Cryptocurrency

Updated: 06/30/2019 by Computer Hope
Illustration: cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency is digital currency that uses cryptography to verify financial transactions and control the creation of new currency units. Transactions are recorded in a distributed ledger, usually a blockchain, that can be viewed and verified by all users of the cryptocurrency. The decentralized nature of the cryptocurrency system means that no centralized authority, such as a government or bank, is required to regulate, control, or issue the currency.

Examples of cryptocurrencies

As of 2019, over 1600 distinct cryptocurrencies exist, with varying levels of popularity and activity. Some of the more popular or notable cryptocurrencies are listed below.

Name, year founded, trading symbol(s) Icon Description Market cap
(May 2019, USD)
Bitcoin
2009
BTC, XBT
Icon: Bitcoin The "original" cryptocurrency, proposed by Satoshi Nakamoto (a pseudonym) in the 2008 white paper, Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Bitcoin's underlying technology is an open-source variation of hashcash, a PoW (Proof-of-Work) algorithm that rewards users for "mining" subsequent blocks in the chain. Bitcoin's development is promoted by the Bitcoin Foundation, a non-profit organization founded in 2012. $141,339,906,774
Ethereum
2015
ETH
Icon: Ethereum. An open-source blockchain computing platform, released on July 30, 2015. Ethereum operates as a decentralized, Turing-complete VM (virtual machine). The VM runs scripted, conditional transaction events referred to as "smart contracts." The cryptocurrency tokens, called "ether," may be generated or exchanged automatically based on successful completion of a smart contract. $26,530,226,704
Ripple
2013
XRP
Icon: Ripple. Operated by Ripple Labs, Inc., Ripple is a decentralized currency exchange and financial transfer system that provides real-time, individual, irreversible financial transactions, with negligible fees. $17,750,036,921
Litecoin
2011
LTC
Icon: Litecoin. An alternative to Bitcoin released on October 7, 2011. Its primary differences from the Bitcoin blockchain are a shorter block generation time and an increased maximum number of tokens. It was created by MIT graduate and ex-Google employee Carlie Lee as a personal project in his spare time. $7,181,842,743
Bitcoin Cash
2017
BCH
Icon: Bitcoin Cash. A fork of Bitcoin that uses larger-sized blocks in its chain, permitting more transactions per block. At the time of its release, owners of Bitcoin automatically owned the equivalent number of Bitcoin Cash tokens. $7,122,386,561
EOS
2018
EOS
Icon: Eos. The cryptocurrency of EOS.IO, a decentralized smart contracts VM platform launched on January 31, 2018. $6,074,967,452
Binance Coin
2017
BNB
Icon: Binance coin. The cryptocurrency issued by Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange founded in China in 2017. Shortly after its founding, Binance moved its headquarters to Japan, and later Taiwan, in anticipation of China's 2017 ban on cryptocurrency trading. $4,455,177,426
Stellar
2014
XLM
Icon: Stellar. An open-source payment network designed to allow "cross-border" transactions between different cryptocurrencies. $2,439,169,440
Monero
2014
XMR
Icon: Monero. Released on April 18, 2014, Monero uses an obfuscated ledger to anonymize the sender, receiver, and amount of all transactions. This approach enhances privacy, but has drawn criticism because it appeals to cybercriminals operating on the dark web. $1,486,109,279
Dash
2014
DASH
Icon: Dash. A fork of Bitcoin, originally called "Xcoin," then "Darkcoin." In March 2015, it was renamed to "Dash," a portmanteau of "digital" and "cash." Its open-source algorithms are designed to maximize the speed of transactions. $1,314,654,136
Ethereum Classic
2015
ETC
Icon: Ethereum Classic. A community-driven continuation of the original Ethereum blockchain initiated in July 2016, in rejection of a hard fork to the original Ethereum blockchain created in May 2016. $904,781,740
NEO
2014
NEO
Icon: NEO. Originally released in February 2014 with the name Antshares, NEO are indivisible cryptocurrency tokens transacted with smart contracts executed on the platform. Transaction fees are paid with a separate currency called GAS, generated with NEO tokens. $858,452,391
NEM
2014
XEM
Icon: NEM. Released on March 29, 2015, NEM (New Economic Movement) is a cryptocurrency system that allows multiple ledgers to exist within a blockchain, providing the foundation for building new currencies. Transactions of any NEM currency incur a fee, paid with an NEM currency called XEM. $776,074,686
Dogecoin
2013
DOGE, XDG
Icon: Dogecoin. Originally introduced as a "joke currency" based on the Internet meme of a Shiba Inu dog, its community grew quickly and somewhat unexpectedly. $375,699,009
Verge
2014
XVG
Icon: Verge. A cryptocurrency designed to anonymize transactions by conducting them over the Tor network. $150,891,397
Nxt
2013
NXT
Icon: Nxt. Launched on November 24, 2013, Nxt is an open-source cryptocurrency that uses a PoS (proof-of-stake) algorithm to select the account that may "forge" (rather than "mine") the next block in the chain. $37,482,963
Vertcoin
2014
VTC
Icon: Vertcoin. An open-source cryptocurrency that penalizes users who try to monopolize the mining of coins with specialized hardware, such as ASICs. $24,443,371
Peercoin
2012
PPC
Icon: Peercoin. A P2P cryptocurrency introduced in August 2012 that uses both PoS and PoW algorithms to determine consensus. $9,522,670
Primecoin
2013
XPM
Icon: Primecoin. Launched on July 7, 2013 by the creator of Peercoin, Primecoin's PoW algorithm calculates chains of prime numbers, giving it a practical purpose outside of the cryptocurrency world. $5,626,343
PotCoin
2014
POT
Icon: Potcoin. A P2P cryptocurrency with the stated goal of becoming the standard global currency of legalized marijuana sales. $3,028,184
Gridcoin
2013
GRC
Icon: Gridcoin. A cryptocurrency launched in October 2013. Gridcoin is issued to users who devote CPU resources to help solve complex scientific problems on BOINC (Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing). $2,437,784
Auroracoin
2014
AUR
Icon: Auroracoin. An Icelandic alternative to Bitcoin, created in response to government restrictions on Iceland's government-issued currency, the Krona. Originally based on the Litecoin algorithm, in 2016, it transitioned to a multi-algorithm architecture. $307,759

Architecture, Computer acronyms, Internet terms, Platform