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What are the Top 7 Cryptocurrencies?

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If you’re new to the cryptocurrency terrain, it can undoubtedly be confusing! 

There are thousands of cryptocurrencies. As the technology grows in popularity, more people are entering the space both as users and creators. And judging by the trend, there are likely to be exponentially more people entering the space. 

But how can you tell the difference between the investment opportunity of a lifetime vs. just another memecoin wasting your time, energy, and money? 

Well, to begin with, when selecting a cryptocurrency to invest in, it’s important to go with one that has a vision in mind. After all, the “crypto” may be what makes it confusing and safe but the “currency” is what makes it valuable. If there’s not an adequate vision, the wrong crypto could just be wasting space on the Internet, collecting cash, and wasting energy. 

It’s clear at this point that not every cryptocurrency is effective or economically viable in the long term. 

Part of what makes the following cryptocurrencies not just relevant, but popular, is their inherent economic viability. They can be nationally, or even globally popular, but the most important part to note is their infrastructure. After all, you want a currency that can: 

  • allow for a return on your investment
  • be as viable (or better) than the original Bitcoin model
  • have the potential for sustainability in the market  

According to Time Magazine, with NextAdvisor*, the Top 7 cryptocurrencies via Coindesk 20 are:

  1. Bitcoin
  2. Ether
  3. XRP
  4. Tether
  5. Ada
  6. Stellar
  7. Chainlink

*as of May 26, 2021

Now, What Does That Mean?

These are the top cryptocurrencies in circulation. This can make them a good potential investment or crypto that just might shift your focus from fiat currency to the digital dollars sweeping the nation, and world. Here’s a brief rundown of the top 7 and what sets them apart from each other. 

Bitcoin

Bitcoin (BTC) is the O.G. cryptocurrency. On Halloween 2008, a white paper was published under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. It presented a new approach to finance: a peer-to-peer cash system.  Based on scarcity, new currency gets added to the economy when members “mine” by validating transactions through a proof of work system. Bitcoin is often compared to gold because its value is connected to its scarcity.

A bit about proof of work

The proof of work system roughly means miners compete to amend blocks of the blockchain. The more effective their work both in computing power and efficacy, the more likely they are to receive a crypto-reward. Those crypto rewards are how new cryptocurrencies enter the market.

This method requires a great amount of computing power because your private key does remain private.   

Pros of Bitcoin

Bitcoin is the original, the most valuable, and the most popular cryptocurrency. It’s currently bouncing back and forth between being priced at $30,000 to $50,000 USD. As the oldest currency, it’s the most economically viable, for now. It is also the most widely known and understood which means more people are using it, which adds to its economic power. 

Cons of Bitcoin 

Bitcoin is volatile. At its core, the goal of cryptocurrency is to be decentralized. But when the value of a cryptocurrency can so easily rise and fall from the tweets of a billionaire, it calls into question the entire system. 

Also, the evolution of the proof of work system and rampant competition have increased the amount of computing power and energy required to mine cryptocurrency. So all of the people who compete but do not “win” the crypto rewards add up to a lot of wasted energy. This aspect of waste is being legitimately attacked for its impact on the carbon footprint of Bitcoin. At present, it’s comparable to the carbon footprint of New Zealand (!)

Ether

Ether (ETH) is the main cryptocurrency on the Ethereum network. Ethereum is an open-source blockchain, meaning you can build other cryptocurrencies and apps on Ethereum. Vitalik Buterin, a co-founder of Bitcoin Magazine, published a white paper in late 2013 with the goal of building decentralized applications. After crowdfunding, it went live in July 2015. Ethereum is currently priced at around 2-3 thousand dollars (USD).

Pros of Ethereum

One major pro of Ethereum is it is the second-largest cryptocurrency. The success of the Ethereum network has helped drive up the value of and draw more adoption to Ether. After all, the NFT craze and success of some apps and cryptocurrencies on the Ethereum network does draw more potential users. Adoption can be the biggest barrier to cryptocurrency, so popularity does help drive up value. 

Cons of Ethereum

The cons of Ethereum have to do with scalability. Its success has helped drive up the price and profitability of Ether, but the lack of scarcity has made its value limited. If Bitcoin value can be compared to gold, Ether would be like gas, valuable but more plentiful. Ether is also very volatile. 

Also, since Ethereum is a network, there’s a certain level of complexity that can provide a barrier to some users and potential investors. 

XRP

Similar to Ether, XRP is the main cryptocurrency on the Ripple network. Ripple was created to facilitate the transfer of money internationally. XRP is roughly around $0.80 (USD).

Pros of XRP

The pros of XRP are that the transaction fees are low and transactions get processed quickly. These can be the pitfalls of cryptocurrency trading. Miners are incentivized by transaction fees. And so these fees can help you get your transitions processed more quickly. But they can cut into your profit margin if you are trading to try and make money from crypto trading. With the volatility of the Ethereum and Bitcoin blockchains, a small delay can mean a decent amount of money. These are both benefits to XRP but…there are problems. 

Cons of XRP

There’s a major SEC lawsuit against Ripple. The US Securities and Exchange Commission alleges Ripple sold $1.3 billion in unregistered securities through its XRP cryptocurrency. This has put a clincher on the growth of the platform and the cryptocurrency. It’s not been available on all cryptocurrency exchanges and despite the profitability, this lawsuit has likely kept the price down

Tether

Tether (USDT) is a stablecoin. A stablecoin is “tethered” to another cryptocurrency,  fiat currency, or an exchange-traded commodity. That tether is meant to maintain its value. Tether is tethered to the United States dollar. It’s traded on the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange. Originally called “Realcoin” and based on Bitcoin it was based on cryptocurrencies tied to the USD, Euro, and Yen. But now Tether is tied to the USD. Tether is, you guessed it, fixed at $1.00. 

Pros of Tether 

The most major pro of Tether is that it’s stable. Being fixed at one dollar does mean that it’s easier to track its value and easier to understand.

Cons of Tether

There are a lot of controversies where Tether is concerned. There has been a question as to how much of it is actually backed by physical US dollars. For the cryptocurrency to be actually valuable, it should correspond to actual money. 

Think of it like the US Treasury. If there is money being used that doesn’t correspond to actual cash it would destabilize the economy. Say there were 100 tether coins out in the market, those should all correspond to one physical dollar in the possession of Tether owner Bitfinex. That assures their value. 

There are conflicting reports of it being backed by 74% of actual cash. Tether has released information on their holdings revealing only 2.9% of Tether is backed by actual cash, with over 65% backed by commercial paper. Commercial paper is essentially an I.O.U. that can be bought and sold. 

Ada

Ada (ADA) is the main cryptocurrency on the Cardano blockchain platform. It’s open-source and relies on a proof of stake model. It’s also highly committed to remaining decentralized. The proof of stake is intended to consume less energy than the proof of work model. Ada is valued at about $1.31 at the time of publication. 

Pros of Ada

One big pro of Ada/Cardano is the proof of stake model. The proof of work model is the main issue with the environmental concerns with crypto mining. The amount of computing power required to mine cryptocurrency means a lot of wasted energy. Instead, miners must have large amounts of coins in their possession so their stake in the cryptocurrency “keeps them honest.”

The proof of work model is meant to deter hackers by having the amount of computing power being a financial motivator to deter people from trying to attack the blockchain. The proof of stake model relies on people invested in the cryptocurrency being committed and invested to help maintain the cryptocurrency. 

Cons of Ada

Some of the cons of Ada are that, while it is technologically an improvement on some other blockchains, that doesn’t guarantee that it will become widely adopted. The technological improvements do not guarantee it is easier to use or adopt. There’s also talk of adding voting to the Cardano network for upgrades to the blockchain. 

But that can cause an issue for the technology. Cardona is widely adopted by Japan but there is also talk of it potentially not being able to coordinate with other blockchains. 

Lumen

Lumen (XLM) is the main cryptocurrency of the Stellar network. The Stellar network was designed as a protocol for exchanging currency. It’s designed to sell and trade multiple fiat and cryptocurrencies. A lumen is roughly $0.26 USD.

Pros of Lumen 

The pros of Lumen are all related to the Stellar network. The Stellar network is consistently getting upgraded. It also has a high trade volume and has high-profile relationships with multiple international companies, including IBM.

Cons of Lumen 

The cons of the Lumen as a currency is that there’s more of a focus on the Stellar network vs. the Lumen cryptocurrency. 

Lumen also derives some of its pricing models on Bitcoin, but unlike Bitcoin, it does not offer mining rewards. This, as well as its lack of popularity, are turn-offs. It also may not survive US or international regulation due to some of these factors. 

Chainlink (LINK) is also another cryptocurrency that is tied to the benefits it brings to the crypto-community. 

Chainlink is an oracle network that provides the opportunity for smart contracts. Smart contracts allow for digital legal contracts written into code. Chainlink is also able to provide real-time data to blockchains. So this allows for accurate reporting. 1 LINK is priced at about $17.49. 

Pros of Chainlink

To start, think of Chainlink like crypto lawyers or crypto-traders. Chainlink facilitates the ability to write anonymous contracts that can cross blockchains. It can also collect data across blockchains to be able to provide you with accurate numbers. 

Chainlink has high-profile connections with companies like SWIFT and Google Cloud. There are also some financial benefits to providing information to Chainlink. The reporting is a big benefit to the Chainlink network. 

Cons of Chainlink

Similarly, the focus on the chainlink network is on the benefits of smart contracts and crypto reporting. So is there much focus on nurturing the LINK currency? There are also potential security risks to using a single oracle network

These are just a few of the cryptocurrencies on the market. They vary in value, ease of use, and potential benefits. Part of investing in crypto is a waiting game, numbers game, and understanding the space, so here’s hoping this information has helped you to have a firmer grasp on the concepts and the players in the cryptocurrency world. 

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