The term Altcoin is an abbreviation of “Alternative Coin” to Bitcoin.
It represents all cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin. Since Bitcoin’s inception, thousands of altcoins have been created, each with its unique features and use-cases.
Altcoins can be seen as experiments that take the basic principles of Bitcoin and change certain aspects such as:
They can be categorized broadly into coins and tokens.
In essence, while Bitcoin remains the most well-known cryptocurrency, altcoins play a crucial role in the broader ecosystem, offering more versatility and choice to users, developers, and investors.
Altcoins are all the cryptocurrencies that came after Bitcoin. Their name, “alternative coins”, denotes that they are an alternative to Bitcoin. While many altcoins are built on the basic framework provided by Bitcoin, others are created from scratch and have very different frameworks.
Some altcoins offer a more versatile programming language, others offer more privacy compared to Bitcoin, and others offer entirely new capabilities such as smart contracts, tokenization, or even serve as platforms for building new cryptocurrencies.
There are several ways to categorize altcoins:
Forks of Bitcoin: These are coins that have been “forked” from Bitcoin, meaning they use a similar codebase. Examples include Bitcoin Cash and Bitcoin SV.
Coins with Different Consensus Mechanisms: These coins might use Proof-of-Stake (PoS), Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS), or other consensus mechanisms. Examples include Cardano and EOS.
Platform Tokens: These are blockchain-based platforms that allow other projects to build new coins and applications. Ethereum is the best-known example.
Stablecoins: Cryptocurrencies that aim to have a 1:1 peg with a particular fiat currency, such as the US dollar. Examples include USDT and USDC.
The main reason for the existence of altcoins is to address perceived limitations in Bitcoin and to experiment with new features, functionalities, and use-cases.
Each altcoin tends to have its own niche, purpose, or use-case.
Here are a few notable altcoins in the cryptocurrency space:
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