These are seven of the best cryptos on the market.
It has been over a decade since the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, the first and by far most popular form of cryptocurrency in the world. Despite its fame, Bitcoin isn't the final word on cryptocurrency -- imitators, innovators and spinoffs have emerged in huge numbers, and there are more than 7,000 cryptocurrencies on the market today. With such a broad range of cryptocurrencies to choose from, how do investors know which is the best cryptocurrency to invest in? From popular cryptocurrencies to lesser-known digital currencies, here are the best cryptocurrencies to buy in 2021.
Bitcoin has dominated the market since the first bitcoins were mined in January 2009. Prices surged to more than $60,000 in April 2021 for a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion -- meaning Bitcoin accounted for more than 45% of the cryptocurrency market. Of course, earlier this year, Bitcoin was nearly 70% of the cryptocurrency market, suggesting other cryptocurrencies may be on the rise. "Bitcoin is widely recognized by hedge fund managers and banks now as a hedge against inflation and macroeconomic instability," says Garrette Furo, a blockchain consultant and advisor working with Cosmos Network. "At the same time, Bitcoin is becoming the literal 'gold standard' within decentralized finance, where it is used as collateral for stablecoins, loans and more. In this way, Bitcoin is needed by both sides of the fence, which is a great harmony." Bitcoin has seen its fair share of volatility over years, and prices have pulled back since recent highs, but being the biggest name in crypto gives it a worldwide acceptance that lesser-known rivals don't have.
Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are predicated on blockchain technology, which stores information about crypto transactions within "blocks" of data that can contain 1 megabyte of data. As the currency grew more popular, these data blocks filled up, slowing down bitcoin transactions and increasing transaction fees. Some Bitcoin developers proposed a solution that would effectively reduce the amount of data needed in each block, but others believed this would compromise the integrity of the cryptocurrency -- so they created their own version of Bitcoin in August 2017 and called it Bitcoin Cash. Bitcoin Cash has blocks that can store 8 MB of data, allowing for faster and more frequent transactions with lower fees. Bitcoin Cash may be newer and less popular than its predecessor, but its scalability means it has incredible potential for growth and puts it in the running for the best cryptocurrency. BCH began 2021 trading for less than $500 but recently jumped to more than $1,500.
"Cosmos has achieved what may be the most ambitious road map in the crypto space over the past three to four years," Furo says. "The Cosmos Hub allows for sovereign, independent blockchains on the Cosmos Hub to transfer assets and communicate with one another through a breakthrough called Inter Blockchain Communication, or IBC." The Cosmos Hub now secures more than $120 billion in digital assets. It also has a very low carbon footprint compared to other networks, Furo says. ATOM is the native coin of the Cosmos Hub. As the Cosmos Hub launches new value-added services -- like a network-specific decentralized exchange -- it will provide a boon for ATOM holders who secure the network, Furo says. "Arguably this is the most robust reward mechanism for people who secure a network," he adds.
Named for the popular "Doge" internet meme of a Shiba Inu dog, Dogecoin's creators envisaged it as a lighthearted cryptocurrency. "2021 has been the year of DOGE," says Ben Weiss, CEO and co-founder of CoinFlip, the largest crypto ATM provider. The cryptocurrency has surged more than 13,000% this year, making it the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap. Its price peaked in early May at more than 70 cents, though it has since pulled back. Dogecoin's price remains less than a dollar because of its larger circulation. While Bitcoin is capped at 21 million coins, there are 129 billion Dogecoins in circulation already with new blocks available to mine each year. "Dogecoin's success can largely be attributed to what is known as the (Elon) Musk Effect," Weiss says. DOGE's price has been known to double following tweets from the Tesla (ticker: TSLA) CEO, who has called it his favorite crypto. After Musk's recent Doge-related jokes on Saturday Night Live, Weiss says he thinks "we will continue to see Dogecoin rally to new highs." That said, the price of DOGE fell immediately after his appearance.
One of the main philosophies behind cryptocurrencies is the decentralization of currency. Ethereum takes that a step further -- rather than decentralizing money, its goal is to decentralize the internet by replacing servers with a worldwide system of nodes, creating "one computer for the entire world." Ethereum is a software platform based on blockchain technology in which users can exchange a cryptocurrency called ether. Ether has become one of the most popular cryptocurrencies in the world, with a market cap of more than $400 billion. The real draw is the platform itself: Ethereum's recent success, with nearly 500% gains this year, "can be attributed in part to the rapid growth in technology that utilizes the Ethereum blockchain like decentralized finance (DeFi) and (non-fungible tokens)," Weiss says. Another contributor is a system upgrade known as the Berlin hard fork, launched in April 2021, that "optimized the usage of transaction fees, improved the network's security and allowed for certain new transaction types," he says. Given there's another upgrade, called the London hard fork, scheduled for summer 2021, ETH's near future looks bright, Weiss adds.
"COMP is a lending platform on Ethereum that has moved the space forward in the sense that users no longer need to sell their crypto assets in order to gain liquidity for other activities," Furo says. Compound, or COMP, is the native token on that platform and is "used to determine governance functions on the platform such as interest rates, collateralization ratios and other properties relevant to the network," he says. What makes COMP noteworthy -- beyond the fact that it represents huge innovation in DeFi -- is the transparency of its founding team in stating their intentions to begin with more core centralized functions and offload the responsibilities and governance management to token holders over time, Furo adds.
Greg King, a certified financial analyst and the CEO of Osprey Funds -- which offers the Osprey Bitcoin Trust (OBTC), a publicly traded bitcoin fund in the U.S. -- says the best cryptocurrency for investors to focus on right now is Polkadot. The Osprey team is so enthusiastic about DOT that it recently launched the Osprey Polkadot Trust, which invests exclusively in DOT and is available to accredited investors. "At Osprey, our thesis is that Polkadot is the evolution of blockchain technology that will enable a major leap forward in the decentralization of the internet," he says. "The speed, security and governance of DOT are all state of the art." He adds that blockchains on its platform can immediately scale at a global level. Founded in 2016 by Peter Czaban, Robert Habermeier, and Gavin Wood, who also co-founded Ethereum, DOT has risen to be the eighth-largest cryptocurrency today.
Seven contenders for the best crypto to buy for 2021:
-- Bitcoin (BTC)
-- Bitcoin Cash (BCH)
-- Cosmos (ATOM)
-- Dogecoin (DOG)
-- Ethereum (ETH)
-- Compound (COMP)
-- Polkadot (DOT)