Unless you completely avoided any tech and business news in the second half of 2013, you’ve heard about bitcoin, the digital currency that skyrocketed in value and mainstream consciousness. The cryptocurrency is currently trading at a value of $930, and more businesses around the world are accepting bitcoins.
What many people don’t know is that bitcoin is just one of dozens of cryptocurrencies on the Internet. BitInfoCharts shows a side-by-side comparison of the currencies to show what they are worth, how many transactions happen each day, and how difficult they are to create.
So putting aside bitcoins for now, which are by far the most well-known and valuable, here is what you need to know about some of the most popular bitcoin competitors.
1. Litecoin – First Mined Dec. 7, 2011. Worth $24.95 USD
Litecoin has the distinction of being the most valuable cryptocurrency next to bitcoin, currently trading for around $25. Some call litecoin the silver to bitcoin’s gold, and many investors who missed the bitcoin bandwagon are putting money into litecoin, hoping for a similar explosion in value. Litecoin is designed intended to be more efficiently mined and faster to conduct transactions in than bitcoin.
2. Dogecoin – First Mined Dec. 6, 2013. Worth $0.000328 USD
Dogecoin started as a way to poke fun at the cryptocurrency phenomenon (its name is derived from the “doge” Internet meme, and adopted a popular picture of a Shiba Inu dog as its mascot), but has quickly gained popularity in cyber-communities like Reddit. Dogecoin has the distinction of having the most coins in circulation (more than 28 billion) and being the most traded (4,183 transactions per hour). Mining dogecoin yields the highest reward, as each block contains 526,226 dogecoins. Dogecoin also made headlines in December when it was hacked, costing owners more than $12,000.
3. Quarkcoin – First Mined July 21, 2013. Worth $0.06607 USD
Another bitcoin alternative, Quarkcoin, calls itself “the elementary currency,” says it is faster, more secure, and easier to mine than other cryptocurrencies. According to BitInfoCharts, Quarkcoin is the fastest, as it only takes 0.5574 minutes for a transaction to be confirmed. Quarkcoin also has the distinction of being the most-mined, as 548,325 blocks have been created in just over six months.
4. Peercoin – First Mined Aug. 16, 2012. Worth $5.82 USD
Peercoin separates itself from other cryptocurrencies by not having a limit on the amount of coins that can be created. Instead, Peercoin maintains an annual inflation rate of 1 percent in order to increase energy efficiency and allow for greater scalability in the long term.
5. Freicoin – First Mined Dec. 21, 2012. Worth $0.06572 USD
Freicoin is based on the same proof-of-work block chain used by Satoshi Nakamoto used to create bitcoin. The difference is that Freicoin has a demurrage fee that Freicoin holders pay automatically to ensure the coin’s circulation. According to Freicoin’s website, the fee “eliminate[s] the privileged position held by money compared with capital goods, which is the underlying cause of the boom/bust business cycle and the entrenchment of the financial elite.”
6. Namecoin – First Mined April 17, 2011. Worth $6.17
Namecoin has the distinction of being the most difficult cryptocurrency to mine, besides bitcoin. Namecoin is very similar to bitcoin, and is built of a modified version of the bitcoin software.
To see a full comparison these cryptocurrencies and more -- including Feathercoin, Novacoin, and Terracoin – visit BitInfoCharts.
Do you own or use any of these alternative cryptocurrencies? Let us know in the comments section.
Originally from Northern California, Ryan W. Neal came to New York to earn his master's in journalism from Columbia University. He joined IB Times April 2013, and is a writer...