As the Bitcoin realm continues to grow and more cryptocurrencies begin to emerge, Bitcoin, the creator of this industry, remains a powerhouse. 2017 marked a year that took Bitcoin from the low 4-figures into the 5-figure USD valuation zone, and Bitcoin is looking stronger than ever.
Additionally, 2017 was the year that saw 2 main splits or “forks” from Bitcoin that created two entirely new currencies altogether. Both BitcoinCash & BitcoinGold are Bitcoin-based currencies that have broken off of their older namesake and have begun to be traded, mined and adopted online.
On top of that, a host of other coins or blockchain-based cryptocurrencies have also emerged, creating a whole sector referred to as alternative coins. Though many of these new alternative coins remain obscure and unknown in both the mass market and Bitcoin communities, a few have begun to follow their older sibling’s lead and are growing in popularity and market valuation.
According to the infographic by Bitcoinplay on Bitcoin alternatives, Ethereum, with a market cap hovering around $40 billion, is an example of an alternative coin that is very valuable in its own right. Another example, BitcoinCash, the original forked Bitcoin currency with a market cap of about $13 billion is another. These are just 2 of the many digital currencies that now make up the Bitcoin realm.
From last count, over 1600 of these cryptocurrencies exist, adopted and valued from a few cents all the way up to the $1000+ realms. With these alternative coins growing and becoming more mainstream, we look at whether these newer coins have the same or similar potential to the original Bitcoin
Types Of Alternative Coins
The first thing to understand about the crypto and coin markets is that not all coins are the same. Bitcoin is a specific technology based on blockchain architecture. Other coins are not always built on the same architecture or principles as the world’s first cryptocurrency. Other coins are issued by ICO (initial coin offerings) or through different blockchain formulas and design. Though some of these newer coins are based on similar technology and code, others are nothing more than securities and ideas that are promised at some time in the future.
Another set are forks or breakoffs of their original currencies. For example, BitcoinCash and BitcoinGold are both break offs of Bitcoin. The crypto-community, who are trying to better the original offerings in order to address a specific shortfall, usually creates these new currencies. Though some of these ICO’s and newer coins are very promising, others are nothing more than scams with little to no potential value.
How To Choose The Winners
Considering that some of these coins are nothing more than worthless chunks of digital code, the question remains: how do you pick a winner among these alternative coins? The answer is whatever you feel truly has a place in the future marketplace.
For example, in the case of BitcoinGold which was forked only a few months ago, the developers were trying to make the mining process accessible by a broader segment of miners. This, in theory, should help decentralize the Bitcoin hash rate, taking away the mining power of big mining pools that are now dominating the landscape. If you believe that this idea is important and will likely be a key factor in Bitcoin’s future, then investing in it is a good choice for you.
Another example is SolarCoin, a token that promises to decentralize power sharing and generation. In essence, if it is successful it will be effectively creating a peer-to-peer network for solar-generated energy. Though this idea is great in theory, the logistics have not been put into practice and the technology is still not even fully developed. In this case, unless you were a solar enthusiast who was committed to the solar field and looking to invest in it, this coin is likely not the winner for you.
When choosing a coin, it is important to look at the technological potential, market potential and finally how well a coin is adopted already. For example, of the thousands of coins that exist, only a very small portion of them are even available to trade on exchanges. The more adopted the coin becomes, the more exchanges will list it. Thus, it is a good idea to stay away from coins that are not listed on multiple exchanges and have low overall adoption. The power in a coin is in how wide it is used and the wider one is, the potentially more valuable.
Top Alternative Coins Of 2017
The alt-coin market is a highly volatile but yet highly profitable arena. Some coins have had very similar success to Bitcoin and have seen market value and adoption increase exponentially. Others have fallen victim to poor adoption and slowly fading into a virtual valueless position in crypto-markets. The top coins for 2017, aside from Bitcoin, are:
- Ethereum – has reached a market cap of over $50 billion as of December 2017 and stands well over $40 billion since.
- BitcoinCash – tied to the original Bitcoin and gained nearly similar percentages in the year.
- Litecoin – designed similarly to BitcoinGold, to improve and decentralize mining.
These were the biggest coins of 2017, but a few others are worth mentioning, including Dashcoin, who went from pennies to a value of over $50 in the year; and Listcoin, which has been blowing up toward the end of this 2017 year. Again, these coins are just a few of the biggest winners with the most adoption and market value. Others have proven to be extremely profitable.
Since the turn of the year, the market for most alt-coins shrunk somewhat but they still are making progress as their adoption as means for payment and value-storage grow.
Still, wild fluctuations and unpredictability reign supreme because the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency markets are still in their infancy and will continue to evolve as the technology and blockchain architecture invades many aspects of our lives.
Though Bitcoin will forever be the world’s first coin and will garner all the hype that comes with being the disruptor, many of these other coins do have similar potential. The key is to find which idea and coin you support and buy for the long term as early as possible.
One thing is for sure: if these coins do have Bitcoin-like growth in the years ahead, you don’t want to miss it.
… and, to better understand alternatives coins, it's best to start with the top coin they are competing with…