Since the creation of Bitcoin, the concept of a digital currency (cryptocurrency) has taken root around the world. It is slowly being accepted not just by merchants, but by many countries in that they are creating regulations for it. Bitcoin is still the most popular cryptocurrency, but there are alternatives (or altcoins) that are gaining attention. In the crypto space, there are over 1,600 cryptocurrencies in use. There are many entrepreneurs that want to be part of this currency “revolution” by creating their own coins as well as minting them. It is important to note that cryptocurrencies are decentralized, meaning they are not controlled by a government (e.g. U.S. Dollar). Also, their value is volatile for a number of reasons, such as a small market, price is set by supply and demand, and the blockchain technology is new. Yet, it is an exciting time to invest in and use cryptocurrencies, and there is more variety in terms of coins. Let’s take a look at the top three alternatives to Bitcoin.
- Ripple – It has a dual function of being a cryptocurrency (XRP) and a platform. The platform is an open-source protocol, which makes international transactions are faster and cheaper. In fact, the transaction fee is $0.00001. The reason for the incredibly low fee is to prevent DDos attacks. For convenience, people can make payments in any currency (e.g. Bitcoin). Ripple has RippleNet, a network of “institutional payment-providers” that enable payments to be made in real time. Also, Ripple uses a consensus ledger (RPCA), which does not utilize the blockchain technology. Verification is done through the nodes, meaning that if all of the nodes are in agreement then the transaction goes through.
- Monero – It’s known as the “private” cryptocurrency. Transactions are untraceable through ring signatures and stealth addresses, which hide transaction details, such as amounts and payment destinations. They cannot be linked to a “real-world user” or to a previous transaction due to the Monero blockchain. Since it is private by default, units cannot be blacklisted by vendors or exchanges. However, Monero is the currency of choice for those on the dark web due to its untraceability.
- Litecoin – Litecoin uses an open-source global payment network (decentralized) for faster transactions and can handle a higher transaction volume than Bitcoin on its blockchain. It uses mathematics to secure the network and gives users more control over their account. Litecoin offers the security of wallet encryption that allows users to view their account balance and transactions, but must provide a password to spend their coins. There is a sanity check before sending payments for added protection. Plus, miners receive a reward of 25 Litecoins per block. Its cap is 84 million, which is four times greater than Bitcoin’s cap.
There many more altcoins, each with their own strengths. I am sure there will be more created on the horizon as cryptocurrency becomes more regulated and more merchants accept them. It will be interesting to see what is purchased with cryptocurrency as it becomes mainstreamed like fiat currencies.