2. Rise of Blockchain

The Top Five Cryptocurrencies

Apart from Bitcoin, which is almost universally known, there were over 1,300 cryptocurrencies on the market at the end of November 2017. Here we review the top five by market capitalization:

  • Bitcoin. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to be traded and today remains the most commonly used. With a market cap of around $180 billion, Bitcoin stands head and shoulders above any other cryptocurrency and is considered the gold standard for this industry.
  • Ethereum. Way behind in second place to Bitcoin is Ether. This is the currency token used in the Ethereum blockchain and has a market cap of over $18 billion. Developed in 2015, Ethereum is a Turing-complete programmable currency. This gives it an edge over Bitcoin because it enables developers to build different technologies and apps around it, and it can process complex contracts and programs besides transactions. For these reasons, Ethereum’s blockchain code has been used to launch other cryptocurrencies in 2017.
  • Ripple. Ripple has already been used by several banks, including UBS and Santander, because it can track other transactions besides cryptocurrency. Founded in 2012, Ripple has a market cap of $10 billion.
  • Litecoin. Litecoin was developed soon after Bitcoin and is similar in form. However, Litecoin has developed new innovations, with a mining algorithm that enables faster payments than Bitcoin and processes that allow many more transactions. Its market cap is in the region of $5 billion.
  • Monero. This open-source cryptocurrency has developed an algorithm with enhanced security and privacy features over Bitcoin. Unlike many of the other cryptocurrencies that are based on Bitcoin, Monero was developed using the less transparent CryptoNote protocol. Its opacity and open-source model, however, have counted against it, as consumers are wary that it can be used to cloak the activities of fraudsters and hackers. Accordingly, Monero’s growth has been weak.

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