a technology platform intended to help manage assets and data easily and inexpensively.|
|Decred||DCR||$60.20||$0.83||Decred employs an innovative hybrid proof-of-work/proof-of-stake system that layers security and carefully aligns incentives.|
|Storj||STORJ||$1.15||$0.17||With Storj DCS (Decentralized Cloud Storage), files aren’t stored in centralized data centres—instead, they're encrypted, split into pieces, and distributed on a global cloud network.|
|0x||ZRX||$0.54||$0.46||0x is a decentralized crypto asset and token exchange.|
|DigiByte||DGB||$0.02||$0.31||DigiByte is more than a faster digital currency. It is an innovative blockchain that can be used for digital assets, smart contracts, decentralized applications, and secure authentication.|
What Is the Importance of Cryptocurrencies?
Blockchain-based cryptocurrencies, as decentralized platforms, let users conduct peer-to-peer financial transactions or enter into contracts. There is no requirement for a trusted third-party mediator such as a bank, monetary authority, court, or judge in either situation. This has the potential to destabilize the current financial system while also democratizing finance. Over the last decade, the cryptocurrency field has evolved dramatically, with new inventions and a total market valuation of moreover $1.75 trillion.
Why Are There So Many Cryptocurrencies?
The bulk of today's cryptocurrencies is developed in some way from Bitcoin, which employs open-source programming and a censorship-resistant architecture. This implies that anyone may copy the code and modify it to produce their own new currency. This also implies that anybody is free to join or transact in its network.
Why Is Bitcoin the Most Valuable Cryptocurrency?
Despite the emergence of hundreds of competitors, Bitcoin—the original cryptocurrency—remains the leading player in terms of usage and economic worth. As of January 2022, each coin (BTC) was worth around $37,500, with a market value of moreover $707 billion.
Investing in cryptocurrencies and other initial coin offers (ICOs) is very dangerous and speculative, and the author recommends that you do so. Because each person's circumstance is unique, before making any financial decisions, a trained specialist should always be contacted. Investopedia makes no guarantees or warranties about the accuracy or timeliness of the information included on this website.