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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Altcoins

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Any crypto geek surely loves a few fun facts, surprising stats, and interesting oddities to get their teeth into.

Thankfully the crypto world is fun of amazement. So, if you’d like to learn something that you (probably) didn’t know before, keep reading.

Here are 10 things you didn’t know about the most popular altcoins in the world.

1. The First Altcoin

Many people mistakenly believe that Litecoin was the first altcoin. It’s not true. The first altcoin in the world was Namecoin (NMC).

Namecoin was announced in April 2011 and still exists today. At the time of writing, Namecoin has a value of $0.80 and a market cap of $12 billion.

The coin was built on Bitcoin’s code, so shares a lot of the same characteristics with its big brother. Perhaps the most notable difference is Namecoin’s ability to store data within its blockchain transaction database.

(Note: Namecoin is one of many Bitcoin forks that you need to know about.)

2. The Highest All-Time High

It’s well-known that Bitcoin hit $20,000 in December 2017; it is the most valuable that any cryptocurrency has ever been.

But what about the altcoins? The best all-time high (ATH) for any altcoin was set by Bitcoin Cash (BCH) on 20 December 2017. The value of a single token hit $3,785.82.

Second place on the list goes to Zcash (ZEC) ($3,191.93). Maker (MKR) is third ($1,798.70).

Surprisingly, Ethereum is only fifth. Its all-time high is $1,448.18, achieved on 13 January 2018.

3. The Largest Altcoin Decline

The crypto crash of 2018 is well-documented. In a matter of weeks, all the mainstream tokens dramatically fell from their all-time highs and wiped billions of the sector’s market cap.

Some coins have suffered more than others. Take the example of VeChain (VET). It boasts the 26th highest all-time high ever recorded ($8.46 on 20 January 2018), but has lost almost all that value and is now 99.93 percent down at $0.005 per coin. It is the most significant decline out of any of the top 50 coins when ranked by ATH.

Other coins that have declined dramatically include Bitcoin Diamond (BCD) (down 99.4 percent), Zcash (down 98.04 percent), and ICON (ICX) (down 97.32 percent).

4. The Least-Bad Altcoin Decline

At the other end of the scale, Ravencoin (RVN) is only down 17.74 percent from its all-time high of $0.07 on 27 March 2018. Binance Coin (BNB) is down just 26.86 percent.

The coin that has declined the least from its ATH, however, is USD Coin (USDC). It’s a bit of a misnomer; USD Coin is a stablecoin that is theoretically pegged to the U.S. dollar. Despite the dollar peg, it still traded for $1.14 back in October 2018. Today, USD Coin trades for $1.002—a decline of 12.2 percent.

5. How Many Altcoins Are There?

Because there is no central log of all the altcoins in existence, and because anyone can theoretically create and launch their own altcoin, we are reduced to making best estimates when trying to establish how many altcoins exist in the world.

To give you some idea, CoinMarketCap lists 2,138 coins on their website at the time of writing. Some experts suggest there could be as many as 4,000. Naturally, the quality of the coins at the bottom of that list is extremely suspect.

6. The List of Dead Coins Is Growing

The crypto space is a hard world to be in. Hundreds of developers have tried to make a new altcoin, only to struggle to raise interest and gather miners. The coin is dead before it has begun.

Once again, it’s impossible to state the number of dead altcoins with accuracy, but we can make some assumptions.

The voice of authority on dead altcoins is the Dead Coins site. It’s user-submitted, so the results aren’t going to be 100 percent accurate, but it does give us an idea.

At the time of writing, Dead Coins lists 1,564 altcoins that have gone extinct. That’s roughly one every two days since Namecoin first went live.

7. The Smallest Crypto Market Cap

We’re all familiar with the names of the biggest cryptocurrencies in the world. If you’re not, make sure you read our Bitcoin Cash guide, Ethereum guide, Monero guide, Ripple guide, and all our other coin studies.

But what’s going on at the other end of the list? Which are the smallest tokens when ranked by market cap?

Data for the last 500 or so coins on CoinMarketCap is a bit murky. The smallest market cap that we can say with any certainty belongs to HarmonyCoin (HMC). It has a market cap of just $22.

The other four coins rounding out the bottom five are CJs ($109), POLY AI ($233), Interzone ($331), and Argus ($348).

8. The Most Valuable Altcoins

A coin with a high market cap does not necessarily translate into a high USD value.

Market cap is calculated by multiplying price with the number of coins in circulation, so a token worth $0.01 that has five million coins in circulation would have a higher market cap than a currency worth $20 that only had 100,000 coins circulating.

So, which are the most outright valuable coins behind Bitcoin?

Again, this is prone to change, but at the time of writing, the five most valuable altcoins are Maker ($711.08), ThoreCoin ($602.09), Bitcoin Cash ($167.70), Mixin ($158.99), and Ethereum ($141.90). They are the 16th, 97th, 6th, 77th, and second largest coins by market cap.

9. Which Are the Best Altcoins of 2019?

Let’s pretend that 2018 didn’t happen and we all pressed the giant red reset button on 1 January 2019. Which altcoins have performed the best so far this year?

Top of the list is Litecoin. It is up 103.3 percent in the calendar year. It is followed by Digitalcash (43.2 percent), NEO (33.0 percent), Monero (31.4 percent), and Zcash (12.8 percent).

For reference, Bitcoin has grown 12.4 percent in 2019.

10. Bitcoin’s Dominance Holds Steady

Bitcoin’s dominance is determined by what percentage of crypto’s total market cap is controlled by Nakamoto’s creation.

Until the start of 2017, Bitcoin had only dipped below 80 percent dominance on a handful of occasions, and never by more than a couple of points.

Since then, Bitcoin has come close to losing its crown to an altcoin on three occasions. In June 2017, Ethereum moved to with seven points (38 percent vs. 31 percent). In January 2018, Bitcoin’s dominance dropped as low as 33 percent, the lowest it has ever been.

However, since August 2018, Bitcoin has been holding steady at around 50 percent. No single altcoin has managed to break more than a couple of points above 10 percent.

Learn More About Altcoins

If these 10 facts and figures have piqued your interest and you want to learn more, we have got you covered.

Make sure you check out our article about why there are so many altcoins in existence.

Dan Price
In his previous life, Dan spent five years providing investment advice to clients. You might assume, therefore, he was savvy enough to spot the opportunities presented by cryptocurrency in its early days. Sadly, he wasn’t. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a passion for all things blockchain today. He strongly believes in long-term future of the technology and wants to help everyone else understand its benefits. Just don’t listen to his market tips.

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