By now, everyone knows about bitcoin. However, there are many other cryptocurrencies and digital assets, with different applications and use cases. Here are a few you should know about.
Since bitcoin’s adoption by influential businesses and even national leaders, there can be few people who remain in the dark about the #1 peer-to-peer online currency. As digital gold or honest money, bitcoin is considered an alternative asset class and store of value in uncertain times.
But there are literally thousands of other cryptocurrencies, collectively known as ‘altcoins’, based on versions of the blockchain technology that Bitcoin pioneered. Some offer little in the way of new features, while others push the boundaries of innovation and have led to the creation of thriving new digital economies. Others still may seem unexciting, but underpin and enable the crypto world in various ways.
Most of these assets can be bought on exchanges like TimeX, typically for bitcoin or other common digital currencies. Here are ten of the most popular altcoins, and what they aim to achieve.
The Ethereum network is a global, decentralised computer, capable of running smart contracts: software that executes trustlessly, exactly as coded, and that cannot be shut down. Ethereum has become the platform of choice for decentralised finance (DeFi), a new branch of the blockchain sector that extends financial services to potentially anyone with an internet connection. Every operation on Ethereum requires a ‘gas’ fee, paid in Ether (ETH), the native token of the network. No wonder that the value of ETH has risen with the growth of the DeFi movement, as activity on the Ethereum network increases exponentially.
Despite living in a globally connected age, bank transfers are still stuck in the last century. It’s slow and expensive to move money across borders. Ripple aims to address this problem with a solution broadly aimed at financial institutions. While Ripple doesn’t use a blockchain like most other cryptocurrencies, its use of a distributed network places it the same broad space as conventional cryptos. Ripple has gained significant traction with some of the world’s more forward-thinking banks, who recognise the appeal of fast, frictionless transfers across the globe. The XRP token is used for some, though not all, of the company’s products.
While some digital tokens (like ETH) underpin whole platforms, others focus on a specific use case. TIME is the native token of Chrono.Tech, an initiative that has launched a range of blockchain-based products and services designed to disrupt the recruitment sector. These include LaborX, a freelance work portal that uses smart contracts and crypto payments to allow freelancers and customers to organise work and payment easily and securely, with no middlemen. Chrono.Tech is also responsible for TimeX, one of the leading Australian cryptocurrency exchanges, and AUDT (see below). Revenues from this growing ecosystem of services are channeled into the TIME token.
Blockchains work on the principle of consensus between a group of network participants (miners or stakers) who collectively agree on the contents of the shared ledger. Because the only reference point for miners is each other, blockchains are siloed and separate from the outside world. This raises a problem: how can decentralised applications reliably access vital external information such as price data, seeds for random number generation, and even weather conditions? That’s the problem Chainlink solves, with a set of decentralised ‘oracles’ that securely pass external data to blockchain apps – in return for a fee, paid in LINK.
While bitcoin is known as digital gold, Litecoin was created to be digital silver. LTC doesn’t offer anything significantly different on a technical level to Bitcoin, its supply is four times greater (84 million) and its block times four times faster (2.5 minutes instead of Bitcoin’s 10 minutes). As one of the oldest cryptos, launched in 2011, it has an enthusiastic community of traders, making it a highly liquid currency. Litecoin is better than bitcoin for small transactions due to its low transaction fees, and sometimes implements new features ahead of the more conservative Bitcoin, making it a kind of sandbox for Bitcoin development as well as a popular currency in its own right.
Cryptocurrencies are volatile because they trade on the open market but, unlike fiat currencies, don’t have central banks or buyers of last resort to manage their value. Their price is set solely by supply and demand. Stablecoins seek to combine the benefits of blockchain transfers with the price stability of fiat currencies (typically the US dollar). They do this in a variety of ways, but the simplest is to back every token with $1 in cash or equivalent assets, held in a bank account. Tether (USDT) is the largest and most popular stablecoin, and is widely used as a blockchain-based version of the dollar by many exchanges and traders.
While the US dollar isn’t going out of fashion any time soon, there are around 180 national currencies in the world. AUDT takes a similar approach to Tether, but for the Australian dollar (AUD). Every AUDT is backed 1:1 with Aussie dollars held in a licensed, regulated bank account. As an Australian crypto initiative, AUDT is fully compliant with AUSTRAC, the country’s financial intelligence agency. AUDT is supported by TimeX, and makes it easy to move AUD into and out of the crypto world using an Australian bank account.
This one is worth a mention because it’s a great example of a sector-specific currency. SLP is the native token of Axie Infinity, one of the most popular blockchain games on the market. Valued at $30 billion and with annualised revenues of $1.5 billion, Axie is taking the world by storm and is the most successful game in the fast-growing play-to-earn sector. SLP’s value is underpinned by gamers’ activity in Axie Infinity, so the more popular the game becomes, the more that growth is likely to impact SLP.
The play-to-earn sector is growing rapidly, providing many opportunities for gamers to earn money by engaging with their favourite titles. CGU is a collective that makes valuable NFTs available to players, giving them access to the best-paying games. The CGU DAO also provides training and education to help users learn more about crypto and blockchain. In return, players pay the DAO a proportion of their daily income, which is converted to CGU – the native currency of the organisation. CGU tokens are used for rewards and to buy Premium features in the DAO.
AMPL is also worth a mention as a new kind of experimental digital asset that sits somewhere in between first-generation cryptos like BTC and ETH (which can be very volatile) and stablecoins or fiat currencies. As a so-called ‘adaptive base-money asset’, Ampleforth mitigates volatility without eliminating it, making it a kind of alternative asset in a class of its own. Instead of holding a specific number of tokens, the number of AMPL in each holder’s wallet is updated daily, as the token is ‘rebased’ and supply altered according to the market price, dampening price swings.
Explore A World Of Alts
With thousands of cryptocurrencies in existence, it can be hard to know which are worth exploring, let alone taking the decision to buy and use. TimeX has curated some of the most popular and well-regarded altcoins, which can be bought for BTC or USDT on the exchange. Australian users also benefit from fast, secure deposits of AUD, which are converted to AUDT tokens for use on TimeX or to be held on the blockchain. For newcomers to cryptocurrency, Simple Mode allows straightforward purchases of major cryptos.