By the end of 2017, the entire world was mad about Bitcoin. Over the course of 2017, it had gone from $966.60 to over $17,000, an increase of 1,600%. Not bad for a one year return. Its market cap of $275 billion would be exceeded by only a handful of the largest companies in the world.
With all the popular focus on Bitcoin, it would be easy to overlook some of the other exciting new cryptocurrencies that also had a breakout in 2017. In fact, whilst Bitcoin was the early driver of interest in cryptocurrencies, it is conceivable that the public began to move away from Bitcoin as it became more and more expensive to trade. Let’s take a look at some of the other alternative cryptocurrencies that exploded in 2017.
NEM is a somewhat recent addition to the cryptocurrency world, having been founded as recently as 2015. Created by Japanese blockchain aficionado Makoto Takemiya, it had a gain of about 14,000%. This is likely reflected in its low initial cost in January of $ $0.003676 which then moved all the way past 52 cents. Much of this was on the back of its software being used by financial institutions in Japan. By the end of 2017, this relative newcomer was in the top ten with a market cap of $4.9 billion.
For much of 2017, Ethereum was the knowledgeable crypto trader’s alternative to Bitcoin. Also launched in 2015, its focus on enabling smart contracts provides a useful alternative to existing contract settlement transactions. Over the course of 2017, it rose an amazing 9,200%, pushing it to number 2 in cryptocurrency market cap. Over the course of the last year, it set up a Enterprise Ethereum Alliance with several financial and tech giants, giving it the opportunity to create further enhancements for its capabilities.
Many traders other favorite alt coin was Ripple, which showed an 8,500% increase in 2017. Ripple’s technology focuses on currency exchange, gross settlement and remittance, allowing it to provide secure, instant global transactions without chargebacks. Ripple’s protocol has been used heavily by many of the largest financial institutions in the world, with names such as Banco Sanatander, UBS and many others utilizing its services. With a market cap of about $22 billion, it ranks fourth amongst cryptocurrencies.
Litecoin is a veteran in the cryptocurrency world, having been created in 2011, relatively, its prehistoric. For many years it was the second highest cryptocurrency to Bitcoin, and offers similar functionality to Bitcoin. Litecoin differs from Bitcoin somewhat in relation to its technical capabilities, in particular its adoption of SegWit and the lightning network, which allows it to transfer funds quicker than Bitcoin.
Its gains over the last year, just under 7000% give it a market cap of $16.5 billion, good enough to roll in fifth out of all cryptocurrencies. Whilst much of the growth in value stems from its long held status as Bitcoin’s number two, the technical advantages have received particular interest from gaming website hosting companies, which value its speed for online payments.
Whilst Bitcoin will hold down the number one spot for a while yet, the emerging alt currencies are beginning to assert their own hold on the industry. Differentiation has become key to successes, allowing them to improve their position without needing to take down the Bitcoin goliath. However, whether this will see them ascend past Bitcoin will ultimately be a case of wait and see.