The term “altcoins” refers to coins that are an alternative to Bitcoin or Ethereum (although some Bitcoin enthusiasts would probably insist that anything other than Bitcoin is an altcoin). Sometimes altcoins are just called “coins.” Altcoins represent a good way to achieve significant profits, but they’re also more complicated to trade.
An altcoin is any type of digital, decentralized currency other than Bitcoin. Some of them are similar Bitcoin in many ways, such as Litecoin, while other are completely different. For instance, not all altcoins can be mined like Bitcoin and some are for other uses rather than just sending money and making peer to peer payments.
Many altcoins are a variant (or “fork”) of Bitcoin, built using its open- sourced, original protocol with changes to its underlying code, thus producing an entirely new coin with different features. For example, Litecoin is an altcoin based on Bitcoin’s code that conducts transactions more quickly. Bitcoin Private is an altcoin that offers more anonymity in transactions.
There are also altcoins that aren’t derived from Bitcoin’s open-source code. Rather, such altcoins have created from scratch their own code and blockchain that supports their native currency. Examples of these altcoins include Ethereum, Ripple and NEO. These three coins are among the biggest competitors to Bitcoin – although Bitcoin is by far the big dog (for now – there could come a day when “the Flippening” occurs and a competitor overtakes Bitcoin as the top coin).
Bitcoin was the first and still the biggest cryptocurrency, but Altcoins cover a wide variety of tokens some of which have values that are not purely abstract and based on speculative investment, as bitcoin is.
Stablecoins, like Novem Gold’s gold-backed NNN token, offer value based on
a real-world commodity or asset for example. That means a more stable value for the token, as long as it is directly tied to and redeemable for that asset. Novem Gold’s NNN token is always tied to the market value of gold. Gold has, of course, maintained value for humans for over 8,000 years.
Bitcoin is valued at over $8,200 right now but it has only existed for 10 years.
Investing in gold, or other asset-backed coins protects investors from the meteoric rise and fall so many other cryptocurrencies have experienced over the last several years.
Besides Bitcoin and altcoins, there is also a third type of cryptocurrency known as tokens. Tokens differ from other cryptocurrencies in their struc- ture. Instead of having their own separate blockchain, tokens operate on top of an existing blockchain that facilitates the creation of decentralized applications (DApps). For example, Basic Attention Token (BAT) is an Ethereum token that aims to improve digital advertising. Narrative (NRV) is a NEO token that aims to incentivize social media influencers.
As of 2019, there were more than 2,000 cryptocurrencies – and that number will likely only increase. While a small minority of them will skyrocket in value or “moon,” most are “no value coins,” meaning they will falter and eventually go to zero. This is my believe, it may also be samw view with other people.
In fact, many of these coins are considered “dead coins” or “abandonware,” which means they no longer have developers who are actively working to build and improve them. Once in a great while, a dead coin might be revived into something with potential, but it’s rare and an extremely risky investment. (Mark Grabowski).
There are hundreds of altcoins with widely varying values and functions. It is likely that many of them disappear while other new coins will appear over time too.
So, think of blockchain as an underlying technology to build decentralized networks, while cryptocurrency (read: altcoins) is an application that can be built on those networks.
Features of Altcoins
Typically, altcoins are used to incentivize people to contribute to the network. (This type of network now is used to facilitate international money transfers between banks.) Like gold or diamonds, the value of altcoins is not its underlying utility, but how much people believe in it. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. That Bitcoin, for example, is a store of value is precisely why it’s not currently used as a currency.
Imagine having hundreds of highly valuable currencies, each corresponding to a different underlying network (e.g. an e-commerce network, a P2P car-hailing network, etc.). Today, we have many valuable national currencies and even more valuable company stocks. It is the same story here.
Many developing countries in Africa really lack sophisticated financial markets or infrastructure, making easy access to capital unavailable to businesses and consumers who, in turn, rely mainly on a cash-based (or even barter-based) system for everyday commercial and peer-to-peer transactions. And in countries where cash is still king, blockchain holds enormous potential to simplify B2B and C2C payment networks from better micro payments, to lower transaction fees, to easier cross-border remittances, and much more. (Mark Brinkerhoff ).
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