Market cap: over $821 billion
Created in 2009 by someone under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin (BTC) is the original cryptocurrency. As with most cryptocurrencies, BTC runs on a blockchain, or a ledger logging transactions distributed across a network of thousands of computers. Because additions to the distributed ledgers must be verified by solving a cryptographic puzzle, a process called proof of work, Bitcoin is kept secure and safe from fraudsters.
Bitcoin’s price has skyrocketed as it’s become a household name. Five years ago, you could buy a Bitcoin for about $500. As of Sept. 30, 2021, a single Bitcoin’s price was over $43,000. That’s growth of about 8,600%.
- Ethereum (ETH) Market cap: over $353 billion
Both a cryptocurrency and a blockchain platform, Ethereum is a favorite of program developers because of its potential applications, like so-called smart contracts that automatically execute when conditions are met and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Ethereum has also experienced tremendous growth. In just five years, its price went from about $11 to almost $3,000, increasingly more than 27,000%.
3 Tether (USDT)
Market cap: over $68 billion
Unlike some other forms of cryptocurrency, Tether is a stablecoin, meaning it’s backed by fiat currencies like U.S. dollars and the Euro and hypothetically keeps a value equal to one of those denominations. In theory, this means Tether’s value is supposed to be more consistent than other cryptocurrencies, and it’s favored by investors who are wary of the extreme volatility of other coins.
- Cardano (ADA) Market cap:over $67 billion
Somewhat later to the crypto scene, Cardano is notable for its early embrace of proof-of-stake validation. This method expedites transaction time and decreases energy usage and environmental impact by removing the competitive, problem-solving aspect of transaction verification present in platforms like Bitcoin. Cardano also works like Ethereum to enable smart contracts and decentralized applications, which are powered by ADA, its native coin.
Cardano’s ADA token has had relatively modest growth compared to other major crypto coins. In 2017, ADA’s price was $0.02. As of Sept. 30 2021, its price was at $2.10. This is an increase of over 10,500%.
- Binance coin (BNB) Market cap: over $64 billion
The Binance Coin is a form of cryptocurrency that you can use to trade and pay fees on Binance, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world.
Since its launch in 2017, Binance Coin has expanded past merely facilitating trades on Binance’s exchange platform. Now, it can be used for trading, payment processing or even booking travel arrangements. It can also be traded or exchanged for other forms of cryptocurrency, such as Ethereum or Bitcoin.
Its price in 2017 was just $0.10; by Sept. 30 2021, it had risen to over $382, a gain of more than 382,000%.
- XRP (XRP) Market cap: over $44 billion
Created by some of the same founders as Ripple, a digital technology and payment processing company, XRP can be used on that network to facilitate exchanges of different currency types, including fiat currencies and other major cryptocurrencies.
At the beginning of 2017, the price of XRP was $0.006. As of Sept. 30, 2021, its price reached $0.94, equal to a rise over 15,700%.
- Solona (SOL) Market cap: over $41 billion
Developed to help power decentralized finance (DeFi) uses, decentralized apps (DApps) and smart contracts, Solana runs on a unique hybrid proof-of-stake and proof-of-history mechanisms that help it process transactions quickly and securely. SOL, Solana’s native token, powers the platform.
Launched in 2020, SOL’s price started at $0.77. By August 2021, its price was almost $140, a gain of about 18,000%.
- USD Coin (USDC) Market cap: over $34 billion
Like Tether, USD Coin (USDC) is a stablecoin, meaning it’s backed by U.S. dollars and aims for a 1 USD to 1 USDC ratio. USDC is powered by Ethereum, and you can use USD Coin to complete global transactions.
- Polkadot (DOT) Market cap: over $28 billion
Cryptocurrencies may use any number of blockchains; Polkadot (and its namesake crypto) aims to integrate them by creating a cryptocurrency network that connects the various blockchains so they can work together. This integration may change how cryptocurrencies are managed and has spurred impressive growth since Polkadot’s launch in 2020. Between September 2020 and Sept. 30, 2021, its price grew 872%, from $2.93 to $25.61.
- Dogecoin (DOGE) Market cap: over $26 billion
Dogecoin has been a hot topic thanks to celebrities and billionaires like Elon Musk. Famously started as a joke in 2013, Dogecoin rapidly became a prominent cryptocurrency option, thanks to a dedicated community and creative memes. Unlike many other cryptos, such as Bitcoin, there is no limit on the number of Dogecoins that can be created, which leaves the currency susceptible to devaluation as supply increases.
Dogecoin’s price in 2017 was $0.0002. By Sept. 30, 2021, its price was at $0.20—a 101,800% increase.