10 Altcoins to Think About in 2021

Michael Caloca / ONE37pm

Note: This article is not intended to be formal financial advice. Always do your own research before investing.

Even the most boring, old-world corporations are adopting Bitcoin (BTC). That means Bitcoin ain’t what the cool kids are doing. Sure, it’s worth almost $50K a pop; it’s uber-valuable and super useful; it’s just not that cool anymore.

The early adopters of new crypto trends are typing away as we speak, far away from the corporate-media-supported blockchain. Altcoins are where it’s at.

What’s an altcoin?

An ‘altcoin’ is any coin other than Bitcoin. Why is BTC the crypto-standard? Because it was the first cryptocurrency ever created. So, every coin made after BTC can be dubbed an altcoin.

That seems weird, but when you consider the market cap of Bitcoin versus other coins, it makes sense why it is an outlier. Ethereum, for example, has the second-largest market cap, and it’s about ⅕ of Bitcoin. Why the need for altcoins? Well, Bitcoin is really powerful, but it has its restrictions. A valuable blockchain is created when it can offer something new to the market, just like anything else. A coin needs real world applications in order to succeed.

Here are ten altcoins to check out in 2021:

1. Ethereum (ETH)

Let’s start with the natural first-choice for altcoin enthusiasts: Ethereum.

Ethereum is a decentralized software platform that enables Smart Contracts and Decentralized apps (DApps). Their technology allows for the creation of fresh, innovative financial instruments without the need for a middle man. Plus, it’s safe and compliant.

The goal of Ethereum is to make financial products more accessible for everyone. In areas without reliable banking services, users can run Ethereum products to access loans, mortgages, payment platforms, etc.

2. Litecoin (LTC)

A top-10 crypto in market cap, Litecoin launched back in 2011 as one of Bitcoin’s first alternatives. The coin was created by Charlie Lee, an MIT graduate and former Google engineer.

Technically, Litecoin is very similar to Bitcoin, with a few minor tweaks. Because of their similarity, the two coins move closely at price.

The main difference between BTC and LTC? 1) Litecoin confirms payments faster and 2) Litecoin uses a different cryptographic algorithm.

3. Cardano (ADA)

Similar to Ethereum, Cardano is popular because it enables financial applications and decentralized apps (dapps). ADA’s value exploded last year, starting as a fraction of a penny then jumping to nearly ten cents a pop.

Cardano is currently the fourth largest crypto in market cap. As another part of its value add, Cardano validates transactions with low-energy costs.

4. Ripple (XRP)

The sixth-largest crypto, Ripple, is based on the XRP Ledger.

XRP is not based on blockchain, but rather an open-source distributed ledger database. The coin had obvious market appeal before facing serious regulatory issues. According to Financial News Herald, the token price is down more than 60% since Dec. 22 last year when the SEC filed its complaint against Ripple.

The coin is still worth mentioning. If Ripple is somehow able to Lamar Jackson-scramble out of this ‘you are a security not a currency’ blitz from the SEC, the coin has a promising future.

5. Stellar (XLM)

Stellar is only a few years old but already lands near the top of the list. This coin is pretty similar to Ripple (it was created by Ripple’s co-founder) and has a similar goal of creating a decentralized protocol for digital to fiat transfers internationally.

Stellar effectively connects financial institutions through the blockchain and provides cheap alternatives to foreign exchange platforms.

6. Tron (TRX)

Tron is an entertainment and content-sharing platform that pays when you post. Try to think of it like the anti-Facebook.

Facebook derives its value from selling your data to third parties. Tron derives its value from paying you currency (that you have full control over). The more valuable that medium of exchange becomes, the more valuable Tron becomes.

Things can get kind of confusing when you break into the deep dapp space, but put simply… Tron is at the center of the Web 3.0 movement. Web 3.0 = building an internet as it was originally intended… decentralized and open.

TRX has grown a lot over the last few years and is currently marked at about a nickel/coin.

7. Chainlink (LINK)

LINK is an Ethereum spin-off. The technology was built on the ETH network and when you purchase LINK, you also support Ethereum.

LINK is the first of its kind… a decentralized oracle network that connects smart contracts with data from the real world. Purchasers seek out specific data and bidders can provide data securely to purchasers.

8. Tether

Tether is a stable coin. Haven’t mentioned those yet, have we?

Each tether is pegged to the US dollar, so it is considered a stable-value cryptocurrency (it doesn’t fluctuate nearly as bad). This coin is controversial though. In 2019, it one day included ‘loans to affiliate companies’ as part of its backing.

How is this controversial? Folks purchase Tether to access coins tied to a stable currency like the US dollar but still reap the benefits of blockchain tech. When Tether revealed their coin was also backed by loans to affiliate companies, people felt it was misleading.

Still, Tether is the largest stable coin and an important player in the space.Here’s one common use for fiat-collateralized stable coins: I own 1 BTC. But I think the price of BTC is about to drop by $5,000 USD tomorrow. I am going to transfer my 1 BTC to its equivalent in Tether because I know it is more stable there. When BTC returns to my desired price next week, I can easily transfer my Tether back to BTC.

9. Dash

As its name suggests, Dash is known for its speedy transaction rate. Once called Dark Money, this financial tool is built for cheap, quick transactions. As their website suggests, you can transact for under a cent in less than a second.

Dash is built on Bitcoin tech, but has more privacy—Dash keeps public addresses hidden. That means senders can remain anonymous. For Bitcoin, it may be difficult to trace a public address to an individual, but the entire world can see every public address. 

10. Monero

Last but not least, Monero is an altcoin built with privacy as first priority. What makes it unique?

Monero transactions are completely anonymous.

Some argue that’s a bad thing (it is a breeding ground for financial crime), while others consider privacy a rare gem in the modern world. My current browser won’t even let me go on Monero’s website, to show how under-the-radar this crypto is, despite its popularity.

Keep in mind, there are thousands of different alt-coins, these are just ten I thought of as a good place to start.

Every day more coins are entering the market. Some are worthless, others can change the world. Which altcoin is your favorite?

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