From Bitcoin and Ethereum to Dogecoin and Tether, there are thousands of different cryptocurrencies, which can make it overwhelming when you’re first getting started in the world of crypto. To help you get your bearings, these are the top 10 cryptocurrencies based on their market capitalisation, or the total value of all of the coins currently in circulation.
1. Bitcoin (BTC)
- Market cap: Over £270 billion
Created in 2009 by someone using the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin (BTC) is the original cryptocurrency. As with most cryptocurrencies, BTC runs on a blockchain, or a ledger logging transactions distributed across a network of thousands of computers. Because additions to the distributed ledgers must be verified by solving a cryptographic puzzle, a process called proof of work, Bitcoin is kept secure and safe from fraudsters.
Bitcoin’s price has skyrocketed as it’s become a household name. In May 2016, you could buy a Bitcoin for about £370. As of 1 December, 2022, a single Bitcoin’s price was roughly £14,000.
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2. Ethereum (ETH)
- Market cap: Over £129 billion
Both a cryptocurrency and a blockchain platform, Ethereum is a favourite of programme developers because of its potential applications, like so-called smart contracts that automatically execute when conditions are met and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Ethereum has also experienced tremendous growth. From April 2016 to December 2022, its price went from about £8 to over £1,055.
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3. Tether (USDT)
- Market cap: Over £53 billion
Unlike some other forms of cryptocurrency, Tether is a stablecoin, meaning it’s backed by fiat currencies like UK pounds, US dollars and the Euro and hypothetically keeps a value equal to one of those denominations. In theory, this means Tether’s value is supposed to be more consistent than other cryptocurrencies, and it’s favoured by investors who are wary of the extreme volatility of other coins.
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4. Binance Coin (BNB)
- Market cap: Over £39 billion
The Binance Coin is a form of cryptocurrency that you can use to trade and pay fees on Binance, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world.
Since its launch in 2017, Binance Coin has expanded past merely facilitating trades on Binance’s exchange platform. Now, it can be used for trading, payment processing or even booking travel arrangements. It can also be traded or exchanged for other forms of cryptocurrency, such as Ethereum or Bitcoin.
In 2017 it was priced under 10p, but by 1 December this year, it had risen to around £245.
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5. U.S. Dollar Coin (USDC)
- Market cap: Over £35 billion
Like Tether, USD Coin (USDC) is a stablecoin, meaning it’s backed by US dollars and aims for a 1 USD to 1 USDC ratio. USDC is powered by Ethereum, and you can use USD Coin to complete global transactions.
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6. XRP (XRP)
- Market cap: Over £16 billion
Created by some of the same founders as Ripple, a digital technology and payment processing company, XRP can be used on that network to facilitate exchanges of different currency types, including fiat currencies and other major cryptocurrencies.
At the beginning of 2017, the price of XRP was £0.004. As of 1 December 2022, its price reached 33p.
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7. Cardano (ADA)
- Market cap: Over £8.9 billion
Somewhat late to the crypto scene, Cardano is notable for its early embrace of proof-of-stake validation. This method expedites transaction time and decreases energy usage and environmental impact by removing the competitive, problem-solving aspect of transaction verification present in platforms like Bitcoin. Cardano also works like Ethereum to enable smart contracts and decentralised applications, which are powered by ADA, its native coin.
Cardano’s ADA token has had relatively modest growth compared to other major crypto coins. In 2017, ADA’s price was about 1.5p. As of 1 December 2022, its price was about 26p.
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7. Solana (SOL)
- Market cap: £4.1 billion
Developed to help power decentralised finance (DeFi) uses, decentralised apps (DApps) and smart contracts, Solana runs on a unique hybrid proof-of-stake and proof-of-history mechanisms that help it process transactions quickly and securely. SOL, Solana’s native token, powers the platform.
When it launched in 2020, SOL’s price started at £0.57. By 1 December 2022, its price was around £11.25.
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9. Polkadot (DOT)
Cryptocurrencies may use any number of blockchains. Polkadot (and its namesake crypto) aims to integrate them by creating a cryptocurrency network that connects the various blockchains so they can work together. This integration may change how cryptocurrencies are managed and has spurred impressive growth since Polkadot’s launch in 2020.
Between September 2020 and 1 December 2022, its price grew from £2.15 to £4.39.
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10. Dogecoin (DOGE)
Dogecoin was famously started as a joke in 2013, but rapidly evolved into a prominent cryptocurrency thanks to a dedicated community and creative memes. Unlike many other cryptos, there is no limit on the number of Dogecoins that can be created, which leaves the currency susceptible to devaluation as supply increases.
Dogecoin’s price in 2017 was £0.00016. By 1 December 2022, its price was at 8p.
*Market caps and pricing current as of 1 December 2022.
NOTE: *Cryptoasset investing is unregulated in most EU countries and the UK. No consumer protection. Your capital is at risk. **CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 68% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with eToro.
What Are Cryptocurrencies?
Cryptocurrency is a form of currency that exists solely in digital form. Cryptocurrency can be used to pay for purchases online without going through an intermediary, such as a bank, or it can be held as an investment.