2017 has been rightly called “The Year of Cryptocurrencies”. Satoshi Nakamoto launched the first digital currency, Bitcoin, in 2008 and since then, there have been over 1,100 cryptocurrencies with a staggering total market capitalization of about $150 billion. It is no longer a question of whether or not these cryptocurrencies would survive; but now it is to what extent have they evolved and how far have they been adopted.
Though digital currency is banned in some countries and even some companies would not trade with it, yet its phenomenal growth and mass adoption by some Fortune 500 companies such as Tesla, Microsoft, Shopify and Virgin Galactic has strengthened its position in our today’s fiscal world.
PwC in one of its reports had referred to cryptocurrencies as one of the “greatest technological breakthroughs since the Internet.” In this article, I shall be discussing the top 10 cryptocurrencies in 2017 as I give you a closer insight into the major players of our cashless era.
Bitcoin is the first digital currency. Since its launch in 2008, Bitcoin has grown to become the most popular, most recognized and most widely accepted digital currency as it has been used in countless real-time business transactions.
It has a total market cap of around $80 billion (hey that’s more than half of the total market cap for all the cryptocurrencies in the world!). One Bitcoin, until just recently, was valued at over $4,800 making Bitcoin the most costly cryptocurrency in the world. On October 13, 2017 the value of one Bitcoin rose to an all-time high of $5,856.10!
Some of the advantages Bitcoin has over other cryptocurrencies are:
- It has more merchants and several exchangers making it readily accessible
- Bitcoin is more liquid than any other digital currency
- It is far more secure than any other cryptocurrency or alternative coins (altcoins)
Note: Bitcoin is different from Bitcoin Cash. Bitcoin Cash broke away from Bitcoin and is now a different digital currency in itself. As at the time of writing this, Bitcoin Cash had a markert cap of about $5.5 billion and one Bitcoin Cash is valued at about $330.
Mooted around the end of 2013, it offers an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) which executes scripts with the aid of an international network of public nodes. One Ethereum is valued at $300 and has a market cap of over $29 billion. The Blockchain supported Ethereum Wallet allows holders to securely hold Ether and any other cryptocurrency that are supported by Ethereum. You can also write, execute and deploy smart contracts. News broke early this year that Ethereum is partnering with about 30 banks and several Fortune 500 companies like Microsoft, Intel, J.P Morgan Chase to develop business-compliant versions of the software.
Ripple is a Google-backed alternative coin startup company. Ripple began as a small startup but has over time gathered traction in the digital currency space and its value has grown tremendously. In March this year, its value rose by 100% within 24 hours!
According to their official website “Ripple provides global financial settlement solutions to enable the world to exchange value like it already exchanges information giving rise to an Internet of Value (IoV). Ripple solutions lower the total cost of settlement by enabling banks to transact directly, instantly and with certainty of settlement”.
Litecoin is a creation of Charles Lee, an ex Google engineer. It was aimed at improving Bitcoin’s speed of creating new blocks. On Litecoins, transactions are way faster. However, this speed of transaction has made Litecoins Blockchain unduly larger and it is more prone to creating orphaned blocks.
The name “Dash,” was coined from two words, which are “digital” and cash”. The main advantage Dash has as a cryptocurrency is that transactions occur at lightning speed. Unlike transactions on Bitcoin that can take up to one hour to process. Dash understands your time is priceless. Their transactions can be confirmed within a second.
Unlike Bitcoin that is open-source, NEM is Java based. A few other differences set it apart from Bitcoin. In NEM, you harvest unlike Bitcoin where you mine. While harvesting and mining may be essentially the same thing, in NEM several people profit although it is in small chunks, from each block generated. They were the first to introduce the use of proof-of-importance algorithm in digital ledger. Here the owner’s wealth and the number of transactions serve as timestamp for transactions. NEM has been in use in Japan since early 2017.
Monero is ideal for people who prefer to be anonymous. This digital currency allows you to make payments and receive payments without the transactions been visible on Blockchain. So with Monero, transactions are totally untraceable due to its use of ring signatures. Sadly, its anonymity makes it very attractive to criminals.
This cryptocurrency also affords its users greater privacy. The difference between it and Monero is that in Zcash, the transactions are shielded instead of been completely private as in Monero. This is achieved by deploying “zero knowledge” proof, which allows parties to carry out transactions without exposing one another’s identity.
PIVX simply means Private Instant Verified Transactions. Like Bitcoin, it is an open-source platform. Like Monero and Zcash, it has greater security and privacy features. PIVX as a cryptocurrency is extremely volatile, witnessing huge spikes in its trading volume. Due to its heightened privacy, criminals find it very alluring.
10. Ethereum Classic
Ethereum Classic is a different Ethereum platform and has a decent user-ship. But why is it a different Ethereum cryptocurrency? Most Ethereum users felt Ethereum’s code should be changed so they could recover funds in the case of theft. A minority of the users were rather of the opinion that Ethereum’s code should not be altered or tampered with by third parties. Ethereum Classic was created to serve the needs and interests of these minority users. Ethereum Classic has a market cap of about $430 million.
In conclusion, these cryptocurrencies permit per-to-peer transactions without a monitoring third party. Some of these digital currencies are focusing on sped of transactions while others are addressing privacy issues. The fate of these crytpocurrencies is unpredictable and extremely volatile.