As I write this, bitcoin sits at $16,152. So far this year, we have witnessed one of the most dramatic surges of any asset in living memory with bitcoin.
Whether you’re confused by it or love it, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have become all but impossible to ignore. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange have announced their plans to launch bitcoin futures contracts and have already gotten the green light from the FTC. Nasdaq may join the bitcoin futures race by the second quarter of next year. And bitcoin advocates hope these legitimizing developments will help to stabilize the highly volatile cryptocurrency.
But despite the growing cries from skeptics and proponents alike of a bubble, bitcoin mania shows no sign of slowing down. This week alone, bitcoin has gained nearly 20% per day surging past record highs every few hours.
And as bitcoin has soared, so too have its crypto competitors gained traction. Here are the five bitcoin rivals to keep an eye on.
Just like bitcoin, ethereum is a blockchain network. Ethereum was launched in 2014 and differs from bitcoin in that its primary application is an open, decentralized software platform where ether “tokens” are used to pay for transaction fees and services.
This year, ethereum has surged in value over 5,000%. Today, ethereum trades at $430 and has a market cap of $39.8 billion.
Launched in 2012 in California by former bitcoin developers, Ripple is considered by some experts to be bitcoin’s most likely successor.
Unlike bitcoin, Ripple isn’t just a currency. It’s also a system where any currency can be transferred or traded. Think of it as Western Union without the fees.
Today, Ripple trades at just $0.25 and has a market cap of over $9 billion.
IOTA calls itself the “Next Generation Blockchain,” and is one of the newest contenders in the cryptocurrency field.
IOTA isn’t reliant on a blockchain network like other cryptocurrencies. Instead it uses a distributive ledger system called Tangle. IOTA has partnered with Microsoft, Fujitsu, and several other companies, and considers itself the first marketplace powered by the Internet of Things.
IOTA surpassed Ripple Thursday to be the fourth largest cryptocurrency by market cap. It now trades at $3.78, and has a market cap of $10.5 billion.
Dash focuses on privacy and anonymizing transactions by operating on a two-tiered system of coin “miners” that are overseen by “masternodes,” a decentralized volunteer network that sign all transactions.
Dash is the sixth largest cryptocurrency by market cap and currently trades at $698.
Litecoin was developed by a former Google engineer and has been called the silver to bitcoin’s gold. Litecoin was introduced in 2011 as a faster and cheaper alternative to bitcoin, and processes a block every 2.5 minutes compared to bitcoin’s 10.
Litecoin trades at $97 and has a market cap of $5.3 billion.