The Ultimate Guide to Cryptocurrency: Everything You Need to Know
Cryptocurrency is a digital currency that operates independently of any central bank and its currency. It has been gaining popularity since 2009, with more than 50 million users who hold some form of crypto today! There are over 10,000 different types of cryptocurrencies in circulation. As the popularity of cryptocurrency continues to grow, many people are starting to invest in it as a way to save and make money.
With so many different coins to choose from, finding the best ones to invest in can be difficult. This article will break down the top cryptocurrencies and what you need to know to ensure you make the right choice before investing.
Know the Difference: Tokens Vs. Coins Vs. Bitcoin
Before learning about different cryptocurrencies, it's essential to understand that cryptocurrencies are typically broken into three categories: Bitcoin, Tokens, and Altcoins.
What Are Bitcoins?
Bitcoin is the first of its kind, blockchain and all. That's why it's only fair to classify Bitcoin as a type of cryptocurrency because its framework helped shape a ton of other digital currencies that followed. At the heart of cryptocurrency's operation is its proof system, which ensures that all transactions are valid. This system is enabled through technologies used by miners who compete to find new blocks in order to contribute independently and without any central authority interference.
What Are Altcoins?
Altcoins are alternative coins that are not Bitcoin. They can be thought of as the 'alt' version of Bitcoin—they are different but work on similar principles. Altcoins are usually created to improve upon Bitcoin's flaws or designed as a completely new cryptocurrency. Some of the most popular altcoins include Litecoin and Dogecoin.
Most cryptocurrencies have a limited number of coins that can exist, which is referred to as a coin limit and helps to strengthen its value. For example, Dogecoin has 129 million coins. Once all 129 million are sold, there is no more that can be mined. The only way this would change is if the developers made it so that Dogecoin can be mined using a different algorithm.
However, every system can create its own protocols, procedures, and rules for how its coins work, so it's essential to check into the specific cryptocurrency altcoin you're interested in first!
What Are Tokens?
Similar to a stock offering, tokens are given out and created through an ICO or Initial Coin Offering. They can be represented through utility tokens, security tokens, or even value tokens to either protect your account or be used for specific purposes. Tokens tend to describe a function or value instead of being the value themselves. Essentially, tokens can take on a variety of different meanings. Examples of popular tokens include Ethereum and Bitcoin.
What Are the Top Cryptocurrencies?
Now that you understand the difference between tokens and coins, it's time to dive into the top cryptocurrency you can purchase. Each has its own benefits, story, and description, making it dramatically different from other coins or tokens on the market. While there are thousands to choose from, we've compiled a list of the top Cryptocurrency types you need to know about.
Bitcoin is the world's first decentralized cryptocurrency to hit the market. It was created in 2009 and is now worth more than 1 trillion dollars. Bitcoin is known for its decentralization, security, and relative anonymity when making transactions on its blockchain network. While all users can view Bitcoin transactions, only the owner of the specific Bitcoin can decrypt them.
Bitcoin has positioned itself to become valuable in our everyday lives, working to become adopted by corporations and entire countries. It's sometimes accepted as payment for goods and services over local currency. While many other altcoins try to beat out Bitcoin, it is still one of the most popular cryptocurrency platforms for buyers worldwide.
Litecoin is one of the older cryptocurrencies on the market, created in 2011. Due to Bitcoin's shortcomings, it was developed to address some critical issues such as transaction speed and coin limit. As a result, Litecoin offers transactions that are four times faster than Bitcoin!
There are approximately 84 million Litecoin in existence at the moment. However, Litecoin does not have the massive growth, spikes, or constant all-time highs that you can typically find with other coins, like Bitcoin.
Instead, Litecoin was designed to have long-term value with slow growth. Litecoin is an inexpensive coin to invest in, which can be a plus for those who don't have the funds to afford more expensive cryptocurrency. While all cryptocurrency is volatile and unpredictable, Litecoin tends to be one of the most predictable and consistent.
Ethereum is a cryptocurrency designed to have smart contracts, which are agreements that can be made without any third party needed. The contract will execute as soon as the conditions of the said agreement have been met. Ether was developed by Vitalik Buterin when he realized blockchain technology could go beyond currency transactions and instead improve everyday processes.
There are approximately 97 million ETH tokens currently in circulation, with no more than 115 million released onto the market! Unlike other tokens with a set limit, Ethereum tends to increase the amount created every year. Recently, it has focused on rolling out its massive update, also known as Ethereum 2.0, to help address the scaling, security, and efficiency of the cryptocurrency.
Dash is a cryptocurrency platform that focuses on anonymity and privacy. It was initially called Darkcoin but changed its name to help reflect the project's focus: digital cash! As a result, Dash has become one of the top altcoins in terms of market cap, trading pairs across exchanges, popularity among traders, as well as liquidity.
The Dash team wanted to create a fast-paced coin with low fees and instant transactions, so it can be used for everyday payments anywhere around the world. The capabilities include enabling users to send money instantly via SMS or email using their telephones like they would with PayPal or a debit card.
There will be a total of 18.9 million Dash coins introduced into the market, with more than 7.4 million already circulating.
Bitcoin Cash is an altcoin that was created as a way to improve certain parts of Bitcoin. This created two different sets of coins: Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash. The split occurred when there were debates over increasing block size, which would allow more transactions to occur at one time on the blockchain network.
The original intent for this coin was to introduce features like anonymous transactions, low fees, increased throughputs (transactions per second), along other benefits not integrated into Bitcoin's code yet. Bitcoin Cash has a supply limit of up to 21 million coins, and it is currently the fourth most popular cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin.
Zcash is a cryptocurrency that was created to ensure the anonymity of transactions and balances. The goal with Zcash, similar to other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, is to create a more transparent form of currency without releasing too much information about the transaction or user behind it.
Users can choose how public they want their transactions on the blockchain network for others to see—from fully auditable by everyone when using zk-SNARKs (transactions are encrypted) to using shielded, which hides your data completely! You get control over who has access to what info with this cool feature.
Zcash also uses 'zero-knowledge proofs' for receiving payments where users will know coins were transferred but don't have any information about the sender or receiver.
The supply limit for Zcash is 21 million coins, and it currently ranks as the eighth most popular cryptocurrency on the market, valued at more than $200 billion!
EOS is a decentralized operating system for the development of commercial-scale Dapps or Decentralized Applications. It was created by Dan Larrimer, who also founded Steemit and BitShares.
The goal of EOS is to allow developers all over the world to create their own applications without worrying about scalability issues, security controls, and other things that could hinder their process! The entire network operates from Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS), which means no mining power whatsoever because it's not needed with this process. Instead, owners have voting rights when they choose delegates as participants on the blockchain network.
There is no current maximum supply limit for EOS cryptocurrency. However, the entire blockchain is only allowed to produce up to five percent per year. So, for example, if there are one billion coins and four years have passed, that means forty million coins will be mined in total by then! There are no plans to change this operating system.
Dogecoin was initially developed as a joke cryptocurrency to make fun of Bitcoin. The coin features a viral Shiba Inu dog meme from earlier years. However, due to the push from Dogecoin crypto holders like Elon Musk and the fact that it's perceived as a way to mess with the current digital currency system, it has grown to be one of the most popular coins on the market bought by many Gen-Z and Millennials.
There is no current supply limit for Dogecoins, which is one of the reasons why people tend to flock to this digital currency. However, due to this lack of scarcity, Dogecoin ends up having unpredictable fluctuations and inflation.
Stellar Lumen is the fastest transaction platform on the market today. This cryptocurrency was created in 2014 and has already processed over 30 million transactions—without any issues!
The goal of Stellar is to provide an open, scalable means for cross-border payments that connect people via devices like cell phones or computers with little to no fees attached whatsoever. So, how does it work while still being decentralized and secure, unlike other platforms such as PayPal? You can send money anywhere in seconds—which makes this coin perfect for payments from migrant workers abroad or back home.
With a current supply limit of 22.5 billion coins available, there are plans in place to create more by 2022 if needed (which currently seems unlikely). Due to its fast speeds and scalability, this cryptocurrency is one of the most popular coins on the market.
XRP, created by Ripple, is a real-time gross settlement system, currency exchange, and remittance network that provides global financial settlements for banks. In other words, it can be used to send money from one country to another in seconds with little fees.
The goal of XRP was not only speed but also scalability when being designed—so this cryptocurrency's incredible speeds are matched by its decentralized nature. In addition, it utilizes an open protocol where the company has consistently been committed to creating new solutions according to market needs (for example, international payments).
There is no current maximum supply limit for XRP coins. However, their current circulation is a little over 50 billion. XRP does plan to release a maximum of 1 billion tokens each month per the built-in smart contract.
NEO or Antshares is a cryptocurrency developed in China with the goal of being an open-source, decentralized platform for hosting digital assets and creating executive agreements without a middle person.
The NEO smart contract system aims to have unlimited scalability and can process thousands of transactions per second—way faster than any global bank currently operating today. With this type of speed, it could be used in industries such as HFT trading (High-Frequency Trading) on Wall Street, where fractions of seconds matter when making stock trades and earning millions.
There are currently more than 70.5 million NEO tokens in circulation with a total supply of 100 million.
Cardano is a third-generation cryptocurrency and the first blockchain project to create an academic peer review process for new protocols. It also features a cryptocurrency called ADA, which is the coin people use.
In addition to being scalable and secure, this crypto has been designed for efficiency, requiring minimal energy consumption (which means it's environmentally friendly). The goal of Cardano was to create an environment that favors a balance between rich or poor, so that nobody can take advantage of others in order to make money unfairly. It does this by utilizing both Proof-of-Stake and Proof-of-Work consensus mechanisms.
There is a current limit on the maximum supply of coins, with a total of 45 billion ADA coins that will be put into circulation. Right now, there are around 31 billion currently on the market.
Uniswap has a maximum supply of 1 billion tokens, with more than 50% already put into circulation. Furthermore, this cryptocurrency is one of the most unique on this list because it's designed to be able to swap any two cryptocurrencies without using an exchange!
This means users can trade digital assets they own for other coins or tokens as long as someone else wants them in return. This makes Uniswap perfect for traders looking to diversify their portfolio and get more exposure (or safer alternatives) by swapping out some riskier investments for others that are less volatile.
The ultimate goal behind this project was to create a way for people to have privacy when trading, even if they don't have access to exchanges or specific markets.
Polkadot is a new type of blockchain that connects many different blockchains together seamlessly. It's called the Internet-of-blockchain networks and allows for easy exchange between them.
Polkadot also features an increased efficiency through its parallel process, which removes the need for every node to validate each transaction—making it a fast platform to use.
There are currently 950 million DOT tokens in circulation, with 100 million set aside as "superblocks." The maximum supply limit will be reached when there are 66% more tokens issued. This level has not been reached yet because they have no plans to release additional tokens post the initial issue date just yet.
Aave is a new cryptocurrency that's been developed with the goal of being used for more than just currency.
The team behind this project wanted to create something sustainable and meaningful, so they decided on building an application token—which can be designed as a utility token or security token depending on your needs.
The main focus of Aave will depend on the type of blockchain it's deployed onto (e.g., Ethereum). Some ways people could use Aave include fundraising, advertising, and marketing campaigns through social media channels like Facebook Ads or Twitter Promoted Tweets because these networks are accessible for users!
This coin has no maximum supply limit currently set in place, but there is also no mining process either since transactions happen through the Aave token.
Tezos is a new blockchain that has been created to function as an "autonomous digital community."
It's designed to be decentralized, secure, and scalable. It also features built-in governance, which will allow stakeholders—the people who own Tezos coins (called tezzies)—to vote on any upgrade proposals like improving security or adding more functionality. This means they can make their voices heard if something needs changing and have it corrected quickly without waiting for a long period of time.
This crypto project's goal was to create stability through its long-term development process by gradually deploying upgrades over time instead of all at once. Hence, there are no sudden changes that may cause bugs or crashes. The current circulating supply of this cryptocurrency is 840 million, with no max supply set in place just yet.
IOTA is a new crypto that's been created to function as the backbone of the Internet of things. It's current circulation is over 2,779,530,283,277,761.
It uses an innovative technology called "Tangle," which provides fast and free transactions, no matter how large or small they are. The team behind this project has also designed it, so there will be absolutely zero transaction fees, even if you're sending one million dollars in digital currency!
The goal for IOTA is to create a system where anyone can use any data from anywhere—like sensor readings on machinery in factories or traffic sensors at intersections—just by paying with their cryptocurrency. It could give us access to all kinds of things we never had before and help make everyday life easier.
How Do I Choose the Right Cryptocurrency?
It would be best to choose a cryptocurrency based on what it's being used for and its underlying technology. For example, if you want to store value, then Bitcoin is the right choice because of how rare it is and that there will only ever be 21 million coins in circulation. On the other hand, if you're looking to make some money with your currency—like by trading or mining—then Ethereum might be better suited since there are so many available. IOTA may also be worth considering due to its zero transaction fees regardless of size.
The best cryptocurrency to buy all depends on what features matter most to you as an individual! Other factors you might consider before purchasing may include:
- Purpose of the Coin - What is its intended use? The more specific a cryptocurrency is to an application or function, the easier it will be to find potential buyers who want those services! That's why Ethereum was created because there were lots of people who wanted something similar, but Bitcoin wasn't quite what they needed.
- Community Involvement - Does this project have any supporters other than developers working on it full time? Do users actively participate in the market?
- Market Cap - How many coins are out there? What's the price per coin in US dollars or Euros? Is there a cap to ensure the value of the crypto stays consistent or finds growth?
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