Prices as of December 17, 2017
Market cap: $66 billion
Performance in 2017: $8.51 to $721 = 8,472%
Ether runs on the Ethereum blockchain, which was first described by bitcoin programmer Vitalik Buterin in 2013, who at the time was aged 19 years old. Coded transactions are stored in a decentralised ledger, the blockchain, and are visible for everyone on the network to see.
Compared with Bitcoin, Ethereum allows for "blocks", the records of cryptocurrency transactions, that can be created much more quickly than bitcoin which increases efficiency of transactions.
The technology allows for third party applications, not just the currency, to run on the ethereum network. The network is also being used by start-ups to raise money with initial coin offerings, which exchange ether or other currencies for special "tokens" that grant access to a service.
Market cap: $30.8 billion
Performance in 2017 (since start of trading on July 23rd): $508 to $1,826 = 359%
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) resulted from a split in Bitcoin, called a “hard fork” or software update. If a software update is adopted the currency carries on as before, but if not a new, competing digital currency can be created. This is what happened with Bitcoin Cash.
BCH was created by a team of people who forked the bitcoin blockchain ledger and it is now controlled by several independent developers.
BCH's software is able to process transactions more quickly, at lower cost, and to maintain that speed by altering the difficulty of “mining”. It is accepted in less places than Bitcoin and since it is more centralised than Bitcoin it can be argued it is less secure.
Market cap: $17.8 billion
Performance in 2017: $4.3 to $328 +7,628%
LTC was created by former Google employee Charlie Lee in 2011. Compared with Bitcoin, Litecoin is faster and designed to produce more coins. It has a maximum of 84 million coins compared with Bitcoin’s 21 million.
Market cap: $5.4 billion
Performance in 2017: $13.79 to $346 +2,509%
With Monero, the details of every transaction are recorded on a public ledger, but are obscured to make them untraceable and in addition idoesn’t have a fixed coin supply.
Market cap: $3.6 billion
Performance in 2017: $0.14 to $55.3 +39,500%
Neo was created in 2014 by Da Hongfei and Erik Zhang and is known as the “Ethereum of China”. It was originally called Antshares. There are 65 million Neo coins, out of a total of 100 million coins.
Market cap: $14.7 billion
Performance in 2017 (since start of trading on October 1st): $0.0188 to $0.565 +3005%
Cardano was created by Blockchain developer Input Output Hong Kong (IOHK) and was built by leading academics and engineers through peer-reviewed research.
About 26 billion out of a maximum 45 billion coins are currently in circulation.
Market cap: $29.1 billion
Performance in 2017: $0.0065 to $0.751 +11,538%
Ripple’s coins, called “XRP” are not "mined" but issued and uses a blockchain network to validate transactions, but that network consists of participating financial institutions. It was created in 2012 by web developer Ryan Fugger, businessman Chris Larsen and programmer Jed McCaleb
Transactions are instant, and in place of a transaction fee a small amount of XRP is destroyed every time a transaction is made for security reasons to make it very expensive for someone to attempt to overload the network by putting through lots of transactions.
The New York Times once described Ripple as “a cross between Western Union and a currency exchange, without the hefty fees” because it’s not only a currency, but also a system on which any currency, including bitcoin, can be traded.
Ripple has licensed its blockchain technology to over 100 banks including CIBC, ATB Financial, UBS, Reisebank, Santander, UniCredit, BMO Financial Group, Shanghai Huarui Bank, Abu Dhabi Bank, Standard Chartered.
There are 38.7 billion XRP's out of a maximum supply of 100 billion.
Market cap: $12.66 billion
Performance in 2017 (since start of trading in June): +623%
Who created it? David Sønstebø, Sergey Ivancheglo, Dominik Schiener, and Dr. Serguei Popov, a team of entrepreneurs, mathematicians and developers
The skinny: lota’s big draw is that it doesn’t have any trading fees, miners or blocks. For every transaction you make, your processing power is used to validate two other transactions, making every Iota owner also an Iota “miner.”
Essentially, Iota focuses on becoming the backbone for secure machine-to-machine payments in the Internet of Things economy and is unique in that it is hailed as the first crypto created without the use of a blockchain. Instead, it is based on a distributed ledger architecture called “The Tangle,” an innovation that is credited for allowing Iota to achieve three major crypto milestones: zero-cost transactions, offline transactions, and infinite scalability.
Word of its latest partnership with Microsoft just gave it a big boost and propelled it into the top tier of the most valuable cryptos.
The maximum supply of MIOTA is just under 2.8 billion, and the entire maximum supply is currently in circulation.