The idea of digital cash gained substantial popularity since 2008, when Satoshi Nakamoto created the cryptocurrency based on blockchain, Bitcoin, which, almost a decade later, is valued over $7800 per coin.
Bitcoin’s historic surges may not prompt wider adoption, as there are still major doubts about its security. In 2014, hundreds of thousands of Bitcoins, costing the users of exchange MtGox $460 million, were “lost”. Although a hefty chunk of these lost coins was recovered, faith in the currency has hardly fully rebounded.
Thankfully, blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin, is completely open source, and lots of digital currencies aimed at improving the distributed ledger model have already been created. These promising alternatives have attracted more users, who seek improved or additional features. Some new tokens are even beginning to impinge on Bitcoin’s authority, and may prove to be wise forward-looking investments.
Let’s check out 4 altcoins, which may boast immense potential.
Ethereum currency and same-named blockchain platform allow developers create decentralized applications. Users work to garner Ether, which powers the platform itself.
Its smart contract feature is what markedly differs Ether from Bitcoin. It allows for binding anonymous agreements to run on the blockchain.
The fact that such giants as Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase, and Intel, along with a dozen other entities, formed an alliance that outlines standards for Ethereum code, surely speaks for itself.
“The Enterprise Ethereum Alliance connects Fortune 500 enterprises, startups, academics, and technology vendors with Ethereum subject matter experts,” reads the alliance’s official page. “Together, we will learn from and build upon the only smart contract supporting blockchain currently running in real-world production – Ethereum – to define enterprise-grade software capable of handling the most complex, highly demanding applications at the speed of business.”
Currently, it’s the second highest valued cryptocurrency, hovering just under $100 a unit as of May of this year. At press time according to the CoinmarketCap it makes $332,35 per token.
Ripple, the Google-backed altcoin that amassed$90 million in total funding upon its inception, is both a digital currency and a payment processing system that allows for trading anything of value, from fiat currency and Bitcoins to phone minutes.
Ripple aims to eliminate the barriers associated with money just as the Internet “did for all other forms of information.” There are no processing fees, delays or charges.
As the company’s website states:
“Ripple solutions lower the total cost of settlement by enabling banks to transact directly, instantly and with certainty of settlement.”
Dash, a portmanteau of “digital” and “cash” is fast money for the Internet. The token boasts lightning-fast transactions, which, owing to Dash’s InstantSend feature, are processed in a fraction of a second. In comparison, Bitcoin processing can take several hours to complete, which can be a major hindrance for everyday use.
Additionally, Dash offers anonymous transactions and obfuscation through its multi-tier (as opposed to Bitcoin’s single-tier) network.
Also, Dash uses a self-governing, self-budgeting system, which means it is the first decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). The DAO can be thought of as conceptually similar to Ethereum’s smart contracts, as it allows for a company’s rules to be written and executed through code alone.
In most capacities, Litecoin is identical to Bitcoin. It’s a minable peer-to-peer currency built largely the same way as its progenitor. However, it does offer one major advantage: speed.
“Litecoin features faster transaction confirmation times and improved storage efficiency than the leading math-based currency. With substantial industry support, trade volume and liquidity, Litecoin is a proven medium of commerce complementary to Bitcoin,” the cryptocurrency claims.
Like Dash, Litecoin was released with a primary focus on quick transactions – its transactions purportedly complete within few minutes. Remaining a suitable speedy alternative to Bitcoin, Litecoin’s faster block generation comes at a price – a higher rate of orphaned blocks.
In terms of market capitalization, Bitcoin is still years ahead of its competitors. Still, there are a few virtual currencies that are beginning to highlight its shortcomings. Altcoins like Dash and Litecoin provide users with speedier and more convenient transactions.
Ethereum is Bitcoin’s fiercest competitor, having garnered support from giant corporations and banks, which have put forth Ethereum industry standards.
Ripple’s platform, which allows for the transferring of anything of value at no cost, has proved to be a revolutionary idea, an idea almost as game-changing as Ethereum’s smart contracts.
All in all, blockchain is truly an incredible technology. The distributed ledger is an amazing way to eliminate double spending and other redundancies. It could allow for global participation in an open-source economy. Bitcoin has ushered us into this new era, but newer innovative coins, which might have truly immense potential to reshape our financial lives, could perfect it.
Paul Sciglar is a columnist interested in international policies and economic affairs. Certified Accountant with broad experience in strategic analysis, FP&A, investment banking, and investment management. You may connect with him on Twitter.