When the cryptocurrency craze really got going in 2017, the buzz was all about bitcoin and how it was going to change the world. However, there are now 5 different cryptocurrencies with market caps of at least $20 billion. Here’s a look at what unique attributes each currency offers and how it is different from the rest.
1. Bitcoin–$245.9 Billion Market Cap
Bitcoin is the OG—the Original Gangster—of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin has the proverbial first-mover advantage. The currency was launched way back in 2009. At the time, it was the first ever decentralized, peer-to-peer digital currency. Hundreds of other currencies have attempted to improve upon bitcoin’s blockchain technology, but it remains the most popular digital currency to date. Bitcoin is the most widely accessible and accepted cryptocurrency, and it has the most physical ATMs of any of its peers.
2. Ethereum–$121.3 Billion Market Cap
Ethereum was created in 2013 using the same blockchain model as bitcoin. Ethereum was tailored for a specific purpose within the business world—smart contracts. While bitcoin was designed as a currency for consumer payments, Ethereum was designed to appeal to corporations, such as big banks, to use in executing smart contracts, computer algorithms that automatically execute deals as soon as specified terms are met in the market. For example, Barclays already uses smart contracts for derivatives trading.
3. Ripple–$76.5 Billion Market Cap
Ripple is best known for its real-time gross settlement system that major global banks have already integrated into their payment systems. Ripple was designed to provide instant liquidity to international banks making payments in different global currencies. In addition to being faster that dealing with multiple currency traders, banks can cut down on costs by making international payments using Ripple instead. Ripple claims it can process up to 1,500 transactions per second at less than half the cost of traditional international currency transactions.
4. Bitcoin Cash–$48.6 Billion Market Cap
Bitcoin Cash is a spinoff of bitcoin that was created back in August 2017 by a fork in the bitcoin blockchain. The fork was a result of a disagreement among bitcoin supporters about the size of each block in the bitcoin blockchain and whether or not limited block size would impair the cryptocurrencies scalability. Since its inception, bitcoin has always had 1 MB block sizes, but Bitcoin Cash now uses 8 MB block sizes.
5. Cardano–$20.2 Billion Market Cap
Cardano is a programmable cryptocurrency specifically developed to handle complex transfers. The currency is the first of its kind to utilize academically peer-reviewed open source code. In other words, the entire project has been created and tested by scientists and researchers working together around the world. Cardano investors are betting that the Cardano blockchain protocol’s intense level of professional scrutiny will make it a superior long-term choice in the global market compared to competing cryptocurrencies.
Market cap numbers are as of the time of this writing
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