Although there are technically over 1000 cryptocurrencies, only a handful are relevant. Of those, even less have a market cap above $1 million. Below is a list of cryptocurrencies and additional resources you can use to learn more about the different cryptocurrency types.
TIP: Here in 2017 things have really changed, and this is something to note as it speaks to the volatility of the cryptocurrency market. Where Bitcoin grew and Ethereum broke out, some of the other coins on the list have been outpaced by new currencies. There is endless opportunity here, but also lots of risk. For the recent figures, check out CoinMarketCap.com.
List of Top Cryptocurrencies (as of June 2015)
To start this page off, let’s first take a look at the top 10 or so cryptocurrencies. This list was created by us (cryptocurrencyfacts.com) and is based on familiarity, market cap (total coins that will ever be produced times current value), the ease with which a coin can be traded for fiat currency like the US dollar, and the coins potential to survive trends. In other words, these are the coins that we think are the most valid to invest in and explore for new coin users (not simply the coins with the highest market cap, value, or most relevance alone).
The most relevant cryptocurrencies are:
- Bitcoin: Bitcoin is an easy pick. It was the first cryptocurrency, it has the highest market cap, it’s coins are worth the most (about $225 USD as of June 2015), it’s the most familiar and invested-in coin, it’s a lot of things… primarily Bitcoin is the reason anyone is talking about cryptocurrency in the first place. You might not want to start a CPU-based Bitcoin mining company in 2015 or start buying coins for $225 a pop… but it’s still going to take 1st place on our list.
- Litecoin: Litecoin is probably the second most important digital coin. It has the third-highest market cap as of June 2015, CPU mining is still sort of possible, people know what a Litecoin is, it uses essentially the same technology of Bitcoin, and it is worth about 1/100th of what a Bitcoin is on a good day. Really, a Litecoin is a lot like a Bitcoin before the whole ‘Silk Road‘ controversy, or as some people would say “a Litecoin is like a Bitcoin except with the value a reasonable person would expect a digital coin to have in a rational market… ie between $1 – $10 USD.”.
- Dogecoin: Dogecoin (like the “Doge” internet meme about a dog and misspelling) has the 7th highest Market cap as of June 2015, individual coins aren’t worth as much as other coins on the list (about $0.001 on the dollar on a good day as of June 2015) but it’s value and popularity have remained steady. Dogecoin essentially uses the same technology as Bitcoin (with a few important technical distinctions to be fair). Like the failed Coinye West, Dogecoin was just in it for the lolz (ie it was created as a joke), but unlike Coinye, Dogecoin became inexplicably popular. Why do we suggest a joke coin? Because it’s a popular coin and today the only funny part about it is the name (and it’s mascot / backstory). Really, it’s a lot like Litecoin — a fairly priced coin with some consumer confidence as of 2015. Dogecoin has turned their comedic origins into an excuse to make their coin “fun and friendly”, which was a smart long-term move. It’s also one of the only major cryptocurrencies with a .com Top-Level Domain name and is one of the few that attempts to reach an audience outside of techies and cryptography nerds.
- Namecoin: Ok really, really, Namecoin is almost exactly the same is Bitcoin. It was the first “fork” of the Bitcoin software (ie. it’s based on Bitcoin and has the same unit cap, but has a few tweaks as to how data is stored). Namecoin was originally just going to be an upgrade to Bitcoin, but people were nervous that it would pose issues. So Namecoin is basically Bitcoin, but like everything not-Bitcoin is worth just a fraction of Bitcoin. It’s solid background and reasonable price point (about $0.40 on the dollar as of June 2015) make it a relatively good coin to invest in.
- Darkcoin (Dash): Darkcoin, known as Dash as of March 25, 2015 (dash=digital cash) but previously known as XCoin, is the most unique (functionality-wise) of the coins we have discussed so far. XCoin was developed by Evan Duffield who wanted to improve on Bitcoin but didn’t have the pull to do so and thus developed his own coin. Essentially, it uses less power to mine Dash than most coins. Using less energy to mine is important because mining coins is one of the most wasteful processes you can imagine. The wasteful mining process key to security and stability of all coins that use a “proof-of-work” system (it prevents people from mining too fast), but environmentally, it’s kind of a nightmare. Anyway, people know what a Darkcoin is… hopefully this familiarity rolls over to Dash. Currently Dash can be exchanged for about $2.50 – $3.00 making it one of the more valuable coins in circulation.
- Nxt: Not only does this nifty coin sport the name of Steve Job’s other company (ish), it actually uses a really cool and totally different algorithm for producing coins. This algorithm – an implementation of a proof-of-stake scheme rather than proof-of-work – is arguably less burdensome on the environment and has long-term potential. It may be worth a tad less than the other coins we recommend being worth about a penny on the dollar on a good day, but less cost per coin means you have less to lose if the coin value deflates.
- Peercoin: Like Nxt, Peercoin (abbreviated PPC) uses a proof-of-stake system; in fact, it was the first proof-of-stake coin. It’s worth about $0.40 on the USD and has a market cap of almost ten million. This coin has everything going for it and is a fairly smart bet as far as cryptocurrency goes. As an added bonus to confidence and quality behind the coin Peercoin was developed by Sunny King. Sunny King is maybe-ish the guy who created Bitcoin, or this other coin, or maybe Bruce Wayne or Clark Kent or something… It’s hard to tell as the culture of cryptocurrency puts importance on peer-to-peer, code, and coin over developers. Still he is important and like-it-or-not little things like this could be the deciding factor between a coin sinking or swimming in the new market.
Other honorable mentions: Ripple, BitShares, BanxShares, MaidSafeCoin, Stellar, Monero, ByteCoin,and a few others all have decent values, familiarity, and respectable market caps. Some even have better exchange rates currently then our top picks for coins. So, make sure not to dismiss the other forerunners. We could easily see one of these coins or a new coin spring up to the top of the list at any moment. The cryptocurrency market is young and volatile if you haven’t caught on to that already.
Note: In most cases, you’ll have a hard time trading anything other than Bitcoin for actual money. You can trade most coins at online cryptocurrency exchanges and you can use some coins to buy certain things online. Just because a coin has a value in USD doesn’t mean that anyone is going to give you USD or pay that rate for your coins. This is more like selling stocks or trading one baseball card for another then actually having money on hand. So, keep that and the volatility of the markets and coins in mind when investing.
Further Comparison of Relevant Cryptocurrencies
The list below is from Wikipedia from December 2014 and mirrors a lot of what we have to say above. In true wikipedia fashion, it does things like list both Bitcoin and Bitcoin Testnet 1 and 3. Note that we didn’t create the list. So, to the bottom of the page you go!
For those who want to dig deeper into the never-ending list of coins that are being created to capitalize on trends and sometimes improve the world of cryptocurrency, you can check out two of the most complete lists on the internet at coinmarketcap.com and cryptocoincharts.info.
|Coin||Ticker||Launched||Consensus tool||Distribution||Market cap||Unit cap||Status||Notes|
|Bitcoin||BTC||3 Jan 2009||SHA256d||Proof-of-work (fixed, halving)||$6.34 billion||20,999,999.9769||Active||First blockchain|
|Bitcoin Testnet 1||TNBTC||21 Oct 2010||SHA256d||Proof-of-work (fixed, halving)||None||20,999,999.9769||Abandoned||First altcoin|
|Tonal Bitcoin||TBC||2 Jan 2011||Pegged to Bitcoin||7,750,54.00||Active||First on-chain alternative|
|Ripple||XRP||1 Mar 2011||Ripple||Central||$139 million||28,989,252,282||Active|
|Namecoin||NMC||18 Apr 2011||SHA256d – merged mined with Bitcoin||Proof-of-work (fixed, halving)||$11.14 million||20,999,999.9769||Active||First alternative chain, bitDNS|
|Tenebrix||TBX||25 Sep 2011||scrypt||Central, Proof-of-work (fixed, halving)||None||10,499,999.9769||Dead||First scrypt coin|
|Litecoin||LTC||7 Oct 2011||scrypt||Proof-of-work (fixed, halving)||$154 million||83,999,949.9076||Active||TBX clone|
|Bitcoin Testnet 3||TNBTC||12 Apr 2012||SHA256d||Proof-of-work (fixed, halving)||None||20,999,999.9769||Active||Current Bitcoin testnet|
|Bytecoin||BCN||4 Jul 2012||CryptoNight||Proof-of-work (random, smooth)||$2.73 million||184.46 billion||Active||First CryptoNote coin|
|Peercoin||PPC||19 Aug 2012||Central authoriy||Proof-of-work/stake||$15.5 million||Unlimited||Active|
|Freicoin||FRC||21 Dec 2012||SHA256d||Proof-of-work||$84 thousand||?||Active||First demurrage cryptocurrency|
|Feathercoin||FTC||16 Apr 2013||scrypt||Proof-of-work (fixed, halving)||$1.15 million||?||Active||LTC hardfork|
|Primecoin||XPM||7 Jul 2013||Cunningham||Proof-of-work||$1.2 million||Unlimited||Active||First “useful proof-of-work” altcoin|
|BitSharesX||BTSX||29 Sep 2013||Consensus through obscurity||?||$66.5 million||1,999,992,536||Active|
|Nxt||NXT||29 Sep 2013||Consensus through obscurity||Central||$29.0 million||999,997,096||Active|
|Dogecoin||DOGE||6 Dec 2013||scrypt||Proof-of-work (random)||$12.7 million||Unlimited||Active||Was joke, became huge|
|Darkcoin||DRK||19 Jan 2014||Combo11||Proof-of-work (fixed, curve)||$12.5 million||18.4 million (estimate)||Active|
|HunterCoin||HUC||1 Feb 2014||SHA256d and/or scrypt||Game rewards, Proof-of-work||$47 thousand||42,000,000||Active||First blockchain-based game|
|Monero||XMR||18 Apr 2014||CryptoNight||Proof-of-work (random, smooth)||$6.27 million||~18,400,000 then <1% inflation||Active|
|MaidSafeCoin||MAID||22 Apr 2014||Bitcoin||Central||$8.54 million||452,552,412||Active|