While the unenlightened may believe that cryptocurrencies are headed towards a major bust, the reality is that the crypto market is bustling with activity. Even though trading volumes and crypto prices have dropped significantly in the past year, the world’s top crypto projects are working hard to make payments and peer-to-peer transactions easier and more adaptable.
Here are the top 10 cryptocurrencies of 2019 and what they do.
#1 – Bitcoin (BTC)
The first and largest cryptocurrency in the world, Bitcoin is the epitome of the digital currency world and the concepts it upholds. Bitcoin started 10 years ago when a developer/group of developers using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto released a whitepaper called “Bitcoin: A Peer to Peer electronic cash system.” He/they developed a distributed ledger technology called blockchain which could be used to make pseudonymous payments to anyone around the world without interacting with the central banks or other financial entities.
Bitcoin has since been forked several times- including popular coins like Bitcoin Cash and Litecoin, but the enigma of the original BTC remains. New BTCs are produced in the network through a process called mining which also verified transactions on the network. Each block takes 10 minutes to produce. Bitcoin has faced some scaling issues, but the lightning network solves many such problems with ease.
#2 – XRP (XRP)
XRP is the native currency of the Ripple blockchain network, operated by a San Francisco based startup. The company, Ripple, provides several blockchain based products that could be used by banks and other financial institutions to make their existing systems faster and more cost-efficient. In one of the solutions, called xRapid, XRP is used as a bridge asset while making quick cross border payments between different payment corridors.
Over the years, Ripple has numerous high profile partnerships with banks and financial institutions across the globe and has a strong presence in the remittances markets in Asia and the Middle East. It has also been marred in controversy as the company holds about 60% of the total XRP in existence. The startup is still valued at over $20 billion.
#3 – Ethereum (ETH)
The second-generation of blockchains began with Ethereum which follows the same Proof of Work (PoW) model as Bitcoin. However, what works for Ethereum is that it comes with the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) which allows creating decentralized applications and smart contracts on the network. This creates infinitely more use cases for the blockchain apart from payments processing. Users can create smart contracts to make payments, agreements and more.
Vitalik Buterin is the co-founder of Ethereum, but the blockchain’s management is done by the Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss-based non-profit. Ethereum is Turing complete, and the cryptocurrency of the platform is called Ether. It also allows users to launch their own crypto projects based on the platform- called ERC20 tokens. Most of the world’s ICOs are conducted using these tokens. Ethereum will soon launch its highly anticipated Constantinople update.
#4 – Bitcoin Cash (BCHABC)
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) began as a fork of the Bitcoin Core (BTC) blockchain, claiming to follow the peer-to-peer electronic cash system that Nakamoto envisioned. Bitcoin Cash separated from Bitcoin at block 478558. It was intended to be a fast, reliable and stable payment system that could enable merchants and users interact on the blockchain quickly and easily.
The Bitcoin Cash we know today is a fork of a fork. Due to some contentions in the BCH community regarding block height, the forked chain went through another segregation, giving rise to BCHABC and BCHSV at the end of 2018. Bitcoin Cash ABC is the brainchild of Roger Ver and Jihan Wu, who is working with several other developers to create a seamless payments network characterized by low fee and larger adoption.
#5 – EOS (EOS)
The EOS blockchain intends to be a blockchain-based operating system that will be utilized to support decentralized applications on an industrial scale. EOS caught the attention of the world with its year-long ICO that raised over $4.1 billion for the project. It began as an ERC20 token on the Ethereum blockchain.
EOS has several important concepts and features that should be highlighted. First, the network wants to get rid of network fees completely. Secondly, it can handle millions of users at once. Another important feature of the blockchain is that it uses a Delegated Proof of Stake (DPOS) system for transaction verification, taking it one step ahead of the traditional PoW and PoS systems.
The Cayman Islands-based Block.One is the publisher of the EOS blockchain. Its CEO is Brendon Blumer, and CTO is Dan Larimer, the creator of DPOS and DAOs.
#6 – Stellar (XLM)
Stellar is an open-source project that provides a reliable and stable payment network that could be used for cross-border transactions as well as for cryptocurrency to fiat currency transfers. The protocol is supported by the Stellar Development Foundation. The native cryptocurrency of the blockchain is Lumens (sometimes referred to as Stellar Lumens).
Stellar has some “stellar” partnerships in the industry as well. It has integrated with an open-sourced messaging platform called Vumi which uses cellphone talk time as a currency. It has also partnered with Oradian for microfinance institutions in Nigeria. Deloitte has also partnered with Stellar to manage cross-border payments for the Deloitte Digital Bank. It has also forged a partnership with a large privately-owned Indian bank- ICICI Bank and technology giant IBM.
#7 – Tether (USDT)
Tether is a stablecoin, which means that the value of this coin does not fluctuate. It is pegged to the US Dollar 1:1, which means that the value of one Tether coin will always be equal to the value of 1 USD. The coin is 100% backed by USD, suggesting that every USDT is offered when the developers have equivalent USD in reserve.
Tether is also one of the most controversial coins in the cryptocurrency industry. It has frequently been linked with Bitcoin price manipulations via cryptocurrency exchanges and was even called a scam. Despite the allegations, Tether is the second highest volume coin in the crypto world, second only to Bitcoin.
#8 – Litecoin (LTC)
Litecoin is a Bitcoin fork that was designed to be an open-source digital currency which is almost identical to Bitcoin. It depends on mathematics to provide people more control over their finances. Litecoin was founded by Charlie Lee, a former Google employee. Litecoin added some improvements to Bitcoin, including higher transaction volumes thanks to a segregated witness, reducing the time to only 25% of BTC. With faster processing times, the Litecoin network is more protected from double-spending attacks. It also has a larger coin limit (i.e., 84 million coins) and is relatively harder to mine.
Litecoin has been relatively quiet over the past year but remains one of the top currencies with over $1 billion in market capitalization.
#9 – Tron (TRX)
Tron is published and managed by the Tron Foundation. It is a high throughput chain that can handle over 2,000 transactions per second with ease. Aiming to “decentralize the web,” Tron always managed to remain in the news. Justin Sun, the founder of the project noted that TRX would eventually go on to become a privacy coin. Currently, TRX finds utility in the numerous dApps supported on the platform. Tron hosts numerous gaming apps and is now also the home of BitTorrent, a peer-to-peer sharing service. It insists heavily on better methods of content creation and distribution.
TRX began on the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC20 token but soon migrated to its mainnet. In essence, it is very similar to Ethereum. It has a Tron Virtual Machine (TVM), allowing for the creation of dApps. Tron is expected to bring Project Atlas to the fore soon and launch its own TRC10/20 tokens to support other crypto projects as well.
#10 – Bitcoin SV (BSV)
Bitcoin Satoshi Vision is a newly created coin that came into being after the Bitcoin Cash blockchain split into two competing chains. Bitcoin Satoshi Vision or Bitcoin SV claims to be the proponents of Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision for Bitcoin’s peer to peer network. It aims to make a more scalable, secure and stable blockchain that allows merchants and users around the world use smart contracts, tokenizations, and atomic swap features.
Bitcoin SV has also been a controversial coin, especially since one of its proponents Craig Wright has claimed to be Satoshi Nakamoto but his claims were never supported with enough evidence and were debunked by several members of the crypto community over the years. Wright was previously engaged in creating a new Bitcoin client called Bitcoin Classic. BSV’s future will be decided in 2019 when it forges partnerships and proves its real-world use cases with increase block heights.
Summary for Top 10 Cryptocurrencies
The top 10 cryptocurrencies in the world are currently some of the fastest growing projects in the world. Bitcoin, XRP, and Ethereum have market caps going in several billion dollars, and they dominate the crypto markets. There are up and coming blockchain projects like Cardano, IOTA, Monero, Dash and even Dogecoin that are proving to be popular amongst developers and users alike. The top 5 cryptocurrencies by market cap can be found here.