Although Bitcoin still has the lead when it comes to market capitalization, in recent years more and more cryptocurrencies have been earning their own spot in the market spotlight. Part of their growth is owed to the revamped interest in investing in cryptocurrencies but a small part is likewise owed to the ever-expanding application of these “altcoins” which has also found its way in some key Bitcoin casinos.
Whether you’re interested in diversifying your investment portfolio or are exploring other digital coins you can use to pay for services online, the following altcoins might be just the thing you need.
Ethereum (ETH), or Ether as it’s also known, is one of the fastest growing cryptocurrencies in terms of price and market capitalization. Unlike Bitcoin, which was designed and intended to be used as a cryptocurrency, the Ethereum project was actually built to be a blockchain-based decentralized network for running Smart Contracts, DAapps, and more.
The Ethereum platform basically allows users to design and run Smart Contracts without any downtime or control from a third-party. To run an app or a Smart Contract, a user needs the Ether token which is a so-called “fuel” for decentralizing, securing, and trading any app on the platform. The Ether token has a maximum supply limit of 18 million and was initially traded at around $1 per ETH. After reaching a high of $20, the Ether token started growing rapidly in value since March 2017 and hit a price range of $700 near the end of the year, coming close to $1,400 by the following January. Ethereum also has the second largest market capitalization of around $96 billion, right after Bitcoin.
Litecoin (LTC) was one of the first alternative cryptocurrencies to appear after Bitcoin in 2011. The idea behind Litecoin was to create an improved digital currency that solves some of Bitcoin’s innate problems. The main improvements offered by Litecoin is that it has a 4x higher limit than Bitcoin on the maximum number of issued coins (84 million) as well as faster transactions, among other things.
Litecoin was launched by a former Google engineer called Charlie Lee and was built to uses “scrypts” as proof-of-work. Its acceptance is growing in the online world but its growth in terms of value has been slower than Ethereum. Its biggest market capitalization and price point were hit by the end of 2017 when the market cap reached over $18 billion and Litecoin’s price grew over $300 per coin.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is one of the most popular alternatives to Bitcoin that is increasingly becoming accepted by Bitcoin casinos as well. The cryptocurrency is an offshoot of the original Bitcoin that uses a different network and blockchain. It was created as a solution to the much-heated scalability debate between Bitcoin developers on the best way to improve the size of Bitcoin’s blocks.
After implementing the SegWit soft fork in July, a new solution was executed on August 1st, 2017, which created a hard fork that split the blockchain and gave birth to Bitcoin Cash. Like Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash has the same maximum supply limit of 21 million coins. However, with an adjustable blocksize limit of 8MB (as opposed to the 1MB of Bitcoin), it can offer lower fees and faster transactions than the original coin.
Because it was split from Bitcoin’s blockchain, anyone who held Bitcoin prior to the split received a mirrored wallet of Bitcoin Cash. Since its creation, the price of Bitcoin Cash jumped from $450 to be over $3,000 by the end of 2017. It is now the 4th cryptocurrency according to market capitalization ($27.5 billion).
Ripple (XRP) is another popular cryptocurrency that was devised as a global settlements network that aimed to allow instant, secure, and almost free transactions across the globe without any chargeback. The cryptocurrency is what fuels the Ripple payment system which allows for very fast cross-border transactions that reportedly take only 4 seconds to complete. For comparison, transacting with Bitcoin could take around 1 hour or more, while Ethereum’s speed is much shorter, although not as short as with Ripple. Another difference between Ripple and Bitcoin is that Ripple isn’t mined and that its blockchain is actually “centralized” and controlled by the network, which is why some users consider Ripple not to be a real cryptocurrency.
Ripple has a maximum supply limit of 100 billion coins. Its price has always remained much more stable than Bitcoin since its inception, being well below $0.01 for most of its run before jumping over $3 at the start of 2018. The market capitalization of Ripple is just behind Ethereum and at one time even hit a peak of over $140 billion.
Monero is a cryptocurrency released to provide private and anonymous transactions online. But unlike a large number of cryptocurrencies, Monero is not a Bitcoin clone that was based on its code but a cryptocurrency that uses an original code derived from the Cryptonote coin. It was first launched in the spring of 2014 but it didn’t’ take long before it drew large interest from the crypto-community.
Monero’s development is entirely driven by its community and funded by donations. The main advantage of the cryptocurrency is that it provides completely private transactions. The way Monero achieves this is by using its own “ring signature” technology, which shuffles valid public keys during transactions to disable anyone from identifying a particular user’s wallet.
The Monero cryptocurrency has a more limited supply than Bitcoin, or $18.4 million. But thanks to its growing use, the price of a single coin grew from being less than a dollar in 2014 to over $12 in 2016 while the 2017 cryptocurrency boom helped it grow even beyond $400. At its peak, Monero hit a market cap of $6.3 billion.