Introduction: What Is An Altcoin?
Over the past few years, various cryptocurrencies or virtual currencies have been playing a significant role in the global economy. As a result, terms like Bitcoin, altcoin, ICO, etc are becoming reasonably familiar to many investors nowadays. When you start a discussion about these innovative digital currencies, the name of Bitcoin cannot be ignored as it is the first ever cryptocurrency that came into the market in 2009, so now you may wonder yourself: what is an altcoin? Altcoins are basically all other cryptocurrencies that are available in the market apart from Bitcoin. As per its semantics, the term altcoin came from “alternative coin” as in an alternative to Bitcoin.
Now, there are nearly eighteen hundred altcoins available in the entire cryptocurrency market. Ethereum was the first alternative cryptocurrency that was designed to make some improvements over Bitcoin. After that, currencies like Litecoin, Ripple, Monero, etc gradually came into the market. Nowadays, some investors tend to indicate cryptocurrencies with lower market capitalisation as altcoins.
Most Popular Altcoins
Here, a few of the most popular and efficient altcoins are discussed below:
- Ether (ETH): Ether is the designated cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain technology. It is basically an open-source distributed ledger platform that allows its users to create Dapps (Decentralised Applications) along with smart contracts. Unlike Bitcoin, ether is not used for international remittances or purchasing. The main purpose of this currency is to strengthen the Ethereum blockchain. With a market cap over $80 billion, ether is now the second most popular cryptocurrency, right after Bitcoin.
- Ripple (XRP): It is the native cryptocurrency of the RippleNet Payment Network that allows various financial institutions to make lightning-fast domestic and international transaction at a very low price. Among all other altcoins, Ripple is one of the most stable cryptocurrencies. Ripple’s efficiency has brought a considerable number of financial institutions. Currently, it has a market cap of nearly $30 billion.
- Litecoin (LTC): Litecoin, one of the first altcoins that came into the market, is known for its incredible transaction speed. Unlike Bitcoin’s SHA-256 hashing algorithm, Litecoin is based on the Scrypt algorithm. This cryptocurrency has currently a market cap of circa 8 billion USD. After the popular cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase offered support to this coin, the price of this cryptocurrency has experienced a significant upsurge.
- Cardano (ADA): Cardano is one of the latest altcoins available in the market. Cardano project started as an initial coin offering in September 2015. It finally transformed into a legitimate cryptocurrency in 2017. Now, Cardano holds a market cap of nearly 9 billion dollars.
- Bitcoin Cash (BCH): Bitcoin Cash is a hardfork of Bitcoin that entered the cryptocurrency market on the 1st of August, 2017. This cryptocurrency is basically an upgraded version of Bitcoin that implements SegWit Scaling Solution. With an approximate market cap of nearly 17 billion USD, Bitcoin Cash is making inroads in the cryptocurrency market.
Besides these five altcoins, cryptocurrencies like NEO, Stellar, EOS, NEM, etc have also become acceptable to several investors and can be found and traded in the most popular exchanges. Although Bitcoin still holds a gargantuan market cap compared to others, these altcoins also play a huge part in bolstering the cryptocurrency market. Now that you know what is an altcoin, we recommend you to read about what is an ICO (initial coin offering).