The cryptocurrencies continue to torment investors, at the same time crowning new millionaires in this difficult period. While Bitcoin is the dominant virtual currency that captures much of the attention, there are many other cryptocurrencies out there, some of which are also popular and relatively high-profile like Ethereum and Ripple. But there are also many less known virtual coins; literally thousands of them.
While it is relatively rare to actually buy something with these virtual currencies, there is still a lot of money that could be made with these darker currencies that have been compared to the "penny stocks" of the cryptocurrency world – and the right one could be due to a meteoric rise.
Here are six potential contenders that may be about to go up, up and down, but as always, note that you make any investment in this volatile arena at your own risk.
1. Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Cash was bifurcated by the original Bitcoin in August 2017 and currently has a market capitalization of $ 28 billion (£ 20 billion). The goal was to create a more recent version of Bitcoin with a larger block size, since the original was limited to 1MB, which in turn limited the network to processing Bitcoin transactions to only seven per second, a serious restriction with the increase in Bitcoin's popularity.
The creators see Bitcoin Cash as the next step in terms of virtual currency evolution, delivering the promise of faster peer-to-peer transactions with lower processing fees. The ultimate goal of Bitcoin Cash is to actually be useful as a digital currency for real-world purchases.
2. Litecoin (LTC)
Litecoin dates back to 2011 and was created by former Google engineer Charlie Lee. It is often considered the "little brother" of Bitcoin – a sort of silver for Bitcoin gold, if you want – with a market capitalization of 10 billion dollars (7 billion pounds) and a paltry limit of 84 million Litecoin to always be released.
Like Bitcoin, Litecoin is a decentralized cryptocurrency that enables peer-to-peer transactions. However, Bitcoin is based on the SHA-256 algorithm, while Litecoin uses the Scrypt algorithm, which runs much faster, with a 2.5-minute target for each new Litecoin block (Bitcoin takes 10 minutes for each new block).
The result is that Litecoin boasts faster transactions and at a lower cost than Bitcoin, which are certainly favorable points regarding the potential growth of Litecoin.
3. Monero (XMR)
Monero is an open source, crowdfunded approach to cryptocurrency, which dates back to July 2012. Originally it was called Bitmonero, but this was later abbreviated with the current name. Monero is a decentralized virtual currency based on the CryptoNote algorithm, with a new block added every two minutes, which means it offers faster transactions than Bitcoin.
Another advantage of Monero, compared to Bitcoin, is that Monero is fungible, and so the transactions are private and there are no "contaminated" coins. Finally, Monero is resistant to ASIC mining activities, so it is not so easily extracted from professional mining companies, which keeps it decentralized.
4. IOTA (MIOTA)
IOTA is receiving a bit of attention these days, after its release as an alternative cryptocurrency in 2014. The name comes from "Internet Of Things Application", and this virtual currency was developed for a future in which devices IoT exchange their resources and services directly with others, and IOTA is used for payment. It is a cryptocurrency designed to offer efficient and low-cost microtransactions.
Other cryptocurrencies are based on the blockchain, with recent transactions grouped in the new block. The IOTA adopts an alternative approach via a Directed Acrylic Graph (DAG) which is called Tangle.
To execute a transaction through IOTA, the user must participate in the network and does so by checking the last two transactions. This allows IOTA to offer free transactions and also to resize it, because as it becomes more popular, there will be more people to verify transactions.
While the world of cryptocurrency ripens and passes from a simple investment vehicle to being used to make payments in the real world, the IOTA's unique approach and free transaction fees, particularly for micropayments, indicate that it is well positioned . Another point to note is that IOTA can not be extracted, since all IOTA was created in a single original transaction.
5. Cardano (ADA)
Cardano is a relative newcomer, having been released in 2017 after a long "initial offer of coins" of 2015. Considered a third generation cryptocurrency, its name derives from Gerolamo Cardano, a Renaissance figure who was a mathematician and an Italian doctor . Its founder is Charles Hoskinson, who was a co-founder of Ethereum.
Cardano is based on blockchain and adopts a scientific approach to cryptocurrency, based on academic articles published with academic institutions that oversee its growth and evolution. Their goal is to balance the regulatory requirements while continuing to respect the principles of privacy and decentralization.
This virtual currency also features Ouroboros' Proof of Stake (PoS) method for faster transactions, which is commendably energy efficient. Furthermore, it is considered highly secure, as it is based on a multi-level architecture. Cardano is an ambitious project that seeks to address the shortcomings of Ethereum and other older cryptocurrencies.
So far, Cardano seems to have done something right, as it has quickly become the fifth largest cryptocurrency that stands for market capitalization value (behind respectively Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Bitcoin Cash).
6. Vertcoin (VTC)
Vertcoin was launched in 2014 and is similar to Bitcoin and Litecoin, although it certainly is not as well known. Vertcoin is open source, decentralized and has a block time of 2.5 minutes. It also strives to be "the currency of the people".
In other words, Vertcoin wants to avoid control by banks or other centralized mining powers. It incorporates ASIC resistance, which means it is designed to avoid being dominated by mines, allowing everyone the opportunity to extract it using simple consumer graphics cards.
Vertcoin also uses the Lightning network for instant blockchain transactions. Moreover, the Lightning network has the "atomic atomic chain" that allows Vertcoin to be directly exchanged in Litecoin or Bitcoin, decentralizing the exchanges. The creators are also working on "Stealth Addresses" which allows them to provide privacy inside the blockchain's public ledger.
Two other factors contribute to the popularity of Vertcoin. The first is that it has an active community on social media sites, and the other big advantage is that it is easily extractable by beginners using one-click software, making it highly accessible.