Bitcoin (BTC) gets the lion’s share of cryptocurrency media coverage, and rightfully so. But in the years since the first Bitcoin transaction in 2009, thousands of other cryptocurrencies have popped up, creating a confusing landscape for investors. Some of these altcoins feature major technical innovations that differentiate them from Bitcoin, while others have simply become popular digital currency brands and social media memes.
Cryptocurrency investing remains an extremely speculative endeavor, but it can be very lucrative for investors willing to risk painful losses in the hopes of big payouts. Here are seven of the best altcoins to buy today:
— Ethereum (ticker: ETH)
— Ripple (XRP)
— Solana (SOL)
— Polkadot (DOT)
— Dogecoin (DOGE)
— Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
— Compound (COMP)
Ethereum is the largest and oldest Bitcoin alternative, and its blockchain was the first to introduce smart contracts — code designed to run decentralized applications, or dApps. The Ethereum network is home to dApps for gaming, gambling, socializing, decentralized finance (DeFi) and nonfungible tokens (NFTs). Ether, the native token of the Ethereum network, has significantly outperformed Bitcoin in the past three years. Ethereum’s transition to proof-of-stake, or PoS, transaction verification has also made Ethereum an environmentally friendly alternative to Bitcoin. The Ethereum blockchain’s functionality has helped its cryptocurrency more than triple the performance of Bitcoin over the past three years.
Ripple is a global, digital financial network designed to facilitate transactions among banks and other financial institutions. Ripple is intended to be a faster, cheaper, more secure alternative to the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications, or SWIFT, system for money transfers. XRP is the native cryptocurrency designed for use on the Ripple network and XRP Ledger blockchain. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued Ripple in 2020, alleging it violated securities laws by selling XRP to investors. XRP investors recently scored a huge victory when a judge ruled XRP is “not necessarily a security on its face.”
Solana was launched in March 2020 and has already amassed a large following to become the ninth most-valuable cryptocurrency in the world, with a market capitalization of more than $9 billion. Like Ethereum, Solana supports dApps and NFTs, but it has far fewer total projects on its blockchain than Ethereum does. Solana’s unique combination of proof-of-history, or PoH, and PoS transaction verification gives it several advantages over Ethereum, including faster and cheaper transaction verification. Unfortunately, the Solana network has been plagued by outages that have undermined confidence in its network, including a nearly 20-hour outage in February 2023.
The Polkadot blockchain was launched in 2020 by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood. Polkadot operates a main network blockchain where transactions are permanently recorded. However, its unique feature is its parachains — user-created blockchains that can be customized while still benefiting from the same security measures as the main Polkadot chain. Users can customize different Polkadot parachains for different uses, but the network only requires enough computing resources to operate the main chain. Polkadot uses a nominated PoS consensus model to validate transactions that involve nominators backing validators with their own stakes as a show of trust in the validator’s good behavior.
Dogecoin was created in 2013 as a parody of Bitcoin, but it has become one of the most recognized and valuable digital currency brands in the world, thanks in large part to its Shiba Inu mascot. Dogecoin popularity has been fueled by influential Tesla Inc. (TSLA) CEO and Dogecoin investor Elon Musk, who recently sent Dogecoin prices soaring when he temporarily changed Twitter’s blue bird logo to Dogecoin’s dog logo. Tesla even accepts Dogecoin as payment for certain products. Billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban is also a Dogecoin supporter and has called it the “strongest” cryptocurrency as a medium of exchange.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Bitcoin Cash is a proof-of-work blockchain network and associated cryptocurrency that was formed via a hard fork of Bitcoin in 2017. BCH developers wanted to increase the size of transaction blocks within the Bitcoin blockchain to reduce transaction fees and make Bitcoin more scalable as a payment method, so they branched Bitcoin Cash off from the main Bitcoin blockchain. Bitcoin Cash got a huge boost in 2023 when EDX Markets announced BCH would be one of just four cryptocurrencies initially offered on the new EDX exchange. Bitcoin Cash’s price is up about 150% year to date in 2023.
COMP is an ERC-20 token used to govern the Compound protocol, which is a DeFi project that allows users to lend or borrow Eth tokens at fluctuating interest rates on the Ethereum blockchain via smart contracts. Compound lenders can send their cryptocurrency to an Ethereum address run by Compound and earn interest, and borrowers can post cryptocurrency as collateral to borrow a larger amount of a different cryptocurrency. Compound lenders earn COMP tokens at an interest rate determined by the liquidity of the market. There is a fixed supply of 10 million total COMP tokens.
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Update 07/24/23: This story was previously published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.