Market cap: $17.78 billion
Performance in 2017, as of Dec. 11: +4,800%
Who created it? Former Google GOOGL, +0.25% employee (and now notable star in the crypto universe) Charlie Lee
The skinny: Litecoin has been described as the silver to bitcoin’s gold.
Market cap: $2.6 billion
Performance in 2017: +24,685%
Who created it? Da Hongfei , CEO of Onchain and blockchain evangelist in China, along with co-founder Erik Zhang
The skinny: Tung predicts Neo, dubbed the “Ethereum of China,” will explode if China eases its stance on ICOs and bitcoin. Ethereum is the clear No. 2 behind bitcoin in terms of market cap at $61 billion. So Neo obviously has a long way to go.
Founder Da Hongfei recently went on CNBC to soothe fears about cryptos getting overheated. “I would say that there is a bubble in this industry, but would say it’s OK,” he said. “Every technology that is so disruptive — there’ll definitely be bubbles, like the train or the automobile.” Neo has been around since 2014, when it was called “Antshares.” Yes, it’s been changed to reference the Matrix.
NEO’s circulating supply is currently at 65 million, out of a total of 100 million coins.
Market cap: $3.06 billion
Performance in 2017 (since start of trading in October): +406%
Who created it? Blockchain developer Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK)
The skinny: Tung believes that “this next-gen platform has the right team, dedication and money to create a real contender to Ethereum.”
The Cardano blockchain just launched a few months ago and exploded on the scene with massive gains in its coin, called Ada, in November to break into the top 10 cryptos in terms of market cap. At latest check it had slipped down to No. 13.
The project began in 2015 and billed itself as the first blockchain network backed by a “scientific philosophy” and built by leading academics and engineers through peer-reviewed research.
Market cap: $11.22 billion
Performance in 2017: +3,803%
Who created it? Web developer Ryan Fugger, businessman Chris Larsen and programmer Jed McCaleb
The skinny: Former bitcoin developers launched software company Ripple in 2012 and its digital currency, XRP, is seen by some industry types as bitcoin’s logical successor.
The New York Times once described Ripple as “a cross between Western Union and a currency exchange, without the hefty fees” because it’s not only a currency, but also a system on which any currency, including bitcoin, can be traded. “Ripple connects banks, payment providers, digital asset exchanges and corporates via RippleNet to provide one frictionless experience to send money globally,” its creators explained.
Ripple has licensed its blockchain technology to over 100 banks. And a new hedge fund recently announced it would be denominated in XRP. Its CEO recently told Fortune: “We’re not anti-bank, we’re not antigovernment, we’re not anti-fiat currency. For a while that took conviction to stay the course in the face of the more libertarian elements of crypto.”
The XRP circulating supply is currently about 38.7 billion out of a maximum supply of 100 billion... which is A LOT more than the rest of the cryptos on this list.
Market cap: $12.66 billion
Performance in 2017 (since start of trading in June): +623%
Who created it? David Sønstebø, Sergey Ivancheglo, Dominik Schiener, and Dr. Serguei Popov, a team of entrepreneurs, mathematicians and developers
The skinny: lota’s big draw is that it doesn’t have any trading fees, miners or blocks. For every transaction you make, your processing power is used to validate two other transactions, making every Iota owner also an Iota “miner.”
Essentially, Iota focuses on becoming the backbone for secure machine-to-machine payments in the Internet of Things economy and is unique in that it is hailed as the first crypto created without the use of a blockchain. Instead, it is based on a distributed ledger architecture called “The Tangle,” an innovation that is credited for allowing Iota to achieve three major crypto milestones: zero-cost transactions, offline transactions, and infinite scalability.
Word of its latest partnership with Microsoft just gave it a big boost and propelled it into the top tier of the most valuable cryptos.
The maximum supply of MIOTA is just under 2.8 billion, and the entire maximum supply is currently in circulation.
Market cap: $26.1 billion
Performance in 2017 (since start of trading in July): +245%
Who created it? Bitcoin Cash was created by a team of people who forked the bitcoin blockchain ledger. It is now controlled by multiple independent teams of developers.
The skinny: Bitcoin Cash is among the newest of the cryptocurrencies, developed in August of 2017 as a hard fork of bitcoin. What’s that? Essentially a new version of bitcoin that’s incompatible with bitcoin.
Bitcoin Cash was created as some users were frustrated by high fees and slow processing times. Because Bitcoin Cash has a greater block size limit, its creators say the cryptocurrency has more capacity to handle transactions with lower fees and faster confirmations. On the other side of that reasoning, though, are the bitcoin loyalists who believe that increasing block sizes endangers the cryptocurrency’s decentralized nature. The philosophical divide between bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash was aptly described by Forbes as “Cypherpunk Vs. Silicon Valley.”
The biggest challenge facing Bitcoin Cash right now is adoption: For it to be valuable, it needs to convince businesses to accept both bitcoin AND the rival payment network. It also needs to convince miners to participate in the transaction-clearing process.
In mid-November, Bitcoin Cash briefly topped Ethereum’s market cap to become the second-most valuable crypto. Since then it’s fallen back into third place. Its circulating supply is currently at 16.8 million, out of a maximum supply of 21 million.