The alts reshuffle #3

Tuesday 15 March 2016

The alts are on the move as ever, with some big changes in the top 10.

Every now and again I write about the alts line-up, and what has changed since last time. It’s a useful exercise to see the moving trends and what is currently valued in the crypto world, though that can easily be something as intangible as hype and marketing over something more substantive like liquidity or anonymity.

Read also - The Crypto Reshuffle (June 2014)
Read also - What happened to the alts (October 2015)? 

Here is a chart from June 2014:

June 2014

And here’s one from March 2016 (bear in mind things move quickly in the alts, so this might not be correct even a few hours later):

March 2016

Bitcoin is still at the top, of course, and its market cap isn’t so very different - though it’s been all over the place in the meantime, down to less than half its current value at one point. It will take a lot to unseat BTC as the preferred digital currency of the web, though it’s by no means impossible.

The biggest difference is the entry of Ethereum, which raised $15 million in September 2014, launched a year later and has just topped a market cap of $1 billion (again - highly subject to change). The really interesting thing about this is that it’s new money coming into crypto, and lots of corporate interest - the Microsoft connection has been a big selling point. What can you actually do with smart contracts, how viable is the platform, and does it justify a $1bn price tag? That remains to be seen.

Ripple has both risen and fallen a long way - significantly up on its June 2014 valuation and making headway as banks start to explore and use it, though it has fallen by almost two thirds since its high of $750 million in January 2015. This is corporate, centralised crypto, and we’re likely to see much more of it in time (R3, for example, where former bitcoin core dev Mike Hearn now works).

Litecoin has seen a decline in favour. Its attraction was liquidity and adoption, and if bitcoin fails to get its act together on block size then it may well see some use as one of the preferred payment options. As things stand, it offers very little innovation and struggles to attract new adoption.

Dash and Monero have seen new interest recently, both offering anonymous transactions via different methods - Dash (formerly Darkcoin) uses a form of mixing, whereas Monero uses ring signatures. Dash has been on the scene a long time, but interest waned somewhat in the interim.

MaidSafeCoin has seen a massive surge in interest in the last month or two, despite the fact the network is not yet operational (testing is still ongoing). The project is essentially about decentralising storage and the internet, so there’s a clear value proposition.

Factom is a completely new entrant to the top 10, launched towards the end of 2015. It also offers a different take on blockchain application, by creating time-stamped records of data - proof of existence, proof of process and proof of audit. This has the potential to be ground-breaking, though it’s not something that has to be done on Factom, since other blockchains have the same capability. In this instance, it’s likely that a focus on certain functionality and better marketing have given it the edge.

BitShares has also seen consistent activity since its launch, displacing Nxt as the preferred 2.0 platform. BitShares takes a more corporate, top-down approach to management, which may work in its favour in this instance.

Lastly, Dogecoin is still in there at number 7, proving that a meme has sticking power. Doge’s community is strong, and they don’t take themselves too seriously - which is probably a good thing given the state of the alts market over the last couple of years.

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