It’s already over 11 years since bitcoin’s emergence and subsequent dominance. Apart from bitcoin, cryptocurrency markets have witnessed the launch of over 5000 other cryptocurrencies. These coins are regarded as bitcoin alternatives (or alternative coins), hence the term altcoins. The first altcoin is namecoin.
Namecoin was launched in April 2011 with a focus on domain registrations. Other altcoins were swiftly developed after namecoin. The build of most of these altcoins is very similar to bitcoin but with growth, unique features of each developed. However, namecoin is not a major altcoin today.
Features of major altcoins
§ Ethereum – Ethereum is a platform, launched in 2015, for building decentralized applications. The unique features are apps and smart contracts. It is the major altcoin, vice coin to bitcoin, both in market cap and unit value. The mother coin on Ethereum platform, ether, is valuable and highly sought-after by people seeking to build and run apps on the network and investors seeking to trade the coin. The current unit price is $242.91
§ Ripple (XRP) – Ripple was introduced in 2012 and has revolutionized payments to an appreciable extent. It features instant and transparent payments with low costs over very far distances. Another unique feature is that all ripple coins were pre-mined before launch. The network doesn’t require or allow mining. It basically works by controlling the removal and provision of the coin throughout the platform.
§ Litecoin– Litecoin is one of the earliest cryptocurrencies modelled after bitcoin. It was launched in 2011 and has a global service payment feature. One feature that differentiates Litecoin from bitcoin is the transactions time. Litecoin transactions are faster than bitcoin. Litecoin is currently valued at $ 46.16 per unit.
§ Bitcoin cash (BCH) – Bitcoin cash is regarded as the most successful hard fork of bitcoin. Hard fork is a term given to coins that arise from arguments between developers and miners of a parent coin. In the case of bitcoin, this hard fork was created to tackle the issues of scalability in bitcoin. It was launched in August, 2017 and it yielded a better scalability than the parent coin. It is currently worth $ 252.72
Bitcoin cash also produced a hard fork known as Bitcoin SV (BSV), with the SV as Satoshi Vision. Bitcoin BSV was developed in 2018. Key expectations are increased stability, scalability, security and instant transaction processing.
§ Tether (USDT) – Tether belongs to a group of cryptocurrencies regarded as stable coins. The key feature is minimizing volatility by linking value to an external influence or currency. This is expected to reduce price fluctuations and attract more users.
§ EOS – This is one of the most recent (2018) coins built after Ethereum. It is also great for building decentralized applications. It recorded one of the most rewarding Initial coin offerings pegged at $ 4bn. Like the ripple network, it also lacks any mining mechanism.
§ Binance Coin (BNB) – The last but not the least is BNB. Binance coin was developed by Binance, arguably the largest cryptocurrency exchange currently. The coin is used in many transactions within and outside of the platform. It currently trades for $ 17.32, higher than many altcoins on this list.
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