Here are the top 10 biggest cryptocurrencies according to crypto tracker CoinMarketCap.
1. Bitcoin BTC
Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency to emerge in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
Created by an anonymous programmer or group of individuals under the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, the token rose to spectacular popularity in 2017.
But despite rapidly skyrocketing in value, bitcoin’s detractors are worried about the token’s incredibly volatility, slow speeds and transaction fees.
There are currently more than 16.8 million BTC tokens in circulation, out of a predetermined 21 million token limit.
2. Ethereum ETH
Ethereum is the second most popular platform in the crypto community and is often touted as bitcoin’s main rival.
But unlike bitcoin, Ethereum was developed as a “world computer” super network of sorts, for the decentralised development of apps that would do away with third party companies like Google and Apple.
All of the apps developed on Ethereum are on a distributed public platform where miners work to earn Ether to fuel the network.
Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin argued that bitcoin laid the foundation for blockchain technology but ETH has the potential to be “a more programmable money”.
3. Ripple XRP
Ripple seemingly came out of nowhere towards the end of 2017, when it briefly shot past Ethereum and then settled in third place in January 2018.
Despite appearing to be a competitor to bitcoin, Ripple serves a different purpose and is in fact a centralised transaction network used by banks for money transfers just like SWIFT.
Money sent on the Ripple network is converted into the XRP token on one end and then back into the currency of choice at the other end.
Ripple’s management are certain that XRP offers a faster and reliable alternative to other tokens like bitcoin.
4. Bitcoin Cash BCH
For a brief moment in August 2017, discord between bitcoin adopters over BTC’s technical limitations led to what is known as a fork in the blockchain.
The result of that fork was the birth of a whole new token, with new rules and a new blockchain.
A group of frustrated miners ‘forked’ the token by switching to new software, hoping it could grow and scale in a way that bitcoin could not.
5. Cardano ADA
Cardano is another platform used to send and receive digital money, employing the use of its digital token ADA.
Similarly to Ether, the Cardamon network aims to run decentralised apps on the blockchain.
It was created by Ethereum co-founder Charles Hopkinson in 2015 and it is sometimes referred to as the “Ethereum of Japan” because 95 percent of its initial coin offerings (ICOs) were Japanese.
Cardano is managed by an international group of scientists and academics specialising in blockchain technology.
6. Stellar XLM
Stellar is another success story, having grown by 29,400 percent through 2017 alone.
As an offshoot of Ripple, Stellar was launched in 2014 by Ripple co-founder Jed McCaleb and former lawyer Jouce Kim following internal disputes with Ripple.
Just like its predecessor, Stellar is a transaction network boasting fast and efficient money transfers across borders. The network is fully open source.
7. NEO NEO
NEO is an emerging platform and digital token which enables the development of smart contracts and assets on the blockchain.
The cryptocurrency is compared to Ethereum because the two platforms share similar roles and goals.
But according to blockchain investor Noam Levenson, NEO is working towards developing a project of the future, in anticipation of future demands.
He said: “Neo’s objective, while ultimately utilising many of the same technologies as Ethereum, is to be the platform for a new smart economy.”
8. Litecoin LTC
Litecoin is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency and is often referred to as bitcoin’s little brother.
But the most notable differences are litecoin’s much faster transaction speeds, and 84 million token limit and a more memory intensive mining process.
Litecoin was announced in 2011 as the ‘silver’ to bitcoin’s ‘gold’ and was at the time the second largest crypto by market cap.
9. EOS EOS
EOS is another blockchain platform aiming to dethrone Ethereum as the go to infrastructure for decentralised apps.
EOS was created by Bitshares founder Dan Larimer and revealed to the world at the Consensus 2017 event alongside and ICO lauch.
The platform was created to surpass Ethereum’s low number of transactions per second, which EOS’ founders believed was not high enough to support the ‘internet of things’ in the future.
EOS boasts up to 50,000 transaction conformations per second, which would put it ahead of both Ethereum and VISA in terms of speed.
10. NEM XEM
NEM is a distributed blockchain and cryptocurrency with its signature XEM token.
NEM’s management claim to “push the blockchain performance further” by design it from the ground up for speed and scale.