In a recent article, we looked into different types of digital currency and wrote about Bitcoin as a representative of cryptocurrency more broadly. As stated, bitcoin is a form of virtual currency that is decentralized and thus not controlled by any government. It is traded and stored digitally, lacking any physical form whatsoever. And because it is far and away the leader in the crypto space in market cap and value, it tends to be held up as the flagship asset among all cryptocurrencies.
While bitcoin is in some respects the unofficial “leader” of cryptos though, it is far from the only one. In fact, Statista posted data earlier this year looking into the total number of cryptocurrencies on the market, and pegged the estimate somewhere around 10,397 assets. That’s an astonishing number given that cryptocurrency is less than two decades old –– and it means that those interested in this market have a few more things to pay attention to than Bitcoin.
Naturally, no one can be expected to keep tabs on all cryptos. And many are largely irrelevant anyway. However, many cryptos aside from bitcoin have become significant, either because of their value, their utility, or both. Below, we’ve listed five such assets worth taking a look at for those curious about cryptos.
Ethereum is widely viewed as the closest thing Bitcoin has to a competitor, in some respects. Rather than strictly being a cryptocurrency, Ethereum is a network –– the corresponding currency being “ether.” Nevertheless, people can effectively invest in Ethereum the same way they do in other cryptos.
The point of this network is essential to foster innovation on the blockchain (which is the digital network on which crypto transactions are logged). Through Ethereum, people can create decentralized applications and “smart contracts,” such that digital payments are processed only when certain conditions are met. Ethereum is not the only network on which these functions are possible, but it pioneered the concept, and it has the second-highest value in the crypto space behind bitcoin.
Solana is more or less an Ethereum competitor. While it is another network with its own currency (SOL), its primary purpose is to serve as another platform onto which decentralized applications and smart contracts can be built. And while it’s still considerably smaller than Ethereum, there are those who invest in Solana instead for two specific reasons: speed and environmental friendliness. The Solana network uses a mechanism called “proof of history” to validate transactions, and in doing so cuts down on the time in which a vast number of transactions can be recorded. This in turn means less energy consumption (which is a significant concern with some of the leading cryptos).
Ripple is a cryptocurrency, denoted as XRP and built on the “RippleNet” infrastructure, that is designed to make cross-border transactions easier. Sometimes described as a “bridge currency,” it represents something of an intermediary for large financial institutions. Rather than exchanging currencies directly across borders –– which can be costly and slow –– these institutions can convert one currency to XRP, and then convert the XRP to the corresponding value of another currency on the back end of the transaction. It’s a simple concept, but one with a potentially enormous impact, given that ripple cuts cost and time. As of now, the currency still holds relatively low value. Because it has a valuable function however, some investors see it as a high-potential asset.
Cardano is very similar to the aforementioned Solana, in that those who are buying into Cardano are doing so to capitalize on appealing functions and energy efficiency. Like Ethereum (and Solana), this cryptocurrency is designed to support the building of smart contracts and new blockchain functions. And like Solana, Cardano is designed to do all of this without producing significant energy waste –– though Cardano uses what’s known as a “proof-of-stake” protocol, rather than Solana’s “proof of history.”
Both “green” cryptos have significant potential, though it’s worth noting that as of this writing, Solana is by far the more valuable of the two.
Finally, there’s Dogecoin –– an asset that began as a sort of spoof, and ultimately gained real value. Commonly labeled a “meme coin,” Dogecoin revolves around the “doge” logo (depicting a cartoon Shiba Inu) that appears commonly on the internet. Functionally, it is a fairly basic cryptocurrency, designed more or less to mimic bitcoin. Because it trades at far lower values however, it is a favorite among many amateur investors who want to profit by buying and selling large clusters. Opinions differ as to what Dogecoin’s long-term potential may be, but the asset is popular among speculators nonetheless.
Once again, there are thousands of cryptos out there –– these five are just a snapshot. But they are certainly among the most significant non-bitcoin cryptos to pay attention to in 2022.