The crypto market is huge, and there are more than 2,000 active digital currencies, each with its own goal, technology, and plan to change the world. However, in order to find real diversity, there is no need to check out all of them. In fact, it is enough to check the five largest coins by market cap in order to see how different cryptocurrencies can really be. While there are no stablecoins or privacy coins among them, these five digital coins can still show us a lot regarding crypto diversity.
To properly understand what this means, let’s review the top 5 coins, and see how they compare. According to data provided by the CoinMarketCap, five cryptocurrencies with largest market capitalization include Bitcoin (BTC), XRP (XRP), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Stellar (XLM).
Bitcoin is a coin that needs no introduction. Even if you have never heard the word “cryptocurrency”, you have, almost certainly, heard the word “Bitcoin” at least once in your life. This is the number one coin, originally conceptualized in late 2008, and officially launched in early 2009, by a mysterious figure or group known only as Satoshi Nakamoto, which was determined to be an alias. Nakamoto stepped back into the shadows soon after Bitcoin was launched, and was only seen once since then.
His reasons for creating Bitcoin include the desire to take the power away from banks and financial institutions and return it to the people. By creating BTC, Nakamoto presented the world with a first-ever digital currency that can be managed by members of its community, while banks as middlemen would become obsolete. Cryptos have been fighting for achieving this goal ever since.
Bitcoin’s short 10-year long history is filled with ups and downs, hacks, accusations, mistrust, and alike. However, it still managed to survive without any support from a centralized institution, by using its community’s faith in it alone. It peaked in late 2017 and early 2018 when it reached $20,000 per unit. Since then, it has gone through two large market crashes, one in January 2018, and the other only two weeks ago, which dragged its price down to its current value of $3,713.
The same happened with its market cap. After the first crash in January, its market cap continued to drop until it stabilized at around $120 billion. However, in the last two weeks, it was cut in half and is currently only $64 billion. Even so, BTC still holds more than half of total crypto market cap.
XRP, formerly known as Ripple, is currently the second largest coin by market cap. It was created by the company Ripple Labs, and ever since its creation, it had to deal with controversies and accusations of being centralized, a fake cryptocurrency, and alike. Much of this came from the fact that XRP is a favorite digital currency of traditional banks.
The fact that it cannot be mined, and that a large number of its coins were controlled by its parent company made it relatively stable. This, in addition to numerous financial tools that the company has created, has made XRP very popular with financial institutions. These tools and products are mostly dedicated to becoming an alternative to old systems of making cross-border transactions. Instead of each transaction taking days to complete due to the lack of trust, XRP’s products would improve the process by providing a guarantee that banks that are using it can be trusted. That way, transactions can be completed instantly.
It quickly becomes clear that XRP is a coin that is imagined to be used in a completely different way than Bitcoin. While BTC was to be a means of payment, a coin that has a sole purpose of being digital cash — XRP is just one element of a financial technology evolution brought by its actual products. This is the best example of crypto diversity mentioned earlier.
For a long time, XRP was ranked third, closely behind Ethereum, which used to be the second largest coin. However, in the second half of 2018, XRP managed to overtake Ethereum twice, with ETH eventually reclaiming its place. However, after the second market crash this year that came two weeks ago, XRP took over and has remained second ever since, with a current price of $0.34 and a market cap of $13.98 billion.
Ethereum became the third largest coin by market cap two weeks ago, after being bested by XRP, as stated earlier. However, it is a coin that has a lot going on for it. It is an official representative of the second generation of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin, as the first coin, is the representative of the first generation. Until Ethereum came to be, cryptos were only ever used as means of payment.
After Ethereum was launched, it turned everyone’s attention to capabilities of the blockchain, instead of the potential of cryptocurrency itself. This is what started the second generation, and what allowed ETH to remain a dominant coin for all these years.
With Ethereum, developers started realizing that blockchain can be used for more than just recording transactions. Soon enough, smart contracts and decentralized applications started being developed. Similarly to XRP, Ethereum stepped away from Bitcoin’s purpose, and it did not aim to become a coin used for making transactions. Of course, it can be used as such, but that is not its point. Its point is to serve as fuel for smart contracts and dApps, to allow them to be carried out, and function as imagined.
It kept Bitcoin’s ideas regarding transparency, decentralization, and giving power to the people. However, its contribution led to shifting the attention towards blockchain technology, which eventually led to its further development.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Cash emerged in 2017 as a new fork of Bitcoin. This means that it was not invented in a traditional way, but rather, it has many similarities with BTC, only it took off at one point, and went its separate way.
Right now, BCH is the fourth largest currency by market cap, with a price of $173 per coin, and a market cap of $3.03 billion. In addition, it is believed that BCH is one of the largest reasons for the new market crash.
Similarly to the situation that led to the creation of BCH itself, its community also ended up having different opinions regarding where the coin should go from here. Twice a year, it has a hard fork in order to implement new upgrades, and each time, its blockchain takes a new turn, while the old, “original” blockchain is left alone. The latest fork happened two weeks ago, on November 15th. It was scheduled to occur on this date for months, and two parties in BCH community wanted different things.
As time went by, and they failed to get to an agreement, the fork resulted in a split of BCH community, and neither of the two emerging blockchains was abandoned. Instead, changes were made to one of them, while the other one remained the same as it was before. The issue came up due to the fact that both of them wanted to be called the true BCH. This is why they entered a fight for dominance which came to be known as a hash war. In order to win, each side mined new blocks furiously, and gathered as much hash power as they could, resulting in a severe damage to Bitcoin ecosystem, and a market crash that affected the entire crypto space.
As for BCH itself, it still aims to be used as a payment method, and a currency of the world, just as its parent, Bitcoin.
Finally, there is Stellar, the fifth largest coin by market cap. It has a market cap of $2.67 billion, and a price of $0.139 per coin. This is a coin that has a goal relatively similar to that of XRP — to revolutionize cross-border transactions and make them instant.
However, while XRP aims to provide its services to banks and other financial institutions, Stellar wants to do the same for regular, individual users. This has made a lot of people support Stellar over XRP, but the coin still remains fifth largest crypto, while XRP managed to rise to the rank of 2nd.
Stellar is also well-known for its low prices and extreme transaction speed, which actually broke all known records only months ago. This has officially made it the fastest coin, with cross-border transactions being completed within only a few seconds. The project is decentralized and open-source, and it doesn’t seem to care much for the rivalry with XRP that the internet discussions often mention.
Rather than that, it aims to provide the best service for its users, fix important issues, and become the main coin for making this type of transactions.
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Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Global Coin Report and its affiliates, employees, writers, and subcontractors are cryptocurrency investors and from time to time may or may not have holdings in some of the coins or tokens they cover. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency and read our full disclaimer.
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