Four non-Bitcoin cryptos to watch in 2021
Although the rapid rise of Bitcoin dominated the crypto discourse in 2020, further advances from the lesser-known digital currencies of the industry could be expected in the coming year.
Although the biggest story in crypto and blockchain space in 2020 has undoubtedly been the meteoric increase in Bitcoin values, which since early January has seen its value balloon by more than 220 percent.
However, investors will want to keep an eye on a range of other, cheaper, digital currencies and tokens that have the potential to break new ground in the space in the coming year as the industry moves into the mainstream.
Ripple is a coin connected to XRP, a blockchain that, compared to ordinary wire transfers, markets itself as a payment network that allows quicker and decentralized currency exchange and remittances.
Although Ripple is not mineable, with tokens instead issued by human operators rather than awarded to computers that resolve transactions through algorithms such as Bitcoins, some in the industry advocate it as a viable alternative to the system of wire transfer payments, particularly for very limited quantities of transactions that are typically not handled by conventional exchanges.
Over the last month, Ripple has also seen a dramatic rise in value, increasing by approximately 107 percent to US$ 0.60 each since late November.
Although Litecoin has lost some lustre since its emergence as the first altcoin in the early 2010s, compared to the more time-consuming existence of the Bitcoin blockchain, the crypto has consistently attracted users to its platform as a faster transaction process.
Litecoin also provides new crypto investors with a cheaper entry point than the pricier Bitcoin, as it still trades at about US$108, less than a tenth of Bitcoin's current price tag, despite increasing 167 percent this year.
The crypto may not hold the dominant position it used to fill, but investors will want to take a second look, at least as a cheaper way of riding Bitcoin's rally's bullish coattails as institutions pump cash into the industry.
If blockchain technology continues to grow in popularity, more and more projects are emerging, one of which is Cosmos, to take advantage of the system.
Unlike other altcoins on the market, however, Cosmos seeks to address some of the concerns concerning the scalability and interoperability of various blockchain platforms. In short, Cosmos aims to create a 'blockchain internet' that allows them to communicate and interact with Internet of Things devices in a similar way.
Although the token is currently on the cheaper side at about US$5 per piece, if it succeeds in pulling its ultimate objective of linking blockchains together, Cosmos might experience a surge of investor interest, potentially opening up entirely new methods for how the technology works and communicates with itself.
Bitcoin Cash is not associated with Bitcoin itself, despite the name being closely linked to the original crypto, but the crypto is an offshoot of the original as a result of negotiations between members of the crypto community about how to solve some of the more pressing problems in the Bitcoin blockchain, including a spike in transaction volumes slowing down their resolution pace.
Bitcoin Cash is the result of one of these solutions, known as a 'hard fork,' where a new blockchain and, by extension, a new cryptocurrency are developed using the original blockchain architecture.
This means that on the original Bitcoin blockchain and vice versa, Bitcoin Cash will not be used for transactions. However, Bitcoin's offspring may find themselves in a role similar to Litecoin, able to piggyback off the industry's bullish sentiment as well as the added advantage of being able to snatch some recognition of its parent crypto by name.
Bitcoin Cash also provides Bitcoin with a cheaper alternative, with the digital currency selling at about US$324 per piece.