Survey of the cryptocurrency landscape
How do you judge the “size” of a cryptocurrency? Not by the price per coin - the coin is an arbitrary unit. Nor by number of coins - again, the coin is arbitrary. Instead by market capitalization. “Market cap” is usually applied to companies, not cryptocurrencies. The market cap of a company is its share price multipled by its number of shares. The market cap of a company is the amount in USD it would cost to buy all of its shares. Applied to a cryptocurrency, the market cap, a value in USD, is calculated as $/coin * number of coins. The market capitalization of Bitcoin is the amount in USD you would have to pay to buy all Bitcoins. Right now, that’s about $75B. Many sites like CoinMarketCap track the “market cap” of big cryptos.
CoinMarketCap lists 1200 different cryptocurrencies. The total market cap across all cryptos is $164B. Their market cap follows a strong power law; Bitcoin has almost half the entire market cap.
Here I’ll look at the top 10.
|Bitcoin||$75B||2009||The original cryptocurrency. Proof-of-work.|
|Ethereum||$32B||2014||Scripting. Forked in 2016 due to “The DAO” bug. Will use proof-of-stake in future.|
|Bitcoin Cash||$10B||2017||Fork of Bitcoin. Larger block size limit.|
|Ripple||$8B||2012||Tokens represent other assets, e.g. fiat currency. Formal relationship to banks.|
|Litecoin||$4B||2011||Bitcoin, with some attempts to increase latency and throughput.|
|Dash||$2.7B||2014||An associated DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization).|
|IOTA||$2B||2016||Uses a Markle DAG instead of a Merkle list.|
|Monero||$1.9B||2014||Uses “CryptoNote”, which somehow is more anonymous.|
|Ethereum Classic||$1.8B||2016||The “non-fork” of Ethereum blockchain; accepts “The DAO” thefts.|
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