This is the first part of a series that will cover all 50 Cryptocurrencies and will provide an introduction on what the currency does, because it is important and on all the important highlights. The goal of the Top 50 series is to provide readers with a basic understanding of each coin that simplifies a thorough technical understanding in just a few easy-to-understand points. The coin classification changes from day to day and may not always reflect the order in this article.
1 in 50 – Bitcoin (BTC)
Bitcoin is and has always been the leader in the cryptocurrency industry. It has a market capitalization historically 5 to 20 times greater than any other cryptocurrency. Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency and was responsible for the creation of blockchain technology.
Bitcoin uses a consensus system called "proof of work" to maintain a decentralized network. The network is managed by miners who solve intensive math problems to upgrade the network, while the winner of each 10-minute round – or block – receives a block award.
Bitcoin processes a relatively small number of transactions per second and has a limited number of additional features, but has the most tested and completely decentralized network of all cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin's main role is to exist as a non-sovereign value reserve, a form of money that is not issued by a government or the central bank. It is also a form of "programmable money" or purely digital money that can be incorporated into technological applications.
The development of Bitcoin has historically made conservative choices to preserve decentralization and has opted for the use of level two solutions such as Lightning Network on a scale.
2 of 50 – Ripple (XRP)
XRP is a digital resource whose main objective is to act as a medium for monetary transfers. XRP is part of Ripple Net and in particular XRapid. Ripple Net's goal is to provide a global payment line that can be used by banks, institutions and individuals to send money.
The XRP has one of the fastest settlement speeds (four seconds) and cheaper settlement costs (less than one cent). It is also highly scalable and energy efficient.
The XRP ledger is an authorized ledger. This means that Ripple determines who can act as a validator on the network, making it much more centralized. This is unlike projects like Bitcoin or Ethereum where anyone can act as a validator / miner / node.
3 of 50 – Ethereum (ETH)
Ethereum is the world's first intelligent blockchain. This means that Ethereum's blockchain can perform complex computer scripts and be used not only to transfer digital assets but also to create applications. The advantage of creating an application on Ethereum is that the application will be performed by a decentralized network, which guarantees a level of trust that is not possible in a centralized system.
At the moment, Ethereum uses a consensus model on the test model, but it will turn into a game test. Bet test is where a validator has to block a certain amount of Ethereum's digital asset, ETH, in order to validate transactions, update the ledger and receive a reward.
Ethereum was the first platform to allow the initial supply of coins through the ERC-20 token creation standard. The overwhelming majority of other cryptocurrencies exist on the Ethereum network. Ethereum also presents other token standards, such as ERC-721, which create different types of digital resources. ERC-721 tokens behave like digital collectibles and have been used to create "Crypto Kitties", the digital equivalent of something like beanie children.
Ethereum has also been used for the publication of token-like real estate and collaborates with financial institutions and a huge number of other applications.
Ethereum needs to scale the network to be able to truly achieve its goals, but it also has the largest network of developers working to achieve this goal. The Ethereum community has proposed some of the most innovative scaling approaches through the use of sharding, cash and other techniques.
4 of 50 – Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Cash is the result of a split in the Bitcoin network known as fork. Bitcoin Cash has almost all the same Bitcoin code except for some key differences. These differences were changes to the code that the entire community was not able to agree on and that led to the fork.
Bitcoin Cash initially increased the block size from one MB to eight MB, although it has since been further increased. Bitcoin Cash also presents a dynamic difficulty setting, which means that the difficulty of extraction is regulated much more frequently than the Bitcoin protocol.
On an ideological level, Bitcoin Cash is trying to be a digital transactional medium. It is more strongly influenced by community leaders, making it more centralized than Bitcoins.
5 of 50 – Stellar (XLM)
Stellar is a blockchain platform created by one of Ripple's founders because of differences in opinion in the goals of the network. Stellar's goal is to facilitate cross-border business transfers. While this includes various forms of currency, it also extends to the realm of goods and commodities.
The Stellar network uses "anchors" to issue monetary credits that represent different currencies. These credits can be sent to anyone on the network and converted into other credits.
Initially, Stellar used the same consent mechanism as Ripple (XRP), but has since changed to the Stellar Consensus Protocol (SCP). The main difference is that SCP does not use a closed system of nodes and is an open protocol that relies on quorum groups. Each node chooses another small group of nodes, known as a quorum section, and reaches an agreement on the transactions within that group. Multitudes of these groups are therefore interconnected and communicate on transactions until there is a network consensus.
Stellar offers fast confirmation times, extremely low costs for a transaction and the ability to issue assets and create tokens. ICOs can be issued on the Stellar network.
Stellar has been involved in a remarkable partnership with IBM. IBM has launched several initiatives using the Stellar network.