Top 10 Cryptocurrencies Beyond Bitcoin
The world’s best-known and top cryptocurrency, Bitcoin has become the standard against which the most popular cryptocurrencies are measured. Bitcoin has spawned a host of competitors, copycats, and spin-offs, using blockchain technology and ever-improving algorithms to facilitate financial transactions. But is Bitcoin right for you? Let's take a look at some alternatives.
Created in 2011 and somewhat similar to Bitcoin, Litecoin has been getting the attention of investors as it approaches its tenth anniversary. Fast transactions are part of its popularity, plus the fact that Litecoin is an open-source network that's not under the control of any one single centralized body of power. And the cryptocurrency is serious about the "lite" in its name as it doesn't take massive computing power or special hardware to work—a regular everyday PC is enough.
Though it's only about 20% the size of Bitcoin in terms of its market capitalization, Ethereum is one of the most popular competing currencies, largely due to its technology. Ethereum allows users to send assets across the globe and use an unalterable digital ledger to record all of their transactions. And Ethereum isn't a new type of currency like Bitcoin, rather a decentralized software platform.
As its name suggests, Chainlink serves as a link between smart contracts, the basic agreements made between buyers and sellers. Chainlink lets these smart contracts connect to outside data that can be important in the execution of the contract, data Ethereum, for example, can't connect to. To illustrate its use, Chainlink cites an example of monitoring a water supply for pollution, with that monitoring data directly fed into a water-related contract.
Similar to Ethereum, Binance Coin is a decentralized platform that lets users buy and sell their coins, as well as exchange most other cryptocurrencies with each other. This has made them one of the world's most popular cryptocurrency exchange platforms, helped by their policy of offering discounts to users who pay small fees for the transactions.
Co-founded by a member of the original Ethereum team who left over a disagreement, Cardano has been dubbed the “Ethereum killer” for its effort to create decentralized financial products as Ethereum does. Cardano handles payments much like Ethereum, with the added advantage of allowing users to track transactions as one can with Bitcoin, using smart contracts.
Stellar is all about big transactions, such as those between investment firms and major banks. These transactions often require financial middlemen, can take days to process, and can also be quite expensive. Stellar can facilitate the transactions in an instant with little cost, working across geographical borders and between different currencies with speed and ease. While it's designed for big transactions, anyone can use Stellar.
Tether debuted as one of the first "stablecoins," backed by a reserve asset held by a central bank to help keep the cryptocurrency's price stable. Tether seeks to avoid the dramatic price fluctuations we sometimes see with other digital currencies. Tied to the price of the US dollar, Tether offers ease and expediency in transferring various cryptocurrencies to US dollars.
Created by a co-founder of Ethereum, Polkadot distinguishes itself with the use of parachains, multiple blockchain databases running in parallel. This tech gives it an advantage over Bitcoin, which only has a single blockchain, allowing users to make faster transactions across multiple chains—analogous to a computer having multiple processors over a single one.
NEM's XEM token is one of the most popular digital tokens around, soaring in value in 2020. An impressive feat considering that the cryptocurrency has only been around since 2015. A big part of their success lies in NEM's high customization and their Smart Asset System, used by businesses to simplify and streamline things like payments and logistics.
Tron has both benefitted and been harmed by the shenanigans of its founder Justin Sun, the Chinese millionaire known for his brash self-promotion and larger-than-life persona. He's largely responsible for the currency's rollercoaster ride, soaring and falling in value in a matter of months. In 2020, Sun put Tron on the watch list with his purchase of the well-known peer-to-peer file-sharing system BitTorrent.
The best cryptocurrency to buy remains up for debate, with an ever-shifting landscape of digital currencies. But if you keep your eyes peeled on trends and the market, your crypto wallet should be happy.
Written by William McCleary for Knockaround.