At this point in time, the world has grown somewhat used to the idea of cryptocurrency. The concept has become so popular, and so widely adopted, that even your technologically challenged grandparents could have heard of Bitcoin. Granted, they probably won’t understand what exactly it is, but the first step is there.
Less known to the general public is the enormous range of cryptocurrencies on offer, and what these alternatives (often referred to as altcoins) bring to the developing marketplace and infrastructure. In this article, we will go over a few of the popular alternatives to bitcoin, why they are important, and what they can do.
Why are Altcoins Important?
Choice is important for many goods and services, and in this altcoins are no different. The importance here can boil down to a couple of key points.
- Alternatives help drive competition
Without competition, there is little reason for cryptocurrencies to evolve. This can lead to obvious issues not being patched, which can cause a huge amount of harm to all forms of users.
- Bitcoin can be impractical
In many things bitcoin is fantastic, but the slow speed of transactionscan be problematic, as can other technical weaknesses.
What can Altcoins do?
So, what is the point of these altcoins, in terms of what they can do?
- Targeting Niches
Not all coins are created equal. While bitcoins have been developed to cover a wide range of goods and services, other forms of coins may instead choose to target a specific market, simplifying the overall process. This also helps because there are many goods and services out there which allow multiple forms of coins, including sales general stores and even bitcoin gambling on online casinos such as Crypto-Games. The acceptance of different forms of altcoins allows users to pick and choose from not only which type of coins they have, but from which they feel would be best suited for the market at hand. Using the above examples: buying something from a general store might not require speed, so slower coins would work, whereas in gambling you might want to get straight into the action, so an instant from such as Ripple might be the best choice.
- Offer a Starting Point for new Miners
Bitcoin itself has been such a heavy focus by miners for a while now, long enough that beginners can’t realistically make a profit mining for themselves without a considerable effort. Many altcoins do not have this issue, and some even rely on CPU only forms of mining, further reducing barriers to entry.
Five Popular Altcoins
What are the most popular altcoins out there, and what makes them special? Take a look at our guide below to find out.
Often considered the second biggest name in the game, Ethereum is an altcoin with a special interest in bringing decentralized tools into the world and was initially released in July of 2015. Through this, they aim to bring decentralized apps, and ultimately a globally accessible, reliable and free version of the internet into society.
Currently, Ethereum is split into two branches, following an attack in 2016. These two forks are labeled Ethereum Classic and Ethereum. While the path known as Ethereum has been argued to go against the strict establishing vision of the original Ethereum, it is also regarded as safer, and far less inundated with scammers.
Litecoin is another big name in the world of altcoins, introduced in October of 2011. This cryptocurrency was created with a fundamental focus being put on the speed of transactions – an area where bitcoin can sorely suffer. Because of this, Litecoin has cut an important part for itself when it comes to the transfer of monetary value.
This altcoin was created in 2012 with a target of an improved banking system. Tired of the disconnected and disjointed systems which exist today, Ripple aims to act as a connector to different payment systems all over the internet. Though this they hope to achieve a new level of optimization to the banking system, creating a faster and more efficient system.
In effect, the Ripple system allows reliable and instant transfer of even international payments, and at a low cost to the users.
Launched in January of 2014 as Darkcoin, Dash was created with a considerable focus on anonymity. Dash is capable of this through the use of a decentralized master code network which is designed to make transactions almost untraceable.
As an added bonus, this altcoin can be mined through the use of either CPU or GPU, for those users interested.
Also with a focus on anonymity is Zcash, introduced in late October of 2016. Zcash enables a form of security where all transactions are recorded onto a blockchain, but the individual details remain anonymous unless the users specify otherwise.
With the addition of shielded transactions, Zcash allows the use of advanced encryption called zk-SNARK, developed by the Zcash team, for further safety and anonymity.