In This Article

  1. What is Cryptocurrency? 
  2. The Ultimate List of Cryptocurrencies
  3. The Bottom Line: The Ultimate List of Cryptocurrencies

"Cryptocurrency is fad." 

"Bitcoin at $100 is grossly overvalued." 

"Crypto is just magic internet money." 

Micheal Burry and Warren Buffett have cryptocurrency the largest bubble in history and nothing more than a mirage filled with charlatans. 

But…

Bitcoin went from $1 to over $60k in ten years, breaking all-time highs and is beginning to find acceptance in mainstream investing.

Plus, the engine behind crypto, blockchain technology, is securing data in ways that were impossible just a few years ago.

Is it all hype? Is the bubble bound to burst?

Before jumping into cryptocurrency, or making your next coin purchase, it's important to understand what you’re investing in

This includes understanding how cryptocurrency works and examining a list of cryptocurrencies.

In this article, we’ll break down both of these elements to help you decide if cryptocurrency — and which type of cryptocurrency — is right for you. 

What is Cryptocurrency? 

Before cryptocurrency, the only way to send money digitally was through an intermediary like a bank or Paypal. 

Now, with crypto, money can be transferred peer-to-peer with no central figure. 

Cryptocurrency uses blockchain technology to distribute data and verify transactions across a decentralized network with no single point of failure. 

While Bitcoin was the first, there are now thousands of types of cryptocurrencies, all with different uses and economics. 

Some types of cryptocurrencies function as means of exchange and a storage of wealth, while other types of cryptocurrency are platforms for building decentralized applications (dapps).

Collectively, cryptocurrencies hold a $2.58 trillion global market cap. For comparison’s sake, this tops Apple — the world's largest company — at $2.47 trillion.

When thinking about cryptocurrency, remember that most digital currencies are not backed by fiat currency (government-backed legal tender). Digital currency gains value from scarcity and speculation. 

The caveat to crypto: It's only worth as much as people are willing to pay for it. This creates extreme volatility as sentiment shifts. 

Crypto trades more on speculation than traditional investing fundamentals like a stock, which can reach equilibrium through things like price to earnings ratios. 

Next, we’ll look at a list of cryptocurrencies, including the most popular, the most polarizing, and the ones you’re likely to come across as you dive deeper into cryptocurrency. 

The Ultimate List of Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin (BTC)

No cryptocurrency list would be complete without Bitcoin, the first digital currency. BTC uses proof of work computation to create secure peer-to-peer transactions. 

BTC is currently trading at $62k with a $1.2 trillion market cap — and controls 45% of the total crypto market cap. 

Bitcoin has no owner or traditional dev team. Instead, BTC relies on its open-source code, first written in 2008 by an anonymous developer known as "Satoshi Nakamoto." The role of monitoring inflation and circulation is written into the code and carried out by blockchain technology.

Bitcoin uses a “proof of work” consensus mechanism to verify transactions and keep the ledger of transactions up to date.

Proof of work validators are known as “miners”. Miners use specialized hardware to solve complex and arbitrary math problems. The miner that guesses the correct answer receives about $380k in Bitcoin (the amount in BTC halves every four years). 

Although most mining operations are running clean energy, proof of work consumes massive amounts of power. Today, there are newer coins that use virtually no energy with near-instant transaction times. 

Despite this, the price of Bitcoin — the original cryptocurrency — continues to rise

Ethereum (ETH)

Next on our list of cryptocurrencies: Ethereum. 

Vitalik Buterin created Ethereum in 2013 to see just how far decentralization could go if dapp developers had a platform and access to ample computing power. 

Today, Ethereum hovers around $4,200 with a market cap of $487.3 billion. 

Like Bitcoin, Ethereum is currently using proof of work (though soon to be changed to a more efficient proof of stake algorithm). 

Where ETH differs from BTC is its ability to create and regulate smart contracts and power dapps. Smart contracts can function like a traditional "if this, then that" contract and dapps can be built on top of them. Dapp developers write the contract and pay ETH to the Etherum network to execute, enforce and verify it. 

Ethereum network dapps allow people to mint and exchange NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens), which are similar to deeds to prove ownership. 

Decentralized exchanges (Dexs) use smart contracts to automate:

  • peer-to-peer trading 
  • pricing
  • liquidity 

Ethereum offers utility and security to the decentralized world at a rate that encroaches upon Bitcoinʻs market dominance. 

ETH is the original for smart contracts and dapps — one of the reasons it belongs on our cryptocurrency list.  

Litecoin

Charlie Lee staked his claim in the cryptocurrency world with the "Silver to Bitcoinʻs gold" — Litecoin. 

Lee created the Bitcoin hard fork not as competition with “Nakamoto”, but as a complementary currency — Store your wealth in gold; Buy dinner with silver. 

Litecoin uses the faster proof of work algorithm that makes LTC like Bitcoin at 4x speed: 

  • 4 times faster transaction times 
  • 4 times as many coins in circulation 

Many new cryptocurrencies feature exponentially faster coins with barely any fees, smart contracts, and NFT platforms. 

LTC has none of that, but what separates Litecoin from the new kids on the blockchain is its age and reliability: Ten years of uninterrupted network up-time and over ten billion dollars of transactions processed. 

Litecoin might not be thrilling for new investors, but it wasnʻt made for investors; it was made for commerce. 

Dogecoin (DOGE)

Doge is a coin based around the Shiba, a Japanese dog breed. 

Dogecoin was made as a joke in a single afternoon. To make it even more ridiculous, Doge was created to be intentionally inflationary, with thousands of coins added into circulation every day. 

Before you scroll away from this inflationary meme coin, hereʻs a quick list of what makes Dogecoin so popular for "investors":

  1. Doge has a cute dog as a mascot.
  2. That dog has a cute catchphrase: "Such fun, much wow." 
  3. Dogecoin has a $33 billion dollar market cap ($88 billion at its peak).

Yes, you read that correctly. 

At the height of Doge-mania in June 2021, the coin held a market cap greater than global companies like Ford or Adidas. 

A raving fan base of Redditers and Tiktokers collectively pumped up Doge from a dormant $0.002 up to a peak of $0.68 in only a matter of months.

Dogeʻs only worth is what the people decide it to be, and as their slogan goes, "1 Doge always = 1 Doge." What that means in dollars is anyone's guess. So far, itʻs been collectively worth more than a global auto manufacturer. 

Cryptocurrency is volatile in the first place. Doge is even more volatile — and dangerous if your money is on the line.

Doge is an internet trend, and at least for now, that trend remains. 

Binance Coin (BNB) 

Binance Coin is created and backed by the world's largest crypto exchange — Binance.com. 

BNB is on this cryptocurrency list because of its ability to link multiple blockchains into one ecosystem. 

The BNB ecosystem allows launch pads for:

  • token creation
  • NFTs
  • dexs
  • app/web-based wallet 

BNB is the third largest coin by market cap and frequently comes under fire from crypto zealots due to Binanceʻs centralization of the market. 

BNB is trading at $484 with a market cap of $80 billion. 

You can purchase BNB from Binance.US, Gate.io, and FTX.

Cardano (ADA) 

Created in 2017 by Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson, Cardano has a price of $2.15 with a $70 billion market cap. 

Cardano uses a quick and energy-efficient proof of stake (POS) consensus mechanism to secure its network. Cardano is best known for efficient smart contract systems that are cheaper to create than its ETH competitor.

Cardanoʻs low fees and easy platform make it a strong ETH competitor.

You can buy ADA on Binance, Kraken, and Coinbase.

Tether (USDT) 

Compared to other cryptocurrencies on this list, Tether is always equal to one US dollar. 

USDT, which has a market cap of $69.6 billion, is commonly used to store money between trades and can be swapped from other coins to lock in gains rather than selling to fiat. 

Tether has seen quite a bit of controversy. Just like its US dollar equivalent, USDT has been accused of "printing" money without holding anything in reserve. 

Something to keep in mind: Tether has declined to show proof of its funding and may soon come under investigation by the SEC or face regulation from Congress.

Despite the controversy, stablecoins like USDT play a major role in quick and easy crypto trades. 

Solana (SOL)

Solana is currently trading at $195 with a $59B market cap. 

SOL is a direct ETH competitor that allows for the creation of:

  • dapps 
  • defi
  • dexs
  • NFT platforms
  • games

SOL further reinforces its network through proof of stake and proof of history. 

Solanaʻs doubly reinforced consensus mechanism allows for lightning-fast transaction times even under heavy network pressure, perfect for institutional use. 

However, SOL is only about a year old and has yet to see ETH or ADA's adoption rate. 

SOL lacks the user base of Ethereum, but its tech is groundbreaking, which is why itʻs on this cryptocurrency list.

You can purchase SOL on Binance, Coinbase, and FTX.

XRP (XRP) 

XRP uses a distributed ledger system instead of blockchain tech to make transactions instant and nearly free. Today, XRP is trading at $1.10, with a $51.7 billion market cap. 

XRP is the sleeping dragon of crypto that once held the second-largest market cap. 

Ripple, the creators of XRP, are under an ongoing lawsuit with the SEC for the sale of an unlicensed security. Why XRP is a security while ETH, ADA, and every other crypto are classified as currency is a mystery, even to Ripple. 

XRPʻs instant transaction times could save big banks millions, and for that it makes our top cryptocurrency list.

Due to the ongoing litigation, XRP is unavailable for purchase on most US markets but investors with a high-risk tolerance can buy it on Crypto.com and Kucoin.

The Bottom Line: The Ultimate List of Cryptocurrencies

Just because one cryptocurrency is the fastest and most efficient doesnʻt mean that it gets mass adoption. It certainly doesnʻt guarantee that it'll always be the best option to buy, either. 

As it has in the past, cryptocurrency will become more refined and leave a dusty trail of forgotten hyped up coins.

Trading off of this kind of sentiment is fickle at best — and is not recommended.

However, you can shield yourself from volatility (and increase your chances of a profit) by knowing what makes one type of digital currency different from the next using this cryptocurrency list.