The year 2017 has already proven to be the biggest one for cryptocurrencies so far. By August 26th of this year, the total alternative currency market cap had skyrocketed by over 810 percent on a year to date basis, from last year’s relatively tiny total of $17.7 billion to an incredible currently $161 billion total. Many of these up and coming alt coins have given investors returns in only eight months that have taken the S&P 500 stock market literally decades to accomplish.
It is no exaggeration to claim that in 2017 you might have hurled a dart at a board made up of the biggest ten cryptocurrencies, and you would have earned an incredible sum of money. Second leading alternative currency Ethereum has experienced a 4,300 percent increase in the value of its market cap in only the first eight months of the year so far. Meanwhile, NEM has returned over 8,600 percent so far in 2017, making it substantially the best performing digital currency year to date.
Top 10 list of cryptocurrencies by market capitalization
In this revealing article, we’ll consider the top ten biggest cryptocurrencies to watch by market capitalization along with their year to date percent gains up to September 1st in 2017:
1. Bitcoin: 375% Gain
Still the first, largest, and most famous of the cryptocurrencies dating back to its humble beginnings only a decade ago in 2007, Bitcoin remains the undisputed king of the alternative currency market. Today it has a serious challenger and rival in number two Ethereum, yet no other cryptocurrency can claim to have pioneered the firsts of this space like BTC does and actually has.
It still possesses many significant advantages to this day, as it remains the cryptocurrency with the biggest well-established user base, the most admired reputation, and the first mover advantage. No other alternative currency can claim anywhere near the acceptance rate as the Bitcoin either, with national household names including Amazon and Subway retailers accepting it for payment purposes.
2. Ethereum: 4,279%
Ether has only been in existence for an incredibly brief two year time span since 2015, yet in that time this newer currency has quickly leapfrogged over the rest of the other major alternative currencies to become number two by market cap and popularity. Consider that on only January 1st of 2017, one Ether token cost a mere $8 and it topped over $400 this same year for a staggering over 4,200 percent gain, and you will get an idea of the incredibly rising power of this alt coin. If you had seen this coming and invested just $100 in Ethereum on January 1st, today you would have more than $5,000.
Where so many other would-be rivals to Bitcoin have failed completely to unseat the still-reigning cryptocurrency king Bitcoin, Ether has come the closest (dangerously close and getting closer every day) thanks to its “smart contract” functionality. The banking majors including JP Morgan Chase, Santander, ING, Credit Suisse, and numerous others have formed the already influential and powerful Enterprise Ethereum Alliance to support this rapidly growing functionality.
The currency boasts an international merchant acceptance base that allows consumers and businesses to pay for their electric bills, farmers to sell produce directly to end-users, and customers to bet on sports across boarders and continents. So far, the EEA has expanded to comprise other heavy hitters outside of the banking industry including Microsoft, IBM, Intel, and BP (British Petroleum), among literally dozens of other internationally leading firms.
3. Ripple: 3,415%
Ripple is a strange offering in the space as it does not have any physical or even metaphysical monetary representation. Rather it is more like an incredible massive currency interchange application. You can not spend Ripple on services and goods as with other alternative currencies, so no one in the retailing universe accepts Ripple directly. Yet for trading and exchanging across an extensive and broad spectrum of other alternative and physical currencies, it gets the job well done.
4. Litecoin: 1,725%
Litecoin was the big up and comer until Ethereum stole its thunder. Because it boasts a well- respected reputation and years of functionality behind it, a wide range of businesses in electronics, gaming, advertising, website hosting, and even apparel choose to accept it for online-based payments. Every two minutes, Litecoin’s block chain ledger updates with a new block of the updated transactions. This makes its merchant transactions and transferring properties far speedier at processing than its alt coin rivals in the space.
5. NEM: 8,662%
Born back in January of 2014, NEM has brought in a dedicated following that spend both night and day mining this digital currency in a fanatical effort to expand its following and base. Yet despite this availability, the market value for NEM remains among the lowest. Yet nearly nine billion of these can eventually be mined. Even with the appallingly low price per unit, eventually this means its market cap will outperform most (if not all in the end) of its rivals in cryptocurrencies.
6. Dash: 3,024%
Dash has smartly featured a few leading innovations with its high levels of user anonymity and operational functionality of the alternative currency space. Launched to be a form of electronic cash, the two developers Evan Duffield and Kyle Hagan continue to refine and additionally develop it. With one of the biggest individual coin values on the alt coins market today, ironically very few retailers accept this form of electronic cash payment so far.
7. IOTA: 18%
(Data since Jun. 13, 2017) – IOTA users and creators claim that this alt coin currency will be the backbone of the newly autonomous Machine Economy. One thing it certainly has going for it is that its Tangle ledger settles transactions without any fees, allowing for apps to trade precise quantities of resources as needed and to store their data from data loggers and sensors in a means that is both verified and highly secured on its ledger. The revolutionary innovation underpinning IOTA is the Tangle distributed ledger that is both scalable and blockless.
8. Monero: 806%
The cryptocurrency most concerned with privacy is Monero. It rolled out an additional layer of privacy protection for its users accordingly. It also has 14 million units circulating as of mid 2017, and it even boasts a healthy price point per alt coin. For entities who are interested in starting up alt coin mining operations and who enjoy the privacy this one affords, Monero proves to be an excellent choice in this booming industry.
9. Stellar 842%
This cryptocurrency may or may not boast the ninth largest market cap in the field, but it is important enough to be included along with the last entry below. Introduced in only 2014, its popularity continues to grow since that first day. Stellar’s best known rival is Bytecoin, though its price is better than Bytecoin’s, even though there are many fewer Stellar Lumens available today by way of comparison.
10. NXT 540%
NXT is a second-generation cryptocurrency which is both scalable and whose features go well beyond the scope of traditional alt coins and alternative currencies. Thanks to its “Transparent Forging,” the transaction processing speeds for NXT astonishingly even approach the leaders in this processing field Master Card and Visa. Not only incredibly fast, this alt coin protocol offers a higher level of security than its rivals. The alt currency was programmed to be nearly impossible for any miner or user to fork and fragment, as has already happened with both Bitcoin and Ethereum in recent months.
There is still a lot to be done in the cryptocurrency space, but the foundations have been laid. The opportunity is still there for gains and you have multiple options of getting one the boat while it is still early. You can consider investing in a cryptocurrency IRA where you allocate a portion of your funds in cryptocurrency and have it stored. You can read our in depth guide on how to invest in a bitcoin IRA.