Hey, crypto fans, today it is my job to help you find the perfect Bitcoin Alternative!
Bitcoin caught mainstream attention when it grew from below $1,000 to nearly $20,000 in 2017. It not only gave tremendous profits to its investors but also opened the gates for numerous other cryptocurrencies.
Many of these cryptocurrencies have also performed extremely well in the past and perhaps provide a good alternative to the most popular one. In fact, some currencies like Litecoin and Ethereum have given returns of more than 12000% in 2017!
Not bad, right?!
So, if you have already invested in Bitcoin and are interested in knowing about the best altcoins and find the best alternatives then you are in the right place. I am going to present 10 Bitcoin competitors, including the likes of Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, and others.
By the end of this guide, you will have a detailed comparison of Bitcoin alternatives on various key factors, including technology, speed, market capitalization, etc.
Note: Market capitalization is the total worth of all coins. For example, the market capitalization (often referred to as ‘market cap’) of Bitcoin is the number of Bitcoins in circulation multiplied by the price of one Bitcoin. Its equation would look like Total Bitcoins X Bitcoin Price = Bitcoin’s Market Cap.
Now, then. Let’s start with the most popular alternative to Bitcoin to date: Ethereum.
Table of Contents
Ethereum was launched in 2015 by, the now famous, Vitalik Buterin. Its purpose was to improve upon Bitcoin’s technology by introducing a programming language within a blockchain. It is the most famous Bitcoin alternative out there.
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All transactions on the Ethereum blockchain must be paid for using Ether, which can be referred to as Ethereum’s cryptocurrency.
Let’s see how Ethereum performs:
- Current Price of Ether: $535
- Current Market Capitalization: $52.98 billion
- Maximum number of Ether: Unlike Bitcoin whose supply is limited, a supply of Ether is not limited. However, the issuance of ether is capped at 18 million Ether per year. Plus, with the upgrades that are due to the mechanism that Ethereum uses, Vitalik Buterin claims the total amount of Ether won’t reach 100,000,000
- Technology: While Bitcoin is just a digital currency, Ethereum is much more than that. Ethereum offers a programming language and platform on which smart contracts and decentralized applications can be built.
Developers do not need to develop blockchain from scratch for each application as they can simply use Ethereum as a base.
Ethereum was the first Bitcoin alternative to offer this. It was completely unique when it started, which is one of the main reasons for its popularity and success.
- Transaction Speed: Ethereum transactions take a few seconds to complete as compared to the 10 minutes or more than Bitcoin transactions take.
- Popularity: Ethereum is the second most popular cryptocurrency after Bitcoin.
As you can see in the snapshot below, the price of Ethereum grew by about 17000% from $9 in January 2017 to $1,389 in January 2018. That’s huge!
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
A great Bitcoin alternative is the fork of Bitcoin itself, Bitcoin Cash (BCH). You can think of a Bitcoin fork as a child of Bitcoin.
A fork happens when an update is made to a blockchain but not all of the users running the blockchain agree to it. So, a new cryptocurrency/fork is made. The update is now running on its own blockchain, which is known as the fork. The original blockchain remains the same.
In this case, Bitcoin Cash is the update. Not everyone agreed to the update, so the fork was made instead, and its cryptocurrency was named Bitcoin Cash.
This happened toward the end of 2016.
Current Price of BCH: $940
Current Market Capitalization: $16.07 billion
Maximum number of BCH: Like Bitcoin, the maximum supply of BCH is also limited to 21 million.
Technology: BCH was created with the purpose of solving 2 main technological problems of Bitcoin:
- Scalability — BCH transactions are faster than Bitcoin transactions, allowing it to accommodate more transactions per second.
- Cost of transactions — Transaction fees with BCH are almost 5-10 times cheaper than Bitcoin transaction fees!
Bitcoin Cash uses a bigger “block” in its blockchain as compared to the blockchain of Bitcoin.
Note: Blockchain is the core technology behind all cryptocurrencies.
Transaction Speed: As I mentioned above, BCH offers a better transaction speed, which is one area it holds an advantage over Bitcoin in.
Popularity: Bitcoin Cash is one of the best success stories in the cryptocurrency world. In spite of being one of the youngest, it has grown to become the fourth largest cryptocurrency and Bitcoin alternative.
As shown by this chart from coinmarketcap.com, It grew from about $500 in July 2017 to about $ 4000 in December 2017. That’s a growth of about 10000% in less than six months!
Founded in September 2017 by current CEO Justin Sun, Tron is a blockchain-based platform aimed at decentralizing the global entertainment and content-sharing industry.
Tron or TRX is the cryptocurrency which is used on this platform to make transactions. You can share your content on Tron and get paid for it, directly from the end consumers of your content. So, let's see Tron's features as a Bitcoin alternative.
Current Price of TRX: $0.049
Current Market Capitalization: $3.22 billion
Maximum number of TRX: TRX supply is limited but is available in a huge supply of 100 billion.
Technology: Direct comparison of the technology of TRX and Bitcoin may not be feasible because they both serve very different purposes.
While Bitcoin aims to replace fiat currencies like EUR or USD, this Bitcoin alternative is used on its own platform for selling and buying content.
It does so by bringing both creators of content and its consumers on the same blockchain and eliminating the middlemen.
Speed: Tron transaction speeds stand at 1,000 transactions per second against Bitcoin’s average of 7-8 transactions per second.
Popularity: Tron has gained huge popularity as it appears to be the next big thing for the games, entertainment, and content industry.
It saw a huge surge in its market capitalization is 2017 and is one of the few cryptocurrencies to be showing a decent performance in 2018.
Another Bitcoin alternative, Ripple, was founded in 2012 with just one purpose: to solve the problems involved in International Transactions. Cross-border transactions are not only slow but also very expensive.
Unlike other cryptocurrencies, Ripple takes a much more centralized approach to cryptocurrency. However, it still serves its purpose as a cheap and fast cross-border transaction solution. It has already partnered with some huge central banks!
Let’s see what makes it one of the biggest altcoins out there.
Current Price of XRP: $0.859
Current Market Capitalization: $33.63 billion
Maximum number of XRP: Like Bitcoin, a supply of XRP is also limited and that number is 100 billion XRP. The difference is that Bitcoins are created gradually through the process of mining, but with Ripple, all the XRP has already been created! They were all created when Ripple started.
As aforementioned, this Bitcoin alternative is rather centralized in comparison to other cryptocurrencies. So, it’s no surprise that 50 billion XRP (half of the total supply) are owned by Ripple labs (the company behind Ripple).
Technology: As I mentioned before, Ripple aims to make international transactions cheaper, faster and transparent. An international bank transfer which may take about a week can happen within seconds through Ripple.
Ripple’s technology is quite different from that of Bitcoin. Bitcoin uses blockchain while Ripple is built on something similar — Distributed Consensus Ledger System.
Bitcoin is 100% decentralized wherein the decisions are made by the community. Ripple, though, is run by a private organization that has the power to make most of the decisions for Ripple itself.
Speed: Ripple transactions take a few seconds, which is much faster than the 10 minutes taken by Bitcoin transactions. Making Ripple a great Bitcoin alternative when it comes to speed!
Popularity: Ripple can be considered as one of the most successful cryptocurrencies of 2017. As you can see in the chart below, it grew from almost nil in January 2017 to about $3.65 in January 2018. That’s a return of more than 56,000%!
It is not just popular among investors but also among its users. It is being tested in the real world by organizations like American Express and Santander.
EOS is a blockchain that provides a programming platform, similar to that of Ethereum. It is being developed as a platform that can be used to build decentralized applications and smart contracts.
The EOS platform is still under development, though, and is expected to launch in June 2018.
Current Price of EOS: $10.49
Current Market Capitalization: $8.44 billion
Maximum number of EOS: The maximum supply of EOS is limited to 900 million.
Technology: EOS is similar to Ethereum and different from Bitcoin. While Bitcoin is just a digital currency, this Bitcoin alternative is a decentralized open-source software.
This means that many other applications can be built over the EOS platform. It aims to make the development of Smart Contracts easy, just like Ethereum.
Note: Smart contracts are the contracts built on blockchain which execute themselves on fulfillment of certain pre-set conditions.
A major difference between EOS and Ethereum is that EOS will use a variant of dPoS (delegated-Proof-of-Stake), whereas Ethereum currently uses Proof of Work. The dPoS consensus is part of the EOS mechanism and is one of the main reasons EOS claims their blockchain will be much more scalable than Ethereum.
Speed: Since the platform has not been launched yet, we still do not know the speed of EOS Transactions.
Popularity: Even before the launch of the platform, EOS coin has gained a lot of popularity. It is being seen as something which will further improve on the technology that Ethereum pioneered. Therefore, it could be a great Ethereum or Bitcoin alternative.
EOS was one of the most successful ICOs of 2017 — it raised more than $700 million!
The price of EOS grew from around $4 in July 2017 to a high of $18 in January 2018. As you can see in the snapshot below, it is one of the coins which is currently showing positive growth.
Litecoin, also a digital currency, was created in 2011 by an ex-Google employee, Charlie Lee. Litecoin was built over the same blockchain like Bitcoin, with intentions to make improvements in it.
And that it did! It improved the speed of the transactions!
In fact, it is called “Lite” coin because its transactions are around 4 times faster than Bitcoin.
Current Price of Litecoin: $142.74
Current Market Capitalization: $8.01 billion
Maximum number of Litecoin: The maximum supply of Litecoin is limited to 84 million, which is quite a lot larger than that of Bitcoin.
Technology: Litecoin is quite similar to Bitcoin in terms of both technology and function. This Bitcoin alternative is just a digital currency, unlike other coins like Ethereum which have numerous functions.
The biggest difference in the technology of both coins is the transaction speed. Litecoin has been able to improve transaction speed because it has made changes to Bitcoin’s core algorithm.
Transactions speed: It takes about 10 minutes to complete a Bitcoin transaction while it takes only 2.5 minutes to complete a Litecoin transaction.
Popularity: I would say that Litecoin is the closest rival of Bitcoin. This is what makes Litecoin widely popular among investors and users.
Litecoin has stood the test of time as it has been around for almost 7 years. It grew from around $4 in January 2017 to $350 in December 2017, giving a return of more than 8000%!
Ethereum Classic (ETC)
Ethereum Classic was released in July 2016 by creating a hard fork of Ethereum.
A Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO) was created by Ethereum to raise funds for it. A security breach of DAO resulted in the theft of $50 million. In order to recover those 50 million dollars, Ethereum was hard forked into 2 blockchains (and cryptocurrencies) — Ethereum (ETH) & Ethereum Classic (ETC).
So, unlike Litecoin and Bitcoin Cash, the purpose of creating this kind of Bitcoin alternative was not related to technological improvements.
Current Price of ETC: $18.19
Current Market Capitalization: $1.84 billion
Maximum number of ETC: Unlike Ethereum whose supply is not limited, a decision was made to limit the supply of ETC to 230 million in 2017.
Technology: As I mentioned, the technology of Ethereum classic is extremely similar to that of Ethereum itself.
In comparison with Bitcoin, ETC acts as much more than just a digital currency. It provides a platform to the developers who want to build smart contracts and DApps.
Because ETC is a hard fork, the changes made to Ethereum’s code do not get replicated into ETC’s code. Now that Ethereum has a stronger community of developers, it is far ahead of ETC in technological improvements.
Transaction speed: Like Ethereum, Ethereum classic also has a transaction speed of a few seconds.
Popularity: Ethereum classic is less popular than both Ethereum and Bitcoin. It grew from $1.50 in January 2017 to a high of $43.50 in January 2018, delivering a return of around 2,900%. That’s an increase of 29 times, which is enormous anyway!
As you can see in the chart below, ETC has performed well, but not quite as well as the top Bitcoin alternative cryptocurrencies.
NEO, which was originally called AntShares, was created in China in 2014. It is often referred to as the “Chinese Ethereum”, because like Ethereum, NEO is also a platform used to build decentralized applications.
Neo has made tremendous progress since its launch and can be considered as one of the top Bitcoin alternatives.
Current Price of NEO: $73.92
Current Market Capitalization: $4.80 billion
Maximum number of NEO: The maximum supply of NEO is limited to 100 million.
Technology: As in the case of ETH and EOS, NEO is much more than just a digital currency. It is also providing a platform for the development of smart contracts and DApps.
NEO uses a unique blockchain algorithm that improves upon Ethereum’s model. Da Hongfei, CEO of NEO, says “its technology shows better promise in terms of high certainty, high scalability, and better compatibility across applications”
Transaction Speed: Against Bitcoin’s 7-10 transactions per second, NEO can handle around 10,000 transactions per second. This considerable improvement makes NEO fast and scalable.
Popularity: NEO is China’s largest coin and one of the most popular coins in general. It has performed tremendously well in the past as it grew from about $0.16 in January 2017 to about $162 in January 2018.
Can you guess how much of a return that might be?
… it’s around 111,400%! That’s almost double the return that Ripple produced!
So, yes, NEO is a great project and a fantastic Bitcoin alternative.
Binance Coin (BNB)
Binance coin is a cryptocurrency released by one of the biggest cryptocurrency trading platforms available — Binance. It was released as part of their ICO, which was used to raise funds for the platform in July 2017.
The BNB coin can be used to trade on Binance at a cheaper rate. When you trade with BNB you receive a 50% discount on trading fees. This is seemingly its only function, which makes it rather unique when compared to the other top cryptocurrencies.
Let’s take a look at its fundamentals.
Current Price of BNB: $12.98
Current Market Capitalization: $1.48 billion
Maximum number of BNB: The maximum supply of BNB is limited to 194,972,068 coins.
Technology: BNB is an ERC-20 token. This means it was created on the Ethereum blockchain and remains on the Ethereum network.
Note: ERC-20 is a technical standard used for smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain.
Recently, though, Binance announced plans to create their own blockchain, named Binance Chain. This is part of their transition from a company into a community — they are creating a decentralized exchange.
Transaction speed: BNB coin, a Bitcoin alternative, transactions are faster than Bitcoin itself because they run on the Ethereum network, meaning they are processed in just seconds as opposed to ten minutes.
Popularity: Considering the high volume of trade on Binance, BNB has naturally become a very popular coin. Since BNB coin has a solid backing of the Binance exchange, users and investors have placed their trust in it.
BNB grew from $0.10 to around $24, all within 6 months of its launch. And it continues to be one of the best altcoins, especially because of the benefit it provides while trading on Binance exchange.
The final Bitcoin alternative on our list is Cardano. Released in September 2017, Cardano is one of the youngest and yet one of the most sought-after cryptocurrency projects. Cardano was created by Charles Hoskinson, who is also one of the co-founders of Ethereum.
While Bitcoin was the 1st generation and Ethereum was the 2nd generation of blockchain, Cardano is considered to be the next (3rd) generation because of its advanced technology. EOS and NEO also belong to this classification.
Cardano’s native cryptocurrency is known as ADA. So let's compare Cardanos' Bitcoin alternative.
Current Price of ADA: $0.28
Current Market Capitalization: $7.35 billion
Maximum number of ADA: The total supply of ADA that will ever exist is 31,112,483,745.
Technology: Cardano claims to be the 3rd generation of blockchain because it is trying to solve the problems of its predecessors — Bitcoin and Ethereum.
It to solve three problems through its technology upgrade: scalability, interoperability, and sustainability.
It could also give tough competition to XRP as it is focussed on making international payment transactions smoother.
Transaction speed: Cardanos' Bitcoin alternative currently has a processing capacity of 257 transactions per second which is a lot higher than Bitcoin, but not as high as the likes of NEO.
Popularity: Cardano has gained huge popularity due to the technological improvements that it promises. Another factor that has helped it is no doubt the fact its founder, Charles Hoskinson, is such a well-established figure in the blockchain space.
ADA is the newest cryptocurrency in this list and has not given as high returns as other cryptocurrencies. As you can see from the chart below, it grew from about $0.20 at its launch to its highest price of $1.20 in January 2018.
Despite this, Cardano has been able to achieve a very high market capitalization and has become one of the best altcoins in a very short time.
And there you have it, a long list of great alternatives to Bitcoin! Undoubtedly, Bitcoin is still the king of cryptocurrencies but there are many Bitcoin competitors out there which are worth exploring as Bitcoin alternative.
So, which of these alternatives to Bitcoin do you think is the best? Or, if we haven't listed your favorite alternative to Bitcoin, let us know which one it is!