While bitcoin was rather familiar for people involved in digital and financial spheres, other blockchain assets used to stay in the background. What has changed for the last three years? The bitcoin market cap has increased from $1 billion to $6.318 billion, which makes up around 300%. But non-BTC blockchain assets showed even more impressive result and have grown 1,600% to $1.602 billion (compared to only $92 million on April 28, 2013).
VentureBeat characterizes the current state of the blockchain asset market as follows:
- Bitcoin comprises just about 80% of the total blockchain asset market cap
- 15 blockchain assets have now exceeded a $50 million market cap (ever)
- 13 blockchain assets currently exceed a $10 million market cap
- Ether just broke a $1 billion market cap, making it the first non-BTC blockchain asset to ever break this mark. It now sits in the second place blockchain asset position (by current and all-time market cap).
The first three positions in the list of the most fast-developing non-bitcoin blockchain assets are taken by Litecoin, Ripple and Ether. Altogether they have spiked over the $500 million market cap level. They are followed by Dash and MaidSafe.
Litecoin was created in October 2011 by Charlie Lee, a former Google engineer and MIT CS graduate who currently leads engineering at Coinbase. Litecoin differs from bitcoin by a decreased block time (2.5 minutes compared to bitcoin’s 10 minutes), an increased total supply (84 million while bitcoin has four times less), and finally a different proof-of-work block hashing algorithm (scrypt instead of SHA256).
Ripple Labs, a San Francisco based startup, has developed its own currency called Ripple with no need of mining. The company launched an open payment network based on “the world’s first distributed exchange” and a “counterparty-free currency”. Ripple is now actively involved into building a global financial settlement network consisting of international payment originators, financial institutions, market makers, and system integrators. The final aim is creation of significantly superior alternative to the current system of cross-border settlement.
Open source blockchain app platform Ethereum, founded by Vitalik Buterin in 2013, has come up with its built-in currency Ether. Ethereum is a decentralized platform based on the blockchain technology, eliminating middlemen and thus significantly increasing the speed of payments and reducing settlement costs. Ethereum demonstrated a huge growth within the past months, gaining interest of the world’s largest financial and technology companies. Since the start of the year, the price of Ether, the digital tokens used on Ethereum, has reached almost $12, rising from $1. This brings the total value of all Ether to more than $1 billion. Now this virtual currency is often called a main competitor to bitcoin.
Microsoft has recently added programming language, Solidity, into Visual Studio, thus considerably facilitating building stuff with Ethereum for millions of developers. The integration of Solidity in Visual Studio, a rich and integrated development environment for creating applications for Windows, Android, and iOS, means adding the power of decentralised applications to the most powerful development platform so far. And this creates prerequisites for a new computing paradigm.
The fourth position in the list of promising digital currencies, Dash, is an open source project developed by the Dash team in the beginning of 2014. According to the developers, Dash is a “privacy-centric digital currency with instant transactions, based on the bitcoin software, but having a two tier network that improves it.”
MaidSafe, a company located in Scotland, has developed the SAFE (Secure Access For Everyone) Network from the unused hard drive space, processing power, and data connection of its users. “Safecoin’s value will lie in its utility and its ability to access and utilise services on the network, such as storing data, or making VoIP calls. Additionally, safecoin provides a cryptographically secure and near instant method of value exchange, facilitating micro transactions without transaction fees. It is important to note that this is value backed by the value of securing User data and communications.”