Is Bitcoin just an over-hyped cryptocurrency? There is no denying the coin has immensely grown in popularity, but anyone even vaguely interested in cryptocurrencies should learn about the others as well.
All digital currencies close on the tail are exceptional in their own right and serve unique purposes that Bitcoin cannot. Cryptocurrencies are diverse in this sense, offering more applications than just being a medium of exchange.
So, what are the seven most important cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin? In this article, we will briefly go over each digital currency and learn what each brings to the ‘crypto universe.’
Please, be notified that all the prices and market capitalizations are based on CoinMarketCap data as of 23 November 2020.
Ethereum rightfully takes the second spot after Bitcoin by offering innovative solutions through its native token, Ether (ETH). What makes this brand special is that Ethereum is more than just another digital currency, but rather ‘a global, open-source platform for decentralized applications.’
This statement may seem foreign initially, though Ethereum prides itself on this future vision. Furthermore, through smart contracts, users can write codes controlling digital value without interference, fraud, or downtime.
The brand idea is the brainchild of-founded by several ‘crypto wizards’ in 2015, most notably Russian-Canadian programmer Vitalik Buterin. Ethereum boasts a market capitalization presently of approximately $58 billion (around 10.6% market share) and trades at $514 for 1 ETH.
Tether is the first to usher a new breed of cryptocurrencies referred to as stablecoins. Unlike traditional digital tokens notoriously known for their volatile prices, Tether aims to provide the stability of fiat currencies and the technology of cryptocurrencies.
The digital currency has a 1:1 pegging against the US dollar. Like some of its rivals, Tether is a product of Ethereum’s ER-20 token. Tether made its way into the markets in 2014 initially by the name, Realcoin. Brock Pierce, Reeve Collins, and Craig Sellars founded the project.
Tether presently enjoys a market capitalization of at least $18 billion (around 3.2% market share) and trades at $0.99 for 1 USDT.
Ripple, the remittance and real-time gross settlement technology brand, continues the vision of their native cryptocurrency, XRP, to enable lightning-quick cross-border payments at extremely low cost. The company was founded in 2012 by American angel investor Chris Larsen and American entrepreneur Jed McCaleb.
Ripple’s core target market is primarily financial institutions. Although, like many other digital currencies, anyone can transact with XRP with its current price of $0.39. XRP has a market capitalization of at least $17.7 billion (roughly 3.1% market share).
In what we may consider the dark horse of cryptocurrencies, Chainlink (LINK) has risen to prominence since its 2017 inception. Owned by the fintech company, SmartContract Chainlink Limited SEZC, Chainlink (LINK) is described by the company as connecting smart contracts to ‘real-world data events and payments.’
LINK is the digital currency that users need to pay for services on the company’s platform. Chainlink aims to provide an oracle network to power smart contracts. Ethereum originally pioneered smart contracts in 2015.
Simply put, a smart contract is a code-written, self-executing contract that exists on a blockchain. An oracle is a software that connects outside data into smart contracts and vice versa.
What’s worthy to note is that LINK is an ERC-20 token like Tether. Ranking sixth on the list of most traded cryptocurrencies, LINK boasts a market cap circa $5.6 billion and currently trading at $14.33
Litecoin has earned the phrase ‘the silver to Bitcoin’s gold’ since the cryptocurrency is a hard fork from Bitcoin. Originally authored by Chinese-American computer scientist Charlie Lee in 2011, a former MIT graduate and Google employee, Litecoin aims to be a cryptocurrency with a faster block generation time and a bigger finite supply than its predecessor.
Although many similarities exist between both digital currencies, Litecoin has rightfully earned a high spot on most traded cryptocurrencies. Litecoin enjoys a market capitalization of at least $5.4 billion (about 1% market share) and a per-token value of $83.
Another member like Litecoin in Bitcoin’s ‘bloodline,’ Bitcoin Cash has climbed the ranks reasonably quickly since its 2017 inception. The cryptocurrency was born after disputes in the Bitcoin community over increasing its current block size from 1MB to 8MB to handle more transactions. This change results in more capacity and reduced transaction fees.
Like Litecoin, Bcash is technically a hard fork with mostly identical features to its predecessor. Bitcoin Cash boasts a market capitalization of approximately $5 billion (roughly 0.9% market share) and trades at $271 for 1 BCH.
This entrant is also another dark horse within the markets. Polkadot has a somewhat unusual reason for being on this list as the project only officially launched a few months ago. However, cryptocurrency investors clearly believe there is massive potential for the token despite being quite young.
Parity Technologies created the platform, a company formed by two former Ethereum executives, Gavin Wood and Jutta Steiner. Currently, countless blockchains exist, albeit in isolation and with little scalability. Polkadot is the solution to this problem.
While it is complicated to explain how Polkadot works, the best way to envision the brand is the ‘blockchain of blockchains.’ Polkadot seeks to improve scalability, communication, specialization and foster forkless upgrades in blockchains.
Polkadot has enjoyed numerous successful ICOs (initial coin offerings) since 2017, which have combined to the total funding of at least $250 million. Despite controversies primarily around hacking and the freezing of millions of funds, Polkadot is now available as a traded cryptocurrency at major exchanges globally.
Polkadot boasts a market capitalization of approximately $4.6 billion (roughly 0.8% market share) and trades at $5.31 for 1 DOT.
We could consider these seven digital coins as the ‘Justice League’ of cryptocurrencies since each has its own ‘special powers:’
- Ethereum wants to power decentralized applications and smart contracts.
- Tether aims to be the largest stablecoin by providing a cryptocurrency free from the price volatility of Bitcoin and altcoins.
- XRP has the vision for broader adoption of extremely cheap and lightning-quick cross-border payments and currency exchanges.
- Chainlink proposes to provide oracle networks to smart contracts.
- If Bitcoin is like gold, Litecoin is like silver.
- Bitcoin Cash is merely a cheaper and faster version of Bitcoin.
- Polkadot hopes to become the ‘blockchain of blockchains.’