By Josiah Wilmoth
A cryptocurrency is a digital currency that relies on cryptography to secure its network. At the time of writing, there were nearly 900 cryptocurrencies, along with more than 200 crypto assets.
With such a dizzying number of cryptocurrencies available, investors often have a hard time figuring out which ones are worth investing in. This is why Strategic Coin has set out to provide the educational materials and market research reports investors need to take advantage of opportunities in the crypto finance markets. Below, this article provides a short introduction to the three most popular cryptocurrencies, as determined by daily trading volume:
Bitcoin was the world’s first cryptocurrency and remains the most prominent, both in terms of public awareness and total valuation. It was released in 2009 by a programmer or group of programmers operating under the name Satoshi Nakamoto and was designed as a “peer-to-peer electronic cash system.” Bitcoin is an open-source project and is currently maintained by a community of developers known as Bitcoin Core.
Bitcoin introduced the first blockchain, a distributed public ledger that records all transactions and eliminates the need for a centralized authority to validate transactions and prevent counterfeiting. Because the blockchain is immutable, Bitcoin provides users with the ability to make trustless transactions across international borders with relative ease.
Bitcoin has a maximum coin supply of 21 million, of which about 16.5 million are currently in circulation. Coins enter into circulation through a process known as mining, in which users receive rewards for contributing computing power to the network to validate transactions and increase its security.
Since Bitcoin is an open-source project, hundreds of developers have used its codebase as a starting point to launch their own cryptocurrencies, known as altcoins. One early altcoin that continues to remain popular is Litecoin.
Introduced by developer Charlie Lee in 2011, Litecoin fashioned itself as “silver to Bitcoin’s gold”. It was not meant to replace bitcoin, which would continue to function as a long-term store of value, much as gold has done throughout history. Rather, it was designed to serve as an everyday payment system. To this end, Litecoin offers faster transaction confirmation times and a larger coin supply than Bitcoin, features which supporters believe make it ideal for peer-to-peer transactions.
Litecoin was also the first cryptocurrency to adopt Segregated Witness (SegWit), a protocol upgrade designed to address scaling and security problems (Bitcoin activated SegWit a few months after Litecoin). SegWit enables the creation of Lightning Networks, payment channels that will facilitate instant and near-costless transactions. Significantly, these transactions can occur across blockchains between any SegWit-compatible coins, reducing the need for centralized cryptocurrency exchanges.
Litecoin has a maximum coin supply of 84 million, of which nearly 53 million are currently in circulation.
Ethereum is a decentralized computing platform that facilitates the creation and deployment of smart contracts, which are applications that run in the Ethereum blockchain. Smart contracts can serve a myriad of functions, but one of the most prominent has been to create crypto “tokens” that run on top of and are secured by the Ethereum blockchain.
Unlike cryptocurrencies, which are usually intended to serve as “digital cash”, these tokens often have very specific purposes, such as purchasing cloud storage space. Startups generally distribute tokens through initial coin offerings (ICOs), wherein they sell or auction coins to investors to fund the development of the project. Because they share a blockchain, tokens are stored in Ethereum-compatible wallets and sent to Ethereum addresses.
Ethereum has a native currency, ether, which also serves as the fuel for the platform’s smart contracts. Colloquially, the price of ether is often referred to as the “ethereum price”. There are currently about 95 million ether in circulation. At present, the ether supply inflates by 18 million units annually, although developers anticipate that this number will decrease once the network transitions to a more-efficient consensus algorithm.
Strategic Coin is your go-to source for cryptocurrency investment research and education. Whether you need help understanding the basics of blockchain technology or desire to read an in-depth analysis of the latest initial coin offering, Strategic Coin will provide you with the information you need to understand the crypto finance industry.