By December 2017 it seemed like the whole world had caught the Bitcoin craze. The virtual currency created by an internet unknown going by the name of Satoshi Nakamoto had gotten extremely popular with everyone from CEOs to the average Becky wanting a slice of the pie. This blazing fire led to the rise of the price of bitcoin by a whopping 2000% with the price of one bitcoin going from 1000 dollars at the start of 2017 to about 20,000 dollars by the end of the year.
While the bitcoin fever seemed to dim a little with the dollar price of the currency dropping as we entered the new year, it, however, didn’t fall to rock bottom and it still maintains a steady simmer well above 10,000 dollars. While the steady growth of bitcoin into the consciousness of the average person in the world is interesting and enviable. It also opened the minds of people to the world of cryptocurrency, hence exposing them to other virtual currencies.
Since the nine years of bitcoin’s arrival into the world, there have been a series of inventions in the world of cryptocurrency. New coins are being introduced into the market regularly, with a lot of these companies sourcing for funds by opening ICO’s (Initial Coin Offerings). Due to the success of bitcoin, these ICO’s are being snapped up the minute they’re released, with a lot of people not wanting to miss out on the next hot currency.
With the huge number of virtual currencies now flooding the market, it might be hard to figure out which of the currencies are worth your time, money and effort. Prospective investors have begun to play guessing games, trying to figure out which currencies are legitimate and which are just flash in the pan. There are however some cryptocurrencies that have proven to be reliable, enjoying steady growth in both their technology and market value.
Here are five cryptocurrencies that are poised to be strong Bitcoin rivals:-
Ethereum was founded by Vitalik Buterin, a Canadian born Russian wunderkind in 2015. It is now the second largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin and has been enjoying a steady rise in growth and popularity. The coins called “ether” run on the blockchain “Ethereum”.
One of the fascinating things about the ether coins is its ability to be used for transactions and services within the Ethereum network. This is because Ethereum is run on a decentralized and open platform, decentralization was the major aim of the founder Vitalik who used to write for the Bitcoin monthly.
Ethereum is enjoying a steady price of about 472 dollars and has a market value of about 45.5 billion dollars. Another interesting facet of the Ethereum currency is its lack of a price cap. Bitcoin notoriously has a price cap of 21 million, which means that only 21 million bitcoins will ever be mined in this life. Ethereum, on the other hand, has no such limits but instead places a limit of 18 million every year to curtail inflation.
A great feature of Ethereum Is its contractual status, a transaction done on the Ethereum network will not go through until the terms of the contract are met. This makes the Ether coin the perfect for business transactions as there’s no need for a third party to determine the veracity of transactions. If the terms aren’t met, then there’s no payment.
Colloquially known as the “silver to bitcoins gold” litecoin is the second oldest cryptocurrency in the world (with namecoin and swiftcoin). Litecoin was created to be a cheaper and faster alternative to Bitcoin and it runs on the scrypt algorithm. Launched in 2011 by a former Google engineer named Charlie Lee, litecoin has the great ability to process a bloc every 2.5 minutes as opposed to every 10 minutes with bitcoin.
This cryptocurrency is targeted towards the merchants who want a relatively large amount of little transactions to be quickly processed. While bitcoin is “meant” for large transactions, litecoin was created specifically to handle the little transactions.
Examples of these transactions include buying of clothes, jeweler, basic electronics, and so on. The price cap for litecoin is 84 million which means there will only ever be 84 million litecoin mined in this life. Litecoin is being traded around the 100 dollar mark and has a market value of about 5.4 billion dollars.
Ripple is gaining popularity as one of the first choices for interbank payments. Ripple calls California home and was released in 2012 by former bitcoin developers. Ripple has been hailed as the “logical successor” to bitcoin with banks showing a strong preference towards the use of its blockchain technology for transactions.
A good way to think of the ripple blockchain technology is to see it as a form of “western union” transfer for virtual currencies. Ripple uses a technology called “gateway” to verify its transactions. It is the middleman in all its transactions and is foolproof so money cannot be sent more than once to different parties.
The ripple system was built upon the premise of it not being t a currency but as basically a means of doing cryptocurrency transfer and it has been living up to its expectations. The transfers done using the ripple network do not, however, have to be just cryptocurrency. If a client has 100 USD and wants to pay for a service in bitcoin, all the client need do is post the amount in dollars and the platform converts to bitcoin and pays the intending recipient.Ripple trades around 0.25 dollars and has a market value of 9.82 billion dollars.
Going by the tagline of being the “next-generation blockchain” the IOTA coin runs by a different, special technology called tangle which works by being a “distributed ledger technology”. Founded in 2015 by four people named: Sergey Ivancheglo, David Sonstebo, Dr. Serguei Popov, and Dominik Schiener.
Iota is a relatively young cryptocurrency but it has however partnered with Microsoft and various other companies and considers itself to be run by the “Internet of Things”.
A huge benefit of iota is the ability to use it to buy the littlest things. This has hitherto been impossible with bitcoin due to high transactions fees and slow network. With iota, however, things like soda and milk can now be bought. Making it one of the cryptocurrencies at the forefront of bringing crypto to our everyday life.
Iota saw a massive increase in value when it moved from 1.40 dollars to 5.45 dollars in token value (it later dropped to a more steady 4.25 dollars) and it has a market value of about 12 billion dollars.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
One of the more recent cryptocurrencies to hit the market, bitcoin cash was released in August 2017 but has quickly grown to become the third largest cryptocurrency in the world. Bitcoin cash was created as a response to the scalability problem of bitcoin.
A limit was placed on bitcoin to protect the currency against massive cyber-attacks. While this was a good idea when the coin was unpopular, it turned into a massive problem upon the recent surge in popularity of bitcoin.
Transactions were starting to take hours and even days before they could be completed, raising concerns about the manageability and eventual usefulness of this blockchain technology. Bitcoin cash was one of the many forks created to manage this problem but was the one which got the most attention and really took off. The bitcoin cash increases the block size from 1MB of bitcoin to 8MB. This increase in block size has made transactions on the blockchain significantly faster.
With bitcoin cash clients no longer having to wait for really long hours before transactions are processed and verified making this cryptocurrency viable in the long run. And although it took a while for bitcoin miners and developers to agree to its release, once released it took off and immediately gained value.
Bitcoin cash has a token value of 1500 dollars and is currently valued at about 25.5 billion dollars.
There are a plethora of cryptocurrencies currently in the market, the above listed are the top contenders and are the ones who are set and ready to take over the market. The buzz around Bitcoin has managed to create its first billionaires (the Winklevoss twins) but bitcoins problems are undeniable. These new cryptocurrencies which are springing up aren’t trying to be the “new bitcoin” but are instead attempting to fix bitcoins myriad of problems.
Ethereum fixed the problem of the price cap with effective solutions to prevent future problems. Ripple exchange created a means of doing coin and cash transfers while bitcoin cash solved the scalability problem. Litecoin seeks to make cryptocurrency transactions faster and easier while iota solves the problem of buying minute items with cryptocurrency. There will definitely be greater improvements in blockchain technology in the coming years. As the problems of privacy, government interference, decentralization are already being solved. Blockchains are poised to get better and more diverse, and it seems the only advantage bitcoin would have is its pioneer status.