Bitcoin has not just been a trendsetter, ushering in a wave of cryptocurrencies built on a decentralized peer-to-peer network, it’s become the de facto standard for cryptocurrencies, inspiring an ever-growing legion of followers and spinoffs.
What Are Cryptocurrencies?
The “crypto” in cryptocurrencies refers to complicated cryptography which allows for the creation and processing of digital currencies and their transactions across decentralized systems. Alongside this important “crypto” feature of these currencies is a common commitment to decentralization; cryptocurrencies are typically developed as code by teams who build in mechanisms for issuance (often, although not always, through a process called “mining”) and other controls.
10. Monero (XMR)
Monero is a secure, private, and untraceable currency. This open-source cryptocurrency was launched in April 2014 and soon garnered great interest among the cryptography community and enthusiasts.
9. Tether (USDT)
Tether was one of the first and most popular of a group of so-called stablecoins, cryptocurrencies that aim to peg their market value to a currency or other external reference point in order to reduce volatility.
Launched in 2014, Tether describes itself as “a blockchain-enabled platform designed to facilitate the use of fiat currencies in a digital manner.” Effectively, this cryptocurrency allows individuals to utilize a blockchain network and related technologies to transact in traditional currencies while minimizing the volatility and complexity often associated with digital currencies. In January of 2021, Tether was the third-largest cryptocurrency by market cap, with a total market cap of $24.4 billion and a per-token value of $1.00.
8. Binance Coin (BNB)
Binance Coin is a utility cryptocurrency that operates as a payment method for the fees associated with trading on the Binance Exchange. Those who use the token as a means of payment for the exchange can trade at a discount.
Binance Coin was initially an ERC-20 token that operated on the Ethereum blockchain. It eventually had its own mainnet launch. The network uses a proof-of-stake consensus model. As of January 2021, Binance has a $6.8 billion market capitalization with one BNB having a value of $44.26.
Chainlink is a decentralized oracle network that bridges the gap between smart contracts, like the ones on Ethereum, and data outside of it.
6. Stellar (XLM)
Stellar is an open blockchain network designed to provide enterprise solutions by connecting financial institutions for the purpose of large transactions.
5. Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) holds an important place in the history of altcoins because it is one of the earliest and most successful hard forks of the original Bitcoin. In the cryptocurrency world, a fork takes place as the result of debates and arguments between developers and miners.
4. Polkadot (DOT)
Polkadot is a unique proof-of-stake cryptocurrency that is aimed at delivering interoperability between other blockchains.
3. Cardano (ADA)
Cardano is an “Ouroboros proof-of-stake” cryptocurrency that was created with a research-based approach by engineers, mathematicians, and cryptography experts.
2. Litecoin (LTC)
Litecoin, launched in 2011, was among the first cryptocurrencies to follow in the footsteps of Bitcoin and has often been referred to as “silver to 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 central authority and uses “scrypt” as a proof of work, which can be decoded with the help of CPUs of consumer-grade.
1. Ethereum (ETH)
The first Bitcoin alternative on our list, Ethereum, is a decentralized software platform that enables Smart Contracts and Decentralized Applications (DApps) to be built and run without any downtime, fraud, control, or interference from a third party.
- A cryptocurrency, broadly defined, is currency that takes the form of tokens or “coins” and exists on a distributed and decentralized ledger.
- Beyond that, the field of cryptocurrencies has expanded dramatically since Bitcoin was launched over a decade ago, and the next great digital token may be released tomorrow.