Bitcoin has become the undisputed standard for cryptocurrencies, inspiring an ever-growing flock of followers and spinoffs.
A cryptocurrency, broadly defined, is digital money which takes the form of tokens or “coins.” The word “crypto” in cryptocurrencies refers to complicated cryptography; which permits a particular digital token to be generated, stored, transacted securely and, typically, anonymously.
Also, cryptocurrencies are usually developed as code by teams who build mechanisms for issuance (often, although not always, through a process called “mining”). Cryptocurrencies are almost always designed to be free from government manipulation and control, although as they have grown more popular this foundational industry aspect has come under fire.
Currencies modeled after bitcoin are collectively called altcoins and have attempted to present themselves as modified or improved versions of bitcoin. While some of these currencies are easier to mine than bitcoin is, there are trade-offs, which include greater risk brought on by lesser liquidity, acceptance and value retention.
Now we will examine some of the most important digital currencies other than bitcoin. Keep in mind though, that it is impossible to list them all. One reason for this is because, there are more than 1,600 cryptocurrencies in existence, and many of those tokens and coins enjoy immense popularity among a dedicated (but small, in some cases) community of backers and investors.
Also, the field of cryptocurrencies is forever expanding. While bitcoin is widely seen as a pioneer in the world of cryptocurrencies, there are many approaches for evaluating tokens other than bitcoin.
Here is a list of the 10 most popular bitcoin alternatives:
1) Litecoin (LTC)
Litecoin, which launched in 2011, was among the initial cryptocurrencies following bitcoin and has often been referred to as “silver vs. bitcoin’s gold.” It was created by Charlie Lee, an MIT graduate and former Google engineer.
Litecoin is based on an open source global payment network that is not controlled by any centralized authority and uses “scrypt” as a proof of work, which can be decoded with the help of consumer grade CPUs.
Although Litecoin is much like bitcoin, it has a faster block generation rate and therefore offers a faster transaction confirmation. In addition to developers, there are growing numbers of merchants who now accept Litecoin. Litecoin recently had a market cap of $2.63 billion and a per token value of $43.41.
2) Ethereum (ETH)
Launched in 2015, Ethereum is a decentralized software platform that enables Smart Contracts and Distributed Applications (DApps) to be built and run without any downtime, fraud, control or third party interference.. The applications on ethereum run on its platform-specific cryptographic token, called ether.
Ether is essentially a vehicle for moving around on the ethereum platform, and is sought by mostly developers looking to develop and run applications inside ethereum and by investors looking to make purchases of other digital currencies using ether.
3) Zcash (ZEC)
Zcash, a decentralized and open-source cryptocurrency launched in the latter part of 2016. Zcash offers privacy and selective transaction transparency. So, like https, zcash claims to provide extra security or privacy where all transactions are recorded and published on a blockchain, but where details such as the sender, recipient, and amount remain private.
Zcash offers its users the option of “shielded” transactions, which allows for content to be encrypted using advanced cryptographic technique or zero-knowledge proof construction called a zk-SNARK developed by its team., Zcash had a recent market cap of $291.25 million and a value per token of $49.84.
4) Dash (DASH)
Dash (originally known as darkcoin) is a more secretive version of bitcoin. Dash offers more anonymity and works on a decentralized mastercode network that makes transactions almost untraceable.
Launched in January 2014, dash experienced an upsurge in fan following in a short period of time. This cryptocurrency was created and developed by Evan Duffield and can be mined using a CPU or GPU. Recent reports indicate that Dash had a market cap of $640.76 million and a per token value of $74.32.
5) Ripple (XRP)
Ripple is a real-time global settlement network that offers instant, low-cost international payments. Launched in 2012, ripple “enables banks to settle cross-border payments in real time, with end-to-end transparency, and lower costs.” Ripple method of conformation is unique in that it does not require mining. Because of this fact, ripple sets itself apart from bitcoin and many other altcoins.
Since Ripple’s structure doesn’t require mining, it reduces computing power usage, and minimizes network latency. Ripple remains one of the most enticing digital currencies among traditional financial institutions who are looking for ways to revolutionize cross-border payments.
Ripple had a recent market cap of $12.69 billion and a per token value of $0.308.
6) Monero (XMR)
Monero is a secure, private and untraceable currency. This open-source cryptocurrency was launched in April 2014 and soon generated great interest among the cryptography community and enthusiasts. The development of this cryptocurrency is completely donation-based.
Monero was launched with a strong focus on decentralization and scalability, and it provides complete privacy by using a special technique called “ring signatures.” With this technique, a group of cryptographic signatures is mixed with at least one real participant; but since they all look valid, the real one cannot be isolated.
Because of these exceptional security mechanisms, monero has developed a somewhat unsavory reputation and has been linked to criminal operations worldwide. Nonetheless, good or bad, there’s no denying that monero brings important technological advances to the cryptocurrency space. Monero has enjoyed a past market cap of $808.50 million and a per token value of $48.18.
7) Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Cash holds an important place in alcoin history because it is one of the earliest and most successful cryptocurrencies. I Bitcoin cash was created in August of 2017 as a result of a split. The debate which led to the creation of BCH had to do with the issue of scalability; bitcoin strictly limits it’s block size to one megabyte. BCH increases the block size from 1 MB to 8 MB, with the idea that larger blocks allow for faster transaction times and removes the Segregated Witness protocol which impacts block space. As of February 9, 2019, BCH had a market cap of $2.23 billion and a value per token of $126.49.
8) NEO (NEO)
NEO was born in 2014. It was originally called AntShares but was later rebranded by creator Da Hongfei. To date, it is the largest cryptocurrency to emerge from China and is sometimes referred to a “Chinese Ethereum” because of its similar use of smart contracts.
One of the keys to NEO’s success has been its support of programming in many existing languages such as, Go, Java, C++, and others. FNEO has experienced benefits as a result of its positive relationship with the Chinese government, which is generally known for its harsh positions on cryptocurrencies. As of February 9, 2019, NEO had a market cap of $492.48 million and a value per token of $7.58.
9) Cardano (ADA)
Charles Hoskinson, one of the co-founders of ethereum, launched cardano in September of 2017. ADA offers all of the benefits of ethereum plus others. Cardano offers a platform for Dapps and smart contracts, like ethereum.
Aside from that, ADA aims to solve some of the most pressing problems plaguing cryptocurrencies everywhere, including interoperability and scalability. Thanks to its focus in this area, ADA was able to reduce international payment processing times from days down to just seconds. As of February 9, 2019, cardano had a market cap of $1.16 billion and a per token value of $0.041.
10) EOS (EOS)
One of the newest digital currencies to make this list is EOS. Launched in June of 2018, EOS was created by cryptocurrency pioneer Dan Larimer. Before his work on EOS, Larimer created the digital currency exchange Bitshares as well as the blockchain-based social media platform Steemit.
Like other cryptocurrencies on this list, EOS is designed after ethereum, and also offers a platform on which developers can build decentralized applications. EOS is infamous for many other reasons, though. First, its initial coin offering was one of the longest and most profitable in history, raking in a record $4 billion or so in investor funds through crowdsourcing efforts lasting a year.
EOS offers a delegated proof-of-stake system and hopes to offer scalability beyond its competitors. EOS consists of EOS.IO, similar to the operating system of a computer and acting as the blockchain network for the digital currency, as well as EOS coins. EOS is also revolutionary because of its lack of a mining mechanism to produce coins.
Instead, block producers generate blocks and are rewarded in EOS tokens based on their production rates. EOS includes a complex system of rules to oversee this process, with the idea that the network will ultimately be more democratic and decentralized than any of the other cryptocurrencies. As of October 5, 2018, EOS had a market cap of $2.49 billion and a per token value of $2.74.
Bitcoin, at the moment, continues to lead the pack of cryptocurrencies when it comes to, market capitalization, user base and popularity. That being said, virtual currencies such as ethereum and ripple are becoming more popular, while some altcoins are being endorsed for superior or advanced features absent bitcoin.
Following the current trend, one can conclude that cryptocurrencies are definitely here to stay but how many of them will emerge as leaders among the growing competition within this space, remains to be seen.