So you've heard about Bitcoin and maybe even invested a little cash into it, hoping that its price continues to skyrocket. But Bitcoin isn't the only cryptocurrency looking to shake up the way that we process transactions around the world. There are hundreds of others that have slowly began rising to prominence as cryptocurrency becomes more mainstream.
Here are six we think you should know about.
Everyone bangs on about how Litecoin is the Silver to Bitcoin’s Gold. That’s because creator Charlie Lee said as much back in 2011. Litecoin is another open-source cryptocurrency that is very similar to BTC but works a little differently, allowing for faster, less expensive transactions. It’s kind of like Charmeleon to Bitcoin’s Charmander. It’s based on the same thing and takes the good aspects of Bitcoin, but it has evolved and added a few extra bits and pieces that make it much stronger. That doesn’t mean their successes are tied together, but as Bitcoin continues to dominate the cryptocurrency space, expect to hear a lot more about Litecoin, too.
Monero is a big mover in the cryptocurrency market because it offers an anonymous way to send and receive money. Although it uses the blockchain it doesn’t quite use the same protocols as Bitcoin, which allows it to provide a much higher level of privacy. Using ring signatures and stealth addresses, the identities of those involved in transactions can remain anonymous. Currently, it is the tenth largest cryptocurrency, according to coinmarketcaps.com.
Ripples have been touted (like a lot of these cryptocurrencies) as the successor to bitcoins. It is currently the fourth largest cryptocurrency in circulation, just trailing Bitcoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash. It is a real-time gross settlement system and exchange network by Ripple, the company, and its major advantages lie in its ability to safely and instantly transfer finance without any chargebacks internationally. That is, you can send some Australia dollars across the ditch and receive them as New Zealand dollars almost instantly. The Big Banks are beginning to take notice and are looking at ways to integrate the technology into their own systems so 2018 could be a good year for Ripple.
Currently the seventh largest cryptocurrency based on the market cap, IOTA is a little different to Bitcoin – instead of being based on the blockchain, Iota is based on the Tangle – a completely distinct ledger from the blockchain that allows for zero transaction fees and infinite scalability. The name also hints at its functionality, the Internet of Things or IoT is a term used to refer to a network of devices including products that can connect and exchange data we don’t typically think about – things like cars, whitegoods and smart home appliances.
The current number two, Ethereum is not the cryptocurrency itself but actually a platform based on block chain technology that uses a token called ‘ether’. This is what you’re buying when you buy and sell on exchanges and it’s also the token that pays for transaction fees and services within the Ethereum network. Although it still uses the blockchain technology, Ethereum can process transactions much faster than Bitcoin but it’s their overall function that differs the most. Bitcoin is a store of value, Ethereum is a platform that allows P2P contracts and applications. The success of the Ethereum platform is tied to Ether and it doesn’t directly compete against Bitcoin – there’s plenty of room for both.
Cardano is a relatively new blockchain launched only two months ago. It’s already generating waves in the cryptocurrency space. It positions itself as a highly secure alternative to other blockchains because it is written in the Haskell coding language. Further to this, it is the first blockchain to be built on peer-reviewed academic research. It’s recently had a meteoric rise to sit sixth on the list of cryptocurrencies based on market cap but is only traded on a couple of exchanges around the world… It’s still buyer beware, but it is one of the more intriguing new alternatives because of just how fast it exploded.
In just the last month, it feels like Bitcoin has surged to mainstream prominence, popping up on social media, TV, radio and just about anywhere information is exchanged. However, though Bitcoin may be the most popular cryptocurrency, it’s not the only one – arguably, it’s not even the best one.
We’ve rounded up the ways you can buy Bitcoin, other cryptocurrency and altcoins in Australia.
Disclaimer: Lifehacker does not provide investment advice. Before investing in cryptocurrency, please carefully conduct your own research. A good place to get a feel for the varied altcoins is Reddit. Just try to avoid drinking the Kool-Aid.