We’ve all heard of Bitcoin, the world’s iconic cryptocurrency, and how it’s endured booms, busts and bubbles. However, Bitcoin isn’t the only crypto game in town. New altcoins are springing up all the time, each promising to bring something unique to the table.
While investing your money in a term deposit could earn you interest at a fixed rate over time, investing some of your wealth in higher-risk assets, like cryptocurrencies, could potentially see you earn higher returns over a shorter term... though there's also a higher chance of experiencing losses.
Here are six alternatives to Bitcoin that could be worth considering if you’re interested in investing in crypto.
Please note – every investment is a risk. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Before investing in cryptocurrencies, equities, or any other assets, consider seeking financial advice to determine the best options for your financial situation and goals.
In the crypto world, Ethereum is often considered the number two altcoin behind Bitcoin. It shares many of the same features and benefits, but one of its main points of difference is how it uses its blockchain (the ‘blocks’ of financial data that are cryptographically secured using unique codes that tie each block to the next, creating a chain).
While Bitcoin mainly uses its blockchain for cryptocurrency purposes, Ethereum’s blockchain has been designed from the ground up to operate as a decentralised network for applications. One prominent example is smart contracts – programs built into the blockchain that trigger certain actions when predefined conditions are met. These could potentially eliminate the need for third parties to administer contracts, such as conveyancers in the real estate and mortgage industries.
Ripple and Litecoin
Many people are interested in cryptocoins as investment assets, but they can still be used as currency. That said, it’s much harder to pay for petrol at the servo with Bitcoin than it is with a few twenty dollar banknotes.
Ripple is a cryptocoin that has been designed to be faster and less expensive to exchange, so it can be used to conduct a variety of transactions – mostly large exchanges between banks, businesses and similar financial institutions.
Litecoin follows similar principles to Ripple but is more intended for faster and simpler peer to peer currency exchanges, such as money changing hands between individuals.
It's also important to note that at the time of writing, Ripple is going through some legal issues with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. It remains to be seen how this could affect Ripple, and your investment plans, in the future.
We mentioned earlier how blockchain-based smart contracts could help to automatically facilitate financial exchanges when certain conditions are met. But what about scenarios that depend on events occurring outside of the blockchain?
Chainlink is another cryptocurrency designed to facilitate smart contracts, similarly to Ethereum, but with one key difference – it can link its blockchain to external data sources to create more detailed and complex smart contracts.
For example, Chainlink could potentially monitor an internet service provider to keep track of how often its service are used and/or when outages occur, and automatically adjust customer billing accordingly.
We’ve all heard the stories of decentralised, unregulated cryptocurrencies enjoying meteoric booms and cataclysmic busts. Sometimes all it takes is a tweet from the likes of Elon Musk to send a coin’s value rocketing skyward or plunging off a cliff. While this volatility makes cryptocurrency attractive to some investors chasing high rewards from high risks, this instability could put off investors who are less keen on potentially losing everything.
Tether is a “stablecoin”, whose value is linked to the US dollar. While this means it’s less likely to see sudden spikes in value like other cryptocoins, it may be a more attractive prospect for people looking to play a longer game. It could also be used as an all-digital medium for more traditional currency trading.
Polkadot is a Parachain, or ‘blockchain of blockchains’ – a cryptocurrency that uses multiple blockchains to help enhance its potential, a bit like how a high-end personal computer uses multiple CPUs and graphics cards to help improve its performance.
By allowing multiple blockchains to smoothly and quickly interact with one another, Polkadot could potentially see multiple smart contracts working together to facilitate increasingly complex operations, both in the finance space and beyond.