Ten years after its birth, practically everyone is wishing they purchased Bitcoin. Beit a few years ago – or as little as 6 months ago, the sudden exponential growth made many millions. Now, the FOMO effect is stronger than ever and alternative cryptocurrencies to Bitcoin are cashing in. No longer solely intangible currency-esque commodities, the decentralized blockchain technology’s utilitarian application is expanding to all sectors. Even games! Extremely expensive games. The problem now is overwhelming options, with such a dizzying array of crypto-choices for purchase. With so much to choose from, how can anyone say what is going to be next “Bit” thing?
What are Altcoins
Even though the blockchain technology of Bitcoin, presented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, was proprietary – the technology is free for the world to use. A few years later, developers started to experiment with blockchain and DLT based monetary exchange. Litecoin is the first alternative coin, arrives in 2011. Dogecoin, a Litecoin derivative, originating as a joke currency welcomes a $1Billlion market cap briefly, since correcting to $700Million. A quick visit to any coin exchange site now allows consumers to see the coin’s worth versus Bitcoin. Other’s, appealing to the miners, shows “what your times worth” as far as energy consumed versus coin output and its relative Bitcoin value. Specifics aside, the altcoins now consist of $300Billion of the approximately $475Billion dollar market cap (at time of publication) for cryptocurrencies.
Alternatives to Altcoins: dApps
Separate, though utterly tangential, comes the decentralized application as introduced by 21 year old Canadian developer Vitalik Buterin in 2015 by way of Ethereum. Ethereum, not a coin, employs the same public refereeing with blockchain-distributed ledger technology, but instead, empowers the owner to create contracts, applications, games, or anything else they can dream up. Many are currency exchange and contract based, but some are more humanitarian. Others, however, are questionably reductive of the sophisticated technology that powers its network. Digital cat breeding game Cryptokitties has captured over $6Million of game players’ income. Some digital cats are now going for over $100,000. Devastating.
Cannabis and Coins
More in line with the founding developers initial mission behind blockchain technology are the financial solutions it can provide. The cannabis industry, a multi-billion dollar industry long burdened by prohibitive banking regulations, is turning to cryptocurrency now. Instead of cash, customers are equipped with wallets and coins. Not unlike Samsung or Apple Pay, often already in use. This creates a user experience that is both seamless and familiar for the customer, and allows the dispensary to transact digitally. As there is no change in regulations for the Fed in sight, the crypto-solution is a welcomed one. Case in point, the aggregate market cap for marijuana coins alone is over $200Million dollars. Numbers this high are nothing to blow smoke at.