Best Alt Coins to Invest in Early 2018

Ethereum, Ripple and others may be worth your time and money

Leah Zitter
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My review of charts, news, and more than 50 crypto reviews indicates that the top five Bitcoin alternatives are Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Monero, and Dash. This is in no particular order, since each is different in its own way.

Ethereum

Top of the list, you have Ethereum (ETH), unusually spry for its three years of age. Fans and, of course, Ethereum's own foundation, the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), which is backed by more than 86 giant corporations call it “"the new currency of the Internet”. They have plenty to go on. Ethereum has smart contracts, that leads to “standalone” or decentralized applications (Dapps) and to decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), namely companies without bosses.

“Smart contracts” help you store important documents and valuables - like assets, bonds, patents, or contracts - on Ethereum’s permanent unhackable platform. Medical institutions store HIPAA-protected data. Governments store votes. Banks use it for documents like derivatives, while lawyers encode their contracts on the platform.

The core difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum is that while Bitcoin is money in its standard sense, Ethereum's ether is a tool used to pay for investing in its platform or for transaction fees and computational services.

The two largest concerns with Ethereum are the platform’s immaturity - founded in 2015, Ethereum lacks the experience Bitcoin has - and the possibility that uninvited individuals could access private documents.

Market cap: $76.340 billion
Current price: $791.71

Litecoin

People are starting to catch on to Litecoin (LTC), which beats Bitcoin with its fungibility, seamlessness, security and simplicity. Litecoin is cheaper and faster than Bitcoin, too, with a bitcoin transaction taking 300 minutes, while Litecoin takes only four.

Litecoin, too, has four times as many coins in circulation.

2017 was Litecoin’s glamor year, when it made enormous strides with its new Segregated Witness (SegWit) technology, which stretches the network and lowers fees. Coinbase, the premier digital currency marketplace, adopted Litecoin. Third, founder Charles Lee announced that he was leaving his job at Coinbase, as Director of Engineering, to focus on Litecoin. All this led to solid user adoption.

So, Litecoin is like Charmeleon to Bitcoin’s Charmander. It salvages Bitcoin and refurbishes Bitcoin’s system.

Litecoin’s main disadvantage is that its mining algorithms are more complex than those Bitcoin uses and, therefore, more expensive. This fact, however, only affects Litecoin miners not people like you who may simply want to invest in the platform.

Market cap: $18.444 billion
Current price: $339.25

Ripple

Ripple (RTXP) makes ripples by helping you safely and instantly send money across countries with no chargebacks for conversion!

Ripple has hammered a reputation for its liquidity and delights banks and its investors by, periodically, releasing its large store of ripple (XRP) into the market.

Ripple is cheaper and more secure than Bitcoin, too.

Faster? Well, there’s Bitcoin’s four hours to Ripple’s 3.6 seconds, according to Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse.

For all these reasons and more, big banks, payment networks and financial institutions have begun integrating Ripple in their systems, so 2018 could be a glorious year for Ripple. In fact, Oct. 2017, the alt coin licensed its blockchain technology to over 100 banks, including American Express.

Right now, Ripple is the fourth largest cryptocurrency in circulation, trailing Bitcoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin Cash, according to coinmarketcaps.com.

Market cap: $30.252 billion
Current price: $0.781

Monero

One of Bitcoin's limitations is that all transactions are logged and public, meaning anyone can see your dealings as they move around the platform. Monero (XMR) - and a distant second, Zcash (ZEC) - changes all of that with 100% anonymous transactions. Zcash is partly opaque.

Why would you want that? Obviously some people who want anonymous transactions want it for nefarious reasons, but I wouldn't want everyone to know how much I just paid for my refurbished Dell chromebook. Nor that I just bought one. Would you want your transactions to be publicized?

So, Monero is now the tenth largest cryptocurrency, according to coinmarketcap.com.

Zcash, meanwhile, ranks at seventh, according to cryptocompare. It tilts a market cap of $1.660 billion with a current price of $579.60, as of Dec. 19.

Of course, the minus with Monero, as with all Bitcoin competitors, is that Bitcoin is like pure gold to imitations. Bitcoin has slugged around since 2009; Monero only popped up 2014. So, as crypto enthusiast Yo Banjo reports, people “hoddle” bitcoins but are more reluctant to “hoddle”, or hoard, competitors.

Market cap: $5.719 billion
Current price: $369.13

Dash

Dash (DASH), short for “digital cash”, promises complete privacy and instant transactions. It also gives you very low processing fees.

Best of all, Dash touts itself as the “cryptocurrency that your mum could use”. So the interface looks like PayPal, Venmo, or something you're familiar with. You can log into a Dash account from wherever - your phone, computer, someone else’s iPad. You can send or receive Dash currency from an address that looks like your email account.

Certainly, each of these configurations and more are clear improvements over Bitcoin’s intimidating, off putting, geeky and complex system.

There’s another difference: while Bitcoin is funded by outsiders, Dash is totally self-funded: 45% of the mined Dash goes to miners, 45% goes to masternodes, and 10% goes to a treasury that funds aspects like development team, marketing, customer support, training, and promotions. So you can expect Dash to stick around. It needs to grow.

Market cap: $8.824 billion
Current price: $1,136.96

PLUS: Newest on the Block: IOTA

What could be better than zero transaction fees and infinite scalability? That’s IOTA for you, a platform that’s built, not on the blockchain, but on the Tangle, more formally known as the Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) chain. While the blockchain is, literally, a chain of blocks with mining and transactions, the Tangle “tangles” its transactions in one big web muddle. In the blockchain, you can find and identify your transaction by its block height. In the Tangle, you find your transaction by its identifying proof of work (PoW).

One of the advantages of the Tangle is that there’s no mining, so transactions are super-fast and you can process several transactions simultaneously.

IOTA, known as the next generation blockchain, is perfect for the Internet of Things ( IoT), where products and appliances like cars, home appliances and machinery interconnect (or “tangle”).

Those are the top five altcoins. Plenty enough to explore for now. Business Insider presents 29 cryptocurrencies with a market cap of more than $1 billion for those who want further options.