Bitcoin is the king of cryptocurrencies, but it’s not alone. There are hundreds of other cryptocurrencies which want to attract the same fame and interest towards themselves. Many of these Bitcoin alternatives claim they are better. Some of them really do offer better technical solutions and have solved some of Bitcoin’s main issues.
Despite that so far none of these alternatives has even come close to the popularity and financial power of Bitcoin. Part of the reason is that many financial institutions have started to support Bitcoin as an investment and Bitcoin also has the advantage of being the first cryptocurrency and all the other ones are compared to it.
As we mentioned, there are hundreds of alternatives which one of them are more important depends on who is making the given chart. Very often various invertor interests are trying to position specific cryptos as “the new Bitcoin” hoping they will make bank on their initial investments.
Still, there are some cryptocurrencies which thanks to time (or the right support) have become relatively popular alternatives to Bitcoin. None of them has the same support, interest towards it and prices, but they are among the most often mentioned. And after Elon Musk claimed that Bitcoin’s main issue is the high rate of pollution which it generates, the attention of the industry quickly changed towards “green” cryptocurrencies which may become the next big thing. Let us explore some of the most popular Bitcoin alternatives.
This is the second most popular and used cryptocurrency. Like Bitcoin, Ethereum has an infrastructure which is open-sourced, and it is maintained by the users. The platform is decentralized and made with the goal to be used for smart contracts and other blockchain applications and this to bring value and higher price. It enjoys the support of many IT companies and financial institutions. The actual cryptocurrency is Ether, but the name of the platform is more popular.
In 2021 Ethereum prepares some big changes to its main modus operandi. It’s expected that this will increase the trust in the platform, and it will improve security while lowering the energy consumption significantly.
For years Ethereum is also the second most expensive cryptocurrency. Despite that, its price has always been very far below compared to the price of Bitcoin. This is somewhat of a benefit as it is more often used for payments because it is more accessible and predictable.
For a long time Litecoin was the second most popular cryptocurrency after Bitcoin and it is also among the first ones. Ethereum though pushed it off the second position and as time went by, the other crypto alternatives cast a shadow on it. Despite that Litecoin still exists and has loyal followers.
The main principle of Litecoin is familiar – decentralized payment system which is built with open source code. The transaction processing is common to that of Bitcoin but better optimized. Therefore, Litecoin’s platform works faster and generates more blocks for the blockchain and it confirms the transactions in less time. This is the reason why for quite some time Litecoin was hailed as the future of crypto and that it is going to overtake Bitcoin.
However, this did not happen. Instead Litecoin remained in the back seat. It still has a market cap of more than $10 billion and it is always in the top 10 of most expensive and popular cryptocurrencies. Despite that it does not seem likely that it will ever come close again to that first spot unless it does not get some significant support from prominent figures from the industry.
This cryptocurrency is also known with the name XLM. It is also open-sourced blockchain but created with a specific goal in mind – to be used for enterprise solutions for big transactions. The idea is to be used by financial institutions to simplify the processing of big transactions and accelerate the transfers. This way, instead of the money transfer to be expensive and to take several days, it can happen within minutes, even seconds, with near zero costs.
Despite its enterprise notion, the Stellar blockchain is open and can be used by anyone. The goal is to motivate international transfers and to make them simpler and cheaper. For this reason, Stellar has its own cryptocurrency Lumens (XLM) which uses this function.
Stellar has also been around for some time. This year though it enjoys a rise in its popularity. The fact that it also uses energy efficient methods to process the transfers also has its positive effect for that success, especially since the market is shifting towards greener crypto.
Dogecoin is based on the popular meme with the dog Doge. It was created in 2013 to poke fun at the huge for those times jump in the price of Bitcoin and the crypocraze. For some time Dogecoin was simply a joke. It had its fans and a market cap of a few hundred million dollars even with its low price which was a fraction of a cent.
In 2021 though Dogecoin became a hit after Elon Musk stated his public support for this cryptocurrency. The market cap shot up to over $50 billion and Dogecoin went into the top 5 most valuable cryptocurrencies. This showed off Musk’s huge influence which has provoked quite a bit of negative reactions towards him. He was accused of using his popularity to support or rattle cryptocurrencies in accordance with his interest and investments in them. Even if this is the case, cryptocurrencies are not a very well-regulated market (and in some countries they are not regulated at all) and there is not a real law breaking.
The technology Dogecoin uses is standard for cryptocurrencies – it is decentralized, with its own blockchain which is very similar to the one of Litecoin. It also offers the ability to “lock” coins until the transfer has been verified. It is also compatible with other blockchains, including Ethereum. Despite it being created as a joke, Dogecoin has a solid technical ground and its popularity also results in a bump in interest for Ethereum.
For a while Ripple, also known as XRP, was hailed as the next big thing in crypto. Ripple is the name of the company which has created and is operating the cryptocurrency XRP, but both names are used for the same thing. The goal of XRP is to offer better security for the investments and that the users feel at ease about their funds.
All Ripple coins are already issued and there is no need to mine as there is with Bitcoin. Thanks to this, there is no competition and no foul play and Ripple’s blockchain is not open. Access is granted only to trusted companies, mostly financial institutions, and banks.
Ripple’s idea was that XRP should not be regarded as an investment, as it happened with Bitcoin, but to be a cryptocurrency for safe and trusted, fast payments. After the initial interest, things cooled off. The price has lowered and despite it still being in the top 10, it trades for cents, far from its glory days.
The idea of Ripple was that XRP is not an investment asset, as it has happened with Bitcoin, but to be a cryptocurrency for trusted and fast payments. After the initial interest, however, things calmed down. Its price started decreasing and although it is still in the top 10, it is trading in cents and is far from its glory.
One of the popular benefits of cryptocurrencies is that they are “untraceable”, and no one can see who is behind a given crypto wallet. This is half true, but everything is possible, even if it is difficult. Monero was created with the promise that it is the safest and truly untraceable cryptocurrency which achieves this by not sharing the online address of the users with the public blockchain.
Thanks to this, tracing the transfers is considered practically impossible. You can only see how much coins were transferred but not from and to whom and people can also “mine” Monero, which makes it attractive to crypto miners with specialized hardware which is no longer managing to cope with the big competition for Bitcoins. As you can expect, thanks to all this Monero’s prices rise at a steady rate.
The impossible tracking (whether this will always be the case is another story) has its negative side. Monero quickly became hacker’s favorite cryptocurrency and they often want payments from their ransomware victims in the form of Monero coins. This has changed after Bitcoin prices started rising again, but Monero is still liked by hackers.
Polkadot is created by one of Ethereum’s cofounders. He wanted to try a different approach and use not one, but multiple blockchains. Instead of mining coins, which creates lots of emissions and uses a lot of energy, Polkadot relies on the fact that users simply buy already issued coins and the blockchain guarantees they own them.
The decentralized Polkadot claims it is safer and future-proof. Thanks to the different chains, it can be used for all types of transfers, not just tokens. The creation of the so-called parachains allows for the easy connection of different assets. When one parachain is no longer needed, the removal of the bonded tokens also removes the chain and “cleans” it from the platform.
Polkadot enjoys quite the interest considering its age (it was launched in October 2017). It began with a crowdfunding campaign and today it’s in the top 10 of cryptocurrencies and among those who net a rise in prices.
This is a cryptocurrency designed from the beginning to be environmentally friendly. It also does not offer “mining” or other forms of generating coins. The blockchain and the entire workflow is also as optimized and as light as possible. The goal is to be a sustainable cryptocurrency which is to be used not only for investments, but also for payments.
Nano tries to attract users with instant transfers with no waiting times and no fees for the transfers. Nano’s network is open and can be used for the building of other solutions. Anyone can join with their own node.
For a while Nano remained in the shadows, but after Musk and Tesla stated their interest towards eco-coins, you can guess what happened. Nano became an attractive investment which price jumper quickly.
Another cryptocurrency which is created by the Ethereum co-founder. Similar to Ethereum, Cardano’s platform and cryptocurrency has a different name – ADA. There is no mining. Instead users review and verify transactions and follow a consensus model where said coins belong to a given profile. As a reward, the reviewers receive ADA.
Cardano is built after plenty of research and experiments to find the optimal balance and to be as optimized as possible. Its creators claim Cardano uses significantly less energy than Bitcoin. They want Cardano to be a “financial operating system” and its decentralized blockchain to be used for various goals.
In 2021 Cardano is among the popular cryptocurrencies. One of the reasons is again Musk and his desire to popularize energy efficient digital assets.
Bitcoin’s glory came at an expected price. From time to time there are updates that has to be done to the Bitcoin blockchain or protocols. Often, they are met with defiance from some of Bitcoins fans. When the number of displeased participants is bigger, this leads to the creation of Bitcoin alternatives which aim to keep the older tech or even to a split, also known as a fork.
This is how Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin Gold were created. Their history is similar. After the initial spike in interest, eventually things calm down and the attention goes back to the main Bitcoin. It offers all the updates, but that is not important for investors.
What matters to them is which cryptocurrency will have the higher price and better perspectives. This always seems to be Bitcoin while the other alternatives are simply seen as another way of cheaper investments.
If the topic of cryptocurrencies is your favorite, you can continue reading: