In 2015 there has never been stronger sentiment around the potential for an altcoin to eclipse Bitcoin as the future ‘major’ cryptocurrency. Those supporting the trend admit that such a coin may not exist yet, but the features present in some extant altcoins may give some clues to the potential reshaping of the cryptocurrency industry as we know it.
But there’s a problem. While the idea of a universal Bitcoin competitor is in vogue and even virtuous, the reality of the altcoin industry’s reputation is quite the opposite. Years of unpredictable prices coupled with fraud and scam accusations have nearly made ‘altcoin’ a dirty word in today’s cryptocommunity.
Is this reputation deserved? Cointelegraph is here to help you find out. Starting next month, we will be publishing a monthly altcoin digest, helping potential investors identify the risk and see some of the value in this ever-changing market.
To begin with, we decided to consider ten of the most interesting altcoins available in 2015.
DogeCoinDark is a privacy-centric effort designed to balance the mass appeal of the Dogecoin persona with the anonymity features demanded by many more technical users. In so doing, the idea appears to be also to take the stigma away from ‘dark’ altcoins operating such additional security features.
Options such as running on dedicated Tor nodes have gone some way to cementing DOGED’s reputation in its market niche. While not the first dark incarnation of Dogecoin, the altcoin has made it within the top 100 currencies in terms of market cap. With Dogecoin’s original creator having recently disowned his project, a dedicated developer could well yield results.
Jumping on the back of a popular concept is hardly a rare move for an altcoin, but Unobtanium seeks to stay true to its metaphorical roots.
The supply is limited to 250,000 units, while proof-of-work is used to ensure coins are not destroyed as part of the usage process. Its function as a practical, low-load currency is at odds with its somewhat nerdy persona, however, and lead developer Bryce Weiner has made a conscious effort to remove the idea of the coin being ‘dark’ through hidden information.
Altcoins for a cause is nothing new. Whether it’s the legalization of cannabis or replanting rainforests, cryptocurrency has tried (with varying degrees of success) to cement change for the better through group movement for years.
Earthcoin is different in its developers’ priorities. Releasing the coin quickly was secondary to building out practical applications of the coin, the main one of which being the Earthcoin Foundation, supporting wildlife projects across the globe. Gimmicky but resonant nonetheless are the ‘nature-focused’ aspects of the coin, such as mining cycles mimicking the seasons.
Gridcoin’s ethos also revolves around rewarding and supporting scientific research. Mining is performed by running scientific simulations, helping solve wider issues beyond the interests of the cryptocurrency.
The motivation for the application centers around the wasteful mining process in Bitcoin, which continues to be extremely resource-intensive in terms of computational power and electricity.
NuBits brings an interesting selling point (somewhat literally) to the altcoin marketplace. Instability among altcoins has been one of their main drawbacks, and NuBits hence uses automatic bot trading to steady the price, ensuring 1 NBT equals 1 USD.
Building out the requisite infrastructure to make international remittances as cost-effective in NBT as with Bitcoin may take some time, but the removal of the conversion headache with the dollar can hardly be underestimated.
Rare among altcoin development efforts is a focus on educating disinterested parties about cryptocurrency in general. Fuelcoin’s mission statement revolves around inviting those who know nothing about crypto to learn more and get involved, using FC2 as a form of live example.
The basis for bringing those people together is surprisingly everyday – the home party. Fuelcoin’s developer cites the lack of a ‘male’ version of the home cosmetics party as something which, if instigated, could provide real progress for basic crypto education.
An altcoin designed for use in multiplayer computer games may sound like a typical niche phenomenon, yet Hyper seems to be disproving the stereotype.
Having been mentioned in Bloomberg Businessweek, the proof-of-stake coin, which gives all users a 5% monthly interest bonus, is infiltrating some well-known gaming communities such as Counter-Strike, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Minecraft.
The release of its Cashier service will meanwhile also allow Hyper to be spent at brick-and-mortar locations and online merchants.
While its applications for business drive Syscoin’s value, the currency has become equally conspicuous for its ability to weather a storm.
Following significant funds compromises during the implosion of Mintpal, Syscoin has bounced back and interest in its selling point continues. Also implemented are popular features such as the ability to create an easily memorized alias in place of a standard wallet address.
The first blockchain-based multisig, NEM is looking to provide a complete trading environment on top of its basic use as a currency. Payments, messaging, asset trading and smart contracts will all be facilitated as the coin is developed, along with encrypted messaging.
Formerly DuckNote, this CryptoNote-based currency has emerged from the anonymous coin community attain the top 50 among all altcoins in terms of market cap. DarkNote offers anonymous transactions and encrypted messaging, as well as several technological firsts among CryptoNote currencies. DarkNote appears to have escaped the identity and consensus issues plaguing others of its kind, and deserves an honorable mention.
Exactly which currency will strike on the magic formula to take things forward, remains to be seen. But all things considered, even now investors have a great variety of prospective coins to choose from. Very likely, some of the abovementioned altcoins may take them to the moon.