Bitcoin, invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008 has ushered new waves in the field of cryptocurrencies. Inspired by Bitcoins and decentralized peer-to-peer network, there are many digital currencies that came into the world to change the global economy.
Let us first understand what is a cryptocurrency? Cryptocurrencies are the digital currencies which are generated, stored and transacted digitally. The most important feature of cryptocurrency which makes it different from fiat currency is, that it is not created or maintained by any single central authority. It is created and maintained through a decentralized system which is maintained by the miners. The miners will solve difficult mathematic algorithms to create bitcoins. The entire information about a bitcoin, when is it created, who own it, who sold it and who bought it etc., are maintained in Blocks which forms a block chain. Every user or miner of the Bitcoin network will have a copy of the block chain, as it is completely transparent and decentralized.
Based on the same model, many cryptocurrencies are created with a little improvement and variation. All other digital currencies, which are created after Bitcoin are called Altcoins.All these cryptocurrencies are typically based on a decentralized system and come into market only through mining. There can be variation in difficulty of mining though.
Here is the list of major cryptocurrencies that are in circulation −
Bitcoin (BTC) − The first and foremost cryptocurrency in the world, created in 2008 by Satoshi Nakatmoto is Bitcoin and till today it holds the highest exchange value. The underlying algorithm of Bitcoin allows only 21 million Bitcoins to be ever mined.
When Satoshi Nakamoto came up with the Bitcoin, in his introductory post he described Bitcoin as
“I’ve developed a new open source P2P e-cash system Bitcoin. It’s completely decentralized, with no central server or trusted parties, because everything is based on crypto proof instead of trust. With e-currency based on cryptographic proof […] money can be secure and transactions effortless.”
Based on this theory all other Cryptocurrencies are developed.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) − Due to the decentralized code of Bitcoin, there has been many changes to the source code, which were not agreed by all the users. As a result of lack of consensus, Bitcoin Cash has emerged as a successful hard fork of the original Bitcoin. The Original Bitcoin remained same with the original code and Bitcoin cash has emerged in August 2017 due to the debates and arguments between miners and coders. Bitcoin cash differs in scalability, where the block size is increased from strict 1MB of BTC to 8MB in BCH. It is born due to the idea that larger blocks allow the transactions to be faster.
Litecoin (LTC) − It is launched in 2011, by Charlie Lee. It has a faster block generation rate than Bitcoin. Maximum number of Litecoin that can ever be mined are 84 million.
Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC) − Ethereum is a decentralized digital currency. There are already more than 100 million Ethers in circulation and there is no upper limit for the number of Ethers that can ever be mined. The creator of Ethereum is VitalikButerin in July 2014.
Zcash (ZTC) − Zcash is launched in 2016 by Matthew Green, with all the features of cryptocurrency, like privacy and transparency. Zcash has one more feature other than Bitcoin, which is called zk-SNARK which gives a choice to keep the transactions either in “shielded pool” or regular “transparent pool”. Like Bitcoin, even Zcash will have a fixed supply of 21 million units.
Dash (DASH) − Dash was created in 2014 by Evan Duffield. It was originally released as Xcoin (XCO), under the name DarkCoin, later renamed as Dash in March 2015. It is known as more secretive version of Bitcoin. It can be mined using a CPU or GPU. Dash works on decentralized master code network with technical features like Darksend and InstantX. Dash transactions are almost untraceable.
Ripple (XRP) − Ripple is an independent digital currency which is launched in 2012, has revolutionized cross-border payments. RippleNet uses the most advanced blockchain technology which is secure, scalable and interoperates with other networks very easily. It is proven for allowing transactions at lightning speed, taking only 4 secs per transaction. The most important feature of Ripple is it does not require mining. Initially the Ripple Labs Inc., a US-based technology company, which created Ripple, has launched 100 billion coins out of which only half are under circulation.
Monero (XMR) − XMR is launched inApril 2014 as a secure, private and untraceable digital currency. Monero is launched to increase the scalability of cryptocurrency introducing many technological advances to the cryptocurrency space.There will be a total of 18.4 million XMR which will be mined by 31st May, 2022. After that every minute there will be 0.3 XMR fed into the system continuously. Monero is a Cryptocurrency that is completely donation-based and community-driven.
NEO (NEO) − It is the largest cryptocurrency that has emerged from China in 2014. It was originally called as AntShares, and also referred as “Chinese Ethereum”. During 2017, it has rose from $0.16 to $162, a record return value ever of 111,000%.
EOS(EOS) − It is one of the newest digital currencies. EOS was created in June 2018 by cryptocurrency pioneer Dan Larimer.EOS coins cannot be mined, you can mine either Bitcoin or Ethereum and convert them into EOS which are already existing. The maximum limit set for EOS was 100 billion. It is a cryptocurrency designed to support large scale applications, and can be handled by any digital wallet that supports Ethereum. Presently there are 900 million EOS in circulation and is the fifth leading cryptocurrency in the world.
Cardano (ADA) − One of the co-founders of Ethereum, Charles Hoskinson had launched Cardano in September 2017. ADA offers all the benefits of Ethereum and offers more interoperability and scalability than ETH. Currently it has more than 31 billion coins in circulation and maximum coins ever created are capped at 45 Billion. Cardano is built on scientific philosophy and peer-reviewed academic research which allows even international transactions to be made in just seconds.
Tether (USDT) − It is popularly known as Stable Coin as that is pegged to USD reserves and was originally designed to always worth $1.00 by Jan Ludovicus van der Velde. Tether can be stored, sent and received through digital tokens pegged to other fiat currency like Euros, Dollars, Yen etc.,It has been into controversies as the company could not produce the promised audits. However, there is no upper limit cap for Tether.
Bitcoin holds the largest Block Chain network in the world. Bitcoin has inspired many cryptocurrencies to be created. There are more than 1600 digital currencies all over the world. It is not far from truth that any time a new cryptocurrency can be created by anyone.