Move over, Bitcoin! 5 popular digital currency alternatives to keep an eye on

16 September 2016

Even though Bitcoin is still the most popular online digital currency, it is not the only one. Every year a wide range of novelty altcoins pop up on the market trying to repeat its success and see the same dramatic spike in value. According to BitMakler.com, nowadays there are 697 cryptocurrencies distinguishing themselves from others by their trade volume and liquidity, coin mining process, industry support, and possibilities of use (online shopping, stock exchanges, etc.).

Thanks to the open-source nature of the Bitcoin software protocol, any programmer having some free time or any person having some money to hire a programmer can create their personal spin-off cryptocurrency – even for fun. For example, there is CorgiCoin from developers obsessed with corgis, Coinye (ex-Coinye West) dedicated to well-known rapper Kanye West or Dogecoin taken seriously in the digital currency space despite of its meme-inspired origin.

You can regularly read about the creation of new promising bitcoin-killers that are definitely worth investing in. Here is a list of digital currencies that have found considerable success among market enthusiasts and traders wishing to diversify their cryptoportfolio. Of course, things can rapidly change, but Bitcoin’s success was also unpredictable. Plus, smaller digital currencies are more convenient for everyday transactions, trading and investment.

Litecoin (LTC)

digital currencyLaunch: October 2011 (Charles Lee)

Price: $3.84

Total Supply: 47,554,654 LTC

Created as an early fork of Bitcoin, Litecoin is often described as “the silver to Bitcoin’s gold”. This peer-to-peer open-source and fully decentralized cryptocurrency is based on the same software protocol, but due to a different proof-of-work algorithm it requires much less computing power for effective coin mining and allows using traditional computers. Another advantage of Litecoin is that its transaction confirmation time is about 4 times shorter than Bitcoin’s. Today, there are plenty of things you can do and buy with Litecoin – for example, a customer in California bought a Tesla Model P85 for 5,447 LTC.

Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum Launch: July 2015 (Vitalik Buterin)

Price: $11.97

Total Supply: 83,969,392 ETH

With a rising market value and impressive daily trading volumes, Ethereum has become a new hot trend in the digital currencies world. Even though this network uses the same principle of decentral information distribution as Bitcoin, it adds more complexity at the protocol level and can be used to build and run non-cash applications and services. Ethereum’s platform, also called Blockchain 2.0, can process around 25 transactions per second (compared to Bitcoin’s 3 transactions per second). Many people believe that Ethereum will revolutionize not only the cryptocurrency industry full of Bitcoin clones, but also the app development segment – you can fully trust the software that everybody can check.

Dash (ex-Darkcoin)

ex-DarkcoinLaunch: January 2014 (Evan Duffield)

Price: $12.80

Total Supply: 6,739,184 DASH

Dash, which is short for “digital cash”, is a more secure and anonymous version of Bitcoin that made quite a splash among market enthusiasts when it was launched – around 1.9 million coins were mined in the first 48 hours after its release. Dash uses the X11 hashing algorithm that combines 11 different cryptographic functions, and hackers need to break them all to steal the data. That feature makes Dash more secure than other digital currencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin that use just one algorithm. Dash can be mined using a CPU/GPU or earned for running and maintaining masternodes, special servers acting as a trusted third party. They allow users to send Dash anonymously and avoid unnecessary attention to their e-currency balances.

Namecoin (NMC)

Namecoin Launch: April 2011 (Vinced)

Price: $0.305261

Total Supply: 14,736,400 NMC

Initially designed as an alternative decentralized domain name registry system allowing users to avoid Internet censorship, Namecoin has significantly gained in popularity and value for the last years. Its cryptography is fully based on the bitcoin software code with relatively small changes and it also uses a proof-of-work (POW) scheme to detect service abuses. However, contrary to Bitcoin, Namecoin supports merged mining – you can mine Namecoin and Bitcoin simultaneously. Imagine that you can enter two lotteries with the same ticket to increase your chances of winning, and you will understand why a lot of Bitcoin miners prefer merged mining.

Peercoin (PPC)

Peercoin Launch: August 2012 (Scott Nadal and Sunny King)

Price: $0.309883

Total Supply: 23,494,092 PPC

Also known as PPCoin, Peer-to-Peer Coin and P2P Coin, Peercoin is a P2P digital currency that was the first to use a combination of proof-of-work and proof-of-stake algorithms to verify mined coins. That means that Peercoin can be mined by solving hashes (a proof-of-work scheme) and be generated based on your personal holdings (a proof-of-stake scheme), which makes mining cheaper – it’s like investing your money into a savings account paying you 1% interest per year. Peercoin was the official money at the Trek Con convention, so all visitors could pay for tickets and merchandise with PPC.

Even though Bitcoin still remains the digital currency of choice for conducting a wide range of secure financial transactions online, the world cannot revolve around just one e-currency. There are literally hundreds of clone coins trying to piggyback off of Bitcoin’s success, and the industry competition is becoming fiercer every day. However, no matter which altcoins will survive or disappear, all those new e-currencies will definitely bring something new to the system and address many of the perceived weaknesses. The digital currency environment is sure to evolve, so stay tuned!

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