A guide to avoiding crypto ticker confusion

Getting annoyed by acronyms? We decided to get a grip on all those cryptos causing confusion

Corgi dog sitting before piles of books, with questions marks to the left and right of dog – Photo: Shutterstock                                 
Wrapped token tickers can be a pain to understand, but they don’t have to be – Photo: Shutterstock
                                

Contents

Stock symbols were first introduced in the 19th century as a way to speed up the floor trading process. According to Forbes, “because it was too tedious to list the entire name of each company with the price, the company's name was shortened to a short abbreviation – a ticker symbol.”

Fast forward to the modern age and tickers are used in a similar way on the crypto exchanges. But just as crypto is a major source of confusion in general, these cryptocurrency symbols can be a pain to understand, given the many variations, similarities, and in some instances, direct copies.

But fear no longer. In the following guide, we look into the many of the different crypto tickers, those seemingly innocuous abbreviations, that often cause people to scratch their heads.

    Did you know: Thomas Edison invented the Universal Stock Ticker in 1869, following Edward A. Calahan’s invention of ticker tape six years prior.

    Sussing out stablecoins

    Not all, but most stablecoins integrate USD somewhere in their ticker title, for the obvious reason that stablecoins represent a tokenised equivalent of the US dollar. Stablecoins continue to grow in popularity, due to the benefits they bring for decentralised finance (DeFi). If you have been trying to distinguish your USDTs from your USTs or your TUSDs, the below list is for you.

    • USDT - Tether: The largest of the stablecoins and third-largest cryptocurrency in total. USDT is also one of the most controversial cryptocurrencies, due to its dubious fiat reserves, which caught the ire of the US government in 2021.
    • USDC - USD Coin: Launched by payment services company Circle and major centralised exchange (CEX) Coinbase in September 2018.
    • BUSD - Binance USD: Launched by Binance in collaboration with Paxos, BUSD is highly regulated, having been granted approval by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS)
    • UST - TerraUSD: The second native coin of the Terra blockchain (alongside LUNA), UST was launched in September 2020.
    • TUSD -TrueUSD: Launched in 2018 by TrustToke, whose chief executive officer and co-founder Rafael Cosman worked as a machine learning engineer at Google.
    • USDP - Pax Dollar: One of the most regulated stablecoins around, having been approved by the NYDFS, the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Launched in September 2018 by Charles Cascarilla and Rich Teo, co-founders of the blockchain infrastructure company Paxos.
    • USDN - Neutrino USD: Collateralised by the WAVES cryptocurrency as well as fiat.
    • GUSD - Gemini Dollar: The stablecoin project of The Gemini Trust Company, which was founded by entrepreneurs and former Olympic athletes Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, who were played by Armie Hammer in David Fincher’s Facebook thriller The Social Network.
    • LUSD - Liquidity USD: Native stablecoin of decentralised borrowing protocol Liquidity.
    • HUSD - HUSD: HUSD’s reserves are held and managed by the Seychelles-based cryptocurrency CEX Huobi.
    • OUSD - Origin Dollar: A yield-earning stablecoin NFT platform Origin Protocol.

    Wrapping your head around wrapped tokens

    Wrapped tokens can regularly cause ticker confusion, and it’s not hard to see why, since they’re often near identical to their source token. Wrapped tokens are a DeFi tool allowing for cross-blockchain interoperability. Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), for instance, allows holders to convert their bitcoin (BTC) to an Ethereum-compliant alternative, giving BTC holders access to Ethereum’s extensive ecosystem of applications. 

    The following list gives you the what’s what on WETH, WNXM and RENBTC. There are plenty more wrapped tokens out there, but this list should give you an idea of what to look for.

    • WETH - Wrapped Ether: Wrapped Ether is the wrapped version of ETH and needs special consideration. You might be surprised to learn the ETH is not compatible with Ethereum-based smart contracts, since the ERC-20 standard that governs Ethereum smart contracts was developed for tokenised assets on Ethereum, and not the native ETH coin itself. Hence the introduction of WETH as a workaround!
    • WBTC - Wrapped Bitcoin: Allows BTC to be deployed on Ethereum.
    • RENBTC - renBTC: A direct competitor of WBTC, RENBTC is pegged to the price of BTC (making it something of a stablecoin too), allowing for BTC deployment on Ethereum.
    • RUNE - THORChain (ERC20): Enables the native coin of the THORChain protocol (which also uses the RUNE ticker) to work on Ethereum.
    • WNXM - Wrapped NXM: Transferable version of NXM, the native token of blockchain-powered insurance provider Nexus Mutual.
    • WDOGE - Wrapped Dogecoin: For using DOGE on BNB Chain.
    • RENZEC - renZEC: Developed by RenVM, RENZEC is a 1:1 representation of ZCash (ZEC) on Ethereum.
    • RENDOGE - renDOGE: Developed by RenVM, RENDOGE is a 1:1 representation of Dogecoin (DOGE) on Ethereum.
    • BWRX - Wrapped WRX: BNB Chain-compatible token of WRX, the native coin of the WazirX exchange.
    • WCRO - Wrapped CRO: Ethereum-compatible token of CRO, the native coin of the Crypto.com exchange.
    • WMATIC - Wrapped Matic: Ethereum-compatible token of MATIC, the native coin of the Polygon blockchain.
    • WAVAX - Wrapped AVAX: Ethereum-compatible token of AVAX, the native coin of the Avalanche blockchain.
    • WZEC - Wrapped ZCash: Ethereum-compatible token of the ZEC privacy coin.

    Wait, there’s more than one bitcoin?

    Since bitcoin's inception in 2009, numerous factions of the core development community split off due to dissatisfaction with the direction of the project. The first instance saw the launch of Bitcoin Cash (BCH) in August 2017, followed by Bitcoin SV (BSV) in November 2018. Our comprehensive guide gives the lowdown on the key differences of each project.

    But wait, there’s more… You may have come across BTCZ, the ticker for BitcoinZ, an anonymous project launched in October 2017 by a community hoping to capture Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision of decentralisation, privacy and democratic mining. BTCZ differs from BCH and BSV in one major way: It is not a fork of BTC, instead developed from the ground up by its community of developers.

    There also BTG, the ticker for Bitcoin Gold, another hard fork of bitcoin launched in October 2017 by an intercontinental team of developers. BTG has some similar attributes to BTCZ in regards to democratic mining processes.

    There are many more micro-cap projects that reference bitcoin in name or ticker, but these are some of the bigger players on the market.

    • BTC - bitcoin: The OG cryptocurrency and by far the largest by market capitalisation.
    • BCH - Bitcoin Cash: Ther first hard fork of BTC, launched in August 2017 by a faction of developers dissatisfied with bitcoin’s direction.
    • BSV - Bitcoin SV: Further tension within the BCH developer community preempted another hard fork in November 2018. SV stands for “Satoshi Vision”. Bitcoin SV’s founder Craig Wright has gone on record claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto himself.
    • BTCZ - BitcoinZ: A ground-up project developed by an anonymous collective in October 2017, hoping to capture the original spirit promised by bitcoin.
    • BTG - Bitcoin Gold: Also a hard fork of BTC, though not by members of bitcoin’s development community.

    Meme coin imitators

    Given the immense popularity of the Dogecoin (DOGE) and Shiba Inu (SHIB), it was inevitable that numerous unaffiliated tokens would attempt to implement that brand recognition into their own token tickers. While most of these are extremely small, micro-cap projects, the following have managed to garner some attention.

    • DOGEDASH - Doge Dash: A play-to-earn game based on BNB Chain founded by TV director Paul Caslin.
    • XDOGE - ClassicDoge: A BNB Chain-based, pet-themed metaverse project.
    • KINGSHIB - King Shiba:  BNB Chain-based NFT project
    • SHIBX - SHIBAVAX: Not a vaccine-related project, but a meme token build on the Avalanche (AVAX) network.

    Some might argue that these projects intentionally align themselves with established, successful tokens in order to trick meme coin enthusiasts into investing. Although, as we have seen with the legitimate BTC hard forks, that is not necessarily the case.

    Bonus round: SQUID

    Despite being one of the premier scams of 2021, SQUID – the token “inspired” by the hit Korean Netflix show Squid Games – itself inspired a slew of tokens using the exact same SQUID ticker. Some of these projects include SquidDAO, Squidanomics and Squid Inu. Other similar tickers include International Squid Games (SQUIDGAMES) and EvilSquidGame (EVILSQUID).

    To varying degrees, these projects are either defunct or existing purely as a joke. But readers might be surprised that the original SQUID token continued as a community-run project after the November rug pull, supported by a community that sprang up around the token.

    Screenshot of SQUID token community statement from now-suspended web page – Source: web-archive.org
    A statement from the now-suspended SQUID token web page – Source: web.archive.org

    “As many of you know, the Squid Game cryptocurrency was founded by scammers. They took advantage of our community, and invariably committed a rug pull and ran off with millions,” read a statement on the reclaimed website. “Despite this devastation, many people found a home in this previously broken community.” Unfortunately, at the time of writing, this website has been suspended, making the status of the reborn Squid Game community unclear.

    A crypto ticker is used to represent cryptocurrencies in an abbreviated form on the centralised and decentralised exchanges.

    Since tickers are used to search for and trade cryptocurrencies on the exchanges, two coins should not have the same ticker. But this has not always been the case, with some ultra-low-cap or scam tokens using the same ticker as an established project. So while it is possible that two coins can have the same ticker, this is viewed as a warning sign.

    Further reading

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