If you feel like missed your chance to get in on the ground level with Bitcoin, there are plenty of other digital currencies to choose from. Here’s a quick guide to some of the other cryptocurrencies that boomed in 2017 but still cost way less than Bitcoin.
What’s a Cryptocurrency?
At it’s most simple, a cryptocurrency is a digital form of money that uses encryption to secure transactions, but there are a few other key details to understand.
The first is that a cryptocurrency can be mined. This involves using a computer to solve increasingly difficult equations. These equations are required to verify transactions and in return the miner receives currency. The transaction records created this way are referred to as blocks, which brings us to the second key detail: blockchain.
A blockchain is essentially a ledger of transactions built out of blocks. It’s public and decentralized, so any changes are visible to everyone. Blockchain technology was originally created for Bitcoin, but it could potentially be used for anything from managing medical records to voting.
With that out of the way, here are a few of the top cryptocurrencies you may have heard of and how they differ from Bitcoin.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Cash was created through a fork to Bitcoin that occurred in August 2017, establishing two distinct currencies. The goal was to make transactions quicker by increasing the size of blocks for Bitcoin Cash, which also makes it easier to scale up.
Bitcoin Cash hasn’t replaced Bitcoin, but it has racked up some value—$2,788.68 per coin at the time of writing. Popular cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase even added support for Bitcoin Cash in late December, though the move sparked claims of insider trading and forced the company to temporarily suspend the new feature.
Litecoin was created in 2011 by Charlie Lee, an MIT graduate, former Google employee, and former director of engineering at Coinbase. It functions similarly to Bitcoin, but with a higher maximum number of coins that can be mined. Litecoin blocks can also be created faster: one every 2.5 minutes compared to Bitcoin’s one every 10 minutes.
The purpose of Litecoin is to act as a more spendable version of Bitcoin. However, it’s quickly become another valuable investment for cryptocurrency speculators. Litecoin is currently valued at just under $250.
The Etherium platform and it’s currency, Ether, were originally proposed in 2013 and released in 2015. It functions similarly to Bitcoin, but with an added focus on smart contracts (agreements enforced by code rather than the law). These can be used to manage contracts between people, create multi-signature accounts where a majority need to sign off before the funds can be accessed, and more.
Bitcoin already includes support for some smart contracts, including the ones needed to transfer currency between people, but it’s limited in what it can do. Etherium let’s people write their own contracts.
The actual currency, Ether, functions as fuel for navigating the Etherium platform, but it can also be purchased and held as an investment. It’s currently valued at $777.55
Ripple is the latest cryptocurrency to make headlines after soaring in value at the end of 2017. In late December is reached a value of $2.21, giving it a market capitalization of over $85 billion.
Created in 2012, Ripple refers to both the company and the crpytocurrency. It’s designed to work as a payment network, called RippleNet, that supports Ripple along with government backed currencies like the U.S. Dollar. The company’s goal is to develop payment technology for banks and other financial organizations, and over 100 institutions already use the network.
Ripple is the only cryptocurrency mentioned in this article that can’t be purchased through popular digital currency exchange Coinbase. However, Ripple’s website lists over a dozen alternative exchanges that support the currency, including Bitstamp, Kraken, and Gatehub.
This article was curated from Google News. You can read the original article here.