What are the top 5 cryptocurrencies and blockchain-enabled technologies on the market?

What are the top 5 cryptocurrencies and blockchain-enabled technologies on the market?

By Sofiane Boukhalfa

An exploration of cryptocurrencies and the blockchain technology would not be complete without looking at the various players currently operating within this diverse market. Ranging from cryptocurrencies to payment and digital platforms, the possibilities are varied and increasing rapidly. Most people will have heard of Bitcoin and Ethereum, but with more than 900-1200 cryptocurrencies available as of July 2017 for trade in the global marketplace, and with new companies entering the market continuously to capture the explosive growth that is anticipated, navigating this market can be quite tricky.

In terms of size , the largest blockchain networks are (in order), Bitcoin, followed by Ethereum, the recently forked Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, and Litecoin. A handy graphic depicting and comparing the large players in this ecosystem can be found on Visual Capitalist. A brief description of these cryptocurrencies follows:


The original cryptocurrency and the largest with an 8 year track record, Bitcoin was released in 2009 by an anonymous individual or group known as Satoshi Nakamoto. In August 2017, bitcoin split into two derivative digital currencies, the classic bitcoin (BTC) and the Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Today, BitCoin is available for trade globally, and recently experienced a massive boom in valuation (reaching above $5000 before coming down again) after recent upgrades and the fork.


The second most well known blockchain-enabled technology is Ethereum. Ethereum is, according to Open Source, is

“A decentralized platform that runs smart contracts. The project was bootstrapped via an ether pre-sale during August 2014 by fans all around the world. It is developed by the Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss nonprofit, with contributions from great minds across the globe.”

Beyond a tradeable cryptocurrency, ether (Ethereum’s cryptocurrency) can be used to pay for transaction fees and services on the Ethereum network. Many experts predict that Ethereum will overtake Bitcoin as the world’s top cryptocurrency soon.


Litecoin was launched in 2011, in an attempt to rival Bitcoin by using algorithms that allowed for mining on regular, unspecialized hardware. As one of the early cryptocurrencies, Litecoin benefits from name recognition and strong network effects.


Ripple is both a digital currency (XRP) and an open payment network within which that currency is transferred. As Coindesk puts it:

“Ripple positions itself as a complement to, rather than a competitor with, Bitcoin.”

Launched a few years ago, Ripple is now being used by commercial institutions around the world, and focuses on deploying scalable blockchain technology to connect payment providers, banks, digital asset exchanges and businesses through RippleNet to provide a frictionless experience when sending money globally. Backed by major venture capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz, FF Angel IV, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Vast Ventures and the Bitcoin Opportunity Fund, Ripple’s use and value should continue to appreciate.


Dash is a cryptocurrency focused on improving the speed of transactions and anonymity. Aimed as a direct competitor to Bitcoin, Dash has advanced capabilities, including instant transactions (InstantSend), private transactions (PrivateSend), and decentralized governance (DGBB). Dash’s decentralized governance and budgeting system makes it the first decentralized autonomous organization. Dash works on a two tier architecture that includes miners and “masternodes” to offer these advanced capabilities. Focused more on improving user experience and privacy, Dash’s innovations will help evolve the marketplace.

The Take Away

This profile has only focused on some of the major players in this sector. With more than 1000 cryptocurrencies, and even more blockchain-enabled applications and services available globally, navigating and analysing this marketplace is a complex task. The only certainty is that these technologies will change the way we process transactions, whether they be for financial applications or for others (e.g. voting).

Image courtesy of pixabay.com

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