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The core purpose of cryptocurrencies is relatively simple: leverage technology to eliminate the middle-man in financial transactions and make buying and selling things less costly and more efficient. That may sound like a mouthful. Traditional currencies need big banks to oversee and verify all transactions. Cryptocurrencies do not. Sure, there are risks to cryptocurrencies achieving mainstream adoption and overtaking government-backed currencies. There are a fixed number of bitcoins in the world 21 million.
But to constrain supply growth and retain incentives for mining, the bitcoin system is set up so that every so often, the amount of new bitcoins unlocked for mining a block is halved. So far, bitcoin has undergone three halvings. In both instances, many alternative cryptocurrencies actually rose far more than bitcoin. In other words, bitcoin halvings have traditionally been exceptionally bullish catalysts for cryptocurrencies.
And that makes complete sense. Prices are determined by supply and demand. The number of bitcoins unlocked for mining one block fell from Concurrently, demand growth should accelerate in , driven by the introduction of more financial derivative products, broader support from central banks and increasing recognition of bitcoin as a digital store of value.
Bigger demand growth plus lower supply growth equals higher cryptocurrency prices. With all that in mind, I suggest readers keep a close eye on these seven explosive cryptocurrencies in the coming year:. Of course, the most obvious cryptocurrency to buy for is bitcoin. On the supply side, the third halving directly effected the amount of new bitcoins coming into market, and led to relatively slow supply growth.
Meanwhile, on the demand side, cryptocurrency interest will soared this year after the halving drew media coverage and public attention. That is, as new investors enter the cryptocurrency market over the next few quarters, most of them will likely start by getting their feet wet with bitcoin.
Accelerating demand growth plus constrained supply growth will lead to higher prices for bitcoin in Privacy is a top priority in the cryptocurrency community, and privacy-focused coins will likely win big in Privacy is one of the more important and discussed characteristics in both the crypto world and the financial transaction world at large. As cryptos gain more mainstream traction, Ripple is adding more and more banks and various other customers to its network.
Most recently, the National Bank of Egypt just partnered with Ripple. More and more banks will partner with Ripple in as cryptocurrency awareness and demand rises. As it does, the price of XRP will rise, too. One of the more interesting cryptocurrencies that could explode higher is Basic Attention Token. The core idea behind BAT is pretty simple. The digital advertising model is broken, in that user and advertiser incentives are not aligned.
Instead, they run opposite one another. That is, advertisers want users to watch their ads, while consumers want to skip the ads. The idea of BAT is to realign the incentive structure in the digital ad network so that user and advertiser incentives match one another. To do this, users get paid Basic Attention Tokens to watch ads in the Brave browser, so that they are now financially incentivized to watch the ad.
And, as cryptocurrencies gain more mainstream consumer traction in , this smart model for compensating users to watch ads should similarly gain traction. In Ethereum plans to change its consensus algorithm from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake. This move will allow Ethereum's network to run itself with far less energy as well as improved transaction speed.
This process helps to secure the network and process the transactions that occur. Those who do this are rewarded ether similar to an interest account. Litecoin is based on an open-source global payment network that is not controlled by any central authority and uses "scrypt" as a proof of work, which can be decoded with the help of CPUs of consumer-grade.
Although Litecoin is like Bitcoin in many ways, it has a faster block generation rate and hence offers a faster transaction confirmation time. Other than developers, there are a growing number of merchants who accept Litecoin. The project was co-founded by Charles Hoskinson, one of the five initial founding members of Ethereum. After having some disagreements with the direction Ethereum was taking, he left and later helped to create Cardano.
The team behind Cardano created its blockchain through extensive experimentation and peer-reviewed research. The researchers behind the project have written over 90 papers on blockchain technology across a range of topics. This research is the backbone of Cardano. Due to this rigorous process, Cardano seems to stand out among its proof-of-stake peers as well as other large cryptocurrencies. That said, Cardano is still in its early stages. While it has beaten Ethereum to the proof-of-stake consensus model it still has a long way to go in terms of decentralized financial applications.
Cardano aims to be the financial operating system of the world by establishing decentralized financial products similarly to Ethereum as well as providing solutions for chain interoperability, voter fraud, and legal contract tracing, among other things. Polkadot is a unique proof-of-stake cryptocurrency that is aimed at delivering interoperability between other blockchains.
Its protocol is designed to connect permissioned and permissionless blockchains as well as oracles to allow systems to work together under one roof. With Ethereum, developers can create new blockchains but they need to create their own security measures which can leave new and smaller projects open to attack, as the larger a blockchain the more security it has.
This concept in Polkadot is known as shared security. Polkadot was created by Gavin Wood, another member of the core founders of the Ethereum project who had differing opinions on the project's future. Bitcoin Cash BCH holds an important place in the history of altcoins because it is one of the earliest and most successful hard forks of the original Bitcoin. In the cryptocurrency world, a fork takes place as the result of debates and arguments between developers and miners. Due to the decentralized nature of digital currencies, wholesale changes to the code underlying the token or coin at hand must be made due to general consensus; the mechanism for this process varies according to the particular cryptocurrency.
BCH began its life in August of as a result of one of these splits. The debate that led to the creation of BCH had to do with the issue of scalability; the Bitcoin network has a limit on the size of blocks: one megabyte MB. BCH increases the block size from one MB to eight MB, with the idea being that larger blocks can hold more transactions within them, and therefore the transaction speed would be increased.
It also makes other changes, including the removal of the Segregated Witness protocol which impacts block space. Stellar is an open blockchain network designed to provide enterprise solutions by connecting financial institutions for the purpose of large transactions. Huge transactions between banks and investment firms that typically would take several days, a number of intermediaries, and cost a good deal of money, can now be done nearly instantaneously with no intermediaries and cost little to nothing for those making the transaction.
While Stellar has positioned itself as an enterprise blockchain for institutional transactions, it is still an open blockchain that can be used by anyone. The system allows for cross-border transactions between any currencies. The network requires users to hold Lumens to be able to transact on the network. He eventually left his role with Ripple and went on to co-found the Stellar Development Foundation. Chainlink is a decentralized oracle network that bridges the gap between smart contracts, like the ones on Ethereum, and data outside of it.
Blockchains themselves do not have the ability to connect to outside applications in a trusted manner. One of the many use cases that are explained would be to monitor water supplies for pollution or illegal syphoning going on in certain cities. Sensors could be set up to monitor corporate consumption, water tables, and the levels of local bodies of water.
A Chainlink oracle could track this data and feed it directly into a smart contract. The smart contract could be set up to execute fines, release flood warnings to cities, or invoice companies using too much of a city's water with the incoming data from the oracle. Chainlink was developed by Sergey Nazarov along with Steve Ellis. Binance Coin is a utility cryptocurrency that operates as a payment method for the fees associated with trading on the Binance Exchange.
Those who use the token as a means of payment for the exchange can trade at a discount. The Binance exchange was founded by Changpeng Zhao and the exchange is one of the most widely used exchanges in the world based on trading volumes.
It eventually had its own mainnet launch. The network uses a proof-of-stake consensus model. Tether was one of the first and most popular of a group of so-called stablecoins , cryptocurrencies that aim to peg their market value to a currency or other external reference point in order to reduce volatility. Because most digital currencies, even major ones like Bitcoin, have experienced frequent periods of dramatic volatility, Tether and other stablecoins attempt to smooth out price fluctuations in order to attract users who may otherwise be cautious.
The system allows users to more easily make transfers from other cryptocurrencies back to US dollars in a more timely manner than actually converting to normal currency. Launched in , Tether describes itself as "a blockchain-enabled platform designed to facilitate the use of fiat currencies in a digital manner.
It also benefits from the largest market cap and is among the most highly traded cryptocurrency, assuring liquidity in the short term. Bitcoin is the king when it comes to retail adoption, leading all other cryptocurrencies in terms of acceptance as a payment medium. Currently trailing only Bitcoin in regard to market capitalization, Ethereum has become one of the most widely discussed cryptocurrency projects in the world.
Morgan are building business-ready versions of the software that drives Ethereum. Ripple diverges from much of its cryptocurrency competitors in a number of ways. Ripple is an invention of Ripple Labs, and the Ripple token is being used in high-speed and low-cost money transfers worldwide. Ripple Labs has announced a number of partnerships with leading money transfer services, with more financial market partnerships expected in the future.
Unlike many cryptocurrencies that trade on hopes and dreams, Ripple is being used in the real world today, showing signs of future adoption within the financial market community. Another cryptocurrency with smart contracts like Ethereum, and which is gaining in popularity is EOS. EOS is credited with being the first blockchain operating system, offering decentralized applications that live on the blockchain and parallel processing, enabling faster transaction speeds and better scalability than some competitors.
Transactions on the EOS network are free. Many competitors, including Ethereum, have a transaction fee for transferring coins or tokens from one wallet address to another. The longer-duration ICO was done in an attempt to create an orderly market for EOS without the dramatic run-up and sudden crash common to cryptocurrencies when launched. Enthusiasm for the project remains high, and EOS is one of the most actively traded cryptocurrencies on exchanges.
If forced to level criticism against Bitcoin in its current form, slow transaction speeds are among its primary challenges. Bitcoin cash was developed using modified code from the Bitcoin project that allowed larger block sizes, promoting faster transaction times and better scalability.
Although not yet as widely accepted or as widely known as Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash is still a promising alternative to Bitcoin with an enthusiastic market following. Now accepted as a payment method at Overstock. Litecoin boasts a faster transaction time than Bitcoin, largely attributed to its use of a different type of algorithm to add transactions to the blockchain.
Increased transaction speed also enhances scalability. This network allows smart contracts on Ethereum to securely connect to external data sources, APIs, and payment systems. Chainlink entered the market in under the name SmartContract. Shortly after its launch, the name changed to Chainlink to better represent the its core market. Chainlink set up a strategic partnership with Google in Cryptocurrencies are still in their formative years. Initial coin offerings can be tempting, particularly with the parabolic rises common to ICOs.
Almost as common is a precipitous fall following the ICO. More established currencies help to prevent some of the volatility and provide better liquidity than found with newly minted cryptocurrencies. Many early investors have found themselves without a viable way to exit the position. If cryptocurrencies are here to stay, some very good opportunities are likely to exist among the most commonly traded currencies, while also minimizing risk due to abandoned projects or lack of liquidity.
Craving more cryptocurrency knowledge? To trade in cryptocurrency directly as opposed to investing in a fund, you have 2 choices: use an exchange or use a forex broker. With an exchange, you are buying and selling bitcoins or altcoins directly. As the name suggests, a CFD does not give you ownership of the digital asset, the cryptocurrency.
For this reason, and for portability, many cryptocurrency traders prefer exchanges — and sometimes utilize more than 1 exchange. Get started with our list of the Best Cryptocurrency Brokers. Gemini builds crypto products to help you buy, sell, and store your bitcoin and cryptocurrency. You can buy bitcoin and crypto instantly and access all the tools you need to understand the crypto market and start investing, all through one clear, attractive interface.
Gemini Crypto Platform offers excellent account management options. You can manage your account at a glance, view your account balance hour changes and percent changes. Get started with Gemini now. Learn more about the best cryptocurrencies and altcoins you can buy based on reputation, historical price and more. Learn more about the best cryptocurrency wallets you can buy to protect and store your Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and other altcoins.
Discover the best crypto apps you can use on your iPhone or Android phone, based on security, data, availability and more. Learn more about the best cryptocurrency exchanges to buy, sell, and trade your coins. Exchanges are rated based on security, fees, and more. Looking to learn or improve upon your cryptocurrency trading knowledge? Check out some of the best online courses you can take.
Learn more about the best cryptocurrency trading platforms to trade your coins. Rankings are based on usability, fees and more. Bitcoin is rising in value once again. Our guide to investing in Bitcoin will help you open an account, add your funds and make your first purchase.
Learn how to trade cryptocurrency whether you're a beginner or advanced trader. Our how-to guide provides simple instructions. Cryptocurrencies vary in price compared to the U. However, some regulations limit Bitcoin. It is easy to understand the history of the U. It was originally tied to the value of silver and gold.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies come about through a different means. These networks run around the clock completing complex equations and tasks that keep Bitcoin running. New Bitcoin is issued to these computer owners as a reward for their participation. Bitcoin is not backed by a major government or asset, so the value is based on others' willingness to use and trade the currency. For this reason, it is important for Bitcoin investors to only put in what they are willing to lose.
Since its height in December , Bitcoin has fallen to about half the price, proving how risky of an investment it can be. Like with the stock market, you would need a crystal ball to answer this question for sure, but many skeptics say Bitcoin may be past its peak. However, big fans of digital currencies say Bitcoin could increase tremendously over time. If you look around and see people bragging about their huge profits in Bitcoin, are you too late to the game?
The answer is maybe. However, if you drank the Kool-Aid and think cryptocurrencies are the wave of the future, you have several cryptocurrency options to review. Ethereum and Litecoin are the most stable Bitcoin alternatives, but there are more than 4, cryptocurrencies traded today. Some investors believe that even if they missed the Bitcoin bandwagon that these other currencies will follow suit and offer massive returns.
This is possible but unlikely. Other currencies will likely follow the trend of the biggest leaders, as is common in the stock market. If Google, Amazon, or Apple go up or down, other technology stocks tend to follow. The same can be expected in the cryptocurrency markets. It is possible that Bitcoin will double in price, but it is also possible it will fall to zero.
Because they are not backed by a government or asset, Bitcoin and its cousins do not really represent anything. They are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Whatever you do, do not invest more than you can afford to lose.
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