Whilst most people will almost certainly know what Bitcoin is, fewer people will be familiar with its legacy.
Although Bitcoin is undoubtedly the most popular cryptocurrency, it is by no means the only one. In fact, the cryptocurrency arena is so rife that the other digital currencies have their own name – Altcoins.
The name, unsurprisingly, is derived from ‘Bitcoin alternative’ and therefore can be used to describe any cryptocurrency that is not Bitcoin.
However, just because they share a name, it does not mean that these currencies are identical. Here are top five Altcoins that one day hope to challenge Bitcoin.
Like Bitcoin, Litecoin is a digital currency that is generated by mining and was created in 2011 by Google engineer Charles Lee. The cryptocurrency sees itself as the silver to Bitcoin’s gold, and when comparing them one can see why they think that. Litecoin’s coin limit is much bigger than bigger than Bitcoin’s 21 million, four times bigger in fact at 84 million.
The main difference between the two currencies is the speed at which transactions are verified. Whilst it takes 10 minutes to generate a block, it only takes Litecoin 2.5 minutes. This means that Litecoin can handle much larger volumes of transactions.
At the current exchange rates, 1 Litecoin is worth $2.83099.
Perhaps the strangest digital currency around. The cryptocurrency’s origin story alone makes it fascinating. The best place would be to start with the currency’s mascot or symbol, which is a Shiba Inu dog that was made famous when its picture was used as an internet meme. The currency is meant to be a satire of Bitcoin, but it can still be mined and exchanged for goods. Keeping in touch with its light-hearted approach, Dogecoin’s coin limit is set at 100 billion. At its peak it was estimated that each Dogecoin was worth $400.80.
The currency’s founder, Jackson Palmer, was in the news recently when he said he would be leaving the cryptocurrency community, branding it “toxic”.
Most recent exchange rates put 1000 Dogecoins to be worth $0.12.
3. Ripple’s XRP
Described as Ripple Network’s math-based currency, others have said it resembles more closely an IOU exchange. Unlike the other currencies here, XRP does not behave like Bitcoin. It doesn’t use mining, which is one of the defining features of many Altcoins. Instead it describes its confirmation procedure simply as “concensus”.
The inventors of the system created 100 billion XRP and no more can be created. At the moment Ripple Labs holds 67.5 billion XRP.
The company has been backed by the likes of Andreesen Horowitz and Google Ventures and has most recently approached by the likes of RBS and Westpac.
Currently 1 XRP is worth $0.01.
Huntercoin is a fascinating concept. It’s the first human-minable coin, whereby it can only be mined by playing a P2P game. The game itself is an online multiplayer and real-time strategy game. The more time you put in and the better you arrange your pieces, the more coins you receive.
In terms of specs, Huntercoin is derived from a modified version of Namecoin, which itself is based on Bitcoin code. Transactions take one minute and it is limited to 42m.
One HUC is equivalent to $0.02
Peercoin markets itself as the green alternative to the traditional cryptocurrencies that consume energy like hungry pick-up trucks. It’s based on Bitcoin’s code, although it differs from it by its proof-of-stake system, which addresses network vulnerabilities such as an occurrence of monopoly increases. The other big difference is lack of a hard limit on Peercoins. Instead, the currency is eventually programmed to reach an annual inflation rate of one per cent.
Peercoin is one of the biggest Altcoins with a current market cap of $8,605,602.
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