Crypto Guide: Top 10 Cryptocurrencies
Last updated August 2022
The world of digital currencies started with the fabled Bitcoin, deemed as just another way to transact money and store value. But in 2022, the world of cryptocurrency has exploded, with unique coins that can do things originally unthinkable ten years ago, from handling loans to executing contracts automatically.
This wide range of use cases has brought about plenty of speculation about the future of crypto and, in turn, has driven prices up exponentially to surpass even the wildest expectations.
As the bear market of 2022 looks like it’s drawing to a close, many cryptocurrencies with bright futures are hugely undervalued when examining their fundamentals. Today, we’ll give you a rundown of ten of our favorite cryptocurrencies, what they are, and where their prices are at.
1. Ethereum (ETH)
Ethereum is the biggest rival to Bitcoin, offering fantastic uses outside of being a store of value or transaction medium. The Ethereum blockchain is designed to allow developers to build scalable and secure programs in the form of decentralized apps (dApps), as well as create entire cryptocurrencies.
This capability comes from smart contracts, a self-executing contract that doesn’t require a central authority to determine whether or not certain conditions have been met. Instead, it’s all done through code and stored on the blockchain. This is the fundamental piece of technology behind decentralized finance (DeFi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Some have been expecting “the Flippening” to occur within the next few years – a term coined for when Ethereum overtakes Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization. It currently stands at #2.
Already boasting faster transaction speeds and more utility than Bitcoin, Ethereum is expected to see a significant upgrade to Ethereum 2.0 in late 2022. This upgrade promises more transactions per second for lower fees, and converts the network to use a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism where users can simply lock away their tokens to validate transactions, instead of the energy-intensive proof-of-work (PoW) mechanism.
In terms of value, Ethereum sits around the $1500 mark at the moment. Prices have peaked at nearly $5000 before. While many before and after Ethereum have failed to live up to their potential, ETH looks like it’ll be here for the long run, and we expect it will see substantial price growth over the next decade.
2. Cardano (ADA)
Cardano is one of the prime competitors to Ethereum. Created after Bitcoin and Ethereum, it was designed to solve the problems plaguing these two PoW blockchains: scalability, flexibility, transaction speed, and energy use.
Like Ethereum, Cardano uses smart contracts to unlock the potential of its network. Cardano was created based on academic research, and its blockchain is provably secure because of the mathematical principles behind it.
Cardano has seen constant development on its network, releasing updates in phases named after historical figures. Phase 3 (Goguen) brought smart contracts to the platform in late 2021. Phase 4 (Basho) is currently unreleased but aims to increase transaction speeds immensely.
With sound fundamentals, an excellent developer community, and built with passing regulatory compliance in mind, Cardano is one of our top choices for the future. It currently sits at #8 and is priced around $0.50. Falling from highs of over $3 in 2021, ADA has got plenty of room to grow over the long term.
3. Ripple (XRP)
Unlike our first two choices, XRP is designed primarily as a transaction medium. But, it performs much better than Bitcoin as an efficient way to send money.
Initially designed with scalability in mind, Ripple Labs, the team behind Ripple, saw a big problem with the current banking landscape. It could take up to a week for money to be sent from one corner of the globe to the other, with each intermediary bank taking a cut of the action along the way. This resulted in slow, costly transactions, even in the 21st century.
Along comes XRP. While Bitcoin takes several minutes (even longer when the network is busy), transfers made in XRP can be confirmed in seconds and at a fraction of the price, usually costing $0.0002 (0.00001 XRP) on average – even if you’re sending millions of dollars.
Ripple Labs’ goal is to have this technology adopted by financial institutions and banks across the globe. However, a long, drawn-out court battle between Ripple and the SEC (Securities and Exchanges Commission) over whether XRP is a security has suppressed price for a while now.
But with the outcome looking increasingly likely to fall in Ripple’s favor, XRP is expected to skyrocket if they win. Despite this regulatory pressure, it stands at #7 in the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap. XRP trades for around $0.40 at the moment, down from a peak of just under $2 in 2021. We’ll probably see XRP surpass this high if they’re successful in their case.
4. Bitcoin (BTC)
Bitcoin is the king of crypto and has remained so pretty much since its creation. It’s the one your parents and even grandparents have probably heard of. Since its revolutionary blockchain was formed, it’s spawned thousands of cryptocurrencies that have all taken some form of inspiration and direction from Bitcoin.
Although it’s not our favorite, Bitcoin is still a worthwhile investment, with some calling it “digital gold” because of its fixed supply of 21,000,000 coins. It’s still the top dog in terms of market capitalization, coming in at around $400 billion – over double Ethereum’s $190 billion.
At this point in 2022, Bitcoin has become fairly widely adopted, even boasting its own futures contract from CME. Many companies accept it, and in some cases, it is the only crypto they’ll accept because of how embedded Bitcoin is in digital currency.
It’s also the top cryptocurrency by price, trading for around $20,000 at the moment. In late 2021, prices nearly reached $70,000. Some make grand predictions for the price of Bitcoin, with the Winklevoss twins (instrumental in Facebook’s foundation) making a solid case for Bitcoin being worth $500,000 one day.
5. Polkadot (DOT)
Polkadot is relatively new on the scene but was immediately popular with investors. Launching in mid-2021, Polkadot was less concerned with creating a cryptocurrency for a specific use. Instead, it aims to vastly improve the infrastructure of the cryptocurrency space as a whole.
In crypto, three main problems exist: speed, security, and scalability. Polkadot aims to solve each of these by using parachains. In short, parachains create specialized blockchains that allow different blockchains to interact with each other. The DOT token is used for validating transactions across its overall blockchain and voting on the network’s future.
Already, millions of transactions have been performed on parachains, and Polkadot is at the forefront of this space. Polkadot can handle 1,000 transactions a second at the moment; this number is thought to potentially increase to 1 million one day.
Like Ethereum, Polkadot wants developers to build decentralized apps and cryptocurrencies on its platform. Given how new it is and its meteoric rise, Polkadot looks like it is here to stay.
DOT is currently at #11 in the list of the top cryptocurrencies, but we’re more bullish than that. The Polkadot team has already raised around $200 million across two sales in about a year, making it one of the most-funded crypto projects ever.
It’s trading for about $8 right now, much lower than its peak of $55 in late 2021. DOT could have excellent profit potential if it stays on its current trajectory.
6. Solana (SOL)
Like Ethereum and Polkadot, Solana wants to create an ecosystem on which developers can build. However, it’s got an interesting twist that could see it soar to new highs in the coming years.
Solana’s overall purpose is to allow developers to create scalable and secure decentralized apps on its blockchain. Its goal is to demonstrate that a set of algorithms exist that would completely eliminate software as a bottleneck, instead only being constrained by bandwidth. If that made little sense, take a look at the proof.
Solana currently supports 50,000 transactions per second. Theoretically, on a standard gigabit network, this number could increase to 710,000; on a 40-gigabit network, this increases to 28.4 million transactions per second. For context, Visa can currently perform around 24,000 transactions per second (although this number can increase to 65,000).
This is done using a concept called Proof of History, which effectively creates a synchronized clock across the blockchain. While networks that don’t have a synchronized clock, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, struggle with scalability, Solana’s founders claim this is the answer.
As a result, SOL saw incredible growth in 2021, rocketing from $26 to $260 in less than six months. Now, it trades at around $40 in 2022 and sits at #9 in the top 10 crypto projects. If Solana becomes widely adopted, it could well overtake Ethereum as the king of utility.
7. Polygon (MATIC)
Polygon, like Polkadot, enables blockchains to connect at scale. However, Polygon is aimed to be an Ethereum-based solution, operating on the Ethereum blockchain and connecting with Ethereum-based projects.
It gives dApps the ability to scale in a number of ways, helping to relieve congestion on its parent blockchain. This has led to Polygon being used in several DeFi applications, where speed is vital. Overall, it enhances the Ethereum ecosystem, so Ethereum’s success is vital for MATIC.
Some are concerned that Ethereum 2.0 will kill projects like Polygon, but we don’t think so. For a start, Ethereum 2.0 will use sharding (a process that breaks up transactions), while Polygon uses rollups (bundling transactions together). Ultimately, Polygon will still see uses after Ethereum 2.0, adding to the blockchain, not detracting from it.
Because of this, we see Polygon continuing to grow in the future. It’s currently #16 in the top cryptocurrencies list, trading for around $1, down from its 2021 high of approximately $3. MATIC has retained its value tremendously, considering that in early 2021, MATIC was worth around $0.03. As the Ethereum network grows, we expect MATIC to grow alongside it.
8. Uniswap (UNI)
Uniswap is a decentralized marketplace for trading ERC-20 tokens built on the Ethereum blockchain without the need for a third party. It is an open-source blockchain, meaning anyone can view and contribute to its code.
Using smart contracts, Uniswap has skyrocketed in popularity because of its wide range of tokens that aren’t seen on centralized exchanges. Users can create new markets and trade pairs never seen before, and are able to vote on the future of the platform using the native token, UNI.
As a benefit of its decentralized nature, Uniswap is resistant to hacking and mismanagement, and lacks the high fees seen on centralized exchanges. Because of the fundamental liquidity problems in decentralized exchanges, Uniswap allows its users to swap their tokens without needing buyers and sellers to create liquidity.
We’re bullish on UNI because of the platform’s potential. Given how popular it is and how many competitors have since spawned, Uniswap is at the forefront of the up-and-coming crypto project space. As crypto becomes more mainstream, more users will flock to Uniswap to find those tokens not yet available on centralized exchanges.
UNI is currently at #27 on the top cryptocurrencies list, but its direction leads us to believe that Uniswap will grow substantially as crypto becomes more popular. It’s trading for around $7 a token in 2022, down from 2021 highs of $45.
9. Litecoin (LTC)
Litecoin is one of the oldest projects on our list, launching in 2011. It took significant inspiration from Bitcoin, making several modifications to its open-source code. It’s considered to be one of the first altcoins. If Bitcoin is digital gold, Litecoin is digital silver.
It’s very similar to Bitcoin because it has a limited supply (although more at 84 million compared to Bitcoin’s 22 million) and uses a proof-of-work consensus algorithm.
The reason we like Litecoin so much is because of its similarities to Bitcoin, without the slow transaction speeds or high costs. Generally, it’s a little less volatile than its altcoin cousins and performs the same function as Bitcoin but completes transactions in 2 minutes, costing around $0.007 per transaction.
Despite its age and relatively limited use cases compared to others on our list, it sits at #22 in the most popular cryptocurrencies by market cap. It trades for around $60 in 2022 but almost reached $420 in 2021. Its age, proven concept, and relation to Bitcoin make Litecoin a good allocation for a portion of your crypto portfolio.
10. The Sandbox (SAND)
Sitting at number 10 on our list is The Sandbox. The Sandbox is a Metaverse token and purely sits this low because of how immature the Metaverse is in 2022. We expect it to do exceptionally well as Web3 and the Metaverse grow in popularity.
The Sandbox runs on Ethereum and is a decentralized virtual world where players can buy LAND – NFTs that contain parcels of space for developers to build on top of. It features a native game designer, where users can create experiences for others to play and enjoy. It’s a little bit like Minecraft, only with even more potential to create realistic experiences that draw millions of players.
SAND is the transactional currency in The Sandbox Metaverse, offering a way for users to monetize their creations, sell collectibles and buy LAND. It’s currently #41 on the list of the top crypto projects, but we expect this to rise as the Metaverse becomes more mainstream and players realize the opportunity to earn cash alongside having fun.
It soared in late October 2021 after Facebook announced its plans to enter the Metaverse, peaking at $8.50. Prices have petered out around $1, and prices are expected to rise again as the Metaverse becomes widely adopted.
Despite the bear market of 2022, the long-term trajectory of the crypto market is bullish. It looks like many of the projects on our list are trading at a steep discount, and now could present a great opportunity to buy.
Of course, investors looking to get involved in crypto need to exercise proper risk management and only risk what they can afford to lose. If you’re used to trading traditional markets, you might find that cryptocurrency is too volatile for your taste.
However, a good strategy for those who believe in the growth of cryptocurrencies is the buy-and-hold approach. If you’re unsure which is the best cryptocurrency to invest in, you may want to spread your risk and create a portfolio of different cryptocurrencies, similar to an investor with a diverse stock portfolio.