15 Altcoins (Bitcoin Alternatives) You Should Know

Bitcoin — the first and most well-known cryptocurrency — has been around for over a decade as we speak. However, since its inception, many other digital currencies have also emerged in its wake. Often being referred to as altcoins, these Bitcoin alternatives have different features and use cases, making them attractive to different types of investors and users.

Now, whether you’re a seasoned cryptocurrency investor or merely starting to explore the world of digital currencies, it’s essential to be aware of the many available Bitcoin alternatives. In this article, we’ll look at 15 of the most promising altcoins you should know about. From payment protocols to decentralized platforms, these cryptocurrencies could very well be (or will potentially be) shaping the future of the digital economy and may be worth considering for your investment portfolio or daily use.

1. Ethereum

Ethereum - a blockchain app platform

Ethereum (ETH) — unlike Bitcoin (that’s just a currency) — is a decentralized, blockchain app platform that features Smart Contracts, DAOs, DApps, etc. Ether is the crypto-fuel for Ethereum, i.e., the token needed to use this platform.

In short, you can understand it as the world’s first blockchain supercomputer, which can run apps and services built on blockchain.

Maximum supply: 18 million/year.

Learn more about Ethereum.


2. Bitcoin Cash

Bitcoin Cash - first hard-fork of Bitcoin

Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is the first hard-forked cryptocurrency of Bitcoin, and you can also say it’s the brother coin of Bitcoin. Launched on the 1st August 2017, this currency was born as a result of a civil war among the Bitcoin community.

The reason of the conflict was the proposition of two solutions for the common problem of improving the efficiency of the Bitcoin network.

Maximum supply: 21 million, same as Bitcoin.

3. Ripple

Ripple - a coss-border payment platform

Ripple (XRP) is a cross-border payment platform for financial institutions, including banks, payment providers, and digital asset exchanges. Unlike most of the other cryptocurrencies that run away from centralized institutions like banks, Ripple has a different motive to help banks and similar organizations to send money quickly, cheaply, and certainly.

Maximum supply: 100 billion in total.

Learn more about Ripple.

4. Litecoin

Litecoin - another popular cryptocurrency

Litecoin (LTC) is a digital currency that was born out of Bitcoin’s own shortcomings. Its network generates 4x more coins than the Bitcoin network, claims to confirm transactions faster, and utilizes scrypt as a proof-of-work algorithm. Using the script, Litecoin tries to discourage mining using GPUs, FPGAs, and ASICs.

Maximum supply: 84 million (4x Bitcoin’s)

Learn more about Litecoin.

5. Dash

Dash - Digital Cash

Dash (DASH) an open-source P2P cryptocurrency, brands itself as the “Digital Cash”. It’s maintained by a self-funded, autonomous organization. It’s built with various additional features to that of Bitcoin, Litecoin and alikes including InstantSend (instant transactions), PrivateSend (private transactions), and DGBB (decentralized governance).

Maximum supply: 18.9 million, a little lesser than Bitcoin.

Learn more about Dash.

6. Ethereum Classic

Ethereum Classic - a hard-fork of Ethereum

Ethereum Classic (ETC) was born out of Ethereum as Bitcoin Cash was born out of Bitcoin — due to a civil war among its initial community. Being a hard fork of Ethereum, it’s also a decentralized software platform featuring Smart Contracts, DApps, DAOs, etc. And similarly, a crypto-fuel, i.e., a token named ‘Classic Ether,’ is required to use the platform.

Maximum supply: 210 million, hard cap, unlike Ethereum.

Learn more about Ethereum Classic.

7. BitConnect

BitConnect - another cryptocurrency

BitConnect (BCC) is just a currency like Bitcoin and Litecoin with some differences from Bitcoin, including scrypt proof-of-work algorithm and support for proof-of-stake that gives incentive to stakeholders. Additionally, I’m quite amazed that BCC can be exchanged directly between its community members without a central crypto asset exchange.

Maximum supply: 28 million, 33% more than Bitcoin.

8. Zcash

Zcash - privacy-oriented cryptocurrency

Zcash (ZEC) is built to secure your payment history which is exposed by other cryptocurrencies — even the first known. Zcash somewhat extends Bitcoin, and that being said, it has two types of addresses — transparent (work just like Bitcoin’s) and private (the new addition). It also features shielded transaction which hides sender, receiver and amount.

Maximum supply: 21 million, same as Bitcoin.

Learn more about Zcash.

9. Monero

Monero - private digital currency

Monero (XMR) advertises itself as the ‘Private Digital Currency’ that doesn’t trade off privacy for the sake of security. It’s just a blockchain-based currency like Bitcoin, but packs in extra privacy features as offered by secure currencies like Dash and Zcash. Being a privacy-centric technology, Monero transactions aren’t traceable via the blockchain unlike Bitcoin.

Maximum supply: Around 18.4 million in total.

Learn more about Monero.

Related: How to Mine Monero (XMR) On Your PC

10. NEO

NEO (NEO), formerly Antshares, is a smart-economy software platform like Ethereum which even supports Smart Contracts. Unlike Ethereum, which only supports Solidity for writing programs on its platform, NEO, also known as ‘Chinese Ethereum’, supports popular languages. Also, NEO supports an identity protocol, unlike other smart contract-based coins.

Maximum supply: 100 million, about 5x lesser than Bitcoin.

Learn more about NEO.

11. BitShares

BitShares - Ethereum-like cryptocurrency

BitShares (BTS) is an Ethereum-like cryptocurrency that features Smart Contracts, unlike Bitcoin. However, it offers much more features than just smart contracts, e.g., BitAssets, DEX (Decentralized Exchange) like BitConnect, etc. BitAssets are smart currencies, e.g., BitUSD is backed by a value of 1 USD, i.e., it’s a digital coin for the value of a real commodity.

Maximum supply: 3.7 billion, around 176x more than Bitcoin.

Learn more about BitShares.

12. Namecoin

Namecoin - blockchain-based domain registrar

Namecoin (NMC) is a decentralized, blockchain-based domain registrar (like GoDaddy) that assigns you names under the uncensored ‘.bit’ top-level domain. For example, if you register a domain name aksinghnet with Namecoin, then you’ll receive a domain aksinghnet.bit, which can be looked up and browsed using its own wallet software only.

Maximum supply: 21 million in total.

Learn more about Namecoin.

13. Siacoin

Siacoin - decentralized cloud storage platform

Sia (SC) is a decentralized cloud storage platform unlike centralized cloud storage platforms such as Google Drive and Dropbox. It’s built upon the blockchain technology and is not just a currency unlike Bitcoin and Litecoin. And yes, you do need a token or coin named Siacoin to use its cloud storage in the same way as you need Ether to use Ethereum platform.

Maximum supply: Unlimited.

Learn more about Siacoin.

14. Komodo

Komodo - Zcash-like cryptocurrency

Komodo (KMD) is a brand-new cryptocurrency packed with best features of other coins. It offers smart contracts, decentralized exchange, etc. It’s built with Zcash’s features, thus, Komodo supports transparent as well as private addresses and anonymous transactions. Also, it uses delayed proof-of-work (dPoW) and not PoW or PoS to secure the network.

Maximum supply: 200 million in total.

Learn more about Komodo.

15. Steem

Steem - blockchain-based social media platform

Steem (STEEM), unlike others in this list, is a social media platform that encourages people to share interesting content and gets rewarded. That means you earn this cryptocurrency by just posting or curating content and commenting on others’ posts. As you must have guessed by now, Steem is a totally different cryptocurrency than Bitcoin, Ethereum and alikes.

Maximum supply: Unlimited.

Learn more about Steem.