Did you know that over 22,900 digital currencies are trading on nearly 600 exchanges? However, only around 8,830 cryptocurrencies are actively traded, while the rest are inactive or dead. If you’re anything like me, you’re probably wondering which are worth your investment. So today, we’ll discuss the top 20 cryptocurrencies to invest in.
What are Cryptocurrencies?
Cryptocurrency or coins is an alternative to fiat currency like the U.S Dollar, British Pound, etc. It is digital money created through mining and used as tokens, coin money, or a new form of payment. Although cryptocurrencies are accessed through credit or other projects, many remain inaccessible. Moreover, cryptos are governed by complicated algorithms called blockchains that allow the creation of digital currencies and their transaction across decentralized finance platforms. Brokerage services or exchanges facilitate the storage and exchange of the cryptocurrencies they support.
Crypto coins are used as primary currencies (or native cryptocurrencies) for different blockchain networks. This is why the names of some blockchain platforms are used interchangeably with their actual cryptocurrency. For example, Ethereum is known widely as a cryptocurrency, but it’s actually the global blockchain platform, while Ether (ETH) is the name of the cryptocurrency itself.
Why Are Top Cryptocurrencies Important?
Blockchain technology allows people to participate in peer-to-peer banking transactions and contracts with each other. This process makes it unnecessary for any reputable third party to be involved, removing the need for a middleman in the transaction. This evolution could disrupt current financial systems and restructure finances in general. In the last decade, cryptocurrency has seen exponential growth alongside significant development with its underlying technology. These top cryptocurrencies show the testament of how big the following is for this new form of currency.
Top 20 Cryptocurrencies
Here are the top twenty cryptocurrencies to invest in. Note that cryptocurrencies are traded 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and are subject to extreme volatility. Therefore, price and market cap values will be presented in ranges.
1). Bitcoin (BTC)
Bitcoin is considered the granddaddy of all cryptocurrencies and is the most often-tracked coin on the market. As befitting of its status, most enthusiasts consider it the barometer of the crypto market as a whole.
Bitcoin was first developed at the tail end of the 2009 Global Financial Crisis. It took a couple of years to reach mainstream recognition, but the wait was worth it for early Bitcoin miners and investors when its price spiked from $0.09 to $26.90 in 2011. Since then, BTC has experienced explosive growth, enjoying price spikes and recovering from slumps. Today, it’s trading between $28,000 and $30,000 after hitting its peak of $68,789.63 last 2021, and it’s currently valued at around $567 billion USD.
2). Ether (ETH)
Ether, or Ethereum as most people know it, has been an investor favorite since its launch in July 2015. Its decentralized computing platform offers a wide range of services, the most prominent of which is its smart contracts functionality and the ability to create open-sourced, decentralized applications within its network. These two functions are often used hand in hand to launch financial applications, supply chain management software, gaming services, unique tokens, and more. The Ethereum network has the most non-fungible tokens within its network, and several cryptocurrencies on this list are based on the platform.
ETH is trading near $1,850 and has a $222.2 billion market value.
3). Tether (USDT)
Investors may be more familiar with Tether as its ticker, USDT. The market value of Tether is currently $83.7 billion USD and always stays within a few hundredths of a cent of $1 in value. That’s because Tether is a stablecoin, which means it is backed by, or “pegged to,” an existing asset or commodity in order to maintain its stability. In this case, Tether is pegged to the U.S. dollar. As the most popular stablecoin, Tether is available in most of the operating exchanges in the crypto market.
4). Ripple (XRP)
XRP is unique in a few ways. First off, there’s no way to mine it; the global coin supply sits at 100 billion, with 42.3 billion locked in an escrow account as of 2023. Second, unlike Bitcoin and Ether, XRP was created solely for transactions. It is the default digital asset of the XRP Ledger, Ripple Labs’ decentralized blockchain-based system, and with its proprietary XRPL Consensus Protocol, the Ledger allows for cheap, lightning-fast transaction processing within the network. And since there is no need for a central middleman when sending XRP, it is a practical tool for bridging two different fiat currencies, commodities, cryptocurrencies, and other units of value, making it one of the best decentralized exchanges in the market.
Ripple Labs is currently at the center of a legal case. It recently earned a favorable partial summary judgment against the SEC, where the latter accused the company of selling unregistered securities in the form of $1.3 billion worth of XRP. The judge presiding over the case ruled that XRP sold to retail investors over public exchanges (worth about $600 million) are not securities or investment contracts. Therefore, their sales do not constitute a breach of federal securities trading laws.
However, the same ruling meant that Ripple’s offering of XRP to institutional investors via agreements (which states that the purchased XRP cannot be sold until after a specific time period) is considered illegal securities trading.
The case is far from over, and its outcome can have massive repercussions in regulatory measures for the cryptocurrency market. The SEC has also filed similar charges against Binance and Coinbase.
XRP is trading near $0.7 and has a market cap of about $36.8 billion USD.
5). Binance Coin (BNB)
Binance Coin is a utility cryptocurrency initially launched in July 2017 in the Ethereum Network and was later moved to its own Binance Smart Chain. The Binance Exchange uses BNB to facilitate transfers to personal accounts and cryptocurrency wallets. Binance offers discounts for BNB holders when they use the coin to pay transaction fees.
BNB is trading near $239, valued at around $36.8 billion today.
6). USD Coin (USDC)
USD Coin is a stablecoin developed by Circle and Coinbase. Like Tether, USDC is pegged to the U.S. Dollar at 1:1. Coinbase, one of the most popular crypto exchanges in the world where you can buy, sell, and transfer crypto, allows users to trade USDC and offers rewards for keeping the cryptocurrency in their wallets.
As of today, USDC is, of course, valued at $1 and has a market capitalization of $26,702,720,510 USD.
7). Cardano (ADA)
Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson introduced the Cardano public blockchain platform in 2017. Cardano was created to become an interoperable, scalable, and sustainable network to improve upon the existing Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains. The network uses ADA as its primary currency to facilitate peer-to-peer transactions. Cryptocurrency investors consider ADA one of the best altcoins to invest in, with its ongoing development and future potential. Initially trading at $0.02 at launch, ADA now trades for around $0.30, valued at $10.6 billion USD.
8). Dogecoin (DOGE)
Dogecoin was founded by Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer in 2013 as a “joke” to mock the cryptocurrency market’s irrational speculation and poke fun at other cryptocurrencies’ aspirations to rule the world. As the first digital currency based on an online meme, Dogecoin also gained social popularity that hyped investors to jump in and buy into the meme coin craze that pushed DOGE “to the moon” — an all-time high of $0.6848 in May 2021.
Dogecoin’s market capitalization is currently $10.5 billion, trading near $0.07.
Solana is a high-speed blockchain system intended to handle thousands of transactions per second, which is done through its native cryptocurrency, SOL. Anatoly Yakovenko, a former Qualcomm Chief Technical Officer, founded the concept in 2017. The primary selling feature of Solana is its ability to process thousands of transactions almost instantly. Compared to other protocols like Ethereum, it can process transactions faster. In addition, transactions within Solana are significantly cheaper due to the proof-of-history (PoH) mechanism. This makes the network one of the cheaper alternatives for crypto enthusiasts and is preferred by more blockchain-based game developers.
SOL is trading near $23.4 and has a market cap of $9.4 billion.
10). Tronix (TRX)
Tronix serves as the primary cryptocurrency of the TRON network, a decentralized blockchain-based platform focused on entertainment and content sharing. The network aims to remove the corporate middleman from media consumption with its “Decentralize the Web” slogan. Its ability to process 2000 transactions per second makes daily use possible, which is the main benefit and viable investment candidate. In 2018, the Tron Foundation, the company that developed and operates TRON, acquired BitTorrent to further its aims for building a decentralized entertainment platform for the Internet.
TRON tokens are valued at $0.08 and have a $7.2 billion market capitalization.
11). Polygon (MATIC)
MATIC is the native cryptocurrency of the Polygon platform, which is a “scalability solution” for decentralized applications and projects built on the Ethereum blockchain, acting as another layer or “sidechain.” It allows users to link the main chain and perform transactions using these distinct chains like a two-way bridge. It helps with the scalability of the Ethereum blockchain since some work is offloaded from the primary network. Polygon also allows stake-mining, letting users be paid for staking their tokens on the network.
MATIC is trading at $0.72 with a total market capitalization of $6.7 billion.
12). Litecoin (LTC)
Litecoin is a “lightweight” Bitcoin variant that was developed in 2011. It boasts faster transaction times and increased storage effectiveness, the two distinctive features that make it unique from Bitcoin. The “testnet” for Bitcoin is frequently Litecoin, making it a general predictor of new features to be added to the Bitcoin network.
The market capitalization of all Litecoin is currently $6.5 billion, and it’s trading for $88 to $89 per coin.
13). Polkadot (DOT)
Polkadot is a third-generation digital currency developed by Dr. Gavin Wood, another co-founder of Ethereum.
The platform enhances the capabilities of interoperability between different blockchain systems. The protocols are designed to link with approved and unauthorized blockchains, enabling system integration under one roof. The critical component of Polkadot features a relay chain that makes it possible for networks to be flexible and interoperable. The program can also offer parallel blockchains and chains for particular purposes like the easy moving of funds, liquidity, and other cross-transactions.
As an illustration, Polkadot can move data between private, authorized blockchains and public, open, permissionless ones. As a result, it is now possible to create applications that employ permission data obtained from a private blockchain and then used on a public blockchain. For instance, a smart contract for degree verification on a public chain may get confirmation from a school’s private, permissioned academic records chain.
This degree of flexibility allows developers to easily build higher-quality projects as adoption grows and attract more users in the future. Because any Polkadot dApps do not constrain developers, Polkadot is different from Ethereum in this regard.
DOT trades for $5.20 and has a market value of $6.5 billion.
14). Toncoin (TON)
The Open Network and its native cryptocurrency, Toncoin, were created by the Durov Brothers, the founders of Telegram Messenger last 2018. Its main goal is to provide users with a fast, user-friendly, and scalable network for various uses like decentralized exchanges, payments, gaming, etc.
Its website claims to be able to process millions of transactions per second and provides real use cases. A few months after its launch in August 2021, TON shot up to its all-time high of $5.84 in November 2021, 1324% from its launch price of $0.41. It is currently trading at $1.40 with a market cap of $4.8 billion.
15). Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC)
In January 2019, Wrapped Bitcoin launched on the Ethereum mainnet with the goal of bringing more liquidity into the Ethereum network by using Bitcoin. Significant companies in the DeFi ecosystem, including BitGo, Ren, Dharma, Kyber, Compound, MakerDAO, and Set Protocol, collaborated to create Wrapped Bitcoin. It is an ERC20 token backed with Bitcoin in a 1:1 setup. The WBTC DAO, a Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO), is currently in charge of the project.
You see, Ethereum’s far lower total value compared to BTC constrains the potential growth protocols launched in its network. Integrating a Bitcoin variant, namely Wrapped Bitcoin, allows these protocols more liquidity, enabling them to expand the collateral sources for their decentralized apps or dapps.
On Ethereum, many of the most well-known DeFi dapps demand collateral. Users of services like MakerDAO and Compound must lock up their cryptocurrency assets to borrow other cryptocurrency assets. With the introduction of wrapped Bitcoin into the network, cryptocurrency owners can now use DeFi dapps like Compound to borrow and lend money while still holding their crypto as an asset.
Wrapped Bitcoin is trading at around $29,000 and has a $4.7 billion market cap.
16). Shiba Inu (SHIB)
Another cryptocurrency developed in 2021 as a “joke coin,” Shiba Inu is based on the dog meme from the Dogecoin platform. The cryptocurrency was poised as a direct competitor to Dogecoin and initially launched with one quadrillion coins, but had about 50% of it locked in the decentralized exchange Uniswap. Additionally, more SHIB coins are being “burned” or removed from circulation every month. SHIB’s market cap at $4.6 billion, roughly half of DOGE’s cap, is trading at $0.0000078.
SHIB’s development as a rival to DOGE led to several coin variations (with most revolving around the theme of dogs, like LEASH and BONE) being developed in the same blockchain ecosystem.
17). Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Created in 2017, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is a cryptocurrency that resulted from a hard fork of Bitcoin last 2017. BCH was created to improve upon BTC by allowing a larger number of transactions in a single block and helping decrease transaction times and fees.
BCH recently experienced renewed interest from investors as open interest in BCH surged over $400 million, indicating investor bullishness and capital flows into BCH. This surge has doubled the price of BCH, which was trading at the $110.00 area last June 20 and reached a peak of $329.71 before correcting to around $230. BCH has a market capitalization of $4.5 billion.
Dai is the last stablecoin on our list, similar to Tether and USDC.
What makes it different is its value is being kept as close to the US Dollar through a system of decentralized participants. They manage Dai’s diversified collateral through multiple cryptocurrency holdings like BAT, ETH, WBTC, etc. This diversified set of holdings minimizes the risk for its holders while adding to Dai’s stability.
Due to the abrupt COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, DAI experienced high volatility, reaching a peak of $1.09 (in real-world currencies) before reverting to a dollar. Dai now trades for $0.99 and has a $4.5 billion market cap.
19). Avalanche (AVAX)
AVAX is a native cryptocurrency of the Avalanche blockchain. The “proof-of-stake” consensus process that underpins Avalanche allows users to profit from staking their tokens on the network. It is considered one of the competitors of Ethereum and dubbed by some enthusiasts as one of the” Ethereum-Killer” due to its “blazingly fast, low-cost and eco-friendly” nature.
With its ease of movement between asset classes, it addresses some of the frustrations of other crypto investors on Ethereum: its struggle with higher cost and slow processing speed. It also has a reputation for a promising NFT marketplace and resilient network.
Avalanche now has a market capitalization of $4.5 billion and a trading price of $13.11 USD.
20). Uniswap (UNI)
Uniswap is the biggest decentralized exchange (DEX) running on the Ethereum blockchain. It enables users to exchange cryptocurrency directly between themselves from anywhere in the world. The Automated Market Maker, created by Uniswap, provides users with “liquidity pools” with Ethereum tokens, and computers determine market prices based on supply and demand (as opposed to order books, which match bids and asks from users on a centralized exchange like Coinbase).
Users can profit while supporting peer-to-peer trading by providing tokens to Uniswap liquidity pools. By leveraging Ethereum’s ERC-20 token protocol, users can create and list their tokens, supply them to liquidity pools, trade, and make their tokens. Uniswap currently offers hundreds of tokens, and many of the most well-liked trading pairs use stablecoins like USDC.
UNI, Uniswap’s governance token, enables users to vote on significant protocol modifications for the platform’s future development. It trades for $5.7 and has a $4.3 billion market cap.
Coins That Were Once In The Top 20
As said previously, cryptocurrencies are subject to high volatility, and market capitalizations tend to change dramatically over short periods of time. Here are the cryptocurrencies that fell out of the top 20 since November 2022.
Binance Coin USD (BUSD) (Previous position at No. 7)
Binance USD is a stablecoin developed by Binance with a 1:1 US dollar backing. Similar to BNB, BSUD can be used to pay for fees or purchase other cryptocurrencies on the Binance platform. It has a $3.8 billion market cap, and its status as a stablecoin has practically assured that it would eventually fall off the top lists based on market capitalization.
Cosmos (ATOM) (Previous position at No. 20)
Blockchains that can scale and collaborate make up the Cosmos (ATOM) network. Cosmos aims to build an Internet of Blockchains that will enable blockchains to preserve their independence, communicate with one another and the rest of the ecosystem, and process transactions quickly—making it ideal for various use cases. The network employs tender mint consensus, which powers each blockchain in the Cosmos, and BFT consensus algorithms. The Cosmos Hub and the Cosmos SDK are powered by the proof-of-stake consensus technology known as Tendermint BFT (software development kit). BFT (Byzantine Fault Tolerance) is a distributed network consensus mechanism that achieves consensus even when some network nodes answer incorrectly or fail to respond.
Cosmos SDK is an open-source platform designed to help create multi-asset public proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchains. The economic hub of the Cosmos network is a blockchain called the Cosmos Hub. In addition to offering bridges to ETH and BTC and interchain token custodianship, The Cosmos Hub seeks to provide interchain token exchange and security. The current price is around $9, and its market capitalization is $3.1 billion.
Trading cryptocurrencies, like any other form of investment, requires due diligence. Its high volatility may give traders and investors a chance to win, but that potential for huge profit comes with a large risk. Always conduct thorough research and develop your investing or trading strategy to maximize your chances of success. Good luck!
*Disclaimer: Pricing data may be inaccurate. As everyones’ personal circumstances will differ, always seek qualified investment advice (unbiased information from a qualified professional) to assess your own risk before buying anything. Finally, opinions expressed in this article are for informational purposes only, and past performance is no indicator of future performance.