Want to dabble in digital currency, but don’t know where to start? Get familiar with some of the top-performing altcoins.
It’s far from over, but 2021 is feeling like the year where avoiding cryptocurrency is nearly impossible. It’s everywhere in the news, from all-time price highs being set (and reset), to billionaire entrepreneurs touting their favorite coin, to the rise of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), and more.
While Bitcoin (BTC) reigns supreme, and is a worthwhile asset — thanks to its large market cap and institutional investment (there are several Fortune 500 companies with BTC on their balance sheet) — there are many who want to know which crypto is “the next big thing.”
That’s where altcoins come in. What is an altcoin? Well, it’s pretty simple ― any cryptoasset other than Bitcoin. With over 5,000 online, that leaves a lot to consider. We’re here to help with that, with four altcoins (all in the top 20 in market cap) worthy of your attention.
The second biggest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin, ETH has seen its price grow by over 300% so far this year, nearly double the rate of BTC. While ether is the name of the cryptocurrency, the greater Ethereum network is more than the value of one token. It’s the most popular blockchain for building crypto projects, including Ethereum-based altcoins, NFTs, and decentralized finance (DeFi) applications.
While not as buzzy a name as Ethereum, Cardano has clear potential. Firmly in the top ten in market cap, ADA has made some major headway in 2021 in a similar fashion to ETH — on the strength of its blockchain platform. Cardano was, in fact, created by one of Ethereum’s co-founders with the intent of building a better blockchain that addressed past faults (namely scalability, interoperability, and compliance). And with the rollout of its latest upgrade, Alonzo, Cardano will be able to support smart contracts.
OK, let’s talk smart contracts. Smart contracts are essentially agreements between two parties that exist on a blockchain, whether it’s a transaction, real estate deal, or anything else that requires a contract. Chainlink is an Ethereum-based platform that connects (hence the name) smart contracts on any blockchain to different parties (data providers, enterprise systems, cloud services, etc.). While LINK tokens are the digital assets used to pay for services on the Chainlink network.
Some crypto novices may have heard of swapping, whether it’s UNI, SUSHI, or another platform, but may be in the dark about what that actually means. In the case of Uniswap, a decentralized crypto exchange (DEX), users are able to swap various Ethereum-based tokens (paired with the UNI token) through liquidity pools, which allow them to earn interest through trading fees. If that all sounds a little too advanced, investors fascinated by Uniswap can simply purchase UNI tokens to HODL (i.e., hold) and not swap.