Coins, Altcoins, and Tokens: What Is The Difference?

UTC by Beatrice Mastropietro · 10 min read
Coins, Altcoins, and Tokens: What Is The Difference?
Photo: Depositphotos

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have taken the world by storm. Over the past few years, their value has skyrocketed, and more people are investing in them daily. But what exactly are Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies? And what is the difference between coins, altcoins, and tokens? This guide will discuss the differences between these three terms and provide a comprehensive guide to understanding them!

In the cryptocurrency world, the terms “coins”, “altcoins”, and “tokens” are often used interchangeably. However, there is a big difference between these three terms.

A coin is a digital asset that has its blockchain. Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), and Ethereum (ETH) are all examples of coins.

An altcoin is a digital asset built on top of an existing blockchain. Altcoins are often created to improve coins’ shortcomings or provide additional features. For example, Ethereum is an altcoin created to improve the Bitcoin blockchain.

Further, a token is a digital asset issued on top of an existing blockchain. Tokens can be used to represent a variety of things, such as assets, loyalty points, or even voting rights. Tokens are often created through initial coin offerings (ICOs).

So, what is the difference between these three terms? We will discuss coins, altcoins, and tokens in detail below.

Coins Explained

Coins refer to any cryptocurrency that has a standalone, independent blockchain. Examples of popular coins include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). The value of a coin is derived from its underlying blockchain technology. For example, Bitcoin’s blockchain enables it to be a decentralized currency, while Ethereum’s blockchain allows for developing smart contracts and other applications. The price of a coin is determined by supply and demand on cryptocurrency exchanges.

Coins can be bought and sold on cryptocurrency exchanges. They can also be used to purchase goods and services. Some businesses accept coins as payment, but this is not yet widespread. Coins can also be stored in wallets.

There are also a few hybrid coins that combine these two functions. For example, Litecoin is often referred to as the “silver to Bitcoin’s gold.”

Tokens are classified according to their functions. The most common classification is transactional coins, store of value coins, and privacy coins.

  • Transactional coins. These are the most common type of coins used to represent a digital asset or utility that can be traded on a blockchain platform. The best-known example of a transactional coin is Bitcoin, which is used to buy and sell goods and services on the Bitcoin network. Other examples of transactional coins include Ethereum, Litecoin, and Monero (XMR).
  • Store of value coins. These coins are designed to act as a digital store of value, similar to how fiat currencies like the US dollar or gold function in the physical world. The best-known example of a store of value coin is Bitcoin, which is often referred to as “digital gold.”
  • Privacy coins. Privacy coins are a type of cryptocurrency that offer increased privacy and anonymity compared to other types of coins. The best-known example of a privacy token is Monero, which uses a technique called “ring signatures” to obfuscate the sender’s identity. Other examples of privacy tokens include Zcash (ZEC), Dash (DASH), and PIVX (PIVX).

Further, the are also circulating coins, which are the coins used in everyday transactions. Other categories of coins include commemorative coins, collector coins, and bullion coins. Commemorative coins are issued to commemorate a special event or person and are usually made from precious metals such as gold or silver. Collector coins are those collected for their value rather than their face value and are often worth more than their face value. Bullion coins are made from precious metals such as gold or silver and used as an investment.

Let us have a quick look at the prime examples of coins such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.

Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency and the most well-known one. It was created back in 2009 by an anonymous person or group known as Satoshi Nakamoto. Bitcoin is a decentralized peer-to-peer electronic cash system that does not require a central authority like a bank or government to issue new units or manage transactions. Transactions are verified by a network of computers (nodes) through cryptography and recorded in public distributed ledger called blockchain. Bitcoin can be used to purchase goods and services online or as an investment.

Ethereum is a decentralized platform that runs smart contracts – applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of fraud or third-party interference. Ethereum is used to build decentralized applications (apps) on its blockchain. These dapps can be used to create new tokens, launch crowdfunding campaigns, build Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), and much more.

Finally, Litecoin is a fork of Bitcoin that was created in 2011. It is similar to Bitcoin but has a few key differences. One of the main ones is that it has faster transaction times and lower fees. Litecoin is often referred to as the “silver to Bitcoin’s gold.”

What Are Altcoins?

An altcoin is any cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin. The term “altcoin” is short for “alternative coin”. Altcoins are a reasonably new phenomenon in finance and investment, but they have quickly become very popular.

Hundreds of altcoins are available on the market, with the choice constantly expanding and new ones being created all the time. Some of the most popular altcoins include Ethereum, Litecoin, and Monero.

Altcoins typically have similar features to Bitcoin but often have different economic models or use different consensus algorithms. In other words, alterntive coins can offer unique advantages over Bitcoin. For example, some altcoins are designed to be more private or scalable than Bitcoin.

Bitcoin vs Altcoin

When it comes to comparing Bitcoin and altcoins, there are a few key factors to consider.

Firstly, the price of Bitcoin is much higher than the price of most altcoins. This is mostly because Bitcoin is more well-known and has been around for longer than most of the altcoins.

Secondly, Bitcoin’s market cap is significantly higher than any other cryptocurrency. This is due to its high price and large user base. Altcoins generally have much lower market caps than Bitcoin.

Further, Bitcoin’s transaction speed is much faster than most altcoins. This is because it has a larger block size and uses a different consensus algorithm (Segwit).

As for transaction fees, Bitcoin’s transaction fees are typically lower than those of altcoins. This is because it has a larger block size, allowing more transactions to be processed per second.

In addition, Bitcoin’s mining difficulty is much higher than most altcoins. This is since it has been around for longer and its network is much larger. Altcoins typically have lower mining difficulties than Bitcoin.

Notably, Bitcoin is by far the most popular cryptocurrency. It has the largest user base and is accepted by more businesses than any other cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, altcoins are generally much less popular than Bitcoin.

Finally, the investment risk of Bitcoin is higher than that of most altcoins. This is due to its high price and relatively new technology. Altcoins generally have lower investment risks than Bitcoin.

So, which option is better? There is no simple answer to this question. It depends on your individual needs and preferences. If you’re looking for an investment with high potential returns, then Bitcoin may be a good choice. However, an altcoin may be a better option if you’re looking for a more stable and less risky investment.

Tokens Explained

In the blockchain world, a token is a digital asset that can be used to represent some kind of value. Tokens can be used for various purposes, including representing ownership of assets, making payments, or providing access to decentralized applications or services.

There are several types of tokens, each with its use case. The most common types of tokens are usage, network, hybrid, and equity ones.

  • Usage tokens provide users with access to a particular service offered by the cryptocurrency. For example, the Civic platform requires the CVC token holders to use their platform for identity verification.
  • Network tokens are necessary to interact with a blockchain or decentralized application. Network tokens often incentivize users to participate in and contribute to the network. For example, Ethereum’s native token, Ether, is needed to fuel transactions on the Ethereum network.
  • Hybrid tokens are a type of token that combines the features of both usage and network tokens. Hybrid tokens can be used to access certain products or services, representing an investment in the underlying company or project. Some examples of hybrid tokens include Binance Coin (BNB) and KuCoin Shares (KCS).
  • Equity tokens represent ownership of a company or project and can give holders a share of the profits or voting rights. Equity tokens are similar to traditional stocks and can be bought and sold on exchanges. Some examples of equity tokens include tZERO (TZRO) and Polymath (POLY).

The distribution of tokens is an important part of any ICO or token sale. Token holders need to know how the tokens will be distributed to make informed investment decisions. Generally, there are three main methods of token distribution: pre-mining, public sale, and private sale.

Pre-mining is when a portion of the total supply of tokens is created before the public sale. This allows the team behind the project to hold some tokens for themselves or to distribute them to early investors.

The public sale is when the remaining tokens are made available to the general public. This is usually done through an online exchange where people can buy and sell tokens.

Private sales take place when a small number of individuals or entities can purchase tokens before the public sale. This can be done through various methods, such as direct negotiation with the team behind the project or through an exclusive online auction.

Coins vs Tokens

In crypto industry, the terms “coins” and “tokens” are often used interchangeably, but there is a big difference between the two.

A coin is a digital asset that has its own blockchain. This means it is not built on another blockchain like Ethereum or Bitcoin. Coins are typically used as a form of currency or store of value.

On the other hand, tokens are digital assets built on another blockchain. The most common type of token is an ERC20 token built on the Ethereum blockchain. Tokens can be used for various purposes, such as representing a utility or asset or in a decentralized application.

So, which one should you invest in? It depends on your goals and what you want to use the asset for. If you’re looking to invest in a digital currency that can be used as a form of payment, then a coin is probably a better choice. If you’re looking to invest in a digital asset that has utility or can be used in a decentralized application, then a token is probably a better choice.

Of course, there are also hybrid assets that combine both coins and tokens. These assets usually have their blockchain, but they offer some utility or function not found in traditional coins. One example of a hybrid asset is ICON, which has its blockchain but allows users to interact with other blockchains.

So, it depends on what you’re looking for. Both have advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to do your research before investing.

Bottom Line

There are three primary differences between coins, altcoins, and tokens. First, coins are used as a currency or store of value, while altcoins are used for other purposes such as powering a decentralized application or representing an asset. Secondly, coins are usually mined, while altcoins and tokens are not. Finally, coins have their blockchain, while tokens rely on another blockchain.

The question of whether to buy coins, altcoins or tokens is largely dependent upon a holder’s goals. As now you can see there are minor differences between the technicalities of the various coins, altcoins, and token, it will be easier for you to decide on your investment.

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FAQ

What are coins?

Coins are digital assets used as a blockchain network exchange medium. They are the native currency of their respective blockchain and are used to pay for transaction fees, participate in governance, and other activities within the network.

What are the types of coins?

There are many different types of coins in circulation today. The most common type of coin is the circulating coin, which is the coin that is used in everyday transactions. Other types of coins include commemorative coins, collector coins, and bullion coins. Commemorative coins are issued to commemorate a special event or person and are usually made from precious metals such as gold or silver. Collector coins are those collected for their value rather than their face value and are often worth more than their face value. Bullion coins are made from precious metals such as gold or silver and used as an investment.

How to define altcoins?

Altcoins are all of the other cryptocurrencies that exist on the market. Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency, and altcoins are all others that have been created since then. There are currently over 5,000 different altcoins available for purchase. Altcoins can be traded on exchanges, and they can also be used to purchase goods and services.

Is Bitcoin an altcoin?

No, Bitcoin is not an altcoin. While altcoins are often compared to Bitcoin, they are quite different. For one, altcoins are usually developed by a single company or organization, whereas Bitcoin is decentralized and open-source. Additionally, altcoins typically have much lower market caps and prices than Bitcoin.

What is a token?

A token is a digital asset that can be used to represent something of value. Tokens are often used in online games and virtual worlds to access premium content or features. In some cases, tokens can also be used as a currency. For example, Bitcoins are a type of token that can be used to purchase goods and services. Ethereum is another type of token that can create smart contracts and decentralized applications.

What are the categories of tokens?

There are several types of tokens, each with its use case. The most common types of tokens are usage, network, hybrid, and equity ones.

Usage tokens provide users with access to a particular service offered by the cryptocurrency. For example, the Civic platform requires the CVC token holders to use their platform for identity verification.

Network tokens are necessary to interact with a blockchain or decentralized application. Network tokens often incentivize users to participate in and contribute to the network. For example, Ethereum’s native token, Ether, is needed to fuel transactions on the Ethereum network.

Hybrid tokens are a type of token that combines the features of both usage and network tokens. Hybrid tokens can be used to access certain products or services, representing an investment in the underlying company or project. Some examples of hybrid tokens include Binance Coin (BNB) and KuCoin Shares (KCS).

Equity tokens represent ownership of a company or project and can give holders a share of the profits or voting rights. Equity tokens are similar to traditional stocks and can be bought and sold on exchanges. Some examples of equity tokens include tZERO (TZRO) and Polymath (POLY).

How are tokens created and distributed?

Tokens are generally created and distributed through an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) campaign. In an ICO, a percentage of the newly created cryptocurrency is sold to early backers of the project in exchange for legal tender or other cryptocurrencies, typically Ethereum or Bitcoin. The funds raised during the ICO are used to finance the development of the new cryptocurrency.

What is the key difference between coins and tokens?

Coins are digital assets with their own blockchain, while tokens are digital assets built on top of an existing blockchain. Coins are typically used for payments and store of value, while tokens are usually used for utility or access to a specific application. While both coins and tokens can be traded on cryptocurrency exchanges, coins can also be mined or purchased directly from the project team, while tokens must be purchased from an exchange.

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