Bitcoin is a hotter topic than ever this year, thanks largely to its massive gains late in 2017. Despite the fact that the digital currency has come back down to Earth, so to speak, it’s still being discussed as an intriguing investment commodity (as well as possibly the future of money). More serious investors are taking note, and more amateurs are buying in as well. But in all the commotion about Bitcoin’s growing legitimacy, we can forget that it tends to pull some of the more established altcoins right along with it.
By this point in the growth of cryptocurrency, there are hundreds of altcoins on the market, which can make it tough to sort through them. The following have gained significant value, however, and are worth knowing about if you’re interested in cryptocurrency at all in 2018.
Litecoin has long been considered the alternative to Bitcoin. It was designed as a close replica, but one meant to be a little easier to use (and clearly one operating at a far lower price point). But this year some expect a surge that could turn litecoin from a mimic into a genuine competitor. For instance, one very recent analysis suggested that litecoin could surpass bitcoin cash in 2018, which may make it the second most valuable cryptocurrency available if it proves accurate.
The digital currency of the Ethereum network, ether works more like a token system in theory than as an investment asset itself, effectively like the other cryptocurrencies. Because Ethereum was designed to incentivize people to develop new blockchain functionality, some believe it has the most growth potential of all cryptocurrencies. By extension, some believe ether actually has the greatest potential value in the long term.
Bitcoin Cash was developed to be just what it sounds like: the cash version of Bitcoin. With the original bitcoin having become a commodity in most people’s eyes, bitcoin cash is a forked alternative that is meant to be easier to use in transactions. Because of its close association with Bitcoin, however, it immediately became one of the most popular and valuable altcoins.
This one is somewhat lesser-known by comparison to others on this list, but Uno is an interesting cryptocurrency to keep an eye on. One guide that listed it as one of the most popular altcoins explained that it was built for fair mining using cryptographic proofs, establishing a sort of equal playing field among users in its earliest days. It’s also sort of a fun cryptocurrency, because its name comes from Unobtanium, a fake material from the Marvel Comics universe. But with a price that has nearly touched $400 and is currently steadily above $100, it’s a viable alterantive cryptocurrency.
The appeal of Zcash is that it is designed with privacy in mind. It appeals to those who are particularly uncertain about using cryptocurrencies, and thus it has a fairly large user base. In early January, Zcash hit a price near $900, which is more than most cryptocurrencies can say (though it’s now back down closer to $400).