Bitcoin is big in the crypto world and for good reason. It’s the first real world application of blockchain tech, has been around the longest, and has received the most trust and attention. As a result, it is more valuable than every other cryptocurrency out there. This is evident with Biitcoin’s market cap of $874 billion, compared to the next contender, Ether, whose market cap is $378 billion. Therefore, it’s not misguided to choose to judge the health of the crypto market using Bitcoin as a yardstick, just as one could, in certain cases, ascertain the health of the global economy by analysing the US Dollar.
Given that there are anywhere from 4000 to 10,000 cryptocurrencies right now (depending on who you ask), it’s obvious that Bitcoin isn’t the only cryptocurrency out there. Some of the others are quite popular, others more obscure and are all collectively known by the term, “altcoin”, which is a portmanteau of the words alternative and coin, hence, alternative coin. While Bitcoin is arguably more mainstream and has become near synonymous with the concept of blockchain and cryptocurrencies, these numerous other cryptocurrencies also are pulling a substantial amount of weight in the crypto market especially for entry level investors who are seeking to reap opportunities in the market.
Certain altcoins were created following the transactional nature of Bitcoin. In fact, one would say some are in principle, copies of Bitcoin. A good example is Litecoin (Market Cap – $11.183 Billion), which strongly mirrors Bitcoin infrastructure, save for a few differences such as speed. Other altcoins like smart contract platform, Ethereum, are more platform-based. Ether is second only to bitcoin in market share. In recent times, a very popular cryptocurrency has been Dogecoin and one can say it got to where it is for some of the wrong reasons. Dogecoin was originally created as a joke and as a parody of digital currencies. Yet, the coin has ironically become a force to be reckoned with.
These are, of course, some of the more popular ones. Certain crypto projects have been built for very specific purposes, such as Titcoin, a cryptocurrency focused on the adult industry or Auroracoin, an intended replacement for Iceland’s fiat currency, the Icelandic krona, although it has not been without its challenges. Another peculiar crypto project, BitClout. Launched in 2021, it is also a social media platform similar to Twitter. And while many cryptocurrencies spring up often by claiming to be better than the preceding coins, a successful cryptocurrency is much more than the strength of its infrastructure. In extreme cases, certain cryptocurrencies turned out to be less of cryptocurrencies and more of Ponzi schemes. A good example would be OneCoin which shut down in 2016 and has been alleged to have raked in about $4 billion worldwide.
Under the face of the Bitcoin market, there’s essentially a plethora of activities going on in the world of crypto. As cryptocurrencies gain wider acceptance, these “altcoins” will play significant roles in democratization of wealth and fostering financial inclusion.