Bitcoin is the OG cryptocurrency, and its meteoric rise hasmade it a mainstay of conversation for investors, media, and technologists alike. In fact, the innovation of the blockchain is changing entire markets, causing ripples with central banks and the financial industry as a whole.
But the true impact of Bitcoin is actually far more reaching thanthis – it’s actually helped to birth new markets for over 800 other cryptocurrencies and assets that are available for online trading. For the first time since Bitcoin was founded, it now makes up theminority of the entire cryptocurrency market at about 41.6% of all coins and assets.
So what are the other altcoins that make up the rest of this universe, and where did they come from?
Litecoin is one of the first altcoins, and it is nearly identicalto Bitcoin after being “forked” in 2011. At time of writing, Litecoin’s market capitalization is worth $2.1 billion.
Ethereum, launched in 2015, is the largest coin by market capitalization aside from Bitcoin. While Bitcoin is designed to be a payments protocol, Ethereum enables developers to build and deploy decentralized applications, while also enabling smart contracts. Ethereum’s current market cap is $25.7 billion.
Another interesting fact: the Ethereum network actually split into two in 2016. There is now a separate Ethereum, based on the original Ethereum blockchain, trading as“Ethereum Classic” with its own market capitalization of $1.8 billion.
Ripple (XRP) is the native currency of the Ripple Protocol, a broader catch-all for an open-source, global exchange. It solves a different problem than Bitcoin, allowing for settling payments between different currencies and even different payment systems. With over 800+ altcoins or assets out there, there’s plenty of information to absorb.