Bitcoin Alternatives: 10 Cryptocurrencies You Should Know

By . Filed in Web 2.0

Bitcoin might be the name on everyone’s lips right now, but did you know that Bitcoin is merely the tip of the cryptocurrency iceberg? For those not in the know, cryptocurrencies are basically decentralized and anonymous (or, at least, pseudonymous) peer-to-peer digital currencies that implement cryptography as a central security feature. Cryptocurrency coins are "mined" with computers by solving complex mathematical equations called "hashes".


(Image Source: Reckoner)

The success of Bitcoin has led to the development of many alternative cryptocurrencies, often called "altcoins". Most of these altcoins offer their own take on the Bitcoin protocol, and are interesting in their own right. It helps, too, that most of these are still cheap and much easier to buy or mine.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that any of these altcoins will ever be as successful or as valuable as Bitcoin, but if you’ve been kicking yourself for missing the Bitcoin boat, you could do worse than check out one (or more) of these 10 altcoins we are featuring in this post.

1. Litecoin

Introduced: October 2011
Price/unit: $13.78
Total Supply: 24,055,992 LTC
Total Value: $331.5 million

The most common way to describe Litecoin is that it’s the silver to Bitcoin’s gold. Litecoin, like most altcoins, is based on the Bitcoin protocol, but it’s designed to make sure that mining is much cheaper and more democratic than Bitcoin.

One of the ways Litecoin achieves this is by using a different cryptography protocol, scrypt, that can be decoded effectively using consumer-grade GPUs.

Litecoin

2. Peercoin

Introduced: August 2012
Price/unit: $2.09
Total Supply: 20,931,643 PPC
Total Value: $43.6 million

Peercoin is based on Bitcoin, but uses a different method to verify mined coins. Instead of solely relying on the proof-of-work (POW) system, which requires miners to solve hashes, Peercoin will eventually implement a proof-of-stake (POS) system.

The POS system basically means that the more coins you have, the higher your chances of mining more coins. Peercoin does not have a fixed upper limit of coins, and is thus an inflationary currency.

Peercoin

3. Namecoin

Introduced: April 2011
Price/unit: $2.69
Total Supply: 7,514,992 NMC
Total Value: $20.2 million

Namecoin was not designed as a currency; instead, Namecoin’s main purpose is to control an alternative Domain Name System (DNS) for the .bit domain.

By existing outside of the control of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), which governs the DNS for all other domains, .bit domains can escape censorship.

Namecoin

4. QuarkCoin

Introduced: July 2013
Price/unit: $0.069
Total Supply: 246,484,913 QRK
Total Value: $16.9 million

QuarkCoin is definitely the altcoin for the security-conscious out there. QuarkCoin implements nine rounds of hashing, choosing from six different hashing methods.

Most cryptocurrencies only use one hash, and so QuarkCoin as an inherent security advantage in this regard over other cryptocurrencies. QuarkCoin uses CPU mining, and like Peercoin, does not have a hard cap on the number of total QRK.

QuarkCoin

5. primecoin

Introduced: July 2013
Price/unit: $1.63
Total Supply: 3,624,698 XPM
Total Value: $5.9 million

The main difference between Primecoin and most altcoins is that the mining doesn’t involve solving hashes. Instead, Primecoin mining involves finding Cunningham chains, which are certain large sequences of prime numbers.

These numbers are said to be more mathematically valuable than the hashes that are usually decoded in cryptocurrency mining, and are used in anything from number theory to public key cryptography.

Primecoin

6. Novacoin

Introduced: February 2013
Price/unit: $9.61
Total Supply: 523,071 NVC
Total Value: $5 million

Novacoin is a fork of Peercoin, and thus shares Peercoin’s hybrid POW/POS system. However, Novacoin takes a leaf out of Litecoin’s book and uses scrypt hashing for its POW system.

It also has a higher POS difficulty than Peercoin. Another interesting thing to note is that Novacoin has a maximum total supply of 2 billion NVC, although it is unlikely to ever reach this cap.

Novacoin

7. Feathercoin

Introduced: April 2013
Price/unit: $0.19
Total Supply: 26,645,550 FTC
Total Value: $4.9 million

Feathercoin is a direct derivative of Litecoin. It is overall very similar to Litecoin, but it has a number of differences that set it apart from its immediate predecessor. Feathercoin adjusts its mining difficulty more often than Litecoin.

Feathercoin also implements Advanced Checkpointing. Advanced Checkpointing is a security measure designed to protect Feathercoin against 51% attacks, which are often used maliciously to reverse cryptocurrency transactions.

Feathercoin

8. Zetacoin

Introduced: August 2013
Price/unit: $0.018
Total Supply: 158,756,403 ZET
Total Value: $2.9 million

Zetacoin is another Bitcoin-derived altcoin, but it stakes its claim in two different ways. Firstly, it has a much quicker block rate than Bitcoin, which means that its transaction rate is 20 times that of Bitcoin. This quick transaction rate is matched by quick difficulty readjustment.

Zetacoin is an inflationary cryptocurrency.

Zetacoin

9. Digitalcoin

Introduced: May 2013
Price/unit: $0.15
Total Supply: 11,524,550 DGC
Total Value: $1.7 million

Digitalcoin is a Litecoin derivative that is meant to keep its value and be more stable than most cryptocurrencies. It does this by being optimized for performance and by retargeting quickly to the mining environment. In addition, Digitalcoin’s block rewards reduce at a far slower rate than other cryptocurrencies.

There are also a decent number of vendors that accept Digitalcoin, which is more than can be said about some other altcoins.

Digitalcoin

10. Stablecoin

Introduced: June 2013
Price/unit: $0.045
Total Supply: 8,751,555 SBC
Total Value: $389k

One interesting feature about Stablecoin is that has a built-in coin mixing service. This service ensures that Stablecoin transactions are encrypted and untraceable. This is to ensure that Stablecoin will not be vulnerable to attempts to regulate it and its transactions.

In addition, Stablecoin is actively taking steps to promote itself globally, and has even set up a Chinese-language website to promote Stablecoin in China.

Stablecoin
Introduced Price/unit Total Supply Total Value
Bitcoins January 2009 $691.96 12,151,025 BTC $8,889.7 million
Litecoin October 2011 $13.78 24,055,992 LTC $331.5 million
Peercoin August 2012 $2.09 20,931,643 PPC $43.6 million
Namecoin April 2011 $2.69 7,514,992 NMC $20.2 million
QuarkCoin July 2013 $0.069 246,484,913 QRK $16.9 million
Primecoin July 2013 $1.63 3,624,698 XPM $5.9 million
Novacoin February 2013 $9.61 523,071 NVC $5 million
Feathercoin April 2013 $0.19 26,645,550 FTC $4.9 million
Zetacoin August 2013 $0.018 158,756,403 ZET $2.9 million
Digitalcoin May 2013 $0.15 11,524,550 DGC $1.7 million
Stablecoin June 2013 $0.045 8,751,555 SBC $389k

Note: All the figures are sourced from Crypto-Currency Market Capitalizations and are accurate at the time of writing.

Author:

Azzief is a writer for Hongkiat.com. He is also a musician, Android user and all around nerd. He loves his tea and spends far too much time thinking about video games.

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