Bitcoin is the star of the show. The original cryptocurrency, and the largest by market capitalisation, remains the one that consistently grabs the world’s attention, the scrutiny, the accolades, the biggest investment and, of course, the non-stop headlines.
The star value of this most famous of digital currencies went even more stratospheric last year due to its breath-taking price rise. It hit $19,000 in December from $1,000 in the January. Since then the world has been starstruck with Bitcoin. But there is so much more to the crypto-verse than this one currency. Indeed, it is multifaceted and evolving all the time.
There are hundreds of other contenders, each with their own unique properties, strengths and uses for investors. With this in mind, Bitcoin is, in fact, coming under increasing pressure as the rivals up their game and as the similarities and differences become better known.
Although cryptocurrencies are gaining widespread acceptance, there are still many cynics. But, in my opinion, it is Ripple XRP that should manage to convert most of them largely thanks to its emphasis on integration with banks and other financial institutions
Amongst the other cryptocurrencies putting the squeeze on Bitcoin is Ethereum, with many experts opining that it is backed by superior technology and has more uses than the current dominant digital token.
In many regards, the Bitcoin vs Ethereum battle is equivalent of the VHS vs Betamax tech format battle of the 1980s. That said, there is room for several major cryptocurrencies in the marketplace, unlike in the video format sector.
I believe the price of Ethereum will increase considerably this year, due to a growing number of platforms using it as a means of trading, the increased use of smart contracts by Ethereum, as well as the decentralisation of cloud computing.
Similarly, Ripple XRP, currently the third largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin and Ethereum by market cap, will, I believe, build momentum and price this year. I’m confident of this due to Ripple XRP’s unique characteristics that allow it to assist companies, including financial institutions, real estate businesses and tech firms, to save money and quicken and further protect transactions.
Also, as I said in a media statement recently “it has been cleverly positioning itself to become a leading international facilitator of global remittances and inflows. This is a huge and growing market, especially in the emerging economies of Latin America, Asia and Africa.”
Winning over the cynics
Although cryptocurrencies are gaining widespread acceptance, there are still many cynics. But, in my opinion, it is Ripple XRP that should manage to convert most of them largely thanks to its emphasis on integration with banks and other financial institutions.
And by channelling its development strategy in this way, it is perhaps this cryptocurrency, not Bitcoin, that is most likely to help change the perception of the market and lead the ongoing shift towards a non-fiat society.
From Ethereum to Ripple, Litecoin to Dash, Monero to ZCash, there are plenty more cryptocurrencies for businesses, organisations and individuals to explore. But even that isn’t all. Arguably, the most intriguing part of the crypto-verse is the underpinning technology: blockchain.
Blockchain, on which the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum run, is redefining how we make transactions and how and what we trust. It is truly revolutionary technology. This is because it is a distributed, decentralised, immutable ledger and database of transactions. Each block of data contains records of previous transactions, creating an exhaustive chain of record.
The data put on the blockchain needs approval from everyone on the network and, therefore, this technology boosts both transparency and security. In addition, blockchains are encrypted with secure algorithms, making it almost impossible to alter the records. They also permit independent outside third-parties to verify the registered information.
Blockchain is transforming banks and other financial institutions, healthcare providers, private companies, charities and governments among others, due to its wide scope and inherent characteristics. As such, this system is, I believe, going to change the way we do business, manage assets, use devices, vote, buy a car, purchase artwork, and even prove who we are to authorities.
Blockchain will also potentially bring billions of people who are currently outside the financial system into it, especially in places such as rural India and China. This is because it can create secure digital identities for the ‘unbanked’, which is something many struggle with due to the mountain of documentation required, thereby allowing them to start taking advantage of banking and other financial services.
So, whilst Bitcoin is for the time being at least the undeniable megastar, there is much more besides in this exciting and consistently adapting and expanding sector.