This short guide offers a brief look at each of the top five crypto assets (ranked by market capitalization at the time of writing), plus a similar overview for Tether (USDT), whose market cap currently would place it third on this list, but because of its uniqueness compared to Bitcoin, Ether, Ripple (XRP), Polkadot and Cardano, it is a special case.
The oldest and largest cryptocurrency, BTC was not created out of thin air. It was born in 2009 out of a variety of other innovations which previously failed to gain traction. Needless to say, the creation of anonymous founder Satoshi Nakomoto has gained significant attention since, attracting interest not only from retail investors, but also banks, financial institutions and major market participants.
The native currency of the Ethereum blockchain, ETH gained significantly in popularity during the 2017 bull market as Ethereum became the go-to platform for initial coin offerings (ICOs). Its smart contract logic and ambition to be the world computer have attracted a strong, worldwide developer community and positioned it strongly for the future.
Created as a means of facilitating cross-border payments through the Ripple platform, XRP is the third-most popular crypto asset based on market capitalization. With significant interest from traditional financial institutions, XRP has maintained a top position among the leading cryptocurrencies.
Polkadot is a blockchain protocol that enables different blockchains to run independently within one network, protected by a shared security system.
A proof-of-stake blockchain, Cardano and its native cryptocurrency ADA have gained increased recognition recently with a focus on provenance and banking the unbanked.
Tether is different than the other cryptocurrencies in this guide because it is a stablecoin – a coin which is, by design, meant to have a stable value because it is pegged 1-to-1 to another currency, in this case the US dollar. USDT has grown rapidly in popularity since its inception and its market cap has jumped significantly in recent times of financial uncertainty.