Best 10 altcoins of 2024

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The concept of altcoin has found itself in the evolution of the cryptocurrency market. Initially, it defined any cryptocurrency other than bitcoin (BTC). As the market has evolved, many other cryptoassets have emerged that are not necessarily alternatives to bitcoin as a medium of exchange.

Today's understanding of altcoin includes a wide range of cryptocurrencies and tokens for various purposes such as smart contracts, decentralised finance (DeFi), gaming assets and more. However, still, the basic definition of an altcoin remains the same: it is a cryptocurrency other than bitcoin.

Here's an overview of the top 10 altcoins by market cap, not including stablecoins, which are used to maintain a stable price and are generally not considered speculative investments.

1. Ethereum (ETH)

  • Altcoin price today: $3,140.18
  • Market cap: $377 billion

Of the total market cap of more than $2.5 trillion, over 26,000 cryptoassets available today, more than $377 billion dollars is accounted for by Ethereum, the largest altcoin on the market.

Unlike bitcoin, which is often described as a "decentralised currency", Ethereum is a distributed computing network where users can use the blockchain to run decentralised applications, known as dApps, and execute smart contracts.

"BTC serves as a store of value, while ETH is a decentralised playground for developers who are shaping the future of blockchain technological innovation," notes Walker Holmes, vice president of metaverse platform MetaTope.

Some critics of Ethereum point to high transaction fees. However, with thousands of apps and other altcoins running on its blockchain, Ethereum maintains its relevance.

2. BNB

  • Altcoin price today: $586.45
  • Market cap: $86.5 billion

BNB is a multi-functional token that has found a wide range of uses in the Binance ecosystem. It can be used to pay trading fees and receive discounts for transactions on the Binance exchange. Additionally, BNB can be used outside of the Binance platform to process payments such as travel bookings.

Some critics have raised concerns about BNB's level of decentralisation compared to other altcoins. However, the increase in investor interest in the exchange at the beginning of BNB's popularisation in 2021 is a testament to the value and appeal of this token.

3. Solana (SOL)

  • Altcoin price today: $145.36
  • Market cap: $65.04 billion

Solana was designed with decentralised finance, applications and smart contracts in mind. It operates on a hybrid proof-of-stake and proof-of-history mechanism, providing fast and secure transaction processing.

One of the fastest blockchains, Solana has also received criticism for its centralised nature and insufficient number of confirmation nodes compared to Ethereum, notes Whitney Setiawan, an analyst at digital asset exchange Bitrue.

While Solana is a highly scalable blockchain solution with low fees, it has also experienced outages and downtime.

Is XRP worth investing in?

4. XRP

  • Altcoin price today: $0.5288
  • Market cap: $29.2 billion

XRP is designed to exchange various types of currencies using technology from Ripple Labs, a firm specialising in digital technology and payment processing. Founded in 2012, Ripple Labs is an old-timer in the fast-growing world of cryptocurrencies. While many other coins have come and gone over the past decades, Ripple Labs and its currency, XRP, have remained in demand in the cryptosphere.

XRP Ledger was the first ever decentralised exchange, or DEX, with a protocol that allows for the creation of custom tokens. This open-source technology is also known for its more eco-friendly nature compared to other competing cryptocurrencies, which may contribute to its overall popularity.

5. Dogecoin (DOGE)

  • Altcoin price today: $0.1609
  • Market cap: $23.2 billion

Dogecoin is originally a joke meme coin that rose to prominence in 2013. However, thanks to a dedicated community and creative memes, it quickly became a well-known cryptocurrency.

Richard Gardner, CEO of financial software provider Modulus Global, notes that DOGE has large supporters but is still riskier than bitcoin.

"Altcoins like DOGE may fluctuate depending on market volatility, as they have yet to prove their real-world use," says Harry Kruglyakov, founder of 0VIX Protocol, a decentralised application that allows for cryptocurrency loans and credits.

6. Toncoin (TON)

  • Altcoin price today: $5.72
  • Market cap: $19.8 billion

Developed in 2018 by Telegram as an encrypted messaging system, Toncoin is a Tier 1 blockchain originally known as the "Telegram Open Network" but later renamed "The Open Network."

TON was originally created to facilitate transactions on the Telegram app. However, it has evolved into a community-driven blockchain using a proof-of-stake network that provides very fast processing and confirmation of transactions.

7. Cardano (ADA)

  • Altcoin price today: $0.4574
  • Market cap: $16.3 billion

Cardano has been one of the pioneers in developing a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism that speeds up transaction times and eliminates the competitive and energy-intensive nature inherent in other platforms like bitcoin.

"Cardano is a leading thinker in the industry that has taken the initiative in creating proof-of-stake consensus mechanisms," says Holmes. "ADA is a blockchain solution that promises low fees with increased security compared to many peers."

However, Daniel Logwin, CEO of blockchain networking services provider LedgerByte, believes the altcoin has promised too much but has failed to deliver.

Is SHIB worth it?

8. Shiba Inu (SHIB)

  • Altcoin price today: $0.000024
  • Market cap: $14.5 billion

Shiba Inu, created in 2020, is an Ethereum-based meme coin. Its creator, known as "Ryoshi", has stated that the purpose of creating the coin is to test whether an organisation can operate without central leadership. The support of authorities in the cryptosphere such as Elon Musk and Vitalek Buterin has made SHIB a more recognised asset, demonstrating that Ryoshi's ideas are feasible.

In October 2021, Shiba Inu briefly surpassed Dogecoin in market cap, becoming the world's most valuable meme coin. Some small retailers have also begun accepting SHIB as payment after its success among crypto investors. However, for now, using SHIB to pay for lunch is unlikely. Efforts by the Shiba Inu community on social media to convince McDonald's to accept the coin have not been successful.

9. Avalanche (AVAX)

  • Altcoin price today: $36.94
  • Market cap: $14.04 billion

Designed as a Tier 1 blockchain for dApps and other networks, Avalanche has become one of Ethereum's main competitors. The AVAX network in particular aims to displace Ethereum as the blockchain of choice for smart contracts. The new blockchain hopes to achieve this through higher transaction performance without sacrificing scalability.

Like Ethereum, Avalanche aims to solve Vitalik Buterin's famous trilemma of blockchain security, scalability and decentralisation. This trilemma states that developers must sacrifice at least one of these three components in order to maximise the performance of the other two. Avalanche attempts to solve this trilemma by using three interacting blockchains as part of its own development.

10. Polkadot (DOT)

  • Altcoin price today: $7.06
  • Market cap: $10.1 billion

According to Max Teik, one of the co-founders of peaq, a blockchain network built on Polkadot, this altcoin plays a key role in the Polkadot ecosystem, where developers can create specialised blockchains that serve as "spokes" and link to Polkadot's main blockchain hub. DOT is the primary token for Polkadot.

"There is a steady demand for DOT from projects interested in developing for Polkadot," he notes.

According to James Waugh, CEO of Digital Finance Group, an investment firm specialising in blockchain and cryptocurrencies, the altcoin offers a high level of security and is a leader in terms of developer activity and number of projects. However, he believes that progress on projects is slow and there is a lack of compelling applications that can further develop the Polkadot ecosystem.

Conclusion

The increasing variety of cryptocurrencies and tokens makes the concept of altcoin broader and more diverse. Despite changes in definition, altcoins still play a key role in the cryptocurrency ecosystem as a way to invest as well as technology platforms to fulfil various purposes, including smart contracts, decentralised finance and more.

Our review highlights the top 10 altcoins by market cap in 2024, excluding stablecoins, which are not considered speculative investments. These coins and tokens represent a variety of projects with unique characteristics and potential for future growth and development. Understanding the characteristics of each of these altcoins will help investors and technology enthusiasts make more informed decisions when selecting cryptocurrency assets for their portfolio or project.

Jonathan Rowe

Jonathan Rowe

The creator and main author of the site is Jonathan Rowe. Trader and investor with many years of experience. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with over a decade of experience developing applications for financial and investment institutions.

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