With blockchain technology currently powering over 3,000 active cryptocurrencies, the creation of digital money seems to be among the most common uses of the technology.
Four well-known digital currencies include Bitcoin, Litecoin, Etherium and Ripple. In fact, these currencies currently rank as the four most popular of all digital currencies, with a combined market cap of 251 billion US dollars, as of June 2019. Let’s take a quick look at each of them in more detail.
As we already covered, Bitcoin was created by Satoshi Nakamoto, and launched in 2009, Bitcoin was the first decentralized peer-to-peer digital currency powered by its users with no central authority or middlemen. And as with Litecoin, Bitcoin can be used to buy anything, so long as the merchant accepts Bitcoin as a medium of exchange.
As of June 2019, Bitcoin had a market cap of 189 billion US dollars.
The brainchild of Vitalik Buterin, Vitalik in his white paper suggested that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin could benefit from a scripting language. Vitaliks goal was to develop a platform that would enable developers to create decentralized applications, or Dapps, that could take advantage of blockchain technology to address use-cases outside of confines of digital money.
The project was named Ethereum and was developed by Vitalik Buterin, working alongside Gavin Wood and Joseph Lubin, launching in 2015.
Ether, however, is the digital currency native to the Etherium platform, and unlike Bitcoin, Ether was intended to be used solely as a means to pay for transactions on the Ethereum network, e.g. paying for the use of decentralized applications built on the Ethereum platform.
As of June 2019, Ether had a market cap of 33 billion US dollars.
Originally named Opencoin, Ripple was founded by Chris Larsen and Jed McCaleb, and Launched in 2012. Ripple provides a seamless cross-border payment solution, via its proprietary global network, RippleNet.
RippleNet allows financial institutions to process customers’ payments anywhere in the world instantly, reliably and cost-effectively. Banks and other payment providers use Ripple to reduce their costs and access new markets.
As of June 2019, Ripple had a market cap of 20 billion US dollars.
Created by Charlie Lee and launched in 2011, Litecoin is similar to Bitcoin in many ways, in that it is an open-source, public blockchain, fulfilling the role of a global payment network that is not controlled by a central authority. And just like Bitcoin, Litecoin can be used to buy anything, so long as the merchant accepts Litecoin as a medium of exchange.
However, unlike Bitcoin, Litecoin has a faster block generation rate and therefore offers faster transaction confirmations, which can also be decoded by consumer-grade CPUs.
As of June 2019, Litecoin had a market cap of 8.7 billion US dollars.