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What Are the Most Common Cryptocurrencies?

Bitcoin’s revolutionary moment wasn’t just in creating an entirely new currency, but in the digital ledger that accompanied it, known as the blockchain. Crypto founders followed these principles, using a digital database to store all bitcoin transactions on a peer-to-peer network. These transactions were permanent, immutable, and recorded on the blockchain for all to see.

Over time, different technological tradeoffs and advancements have given birth to several new cryptocurrencies. Read on to know some of the largest cryptocurrencies in the world, with brief summaries of each.

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What are the largest cryptocurrencies?

Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, but it’s not the only decentralized digital currency on the market. According to CoinMarketCap, more than 18,000 cryptocurrencies exist, with new ones constantly coming through the pipeline. Let’s look at the top 15 cryptocurrencies by market cap at the time of writing this article (July 2022).

Bitcoin (BTC)

Market cap: $372.3 billion

Bitcoin is the first thought that comes to most people’s minds when talking about cryptocurrency. Satoshi Nakamoto’s digital currency has become almost synonymous with the concept of cryptocurrency itself. Bitcoin exists on its own blockchain, with miners creating new blocks and receiving rewards. The reward is halved until BTC reaches its cap of 21 million coins. Bitcoin supporters value it over others for many reasons, including its decentralization and security. Experts predict that BTC will reach this limit in 2140.

Ethereum (ETH)

Market cap: $128.9 billion

Ethereum is a blockchain platform on which ether, its coin, exists. Ether is used to buy blockspace on the Ethereum blockchain, with the price of blockspace fluctuating based on demand. It’s the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and a programmable asset that allows buyers to create, launch, and monetize "dApps." ETH currently uses a proof-of-work (PoW) protocol to ensure mining security, although the platform plans to transition to a proof-of-stake (PoS) over the next year.

Unlike Bitcoin, ETH has a fixed emission schedule, although recent protocol upgrades may lead to lower inflation than Bitcoin. In periods of high volume, transaction fees have been high leading many cost-conscious users to venture into other chains. However, recent scaling solutions called layer 2s promise to give users the ability to transact at a lower cost while still having the strong security guarantees of the Ethereum network.

Tether (USDT)

Market cap: $66.1 billion

Tether’s value is linked to the US dollar, making it a stablecoin. Each coin is worth $1, and the tokens themselves are supposedly backed 1 to 1 with actual dollars in the Tether Foundation’s reserves, meaning if the price were to drop, the foundation would be able to restore the peg. Tether was the first stablecoin and is presently the most widely used. Traders often use USDT as an intermediary when moving between cryptocurrencies instead of reverting to dollars, as it not only levies low transaction charges but also is compatible with other cryptocurrencies.

USD Coin (USDC)

Market cap: $55.8 billion

USDC is a stablecoin natively built on Ethereum’s blockchain network, which, much like Tether, is pegged to the USD. USDC offers stability, transparency, and convenience, allowing users to transfer USDC 24/7. USDC can is issued by Circle, which like the Tether Foundation is responsible for maintaining the 1-to-1 backing and price stability.

Binance Coin (BNB)

Market cap: $36 billion

BNB is a form of cryptocurrency used on Binance, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges. Initially run on the Ethereum network, BNB has since moved to its own blockchain and is locked in constant competition with Ethereum. BNB offers some of the best utility tokens on the cryptocurrency market, with fast transactions at low fees and a relatively large ecosystem of applications. BNB employs a burning system where vast amounts of BNB are destroyed during fixed periods to reduce supply, potentially increasing price.

Binance USD (BUSD)

Market cap: $17.5 billion

Launched in 2019, BUSD is another cryptocurrency on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s a stablecoin from Binance and Paxos that ties to the US dollar. The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) approves using BUSD tokens.

Cardano (ADA)

Market cap: $15.4 billion

Cardano was launched by Charles Hoskinson, a co-founder of Ethereum, in 2017. Cardano markets itself as a third-generation blockchain and smart contract platform, which is potentially more scalable and decentralized than competitors. Cardano is known for taking a slow and steady approach with peer-reviewed papers, meaning although it may have superior designs and security, the pace of new feature development has been slower than its competitors.

XRP (XRP)

Market cap: $15.4 billion

Formerly known as Ripple, XRP allows users to pay in various real-world fiat currencies through a global network used by many financial institutions. XRP was built to be useful for cross-border transactions by financial institutions. It has a large supply of 100 billion coins.

Solana (SOL)

Market cap: $11.3 billion

Solana is a relatively new blockchain platform that creates the cryptocurrency SOL. It’s a big player in decentralized finance (DeFi) and smart contracts. SOL is an environment-friendly cryptocurrency whose supply is limited to 489 million tokens. Solana gained huge popularity as a cheaper and faster alternative to ether when Ethereum transaction fees spiked.

Dogecoin (DOGE)

Market cap: $8.6 billion

Originally, Dogecoin’s creators launched cryptocurrency as a joke. It takes inspiration from the famous Shiba Inu “Doge” internet meme, representing how a dog would speak. DOGE is an altcoin that has grown in popularity largely due to the support of Tesla’s founder Elon Musk. DOGE has no maximum cap and exists on its own blockchain using a PoW system. Critics of DOGE point out that it lacks technical differentiation and its value is highly reliant on memes and influencers such as Elon Musk.

Dai (DAI)

Market cap: $6.7 billion

Dai is a stablecoin that aims to maintain a 1:1 value with the US dollar, much like USDT, USDC, and BUSD. Launched by MakerDAO in 2017, DAI exists on Ethereum’s blockchain through The Maker Protocol open-source software. Unlike the stablecoins previously mentioned in the article, DAI is relatively decentralized, so users can transfer and store without the approval of a centralized authority. However, USDC backs DAI, meaning if an entity were to freeze its USDC, the protocol could be at risk.

Polkadot (DOT)

Market cap: $6.6 billion

Polkadot aims to allow different cryptocurrencies to operate with each other, leading to more connections between blockchains than competitors such as Ethereum, BNB, and Solana.

Tron (TRX)

Market cap: $6 billion

Launched in 2017, Tron is a decentralized blockchain network that uses smart contracts on a PoS protocol. Its currency is Tronix or TRX. Tron’s founder, the Tron Foundation, initially geared Tron toward the Asian market. However, Tron has since found global appeal. Tron has recently opted to create its own stablecoin, USDD, whose value is maintained by minting and burning TRX. This has caused the currency to spike in popularity but may lead to a death spiral, completely destroying all value like the one that occurred in Luna.

UNUS SED LEO (LEO)

Market cap: $5.8 billion

iFinex launched LEO in 2019 as a part of its cryptocurrency project on Bitfinex, a crypto exchange similar to Binance. The token’s price recently spiked when the US government found billions of Bitcoin that were stolen from the exchange, as users hope they will be compensated.

Shiba Inu (SHIB)

Market cap: $5.5 billion

Shiba Inu arrived in 2020 and exists on top of Ethereum’s blockchain. Nicknamed “the Dogecoin killer,” SHIB was launched by Ryoshi, an anonymous entity similar to Satoshi Nakamoto. Ryoshi refers to SHIB as a community-run cryptocurrency in its whitepaper— “Woofpaper”—as SHIB continues to garner a reputation as a Dogecoin alternative. Criticisms of Shiba Inu are similar to that of Dogecoin and other memecoins in that their value is determined from cultural relevance rather than any technical differentiation or network effects.

Who should invest in cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrencies have quickly progressed into the mainstream financial landscape and are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with traditional fiat currencies and other financial products. Though still largely considered a speculative investment, institutional investors have begun paying attention, gobbling up large shares of digital currencies as part of high-risk managed funds. The risks are high, but the returns are substantial in the right market.

For the average trader, this volatility level may be often too difficult to withstand. And while we aren’t here to give investment advice, it is worth saying that you should never risk what you can’t afford to lose.

Worldcoin is a new cryptocurrency that aims to give every human on Earth a free share without compromising privacy. At Worldcoin, we aim to increase individual empowerment and equality of opportunity globally. Subscribe to our blog for more news and information on the world of cryptocurrency!

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