A cryptocurrency is a digital asset created to work as a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure the transactions and to control the creation of additional units of the currency. Approximately three million people are actively using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, according to a study done at the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.

Before the birth of Bitcoin, the world witnessed the shutdown of e-Gold, an early internet digital currency backed by gold (pre-blockchain). Bitcoin has remained the dominant cryptocurrency both in terms of market capitalization and usage despite it losing market capital share to other cryptocurrencies, declining from 86 percent to 72 percent in the past two years. Bitcoin currently has a market capitalization of around $33,530,643,250, with a price of around $2,038.32.


Bitcoin was launched by an individual or group known under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto and it became the first decentralized cryptocurrency in 2009. Numerous cryptocurrencies have been created afterwards in the wake of it’s success.

Satoshi Nakamoto published the paper ‘Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System’ in 2008 and released it’s source code hence making it open-source, and fundamentally taking digital currency to a new level.

Bitcoin v0.1 was announced publicly through the cryptography mailing list in January 2009. By February 9th, 2011, Bitcoin quickly gained in popularity and pricing to a level of 1 US Dollar. The increasing number of miners all over the world, as well as the launch of various exchanges and people or companies, elevated Bitcoin to a market capitalization of around 10 billion US Dollar, or around 7.38 billion EUR as of 2014. Currently, Bitcoin’s market capitalization and price are averaging around $38,327,177,019 and $2,330.97 respectively, with lots of fluctuation, some very large movements up and down as of recently. Since the publication of the first version of the Bitcoin code, it has been improved by volunteers all over the world and is funded by donations from the public and small transaction fees.

Bitcoin has been forked since it’s source code is accessible by anyone. The forked Bitcoin cropped up alternative coins or altcoins, but most of these altcoins were pre-mined and their (miners) only goal is likely to just make some money; there appears to be no intentions of furthering the development of most of these projects at all.

Litecoin (LTC)

Litecoin was launched in the year 2011 by Charlie Lee, an MIT graduate and former Google engineer. It was among the initial cryptocurrencies following bitcoin and has been referred to as ‘silver to Bitcoin’s gold.’ Litecoin is based on an open source global payment network – uncontrolled by any central authority and uses scrypt as a proof of work. The scrypt can be decoded with the help of consumer grade CPUs. Litecoin has a faster block generation rate and hence offers faster transaction confirmation as compared to Bitcoin. Other than developers, Litecoin has received acceptance from a growing number of merchants. Consequently, Litecoin has got a market capitalization of around $2,116,076,684, with a price of about  $40.69, which of course fluctuates.

Ripple (XRP)

Released in 2012, Ripple is a real-time global settlement network that offers instant, certain, and low-cost international payments. Ripple enables banks to settle payments across borders in real time, with end-to-end transparency, and at lower costs than conventional methods. Ripple’s consensus ledger does not need mining as a method of conformation, a feature that differentiates it from Bitcoin and altcoins. The usage of computing, power, as well as network latency, is reduced since Ripple’s structure does not require mining.

Ripple believes in distributing value as a powerful way of incentivizing certain behaviors and therefore currently plans to distribute XRP majorly through business development deals, incentives to liquidity providers who offer tighter spreads for payments, and selling XRP to institutional buyers interested in investing in XRP.Ripple. It is currently priced at about $0.171325, and has a market capitalization of around $6,560,272,013.

Dash (Originally Darkcoin)

Dash is a more secretive version of Bitcoin that was launched in January 2014 by Evan Duffield. Dash received a massive following over a short period of time after it was launched. Dash offers more anonymity as it works on a decentralized master code network that makes transactions almost untraceable. Dash can be mined using a CPU or GPU.

In March 2015, ‘Darkcoin’ was rebranded as Dash – Digital Cash – and operates under the ticker symbol – DASH. The rebranding did not change any of it’s technological features such as Darksend, InstantX, etc. Dash currently has a market capitalization of around $1,049,610,958, with a price of about $141.29.

Monero (XMR)

Monero is a secure, private, and untraceable currency that was launched in 2014 as an open source cryptocurrency. Monero gained grounds among the cryptography community and enthusiasts soon after it was launched.

Monero’s development is completely donation-based and community-driven. Monero uses a special technique called ring signatures to strongly focus on decentralization and scalability, and enables complete privacy. With the technique of ring signatures, a group of cryptographic signatures appears including at least one real participant – but since they all appear valid, the real one cannot be isolated. Monero enjoys a market capitalization and price of around $476,191,595 and about $32.20 respectively.

Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum was launched in 2015 as a decentralized software platform that enables Smart Contracts and Distributed Applications to be built and run without any time loss, fraud, centralized control, or third party interference. During 2014, Ethereum’s ether had received a great response as a pre-sale token.

The applications on Ethereum are run on it’s platform-specific cryptographic token, ether that enables movement around the Ethereum platform. Ether is sought by mostly developers looking to develop and run applications inside of Ethereum. According to Ethereum, it can be used to codify, decentralize, secure, and trade just about anything.

Ethereum was split into Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC) after the attack on the DAO in 2016. Ethereum (ETH) has a market capitalization of around $15,724,647,599, second after Bitcoin among all cryptocurrencies, with a price of about $168.51. Ethereum Classic (ETC) has a market capitalization and price of around $1,421,101,522 and about $15.18 respectively.

Zcash (ZEC)

Zcash is a promising, decentralized, and open-source cryptocurrency that was launched in the latter part of 2016 by Zooko Wilcox. Privacy and selective transparency of transactions are what Zcash offers. Zcash provides extra security and/or privacy where all transactions are recorded and published on a blockchain. Details such as the sender, recipient, and amount remain private. Zcash offers it’s users the choice of shielded transactions, which allows for content to be encrypted using an advanced cryptographic technique or zero-knowledge proof construction called a zk-SNARK developed by it’s team. Zcash is currently hovering around $288,032,481 and about $164.72 in it’s market capitalization and price respectively.

Bitcoin continues to be the king of cryptocurrencies, in terms of market capitalization, user base, price, and popularity. Nevertheless, virtual currencies such as Ethereum and Ripple are becoming more popular for enterprise solutions, while some altcoins are being supported and backed for superior or advanced features in relation to Bitcoin. How many cryptocurrencies will emerge leaders amid the growing competition will only be revealed as time goes by. Digital currencies are and will likely continue to change the way that we do business and personal finances.


http://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/bitcoin/ http://www.investopedia.com/news/monero-black-markets-where-bitcoin-isnt-anonymous-enough/