2017 has been the year of cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin and Ethereum have seen 1500% and 4600% surge in pricing with no signs of stopping. Other significant cryptocurrencies to have seen similar or more gains are Neo (previously Antshares), Stratis, Bitshares, and Dash. Here’s a graph of major cryptocurrencies with the highest return in 2017 until immediately after the August 1, 2017, hard fork.
Bitcoin is undoubtedly the father of all cryptocurrencies and has been around for around ten years at this point. It was hovering in the $700 price range at the beginning of 2017. Since February, it has seen explosive growth in price reaching 15x its initial price in 2017. Primary reasons for the price surge have been an increase in real-world adoption as more exchanges and wallets have started to accept Bitcoin as well as a lot of interest from new investors who want to store some of their wealth in this new asset class.
Often touted as the leader of the next generation of cryptocurrencies, Ethereum has the healthiest network of development support of all cryptocurrencies. Ethereum’s 4600% growth is a testament to the fact that technology behind it is sound and that it’s a worthy competitor to Bitcoin concerning real-world adoption. Offering faster transactions and lower fees, Ethereum’s real strength lies in Smart Contracts and Decentralized Applications or dApps which run on the Ethereum Virtual Machine.
Monero is a private, secure and untraceable cryptocurrency which has unique privacy features that make it stand out among other cryptocurrencies. Monero is private by default, unlike Dash and Zcash, which is better for overall privacy as a few anonymous stand out in a public blockchain. Monero is genuinely fungible, which means that every XMR is identical to every other XMR regardless of its history. It gives Monero an edge over public blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum where organizations can track coins to uncover their past. Monero uses battle-tested privacy technology like Ring Signatures and Stealth Addressing to obfuscate transaction data so that no malicious actors can learn about the transaction details.
Dash is an exciting addition to the cryptocurrency space as it has solved one of the most fundamental problems that have plagued Bitcoin since its inception – that of fast and cheap payments. Dash does this by using two layers of verification mechanism – the first, miners work similarly to how they work for Bitcoin and the second, the Master nodes are the unique addition to Dash’s ecosystem. To run a Master node, a user must stake 1000 Dash for which they are compensated in Dash when they process unique features like PrivateSend (For anonymous transactions) or InstantSend (For instant transactions).
IOTA is part of the newer generation of cryptocurrencies, based on an implementation of the Tangle, a data structure built on Directed Acyclic Graphs, which enable near-instant payments with zero fees. IOTA is a genuinely revolutionary concept that is aiming to be the backbone of the Internet-of-Things economy which is going to require zero-fee payments for microtransactions.
EOS is a blockchain based platform for Decentralized Applications which is going to compete directly with Ethereum and boasts of much better transaction speeds. It is designed to support commercial-scale decentralized applications and could handle 1000s of transactions per second due to its asynchronous communication and parallel processing model which improves scalability and dramatically reduces fees. EOS uses delegated Proof-of-Stake and is therefore much more beneficial for the environment compared to Bitcoin and Ethereum and possibly more decentralized as well (Ethereum plans to switch to Proof of Stake in 2018).