From an esoteric coding term, to a novelty virtual currency, to a serious investment prospect, Bitcoin has gone on a remarkable journey over the past few years.
In mid-December, Bitcoin valuations reached an all-time high of $19,783.06, but within the space of a month it had fallen below $10,000 again, thanks to a rush of ‘hot money’ and increased regulation in the key trading hub of South Korea.
This makes Bitcoin one of the most volatile investments on the planet, spooking risk-averse investors and paving the way for cryptocurrency reform. Already, traders have begun to move away from Bitcoin, and into other digital currencies such as Cardano, Ripple, and Litecoin, resulting in slow and steady growth across the market.
According to personal finance comparison website Finder UK, it is these non-Bitcoin cryptocurrencies which are set to soar in 2018.
Finder’s Cryptocurrency Predictions Survey claims that Cardano will see the greatest price increase this year (+8,623.99 per cent on average), followed by Stellar Lumens (+1,269.93 per cent), Ripple (+105.79 per cent), Ethereum (+51.2 per cent) and Litecoin (+24.14 per cent). In contrast, Bitcoin has been predicted to grow by a respectable +119.91 per cent by the end of the year, but unlike its rivals, it is an extremely expensive currency to buy into.
While the average price of one Bitcoin was hovering around the $10,000 mark at the time of writing, one Cardano costs less than a dollar, making it an attractive option for risk-aware investors who want to access the cryptocurrency market without spending a lot of money.
So, we’ve put together the top five cryptocurrencies to invest in in 2018…that aren’t Bitcoin.
Price (as per 23 January 2018): $0.55
What makes it a good investment? Cardano has been repeatedly named as one of the top cryptocurrencies to invest in this year. It was developed through peer-reviewed academic research and uses the extremely secure Haskell programming language, which should reassure investors who are concerned about digital currency hacks.
What the experts say: According to Finder analyst Harry Tucker: “Cardano has the potential to be the new default for decentralised app development and smart contracts, thanks to its ability to scale and handle transactions in a faster way.”
Price (as per 23 Janary 2018): $1.33.
What makes it a good investment? At the end of 2017, Ripple had become the second most valuable cryptocurrency in the world, with a market capitalisation of $76bn. Like Bitcoin, Ripple uses Blockchain coding to keep currency transactions secure. It has already partnered with major financial firms such as American Express and Santander, as well as three major Japanese credit card providers. making it one of the most accessible cryptocurrencies.
What the experts say: “As a private blockchain, Ripple is seen as one of the most stable cryptocurrencies,” said Mati Greenspan, a senior market analyst for social trading platform eToro.
Price (as per 23 January 2018): $176.43.
What makes it a good investment? Described as a “fork” of Bitcoin, Litecoin operates in a very similar way. ‘Coins’ are mined, bought and sold, and used as payment for online goods. However, while there are only 21 million Bitcoins in existence, there are 84 million Litecoins, giving it more long-term trading potential than the cryptocurrency giant. An extremely quick transaction time (2.5 minutes compared with Bitcoin’s 10 minutes) means that it is particularly suited to small online purchases and trades.
What the experts say: “Litecoin has been regarded to as the silver to Bitcoin’s gold,” said Marouane Garcon, managing director of Amulet, a crypto-to-crypto derivatives platform.
Price (as per 23 January 2018): $974.14.
What makes it a good investment? The most expensive of the non-Bitcoin cryptocurrencies, Ethereum had a volatile start to 2018, but impressed investors by stabilising quite quickly thereafter. It received a boost in early January when the Canadian government announced that it would be using an Ethereum-based blockchain.
What the experts say: “Ethereum came after Bitcoin, it has a more unified leadership than bitcoin,” said Kay Van-Petersen, an analyst at Saxo Bank. “They seem to be a bit further along the way in regards to forming the solution to scaling issues.”
5. Stellar Lumens
Price (as per 23 January 2018): $0.49.
What makes it a good investment? Stellar Lumens was created by Jed McCaleb, who is something of an icon in cryptocurrency circles, having founded Mt. Gox, the first ever Bitcoin exchange, and worked on the early incarnations of Ripple.
A completely decentralised and non-profit currency, Stellar Lumens has been snapped up by IBM and KlickEx as a “cross-border payments solution”. It is particularly active in the developing world and works with a number of charitable organisations in West Afrida, India and the Philippines.
What the experts say: One of the most popular cryptocurrencies to invest in 2018 thanks to its cheap price and massive growth potential. It was recently endorsed by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who tweeted that it was “definitely worth subscribing to in 2018”. Eccentric software mogul John McAfee has described it as “the next Bitcoin.”