Let’s face it: there are a lot of cryptocurrencies out there, with new ones coming out almost daily and old ones disappearing seemingly just as fast as they appeared. It’s easy to get overwhelmed.
If you are new to cryptocurrencies, this is an excellent starting point to learn about each of the top 25 cryptocurrencies (by market cap). Even if you’re a crypto veteran, this is a great resource to reference if you ever get any of the top 25 confused, or if you want to read more about a new coin which has joined the ranks.
Our hope is to point you in the right direction, spur your interest to do more research, and steer you away from the potential scams out there (And yes, there are potential scam coins in the top 25!)
Here at Invest In Blockchain, we are obsessed with researching the internet for all things crypto. The information found in this post is the result of hundreds of hours of painstaking research by me and other writers on our team.
Note that this list is constantly changing and I will do my best to keep it up-to-date, but the top 25 moves almost daily! Please reference coinmarketcap.com for the current top 25 altcoins and their prices.
Let’s get started!
(Information accurate as of November 29, 2017)
#1 – Bitcoin (BTC)
The king of the crypto world, Bitcoin is now a household name; to many, it is synonymous with “cryptocurrency”. Its purpose is to provide a peer-to-peer electronic version of cash to allow payments to be sent online without the need for a third party (such as Mastercard).
The rapid rise in Bitcoin’s price has brought about an explosion of new Bitcoin investors. With the huge increase in interest has come a rise in merchants accepting Bitcoin as a legitimate form of payment. Bitcoin is fast moving towards its goal of becoming a currency accepted worldwide. In November 2017, Bitcoin hit a new all-time high after reaching over $10,000.
Bitcoin’s development is led by Bitcoin Core developer Wladimir J. van der Laan, who took over the role on 8 April 2014. Bitcoin’s changes are decided democratically by the community.
#2 – Ethereum (ETH)
Ethereum is the revolutionary platform which brought the concept of “smart contracts” to the blockchain. First released to the world in July 2015 by then 21-year-old Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum has quickly risen from obscurity to cryptocurrency celebrity status.
Buterin has a full team of developers working behind him to further develop the Ethereum platform. For more background information on Buterin, read our article, “Vitalik Buterin: The Face of Blockchain”.
Ethereum has the ability to process transactions quickly and cheaply over the blockchain similar to Bitcoin, but also has the ability to run smart contracts. For future reading on smart contracts, see “What’s the Difference Between Bitcoin and Ethereum”; but for now, think automated processes which can do just about anything.
For further reading on Ethereum including an analysis of the platform’s strengths and future prospects, read “Why I’m Investing in Ethereum”.
#3 – Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Cash was created on August 1, 2017 after a “hard fork” of the Bitcoin blockchain. For years, a debate has been raging in the Bitcoin community on whether to increase the block size in the hope of alleviating some of the network bottleneck which has plagued Bitcoin due to its increased popularity.
Because no agreement could be reached, the original Bitcoin blockchain was forked, leaving the Bitcoin chain untouched and in effect creating a new blockchain which would allow developers to modify some of Bitcoin’s original programmed features.
Generally speaking, the argument for Bitcoin Cash is that by allowing the block size to increase, more transactions can be processed in the same amount of time. Those opposed to Bitcoin Cash argue that increasing the block size will increase the storage and bandwidth requirement, and in effect will price out normal users. This could lead to increased centralization, the exact thing Bitcoin set out to avoid.
Bitcoin Cash does not have one single development team like Bitcoin. There are now multiple independent teams of developers. For additional information on Bitcoin Cash, see its reddit site and official webpage.
#4 – Ripple (XRP)
Ripple aims to improve the speed of financial transactions, specifically international banking transactions.
Anyone who has ever sent money internationally knows that today it currently takes anywhere from 3-5 business days for a transaction to clear. It is faster to withdraw money, get on a plane, and fly it to your destination than it is to send it electronically! Not to mention you will be paying exorbitant transaction fees — usually somewhere around 6% but it can vary depending on the financial institution.
Ripple’s goal is to make these transactions fast (it only takes around 4 seconds for a transaction to clear) and cheap.
The Ripple team currently comprises over 150 people, making it one of the biggest in the cryptocurrency world. They are led by CEO Brad Garlinghouse, who has an impressive resume which includes high positions in other organizations such as Yahoo and Hightail.
Check out “What is Ripple” for more information, including a closer look at what they do, controversies and future prospects.
#5 – Dash (DASH)
Dash (which comes from ‘digital cash’) aims to be the most user-friendly and scalable cryptocurrency in the world. It has the ability to send funds instantly confirmed by “double-send-proof” security with the added functionality of erasable transaction history and the ability to send transactions anonymously.
Like Bitcoin, Dash is meant to be used as a digital currency but has some added values such as much faster transaction times and lower fees. For a slightly higher fee, Dash has the added function of “instant send” which allows transactions to be confirmed almost instantly. This is one of the main selling points of Dash because many believe that this feature would allow it to be used in brick and mortar establishments.
The Dash development team consists of over 50 members and is led by former financial services professional Evan Duffield.
#6 – Bitcoin Gold (BTG)
Bitcoin Gold came about as a fork from the Bitcoin blockchain, and was originally announced late July 2017.
Bitcoin Gold was designed to change Bitcoin’s consensus mechanism, thereby allowing users to employ graphic processing units (GPU) and lowering the barrier to entry for new miners. The fork was also a switchover from bitcoin’s SHA256 to the same Equihash algorithm used by Zcash.
#7 – Litecoin (LTC)
Similar to Bitcoin, Litecoin is a peer-to-peer transaction platform designed to be used as a digital currency. Due to some notable technical improvements, Litecoin is able to handle more transactions at lower costs. Litecoin has been designed to process the small transactions we make daily.
Litecoin is sometimes referred to “digital silver” while Bitcoin is known as “digital gold”. This is because traditionally silver was used for small daily transactions while gold was used as a store of wealth and was not used in everyday life.
The Litecoin blockchain is a fork from the Bitcoin chain. It was initially launched in 2011 when its founder, Charlie Lee, was still working for Google. Well-known as a cryptocurrency expert, Charlie Lee is backed by a strong development team who appear to be achieving what they set out to do. They have recently achieved a very notable accomplishment with the first successful atomic swap.
For an in-depth discussion on what Litecoin does, how it is different than Bitcoin and the team backing up the development, see “What is Litecoin”.
#8 – IOTA (MIOTA)
IOTA has seen many of the issues Bitcoin and Ethereum have with the POW (proof-of-work) and POI (proof-of-importance) models and looks to improve them with their revolutionary transaction validation network simply called “tangle”.
When issuing a transaction in IOTA, you validate 2 previous transactions. This means you no longer outsource validation to miners which requires wasteful amounts of computing power and usually a large stake of coins. These required resources are, in effect, centralizing the currencies which many believe were created to be decentralized in the first place.
With IOTA, the more active a ledger is, the more validation there is. In other words, the more people who use it, the faster it gets. You don’t have to subsidize miners, so there are no fees on transactions. That’s right: zero.
The IOTA team has been actively developing blockchain technology since 2011, and created the IOTA foundation and company in 2016. Since its emergence, the team has been continuously growing, attracting exceptional talent from around the world.
For more information on IOTA’s team and their revolutionary“tangle” technology, check out “What is IOTA”
#9 – Monero (XMR)
Monero is a digital currency designed to be used as a completely anonymous payment system.
A common misconception with Bitcoin is that it is completely anonymous. In reality, all payments processed on the Bitcoin network are recorded on a public ledger (blockchain), so Bitcoin is actually only partially anonymous or “pseudonymous”.
This means that you can, in theory, trace back every transaction a coin has been involved with from its creation. Though users aren’t able to inherently link the public key on the blockchain with the private keys used to store the coins themselves, there will always exist a correlation between the two.
Monero has solved this problem by implementing cryptonic hashing of receiving addresses, therefore separating the coin from the address it is going to. This can be hugely valuable for anyone wishing to conceal their purchases.
The Monero development team consists of 7 core developers, only two of which are publicly known. There have been over 200 additional contributors to the project and software updates are implemented every six months or so.
To learn more about Monero including its competitors and challenges, read “What is Monero”.
#10 – Ethereum Classic (ETC)
Ethereum Classic came about after a hard fork of Ethereum in 2016. The fork was a result of the infamous DOA hack where around 50 million dollars worth of Ethereum was stolen due to what was considered an oversight in the code.
The blockchain was forked in order to recoup the losses from this attack, but a small portion of the community did not wish to go back and change the original blockchain. Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, and subsequently the development team chose to go with the hard fork and work on what is now “Ethereum” today.
There is a lot of ongoing controversy with Ethereum Classic which can be better described on this reddit thread. In addition, an in-depth description of the DOA event and reasons behind the split can be found here.
#11 – Cardano (ADA)
Cardano is a smart contract-focused blockchain. It was originally released under the name Input Output Hong Kong by Charles Hoskinson and Jeremy Wood, a few of the early team members of Ethereum, and later rebranded into Cardano.
Cardano is trying to fix some of the largest problems the cryptocurrency world which have been causing ongoing issues for years such as scalability issues and democratized voting.
They have the potential to challenge Ethereum’s dominance in the smart contract world. Cardano is developing their own programing language similar to Ethereum; however, they are focusing more heavily on being interoperable between other cryptocurrencies.
While some cryptocurrencies are all bite but no bark, Cardano is quite the opposite. They are quietly focusing on a strong software which will be completely open-source.
Cardano’s team comprises some of the best minds in the industry, and they seek to create a strong foundation which others can build upon for years to come.
#12 – NEO (NEO)
A leading platform for smart contracts and sometimes referred to as “China’s Ethereum”. NEO (formally Antshares) hopes to digitize many types of assets which were formerly kept in more traditional means, and therefore make it possible to use them in smart contracts.
To imagine a potential use case of NEO, think digitizing the title to a house into a smart asset, and then setting up that asset to automatically transfer to another person after payment for the house has been received. This would be, in effect, a simple smart contract.
NEO founder Da Hongfei is a leading figure in the cryptocurrency world and has worked on numerous blockchain projects in the past. The development team consists of 6 in-house investors and a large community of third-party developers.
For a complete overview of NEO, including the team, history and competitive analysis, check out “What is NEO”.
#13 – NEM (XEM)
NEM (New Economy Movement) is the world’s first proof-of-importance (POI) enterprise based on blockchain technology. With a focus on business use cases, the software was built from the ground up with adaptability in mind. NEM’s goal is for companies to use their “smart asset system” to implement customizable blockchains. A smart asset can be almost anything: a cryptocurrency token, a business’s stock or a company’s invoicing and records.
Some potential use cases for NEM’s technology include: voting, crowdfunding, stock ownership, keeping secure records, loyalty rewards point programs, mobile payments and escrow services. A list of NEM’s use cases can be found here.
The development of NEM is monitored by the Singapore-based NEM Foundation.
For more information on what NEM does and what sets NEM apart from its competitors, see “What is NEM”.
#14 – EOS (EOS)
Billed as a potential “Ethereum Killer”, EOS proposes improvements that can challenge Ethereum as the dominant smart contract platform. One main issue EOS looks to improve is the scalability problems which has plagued the Ethereum network during times of high transaction volume, specifically during popular ICOs.
A perhaps more profound difference EOS has, compared to Ethereum, is the way in which you use the EOS network. With Ethereum, every time you make modifications or interact with the network, you need to pay a fee. With EOS, the creator of the DAPP (decentralized app) can foot the bill, while the user pays nothing. And if you think about it, this makes sense. Would you want to have to pay every time you post something on social media? No, of course not!
In addition to this, EOS has a few other technical advantages over Ethereum such as delegated proof of stake and other protocol changes. Just know that EOS has some serious power under the hood to back up the claim of “Ethereum Killer”.
EOS was created by Dan Larrimer who is no stranger to blockchain or start ups. He has been the driving force behind multiple successful projects in the past such as BitShares, Graphene and Steem.
For more information on EOS such as how and where to buy EOS tokens, EOS’s vision and potential challenges, see “What is EOS”.
#15 – Stellar Lumens (XLM)
In a nutshell, Stellar Lumens seeks to use blockchain to make very fast international payments with small fees. The network can handle thousands of transactions a second with only a 3-5 second confirmation time.
As you may know, Bitcoin can sometimes take 10-15 minutes for a transaction to confirm, can only hand a few transactions a second and, in turn, has very high transaction fees.
If this sounds a lot like Ripple, you’re right! Stellar Lumens was forked off Ripple and is attempting to do similar things. Some of Stellar Lumens’ main uses will be for making small daily payments (micropayments), sending money internationally, and mobile payments.
Stellar Lumens is focusing on the developing world and, more specifically, the multi-billion dollar industry of migrant workers who send money back to their family in impoverished countries.
For more information on Stellar Lumens, including the history and what sets Stellar Lumens apart, see “What are Stellar Lumens”.
#16 – QTUM (QTUM)
QTUM (pronounced Quantum) is an open-source value transfer platform which focuses on mobile decentralized apps or Dapps. QTUM is the world’s first proof-of-stake smart contracts platform.
QTUM is meant to be used as both a value transfer protocol, like Bitcoin, and a smart contract platform, like Ethereum. They have a number of technical innovations which some consider to make it superior to Ethereum, and they are focusing on mobile applications.
The platform itself is very new. It came about in March 2017, after a highly successful crowdfunding campaign raised them nearly 16 million dollars in only 5 days. QTUM has a small but strong development team and an impressive list of investors backing their ideas. QTUM’s development is lead by the Singapore based QTUM Foundation.
For further reading on the background of QTUM and what sets them apart, see “What is QTUM”.
#17 – Zcash (ZEC)
ZCash is a value transfer protocol forked off of the Bitcoin blockchain. ZCash can be used like Bitcoin, with a few added improvements. With “zero cash technology”, ZCash shields both the amount transferred and the senders, making transactions truly anonymous.
ZCash is one of the new kids on the block in the world of “private transactions”.
An interesting note is that Ethereum is in the process of implementing some of ZCash’s technologies to enable transactions on the Ethereum network to be anonymous as well.
ZCash is being developed by the Zerocoin Electric Coin Company. They’ve had some great successes, most notably JP Morgan’s announcement that they would implement Zcash’s privacy technology to Quarum, a technology JP built on Ethereum.
Interested in investing in ZCash? Here’s the opinion of one of our writers: Should You Invest In ZCash?
ZCash was recently featured on the Radiolab episode The Ceremony.
#18 – OmiseGO (OMG)
“Unbank the Banked” is the slogan of Omise’s online platform OmiseGo and that’s exactly what Omise has set out to do. Founded in 2013 off of the Ethereum blockchain, Omise aims to revolutionize the financial dynamics in Southeast Asia.
Omise is targeting individuals and businesses of all sizes by improving the current financial system which is slow, outdated, and inaccessible to most “everyday” people in these countries.
With their planned online exchange OmiseGO, Omise seeks to speed up the way money is spent and sent, both domestically and internationally in Southeast Asia and beyond.
They have a lot to celebrate too. OmiseGo has been building partnerships in the region and recently partnered with McDonald’s and Credit Saison.
Omise has established a strong team of over 130 staff members located in different countries. CEO and founder of Omise, Jun Hasegawa, has been involved in multiple startups and worked for Google for over 16 years.
The OmiseGO platform has been endorsed by some of the heavy hitters in the cryptocurrency world such as Vitalik Buterin and Gavin Wood, the co-founders of Ethereum.
For more information on what OmiseGO plans to do, see “What is OmiseGo”.
#19 – Lisk (LSK)
Lisk is a decentralized network, like Bitcoin and Litecoin, which enables developers to deploy their own side chains off the main Lisk blockchain. These side chains are fully customizable blockchains which enable you to change the parameters you want to fit your own blockchain application.
This is similar to Ethereum and QTUM in some ways. With Lisk, the main difference is that the customizable blockchains split into their own separate side chains. This saves developers the grueling legwork of designing something from scratch. At the end of the day, side chains are only decentralized databases of blockchain applications.
Lisk is being developed by a small but quickly growing Berlin-based team. They are led by co-founders Max Kordek and Olivier Beddows who are veterans in the cryptocurrency and development world.
For a thorough look into Lisk including more on what Lisk does, its competitors, challenges and teams, see “What is Lisk”. You can also check out our case study of an accountant who invested all his life savings in Lisk: “Accountant Invests All in Lisk”.
#20 – Hshare (HSR)
Hshare is a pre-launched value token with a 1-to-1 trade in value for HCash. The HCash blockchain has yet to be launched publicly. HCash’s main purpose is to facilitate the easy transfer of currency on different blockchains.
Today, this must be done using an exchange such as Bittrex which has downsides such as transactions fees, the time and hassle to transfer coins from different wallets and the fact that most exchanges are centralized.
#21 – Tether (UDST)
Tether is a cryptocurrency token issued on the Bitcoin blockchain. Each Tether coin is allegedly backed by one US Dollar. The goal is to facilitate transactions with a rate fixed to the USD.
Amongst other things, Tether looks to fix some of the legal issues which can arise when trading cryptocurrencies and it aims to protect people from market volatility.
Tether has faced controversy regarding their business model, and some consider it a scam. More info can be seen on reddit posts such as this.
#22 – BitConnect (BCC)
BitConnect uses a trading bot to automatically trade in and out of Bitcoin. They promise high returns on your initial investment based off these trades. BitConnect also has a referral program where you get bonuses based on how many people you sign up.
For this reason, many people have suggested that BitConnect could be a pyramid scheme, as discussed in videos like this.
#23 – Waves (WAVES)
“Your blockchain token in one minute” was Waves’ original slogan. Though it has been changed due to the increase in services offered, what they said then is still relevant today. Waves is the first blockchain platform which has made it very easy for someone without coding experience to make their own blockchain token!
There are many other platforms out there which enable you to create your own token, most notably Ethereum. But unlike Ethereum, there is no need to learn a new coding language to create a token on Waves.
In addition to token creation, Waves launched its own decentralized exchange which allows you to exchange newly-created tokens with existing tokens and fiat currencies.
The founder and CEO of Waves is Sasha Ivanov, who is no stranger to the crypto world. He was the founder of the exchange coinomat.com.
For more information on Waves, including a list of their competitors and legal issues, see “What is Waves”.
#24 – Stratis (STRAT)
Stratis is an enterprise-grade development platform which functions like Ethereum. What that means is that Stratis was designed with businesses in mind. Stratis is based on the C# and the .Net programing languages which means the program will be much more accessible to developers in the future because there will be no need to learn an additional programing language.
The Stratis slogan is “We make blockchain easy for you”. This really summarizes what Stratis is trying to do, which is make blockchain technology usable for “average” companies.
Similar to Lisk, Stratis is in the business of creating side chains, which in a sense gives the developer the ability to make highly customized blockchains without altering the main public chain.
Stratis is led by CEO Chris Trew who has worked in the blockchain world since 2013 and has various experiences in the financial, legal, aviation and software development sectors.
#25 – Populous (PPT)
At a glance, Populous is a global invoice trading platform built on blockchain decentralized ledger technology. Populous connects business owners and with invoice buyers by using the security, transparency and speed of blockchain technology.
Populous is built off the Ethereum protocol, and it gives the average investor the ability to participate in an alternative finance marketplace which in the past was only accessible to financial institutions, wealthy individuals and governments.
This platform allows investors from any part of the world to invest in an invoice sold by an invoice seller from anywhere in the world. An example use case would be if an investor in the US bought the invoice of a Chinese manufacturing company while the Chinese company uses that loan to finance their operations in the short term to put a product to market.
Invoices will be awarded via an auction. Investors will be paid via interest once the invoice has filled.
The team is UK-based and is led by CEO Stephan Williams and CTO Zvezdormir Zlatinov. The project is still in its infancy stage and there isn’t a lot of information on the development.
For more information on Populous including its history, team and where to buy the coins, see “What is Populous?”.
These are coins which were either previously in the top 25 and have slipped out, or coins that frankly we just like.
#31 – Ark (ARK)
Ark is a cryptocurrency whose goal is to bridge the gap between all of the world’s different cryptocurrencies.
Currently most cryptocurrencies run on different technologies, and are not designed to be compatible with each other. This creates potential problems which will need to be solved in the future. Think for instance, only being able to open Google from a PC which runs on Windows software but not on a Mac which runs on iOS.
To solve this problem, Ark created their SmartBridge technology which is a bit of code added into the blockchain so that Ark can communicate with it directly. The possibilities of this are nearly endless because it utilizes the powers and capabilities of all of the different blockchain technologies.
The Ark team is led by Francois-Xavier Thoorens, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Ark. At the time of writing, Ark has 15 core team members from 11 different countries.
For a more detailed look into Ark including where and how to purchase Ark coins, challenges and criticisms and analysis about Ark’s features, see “What is Ark”.