Top cryptocurrencies – what are the biggest coins on the market?

Bitcoin may be the biggest crypto on the market, but who are the other major players joining the scene?

Top cryptocurrencies                                 
The crypto coin market is packed with more than 6,000 currencies – will bitcoin keep its top spot? Photo: Shutterstock
                                

To say the crypto coin market has taken off since Bitcoin was first launched in 2009 is an understatement. Bitcoin has ushered in the new age of blockchain technology and decentralised digital currencies. Since then, the market has had its ups and downs, so naturally the question on every investor’s mind is which cryptocurrencies are here to stay.

Incredibly there are now more than 6,000 currencies on the cryptocurrency stockmarket, with more being added all the time. Due to the open creation process of a cryptocurrency, it is relatively easy to make one and therefore difficult to differentiate between legitimate, potentially successful coins and others. It is believed that the top 20 cryptocurrencies make up nearly 90% of the total market. Some cryptocurrencies are modelled on the public blockchain-based platform used by Bitcoin, while others use different methods. While many are Bitcoin copycats, some have unique selling points (USPs) that make them attractive to investors.

What are the top cryptocurrencies? We look at some of the most popular coins on the crypto market today.

Bitcoin (BTC)

USP: the original decentralised network

The original and still the best known, Bitcoin is a blockchain-based, public ledger that uses cryptography to secure its transactions. Its volatility has proven equally disastrous for investors as many watch with interest to see where its price heads next. Indeed, having been around for a long time, Bitcoin has earned its place in the real world, with increasing numbers of retailers and service providers allowing payments directly in the coin.

However, while it was groundbreaking technology at the time, some say Bitcoin has been surpassed in functionality and speed by competitors. It is undoubtable that a rocky road lies ahead – with numerous estimates as to how and when it might suffer its fate – be it competition, imposed regulation, hacks, or simply the end of a fad, many remain deeply sceptical of the coin’s future.

But with 36% of small- to medium-size businesses now accepting Bitcoin as payment, and retail statistics on crypto payments showing increases in Bitcoin adoption by retailers and consumers, it is should remain at the forefront of many investors’ minds.

Ether/Ethereum (ETH)

USP: Smart contracts

Initially described in a white paper in 2013, by Canadian-Russian programmer Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum is another public blockchain-based platform. Despite being often confused, Ethereum is not the currency; that is called ether (ETH).

Ethereum also requires miners to solve complicated mathematical problems to verify transactions in the blockchain and miners are paid in ether. It, too, faces problems in scalability as it uses a Proof-of-Work mechanism to verify transactions that causes network congestion.

Ethereum’s unique selling point is that it allows users to create smart contracts’ through its blockchain technology. Agreements coded on the blockchain can execute themselves, provided certain conditions are met. Developers keen to use the technology for a project can build it on Ethereum’s blockchain, rather than having to develop their own. As a result, Ethereum has been used to launch numerous alternative Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) as well as other projects.

Ether is also becoming more accepted as a method of payment. The global children’s charity UNICEF now accepts donations in ether or bitcoin.

Binance (BNB)

USP: very low transaction fees

Launched by the major crypto exchange of the same name, BNB was designed to serve as the lynchpin of the Binance ecosystem. Starting life as a pre-mined coin before an initial coin offering (ICO) with a price set at $0.10, BNB offered greater levels of scalability and lower transaction fees. Because exchanges take fees for executing crypto transactions, and because Binance is also an extremely popular exchange, it has some of the lowest transaction fees in the world. It costs just 0.1% to execute each of the billions of trades it executes daily.

With a market cap of about $98.9bn and a current BNB coin value of $582.43, BNB is set to rival the top crypto coins.

4. Tether (USDT)

USP: a stablecoin pegged by the USD

Tether (USDT) is a blockchain-based cryptocurrency whose tokens in circulation are backed by an equivalent amount of US dollars, making it a stablecoin. Stablecoins have a price pegged to the US dollar. In this nature, stablecoins track traditional fiat currencies, like the dollar, the euro, or the Japanese yen, which are held in a traditional designated bank account. This ‘stability’ comes with its own set of criticism however, as questions have been raised about whether or not tether is a systemic risk to the cryptocurrency ecosystem.  

With a current market cap of almost $74bn however, Tether is focused on pursuing hyperbitcoinisation – combining the Lightning Network’s speed with the architecture of an open peer-to-peer platform – an attractive option for many users, and improving the long-term prospects for the coin.

Solana

USP: fast transaction speeds and NFT marketplace

According to its website, Solana is “the fastest blockchain in the world and the fastest growing ecosystem in crypto, with over 400 projects spanning DeFi, NFTs, Web3 and more”.

With transactions costing less than one cent for both developers and users, its coin boasts a 12,000% growth over 2021. Both decentralised and ‘censorship resistant’, the network can process 50,000 transactions in a single second.

Its recent boom, however, could be attributed to the growing popularity of NFTs, which are tokens that indicate ownership of a unique digital asset. Solana allows developers to create apps and is also an NFT (non-fungible token) marketplace. As the NFT space booms in an impending metaverse, crypto traders might ask; what’s next for Solana?

Which cryptocurrency to invest in?

If there was a definitive answer to which is the best cryptocurrency investment, we would all dive in. Of course, things aren’t that simple. Some may prefer the relative stability of tether, while others are more interested in the faster transaction speeds of Solana, or the exposure to NFTs by Solana. All one can do is research the coins of interest and monitor the crypto stock market to analyse the price.

If you are considering investing in crypto coins, make sure you do your research. ‘All that glisters is not gold’ and numerous Bitcoin lookalikes have turned out to be scams. Treat them like any other volatile investment and don’t spend more than you can afford to lose; most experts advise that you should devote no more than 5% of a (well-diversified) portfolio to them. Also, check the exchange you choose can legally sell you the coin you are keen on. One thing is certain: cryptocurrencies will be around for a while yet.

Further reading

The material provided on this website is for information purposes only and should not be regarded as investment research or investment advice. Any opinion that may be provided on this page is a subjective point of view of the author and does not constitute a recommendation by Currency Com Bel LLC or its partners. We do not make any endorsements or warranty on the accuracy or completeness of the information that is provided on this page. By relying on the information on this page, you acknowledge that you are acting knowingly and independently and that you accept all the risks involved.
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