- A cryptocurrency, broadly defined, is a form of digital tokens or “coins” that exist on a distributed and decentralized ledger called a blockchain.
- Beyond that, the field of cryptocurrencies has expanded dramatically since Bitcoin was launched over a decade ago, and the next great digital token may be released tomorrow.
- Bitcoin continues to lead the pack of cryptocurrencies in terms of market capitalization, user base, and popularity.
- Other virtual currencies such as Ethereum are helping to create decentralized financial (DeFi) systems.
- Some altcoins have been endorsed as having newer features than Bitcoin, such as the ability to handle more transactions per second or use different consensus algorithms such as proof of stake.
What Are Cryptocurrencies?
Before we take a closer look at some of these alternatives to Bitcoin (BTC), let’s step back and briefly examine what we mean by terms like cryptocurrency and altcoin. A cryptocurrency, broadly defined, is virtual or digital money that takes the form of tokens or “coins.” Though some cryptocurrencies have ventured into the physical world with credit cards or other projects, the large majority remain entirely intangible.