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Missed out on bitcoin? Consider these cryptocurrencies instead

(Evening Standard)

In 2010 when I first heard of bitcoin, the cryptocurrency was basically worthless. I could have bought 1,000 BTC for about the same price of a couple of new video games at the time.

I chose the video games.

That being said, I was barely out of high school. And while I was nerdy enough to be reading about the novel idea for a decentralized currency, I never could’ve predicted a single bitcoin trading at $20,000 less than a decade later. If I could send a message back in time to that teenager it would be to skip a few of those video game purchases and invest in that weird Internet money he read about. That kid would have been a millionaire.

But is it really too late for him? Despite the huge rallies we’ve seen bitcoin have in 2017, it’s not actually the fastest-growing cryptocurrency out there, and some people think that alternative cryptocurrencies, a.k.a. altcoins, will be the ones to eventually bring the cryptocurrency into the mainstream.

I’ve heard stories of people out there taking out mortgages to buy bitcoin now that it’s blowing up. But is that really necessary when there are dozens of alternative cryptocurrencies with the potential to grow just as much as bitcoin has? I don’t think so. Here are a few alternatives to bitcoin that could make you just as rich.

Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum is a platform that uses programmable blockchain technology to allow developers to build apps and other technologies that wouldn’t be so easily compatible with bitcoin. Just about anyone can create their own Ethereum platform-based cryptocurrency, and because of this, many companies have adopted the platform as a way to raise money for their projects. Trading at about $450 USD at time of writing, the value of Ether (the Ethereum foundation’s own cryptocurrency) has grown 5,525 per cent in the past year and it’s still more than 30 times cheaper than bitcoin.

With a market cap of just over $59 billion USD, Ethereum has become the second-largest cryptocurrency in the world, and its name is becoming just as familiar as bitcoin. With a great track record and brand recognition there’s no doubt that the future looks good for Ethereum. 

Litecoin (LTC)

If you’ve been looking into cryptocurrencies, chances are you’ve also heard of Litecoin. Known as “the silver to bitcoin’s gold,” it was one of the first altcoins to hit the market. Its algorithm is actually based on bitcoin, helping its trustworthiness and adoption rate as bitcoin itself becomes more commonly adopted. However, Litecoin is technically superior to bitcoin, providing faster and cheaper transactions, something that founder Charlie Lee hopes will not only help drive Litecoin’s adoption rate in the coming years, but help the general populace get comfortable with bitcoin as well. This focus on co-operation instead of competition with bitcoin has helped Litecoin grow quickly this past year, with LTC ballooning from $6 USD to about $300 USD (+4,900 per cent) since the beginning of the year.

Ripple saw an increase in value on Friday as it surged to become the world’s second most valuable cryptocurrency in terms of market capitalization. However, Ethereum is still worth more on a per-coin basis. (Digital Trends)

Ripple (XRP)

Ripple is a little different from other cryptocurrencies in that it doesn’t use a straight-up blockchain for its network. Instead it uses a process called iterative consensus. Practically speaking, that difference means Ripple can’t be mined like other cryptocurrencies can. While the number of bitcoins in the world is steadily increasing, Ripple is set at a finite limit of 100 billion. In fact, while bitcoin is best described as decentralized digital currency, Ripple is better described as a transaction network that also has a digital currency. That means the Ripple network can actually be used to track information of any kind, not just a single currency.

Year-to-date, Ripple’s US dollar value has grown 4,400 per cent. Still, XRP value is still under a dollar, meaning an investment now could pay off exponentially a few years from now. Ripple does face some competition from other companies developing decentralized transaction technology. Stellar Lumens, which used the same consensus model as Ripple, criticized it for lacking security. Despite this, Ripple continues to be a major player in the crypto world and has even partnered with banks to test its blockchain without having to sell them on a whole new currency.

Don’t stop here

The most important thing to understand about the cryptocurrency market is that things move at a very fast pace. If you plan on trading crypto, you should not only do your research before buying anything, but generally keep up with what’s happening with crypto market sentiment and the technology behind each coin.

While these are three major contenders in the crypto market, there are dozens that could perform just as well, if not better, than anything we’ve seen before, including bitcoin.

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