One of the main alternatives to Bitcoin is Litecoin. Although there have been hundreds and thousands of newer cryptocurrencies and blockchain projects that have been created since Litecoin began in 2011, it may be a good idea to look at why the network has continued to remain among the top 10 coins by market capitalization for so long. Litecoin may often be overlooked for the same reasons people want to jump to the next big thing before fully understanding why Bitcoin is so unique and valuable. Others might believe Litecoin is too similar to Bitcoin much less an exciting investment.
The second most popular cryptocurrency today is Ethereum, a public decentralized application blockchain network (aka smart contract platform.) Decentralized applications replace trusted institutions and intermediaries with software. Software developers can build a variety of decentralized web or mobile applications (dApps) using the Ethereum blockchain network as a database that enables financial value and immutable data to be used in new and innovative ways. The most common use case is to create immutable tokens on the platform.
The EOS network is one of the largest decentralized application network (aka smart contract platform) by market capitalization after Ethereum. Decentralized applications are created to replace trusted institutions and intermediaries with just software. EOS is a network that is designed for performance, scalability and usability. The principal architect for EOS is Dan Larimer, CTO of Block.One, who has a track record of building innovative high-performance blockchains including Steemit, Hive and Bitshares.
Avalanche is a new decentralized application (aka smart contract) platform with a unique and innovative metastable consensus mechanism that significantly improves performance, scalability and security compared to older smart contract platforms like Ethereum. Unlike the Ethereum network that have highly concentrated mining pools or the EOS network that relies on 21 nodes, the Avalanche network enables hundreds or thousands of nodes to participate in consensus while achieving high performance and scalability. Founder and CEO Emin Gun Surer, a well-known and highly respected Bitcoin and cryptocurrency researcher and associate professor at Cornell University, leads the Avalanche Labs team.
Cosmos is one of the first blockchain platforms focused on blockchain interoperability with the goal of connecting blockchains together in an ‘Internet of Blockchains.’ It was designed for a world where many blockchain platforms like Bitcoin, Ethereum and others that are built with different technologies would need to interoperate with each other. Cosmos also enables projects and developers to bootstrap their own blockchain while being able to easily connect with other blockchains. Cosmos was started by Jae Kwon in 2014 under a company called Tenderment that developed it’s core proof-of-stake byzantine fault tolerant (BFT) consensus algorithm to provide fast finality and scalability to blockchains.
The Polkdadot network is described as the platform for Web 3.0, but like Cosmos is focused on blockchain interoperability. Gavin Wood, co-founder and original CTO of Ethereum and main creator of Solidity and the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) software, is the founder and lead tech innovator of Polkadot technology. Polkadot enables: 1) interoperability between any smart contract data and tokens on different blockchains 2) project developers to build their own customizable blockchains using their Substrate framework 3) seamless upgradeability without hardforks 4) shared security between all the blockchains that use Substate, but each with their own governance systems and 5) economic and transaction scalability.
Monero is a monetary cryptocurrency focused on privacy, one of the few key areas available to improve over Bitcoin. Currently Bitcoin is pseudonymous so anyone can associate a person to his/her public address once it is used and if regulators start to blacklist addresses Bitcoin will become less fungible. To achieve some privacy, many users create a new public Bitcoin address for every transaction they person makes. Alternatively with Monero, each user’s transaction is mixed with other transactions to obfuscate the link between sender and receiver. Transaction amounts are also hidden. Finally, Monero enables receivers of coins to use one-time ‘stealth’ addresses for privacy. Although strong privacy is difficult to achieve, Monero has established itself among the market leaders in the privacy category of cryptocurrencies.
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