Looking for a Bitcoin Alternative? Here are six Coins to Consider
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Bitcoin is the king of digital currencies, at least for the time being. There are several challenging digital currencies, however, that could one day rival bitcoin.
Many of these currencies claim to suggest certain technical advantages over bitcoin. Other currencies are taking a entire fresh angle on digital currencies, attempting not just to suggest an alternative to cash, but also to suggest software development opportunities, social media platforms, and other services powered by the blockchain.
For now, bitcoin loves a large lead over the competition, at least in terms of market cap. With a market cap of $Ten billion dollars as of writing this article, bitcoin is about ten times as large as the closest competition. Still, one day Ethereum, Steem, Litecoin, or another contenders could steal the crown. That’s why we’re going to take a moment to go over bitcoin’s chief competitors.
The Challenger: Ethereum (& Ethereum Classic)
Ethereum has been gaining a lot of attention as of late. This public blockchain software aims to support a lot more than “just” a digital currency. Developers can actually code software, and then power that software through the public blockchain.
Individuals can then sell their processing power and be paid with “ether” -a digital currency somewhat akin to bitcoin- in exchange. Presently, etherium is the world’s 2nd largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.
Following a hack back in July, Ethereum split into two rivaling currencies. The “new” Ethereum (just called Ethereum) undid the hack. “Classic” Ethereum maintained the hack. Now, the two Ethereums are rivaling against each other.
Ethereum itself has a market cap north of $1 billion dollars, and is the 2nd largest digital currency, trailing only bitcoin. Ethereum classic has a market cap of just over $141 million, making it the fourth largest digital currency.
Ripple: Bitcoin rival or companion?
Ripple emerged in two thousand twelve and is now a very popular online payment processing platform and digital currency. Perhaps the most significant aspect of ripple is the fact that it permits for instant conversion into different currencies. You can even convert bitcoin to ripple, and vice-versa.
Ripple sees itself not as a competitor to bitcoin, but instead a compliment. By making currency conversions effortless, ripple can give bitcoin users and others effortless access to traditional currencies. OpenCoin, the company behind ripple, plans to distribute one hundred billion ripples, albeit only half will be put into circulation.
With a market cap of $220 million dollars, Ripple is the world’s third largest digital currency.
Litecoin: Certainly Not a “Lite” Weight
Litecoin is one of the older alternative digital currencies out there, having emerged in 2011. Like bitcoin, there is no central authority, fresh coins are created through solving algorithms, and over time these algorithms are becoming more difficult to solve.
There are many significant differences, however. Litecoin’s overall cap limit is set at eighty four million, compared to bitcoin’s twenty one million. The algorithms themselves are much lighter to solve and can still be solved without special mining equipment. Further, litecoin blocks are created every Two.Five minutes, compared to bitcoin’s ten minutes, making it possible to support far more transactions.
Presently, Litecoin is the world’s fourth largest digital currency, by market cap, weighing in at about $175 million.
Right behind Litecoin with a market cap of about $170 million is steem. Steemit is among the more interesting platforms out there. People can get paid, with steem, to write and curate articles. You can also rate and comment on articles, also getting steem.
The front page of Steemit, which looks somewhat like Reddit, is packed with a large range of stories. Instead of mining bitcoins, or buying them, if you want to earn Steem, then you have to contribute to the community. Steem was launched just this year (2016) and yet has already secured a massive market cap. Don’t be astonished if this platform gains even more ground in the future.
Dash is based closely on bitcoin software. Basically, developers wished to address some of the problems inherent in bitcoin, such as slow transaction processing times, and thus determined to create a fresh currency, simply entitled “dash”.
Like bitcoin, dash features advanced privacy features. Some would even say that dash offers improved privacy. Dash also offers instant transactions, whereas bitcoin transactions can take several minutes. Further, dash uses what it calls “Masternodes” to dual check the blockchain and to ensure that it is not being unduly manipulated.
Fees are low, the system is global, and like bitcoin, dash is still P2P with no centralized authority. Given the technical advantages of this currency, it’s certainly worth a close witness.
Dogecoin is the smallest digital currency on this list, with a market cap of only $25 million. Still, what dogecoin lacks in size, it makes up for with its relatively loyal fan base. Dogecoin gets its name and branding from the “doge” Internet meme, which featured a Shiba Inu dog. This clever branding has helped make dogecoin one of the more well-known bitcoin alternatives.
Dogecoin miners can process transactions in only about a minute. Further, unlike bitcoin and many other crypto-currencies, there is no limit to the number of dogecoins that can be mined. This lack of an upper limit, and ease of mining, however, means that individual dogecoins are not worth too much, with a hundred of them being worth only a few pennies.
Conclusion: Bitcoin leads the race, but competition is tightening
Bitcoin isn’t going away anytime soon, and through the near future, it will most likely remain the premier global digital currency. Still, competitors for the best altcoin like ethereum and steem are suggesting very unique twists on digital currencies. Others, like Dash and Ethereum, may be more technically sound. As a result, these contesting currencies may some day catch up to, or even surpass, bitcoin.
Besides the currencies mentioned in this article, there are several other worthy competitors. NEM, MaidSafeCoin, and NXT are just a few rivaling currencies that come to mind. In the future, the the digital currency environment is sure to evolve, so make sure you keep your eye on it.