From Bitcoin and Ethereum to Dogecoin and Tether, there are thousands of different cryptocurrencies out there, which can make it potentially overwhelming when you first start out in the world of crypto.
To help you find your way around, these are the top 10 cryptocurrencies based on their market capitalization – the total value of all coins currently in circulation.
What are Cryptocurrencies?
A cryptocurrency is a digital asset that can circulate without the centralized authority of a bank or government.
To date, there are approximately 23,000 cryptocurrency projects representing the entire £954 billion crypto market.
The UK financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, has repeatedly warned of the risks faced by those who invest in cryptocurrency, stating that all funds are at risk and investors could lose everything. Cryptocurrency trading is largely unregulated in the UK and there are no compensation schemes.
- Market Capitalisation: £470 billion
Bitcoin (BTC), created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto, is the original cryptocurrency. As with most cryptocurrencies, BTC runs on a blockchain or ledger that records transactions distributed across a network of thousands of computers. Because additions to the distributed ledgers must be verified by solving a cryptographic puzzle, a process called proof of work, Bitcoin is secured and protected from fraudsters.
The price of Bitcoin has skyrocketed as it has become a household name. In May 2016, you could buy one Bitcoin for around £370. On July 5, 2023, the price of a single Bitcoin was approximately £24,207.
- Market Capitalisation: £183 billion
Ethereum is both a cryptocurrency and a blockchain platform and is a favorite of program developers because of its potential applications, such as so-called smart contracts that automatically execute when conditions are met and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Ethereum has also experienced tremendous growth. From April 2016 to the end of July 5, 2023, the price went from about £8 to about £1,523.
3. Chain (USDT)
Unlike some other forms of cryptocurrency, Tether (USDT) is a stablecoin, meaning it is backed by fiat currencies such as the US dollar and the euro and hypothetically holds a value equal to one of those denominations. In theory, this means that Tether’s value should be more consistent than other cryptocurrencies, and it is favored by investors wary of the extreme volatility of other coins.
4. Binance Coin (BNB)
Binance Coin (BNB) is a form of cryptocurrency that you can use to trade and pay fees on Binance, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world. Since its launch in 2017, Binance Coin has expanded beyond just facilitating transactions on Binance’s exchange platform. Now it can be used for trading, payment processing or even booking travel arrangements. It can also be traded or exchanged for other forms of cryptocurrency, such as Ethereum or Bitcoin.
In 2017 it was priced under 10p. By July 5, 2023, the price had increased to around £191.56.
5. US Dollar Coin (USDC)
Like Tether, USD Coin (USDC) is a stablecoin, meaning it is backed by US dollars and aims for a ratio of 1 USD to 1 USDC. USDC is powered by Ethereum and you can use USD Coin to complete global transactions.
6. XRP (XRP)
Created by some of the same founders as Ripple, a digital technology and payment processing company, XRP on that network can be used to power exchanges of various types of currencies, including fiat currencies and other major cryptocurrencies.
At the beginning of 2017, the price of XRP was £0.004. As of July 5, 2023, the price has reached £0.38.
A little later on the crypto scene, Cardano (ADA) stands out for its early embrace of proof-of-stake validation. This method speeds up transaction time and reduces energy consumption and environmental impact by removing the competitive, problem-solving aspect of transaction verification in platforms like Bitcoin. Cardano also works like Ethereum to enable smart contracts and decentralized applications, which powers ADA, its native coin.
Cardano’s ADA token has experienced relatively modest growth compared to other major crypto coins. In 2017, the price of ADA was about 1.5 pence. As of July 5, 2023, the price was £0.23.
8. Dogecoin (DOGE)
Dogecoin started as a joke in 2013, but quickly evolved into a prominent cryptocurrency thanks to a dedicated community and creative memes. Unlike many other cryptos, there is no limit on the number of Dogecoins that can be created, making the currency susceptible to devaluation as the supply increases.
The price of Dogecoin in 2017 was £0.00016. In July 2023, the price was £0.05.
9. Litecoin (LTC)
Litecoin (LTC) was designed as a fast and cheap way to make payments using blockchain technology. LTC is based on Bitcoin but has a block time of only two and a half minutes with extremely low transaction costs.
LTC has increased in value from £41.70 last year this time to £82.58 on July 5, 2023, likely as the August halving approaches – when the reward for Litecoin miners is reduced from 12.5 LTC to 6.25 LTC, effectively halving the rate of supply.
10. Solana (SOL)
Solana was developed to enable decentralized finance (DeFi) usage, decentralized apps (DApps) and smart contracts and runs on a unique hybrid proof-of-stake and proof-of-history mechanism to process transactions quickly and securely. SOL, Solana’s native token, powers the platform.
When it launched in 2020, SOL’s price started at £0.57. On July 5, 2023, the price was around £15.20.
*Market caps and prices sourced from coinmarketcap.com, as of July 5, 2023.
What are cryptocurrencies?
Cryptocurrency is a form of currency that exists exclusively in digital form. Cryptocurrency can be used to pay for online purchases without going through an intermediary, such as a bank, or it can be held as an investment.
How is trading cryptocurrencies different from stocks?
Do you have to pay taxes on cryptocurrency?
Are There Any Cryptocurrency Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)?
How do you buy cryptocurrency?