What Is An Altcoin?

January 20, 2021

One of the things about crypto  is that there's a lot of jargon. And, in my mission to simplify crypto here on this site, I need to take the time to define these things.

So, what is an "altcoin"?

It's pretty simple, really.

Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency. The first coin. It is also the biggest kahuna in the space with the biggest market cap.

So, if Bitcoin is top dog...

Everything else is an altcoin. An... alternative coin.

To be frank, it is a bit of a condescending term. Bitcoin is great, but some of those altcoins have far more usefulness than Bitcoin. That they are considered "alternatives" is a little bit humorous to me. But, I don't make up the words. 😉

If you go to CoinMarketCap and look at the list of coins, you're going to see a big list.

As of this writing, I look at the top of the site and it shows there are 8,262 different cryptocurrencies. That number goes up and down all the time. Every one of them other than Bitcoin is considered an altcoin.

Now, altcoins can be great for investment... or absolutely horrible.

There are over 8200 coins there. Truth be told, most of them will never amount to anything at all and will go to zero. You play with those coins at your own risk.

But, some of them are just as legit as Bitcoin. Some of them have very bright futures and will go up in market value a ton.

When it comes to altcoins, it is really important to understand WHY it was created, what the utility is, who the team is behind it, the nature of the problem they're looking to solve. You take those things into account and you make your best guess as to whether that altcoin is going to do well or not.

Some of my own personal favorite altcoins right now are:

  • Ethereum. Honestly, calling this one an "alt" is kinda ridiculous at this point.
  • Litecoin. This is like the silver to Bitcoin's cold. Doesn't have a lot of use case besides currency, but I think it will do well merely because people see it as cheaper.
  • Chainlink. This technology is key to how this new internet is going to work. Chainlink literally... links blockchains. Allows different blockchains to "talk" and exchange data. Very, VERY valuable utility.
  • Cardano. A worthy project, almost like an alternative to Ethereum.
  • VeChain. This project is aimed to streamline supply chains and make them more reliable.

There are many more. And no, none of that was a recommendation to invest in any of them. I only offer opinions on the ones I watch. 🙂

The list of altcoins is long. Some have a lot of use case and great teams and are likely good investments. Others have no future and could be a "cash grab" tactic, so just be careful.

Generally, the alts further up to the top of the list are more trustworthy. That's not a hard-and-fast rule, of course. But, can help keep you out of trouble.


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