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2 months ago

What are the Top 20 Cryptocurrencies and What makes them stand out?

Cryptocurrency and altcoin are two common terms in the crypto space.  A cryptocurrency in the most basic definition is virtual or digital money which takes the form of tokens or “coins.” They are intangible despite characteristics of some others. Cryptocurrencies asides Bitcoin are collectively referred to as  Altcoins

Currently, there are over two thousand cryptocurrencies in existence; to be exact 2769 digital currencies spread across 19124 Markets worldwide. The cryptocurrency wave has become longstanding in recent times. Not the entire world knows about them, but its relevance and adoption have not gone unnoticed by many.  Just as consulting firms have their 'Big Four' or the social media space has its 'Most popular' platforms, the Crypto space has it's 'Top 20'. These rankings are drawn from Live chat data of trading, Market capitalization amongst others. Over time the list may change but this piece will highlight Top 20 cryptocurrencies in 2019 so far. The trading market in the past couple of days has witnessed a new record of high for the number one crypto (Bitcoin) and upward movements for many altcoins. Owing to that there may be Top crypto performers from the past few days like ATOM, LTC, BSV, BNB, XRP. 

The pace of change in this market is so fast, that it's difficult to lock down what the top 20 currencies actually are. For example, if we were to measure based on media mentions rather than market capitalization, Libra would be near the top. It does not yet exist though. The 20 coins listed below all have different pros and cons in terms of ease of use, developer focus, and privacy. Bitcoin and its derivatives (Litecoin, Bitcoin cash for example) will tend to top this list while the other smaller, and perhaps, less stable coins will drop off and on throughout time.

That said, we can still highlight the top 20 major cryptocurrencies, although subject to changes by the next minute. Based on market capitalization, they are Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP (Ripple), Litecoin, Bitcoin cash, EOS, Bitcoin SV, Stellar, Cardano, Tron, Monero, Dash, IOTA, NEO, Ethereum Classic, NEM, Zcash, Bitcoin gold, and Qtum. Bitcoin has always taken top position and this could be owing to the fact that it was the first digital asset introduced from as early as 2009. It has, therefore, has a head start against altcoins and its popularity and user base is already very high. 

Some Altcoins briefly explained:

Ripple (XRP)

Ripple was launched in 2012 as a real-time global settlement network that offers instant, certain and low-cost international payments, ripple “enables banks to settle cross-border payments in real time, with end-to-end transparency, and at lower costs.” Ripple’s method of confirmation via its consensus ledger is unique; it doesn’t require mining. ripple sets itself apart from Bitcoin and many other altcoins through this way and there is a drastic reduction in the usage of computing power and minimizes network latency. The XRP has a per token value of $0.39680 presently and as of February 2019, ripple had a market cap of $12.69 billion.

Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum is a decentralized software platform that enables Smart Contracts and Distributed Applications (DApps) to be built and run without any downtime, fraud, control or interference from a third party. It was Launched in 2015 and ether has since been the native currency on which the applications on are run, also its platform-specific cryptographic token. Mostly developers looking to develop and run applications inside ethereum source for ether and even now prospective investors via purchases of other digital currencies use ether. Ethereum launched a pre-sale for ether which received a favorable public response in the 2014 period and formed the pedestal for the initial coin offering (ICO).  Ether presently has a per token value of $292.40

Litecoin (LTC)

Litecoin is based on an open source global payment network that is decentralized and uses "scrypt" as a proof of work, which can be decoded with the help of CPUs of consumer grade. Litecoin, the “silver to bitcoin’s gold.”  was launched in 2011, shortly after its forerunner by an MIT graduate and former Google engineer Charlie Lee. Litecoin really is like bitcoin in many ways but block generation rate is faster and hence offers transaction confirmation is ahead of bitcoin's. The ETH per token value is $119.17 presently.

In more ways than one, many of these cryptos are very alike. These ushers in the significance of determining their differential factors.

What makes one cryptocurrency stand apart from another? 

To be factual, any crypto can tomorrow become a top crypto choice for investors although signs along the line will be seen by analysts or crypto enthusiasts before an altcoin becomes so significant like Bitcoin. High volatility rate and instability of crypto prices (as well as other factors) always influence buyer and investor decisions, so there really isn't any special magic trick to keep one crypto above another. A digital asset at number 17 today could drop off the top 20 and become 25 in a short time. In that case, we really can't answer that question with just "price". 

There are factors that individually or when combined, make one different from another:

  • Cryptocurrencies largely differ based on how transmission happens across the blockchain, how transactions are confirmed, the speed of these transactions the throughput, the additional layers that could be created either by smart contracts or side chains. 
  • The vision of the founding members of the currency 
  • The consensus algorithm/incentivization of individual network contributors 
  • Immutability of a coin also influences it.
  • The Scalability / Speed of the transactions across the network. 
  • The voting within the network should be spread across the stakeholders to be truly decentralized. It should be permissionless, which means that there shouldn’t be a third party determining how voting would take place 
  • Security Protocols: Fault tolerance, Attack Resistance, Collusion Resistance 
  • Network Effects - the power of a cryptocurrency depends on the community around it and adoption. 

The top cryptocurrency provides a guide for investors as it helps to track the performance of the crypto markets as a whole by holding a single crypto asset. Presently, the total Market Capitalization of cryptocurrencies is $323,632,401,637 which is a significant increase from a few months ago of over $240 billion. The crypto market has continuously expanded with new different ones springing up every day. The focus on the top cryptocurrencies is advantageous for founders as they acquire much price growth and market activities keep them in view keeping them in top ranks usually. However, for all anyone in the crypto community knows, the next great digital token may be released tomorrow. Factually, some other cryptos which are being used more for enterprise solutions like ethereum and ripple, are becoming popular, while some altcoins are being endorsed for superior or advanced features vis-à-vis bitcoins. 


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Credits- Devika Bhardwaj, Karen Papazian

Anita O.

Lover of tech and blockchain.

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