Cryptocurrencies dominated the headlines for most of the second half of 2017. But after the massive highs enjoyed by bitcoin in mid-December and the subsequent drop that has seen it shed almost two thirds of its peak value, you might be wondering what is in store for digital currencies in 2018.
There are plenty of digital currencies other than bitcoin that hold massive potential. Here are six promising coins that you need to keep on your radar for 2018:
Stellar Lumens (XLM)
Stellar Lumens describes itself as a distributed infrastructure for facilitating international payments. Its main objective is to reduce the costs and duration of international money transfer, offering an improvement over the current system. It allows its users to carry out transactions in multiple currencies on an international scale.
The main advantages of Stellar include the fact that this open platform protocol allows any developer to build on their foundation. It also employs a democratized system whereby any token holder has the right to vote on the use of funds that the system gets from transaction fees.
One of its main priorities for 2018 is to implement the Lightning Network so as to allow for a higher volume of transactions and to increase the network’s security. Testing is already under way on this proposed update. The Stellar Lumens token (XLM), is currently trading at $0.22 as at press time and it has a market cap of slightly more than $4 billion, giving it the 8th position on crypto charts according to CoinBud’s cryptocurrency list.
The most outstanding feature of Monero is its high anonymity. Even though its network makes use of a public ledger system, it has features in place to obfuscate the details of transactions so as to make them virtually untraceable. This feature makes it attractive not only for operators in the dark web, but also for any other crypto users who for some reason require anonymity.
One such application is making anonymous charitable donations. Using this network, a donor ensures that the recipient will not be able to trace their identity and place them on a mailing list. In 2018, increasing concerns when it comes to regulations might make contribute to an increase in the demand for anonymous crypto transactions.
The network recently updated its system to counter the potential threat of ASIC mining. Monero currently ranks 11th on charts with a cryptocurrency market cap of $2.9 billion. Its native token (XMR) is currently trading at $183 as at press time.
Ethereum is considered one of bitcoin’s top competitors and for good reason. The platform was basically built to improve on some aspects of the bitcoin network. To this end, it is not limited to facilitating financial transactions but also allows for the creation and deployment of other applications on its foundational framework. It also incorporates a smart contract functionality that allows for the automated execution of agreements without the need for legal representation or notaries acting as intermediaries.
This combination of features has made it a favorite for developers as it simplifies the process of creating decentralized apps (DApps). As a result, a majority of Initial Coin Offerings are deployed on the ethereum platform and this has contributed massively to its popularity.
Since ICOs are unlikely to go anywhere any time soon, this makes ethereum one to watch in 2018. The network is set to implement a consensus shift from the energy-intensive Proof-of-Work algorithm to Proof-of-Stake. It is also planning on adopting various scalability approaches including sharding so as to keep up with rising popularity. Ethereum ranks second to bitcoin with a market cap of $45.4 billion and current price of Ethereum (ETH) is $459.83.
Ripple has the objective of decentralizing payments but what sets it apart from a majority of cryptocurrencies is that it is working together with legacy financial institutions to enhance their operations. This has led to its widespread adoption by major banks and payment service providers around the world. In Japan, for instance, almost 40% of the banks are embracing the Ripple network.
Another highlight of the platform is that it does not require the energy-intensive mining processes associated with most crypto networks. This is because its innovative consensus protocol does not rely on mining. The network enables near-instant cash transfers on an international scale at a much lower cost than traditional systems.
Its close association with banks is what gives this coin a position on our list. Ripple is the third cryptocurrency with a market cap of $21.3 billion. Ripple Price is currently trading at $0.54.
As the acronym suggests, IOTA was designed for the Internet of Things (IoT). But it stands out in the sea of cryptocurrencies by virtue of the fact that it does not use the typical blockchain ledger. Instead, it has what is referred to as The Tangle, a concept built on the foundation of Directed Acyclic Graphs (DAG. This system eliminates the need for miners to verify transactions subsequently removing transaction fees, network congestion and delays. This concept has no limit for the number of transactions that can be confirmed per second, at least theoretically, making way for limitless scalability.
This system is geared towards facilitating easy exchanges between IoT participants. To this end, it has partnered with some big names in the industry who are also keen on adopting IoT technology. These include Volkswagen, Innogy, Accenture, Bosch and Fujitsu among others. It has already launched a data marketplace that allows any connected device to access data in an open marketplace.
IOTA’s outstanding features such as the limitless scalability and feeless transaction system earn it a spot on the list as these are the major challenges facing other popular networks. IOTA currently sits in the 10th spot with a market cap of $3.3 billion and price per token (MIOTA) of $1.19.
NEM is an acronym for the New Economic Movement and it powers what it referred to as the Smart Asset System. It was designed to serve as an open protocol that provides easy access to API tools for customization purposes. This makes it a flexible choice for developers wishing to deploy blockchain solutions on the platform as it has structured tools for that specific role.
NEM devised a custom consensus system known as the Proof-of-Importance. This algorithm works more or less like the Proof-of-Stake system but has the advantage of conserving energy. In comparison to Proof-of-Work, this concept has higher scalability potential.
The system does not rely on mining but rather, it allows its users to act as nodes to earn block creation rewards and collect fees for the transactions they process. It employs a unique algorithm known as Eigentrust to reduce the possibility of malicious activity by having nodes judge each other and optimize on the load balance.
These unique properties are what give the NEM network a position on the cryptocurrencies to watch list. One NEM token (XEM) is currently trading at $0.25, with a market cap of $2.3 billion which places it in the 14th position on crypto charts.
The year 2018 got off to a rocky start for the crypto market with most of the currencies currently trading way below their December and early January peaks. But with the regulatory developments, protocol improvements and notable partnerships with mainstream players currently being experienced in the space, this is going to be a milestone year for the coins listed above and the market as a whole.