By Alek S.
Ever since Bitcoin jumped into the market in 2009 as the world’s first decentralized cryptocurrency, many have utilized the digital world that we live in to create their own currencies. While none of these currencies is going to threaten the currencies of industrial nations anytime soon, despite the fact that less and less people are using cash and global currencies are acting more like cryptocurrencies, the world of alternative digital currencies is very much alive and well right now. As a matter of fact, there were 5 major cryptocurrencies that all saw impressive gains last year, and are becoming even more relevant to the online marketplace. Here are a few that are worth knowing about, especially if you operate on an online marketplace:
The original cryptocurrency and continuous golden child of blockchain-structured currencies everywhere is still the most valuable asset in the digital currency movement over 8 years later. The reason for this is that Bitcoin tends to thrive when larger economies face a degree of uncertainty. In 2016, the rising trend of populism and major rebuke of globalism experienced in several major countries, such as the UK and US, put a major question mark next to centralized monetary policy. As a result of this, Bitcoin started the year at a transaction rate of $411.99 per Bitcoin. The entire Bitcoin economy was hardly worth over $6 billion. However, at the end of the year, this amount doubled to over $900 per Bitcoin, making the entire market capitalization of Bitcoin worth nearly $14.6 billion.
Ethereum is another blockchain-based cryptocurrency that has become increasingly popular online, despite never having struck the same market capitalization that Bitcoin has had. Despite having a shocking drop during the summer of 2016, due to a hack that threatened its existence, Ethereum bounced back to a steady rate of around $7.50 per Ether, with a finish at $7.31. At the start of the year, the price was $2.83 per Ether. Today, Ethereum has a market capitalization that is worth over $630 million.
While Bitcoin has used its scarcity to explode in value and take advantage of uncertain markets, Ripple’s XRP is not an open blockchain-based currency, but is instead run by a private entity. Accordingly, there are a lot more XRP tokens than there are Bitcoins to be traded, but at a much lower value. Think of this like the comparison between the Yen and the Dollar. The Yen depends on devaluation and high inflation, whereas the dollar remains more expensive. Currently, Ripple’s value is $0.0094, which is a 33% increase from the beginning of 2016 and puts them at a market capitalization of about $232 million. Should Ripple ever experience an intense revaluation like Bitcoin, then the market capitalization would be insane.
Litecoin was created as an alternative to Bitcoin, and it has consistently remained a strong cryptocurrency that has reveled in its stability, whereas Bitcoin has experienced wild periods of value fluctuation. In 2016, Litecoin experienced a jump from $3.41 to $4.34. When you examine the value of Litecoin on a graph over the year, you’ll notice that it is one of the stablest of the cryptocurrencies. The only major variation was a spike in June followed by a quick drop in July, which had a lot to do with UK’s referendum on Brexit. Overall, Litecoin’s market capitalization jumped from $149 billion to $212 billion during that period.
Monero, a once obscure fringe cryptocurrency, far and away experienced the most explosive growth of 2014. At the start of 2016, Monero had an exchange rate of $.45 per dollar. By the end of the year, that had grown to $10.38, with a spike of $13.50 in September. The market capitalization of Monero started last year with a measly $4.7 million, but exploded to a whopping $133.5 million by the end. The reason for this spike had to do with the fact that AlphaBay, a DarkNet marketplace, began to use it as a preferred currency. This led to a host of publicity around the cryptocurrency that led to a value spike that was similar to what happened to Bitcoin back in the day.