Since 2009, with the introduction of Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency market has captured the interests of technology enthusiasts, investors, and many others. In early 2019, Investopedia noted that there were over 1,600 cryptocurrencies in existence, with the options expanding and changing every day.
The foundational technology of cryptocurrency – blockchain – has found its way into other business applications and cryptocurrency options continue to grow and become more readily available to the general public, so investing in cryptocurrency remains an important financial topic ten years after the first kind of cryptocurrency debuted.
What’s currently at the top of the notable digital currency list? What are some worth investing in, following, or researching further? Here are the types of digital money to take notice of.
Most Popular Digital Currency
Bitcoin started it all and remains one of the most valuable forms of cryptocurrency on the market. The Bitcoin website does a good job at describing both its own form of cryptocurrency, as well as the overall concept of cryptocurrency for consumers: “Bitcoin is a consensus network that enables a new payment system and completely digital money. It is the first decentralized peer-to-peer payment network that is powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen… Nobody owns the Bitcoin network much like no one owns the technology behind email. Bitcoin is controlled by all Bitcoin users around the world.” One major thing to note about Bitcoin is that there will be a limited amount of Bitcoins ever mined by developers, which will affect the overall value of the currency.
Litecoin was once described as “silver to bitcoin’s gold.” It was created by Charlie Lee, an MIT graduate, and former Google engineer. Similar to Bitcoin, this currency “spinoff” is based on an open-source global payment network that is not controlled by any central authority. Like Bitcoin in many ways, it has a faster block generation rate for faster transaction confirmation.
Investopedia describes Ethereum as “a decentralized software platform that enables Smart Contracts and Distributed Applications (DApps) to be built and run without any downtime, fraud, control or interference from a third party. The applications on an ethereum are run on its platform-specific cryptographic token, ether. Ether is like a vehicle for moving around on the ethereum platform and is sought by mostly developers looking to develop and run applications inside ethereum, or now by investors looking to make purchases of other digital currencies using ether.” Ethereum, it’s safe to say, is growing in usefulness and popularity due to its versatility.
According to the Ripple site, “Ripple connects banks and payment providers via RippleNet to provide one frictionless experience for sending and receiving money globally.” This means that banks can more easily settle cross-border payments in real-time for less money and greater transparency. It also sets itself apart from other cryptocurrencies as it doesn’t require mining, so it uses less computing power and remains a popular digital currency looking for ways to revolutionize international payments.
Bitcoin Cash is a very interesting alt-currency. The core of a successful peer to peer money networks is that they are centralized – no one person controls it. But in order to operate effectively, or to make any changes to the code, there must be a consensus in the group. When there is a dispute or disagreement, the cryptocurrency code can break off – in this case leaving Bitcoin as Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash becoming the currency of the dissenters. The issue that created the split was the issue of Bitcoin scalability; Bitcoin Cash increases the block size to enable faster transactions.
Libra/Globalcoin is newsworthy cryptocurrency because it would be the digital currency developed by Facebook. In early 2019, Coindesk reported that the social media giant and technology powerhouse might be creating their own cryptocurrency to add to the services and features of their platform. This was supported by Facebook’s hiring of crypto-economist Christian Catalini, from MIT, as well as other alt-currency and digital currency experts. Establishing its own currency would allow Facebook to offer retailers and individuals the opportunity to spend and send money without the transaction fees currently imposed by payment institutions.
Cryptocurrencies and your business
The last decade has proved that cryptocurrency isn’t a fad or a passing trend. This digital currency list is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive, but it does represent some of the names to at least be familiar with. Understanding what they have to offer businesses is an important first step in gauging relevance and usefulness
Both individuals and business leaders alike have taken interest in cryptocurrencies and endeavor to follow the trends to stay current. Not only do some people have personal investments that could be affected by the cryptocurrency market, but as cryptocurrency grows more stable and blockchain continues to evolve past cryptocurrency usage, businesses have taken note as they may need to accept cryptocurrency as payment in the near future or use crypto-related technology to stay competitive and agile. Even if your business isn’t technology-focused, staying up to date on big cryptocurrency developments is a smart move.