With 2017 now firmly in the rearview mirror, it is time to take stock of the best-performing digital currencies of the year. Bitcoin grabbed plenty headlines on its way to a brief stop at $20,000, but in terms of percentage gains, it doesn’t even crack the top 10.
Older altcoins like Dash posted impressive gains, reaching a 13,900% return at its mid-December all-time high. Dash’s price retreated somewhat, ending the year with a 9,265% gain to capture fifth place in the rankings. Likewise, Ethereum had a banner year, settling in at number six with gains of 9,162%. Litecoin, one of the oldest altcoins, closed the year with a 5,045% gain and took the number nine spot.
Newer coins also fared extremely well, with NEM and Ardor taking number two and three, respectively. Stellar, Binance Coin, OmiseGo and Golem round out the top ten. Bitcoin took fourteenth place with a 1,318% increase.
Making more than a Ripple
Ripple, the centralized bank-focused digital currency, claimed the gold medal with a staggering 36,018% return over the past year. A $1,000 investment in Bitcoin on January 1, 2017 would have been worth $13,180 at the end of the year. That same $1,000 invested in Ripple would be worth an eye-popping $360,018.
While Ripple had good growth in the second quarter, the true surge happened in the last weeks of December, which saw the currency take the number two spot by market cap away from Ethereum. Though Bitcoin has seen the majority of headlines this past year, it cannot begin to compare with Ripple’s price performance.
What about 2018?
With the total cryptocurrency market cap hitting a record high of $673 bln today, there is no sign that 2017’s rally is coming to an end anytime soon. Digital currency enthusiast and journalist Max Keiser believes the total digital currency market cap will reach $5 trln or more, with Bitcoin itself hitting $100,000. Keiser argues that Bitcoin’s path to six figures is based on its status as digital gold. He argues that other currencies are better suited to focus on payments:
“Dash is emerging as the crypto payment rail while Bitcoin asserts itself as Gold 2.0. I suggest those frustrated by the Bitcoin scaling debate to embrace Dash for payments and leave Bitcoin Core alone to continue working on Gold 2.0.”
Famed stock picker Ronnie Moas is also optimistic about Bitcoin, believing the digital currency will see prices in excess of $28,000:
“The number (of Bitcoin available) is a lot lower than what people think it is. A lot of the Bitcoin has been lost, some of it hasn’t been mined and then you have a lot of people like myself that just won’t sell their Bitcoin at any price.”
And what of altcoins? Bitcoin’s so-called “dominance” factor is currently only 37.5%, which is near all-time lows. The Bitcoin dominance metric is a measure of how much of the total cryptocurrency market cap is “dominated” by Bitcoin. Bitcoin’s current market cap of $250 bln is divided by the $673 bln market cap of all cryptocurrencies combined. This nets the Bitcoin dominance percentage - 37.2% at press time. As recently as a year ago, Bitcoin’s dominance exceeded 90%.