Bitcoin alternatives – what altcoins will users move on to? – LTC, IOTA, DASH and more

Bitcoin price has risen to levels that make it close to unusable for standard transactions – its original purpose. You wouldn’t use BTC to send a few hundred dollars to a friend in another country – the fees are too high, its much slower now, there’s often congestion in transaction processing. Key reason being – bitcoin is now an investment asset, not a currency. But this is actually good news – it brings forward alternative cryptocurrencies and their benefits. Which ones are the best ones?

Bitcoin is taking all the news and hype recently, but its high price is helping other, smaller but sometimes better cryptocurrencies – people move to them to avoid high bitcoin fees, as a safer, less volatile option or to gain some of their benefits. Here are the best ones that I recommend to focus on. See them as handy alternatives for cheap transactions or good ways to “park” your money if you want to wait out volatile times on other cryptocoins.

The criteria I picked them by:

  • has been working for a longer period of time and has proven itself – there’s a market for it, it’s used by wallets and exchanges, it’s price isn’t depreciating gradually (on some altcoins, their price just keeps going down since inception, which isn’t a good sign)
  • they have a solid idea behind them – address a real issue, don’t have any hacks / scandals around them
  • their fees are low
  • they have major – value adding benefits vs bitcoin
  • their chart doesn’t show appreciation only because bitcoin has risen to crazy levels, but they grow independently. Some might show some correlation, but in recent comparison with BTC, they also show growth that started at a different time than BTC spikes.

 

Litecoin – LTC

This altcoin is basically what bitcoin – BTC was at the beginning (and lost along the way because of high fees and volume, bad scalability and disagreements between creators). Litecoin is ultimately an improved bitcoin:

Key benefits vs bitcoin:

  • faster transaction confirmations (2.5 minutes on average)
  • its mining algorithm targets regular computers and GPUs that most people already have – and BTC miners can’t move onto it because of that, meaning that the mining isn’t as centralized (a few big players handling most of the volume)
  • one of the creators is Charlie Lee (see video below) – an ex Google and Coinbase employee. He is pretty much the face of litecoin – a nice change to the anonymity of bitcoin creators (and therefore lack of accountability).
  • LTC was created to complement bitcoin, not to replace it – and it’s doing a great job at it. I already use it to move even BTC around (exchange BTC to LTC, move for almost no fee, then exchange back or just keep LTC)
  • has been around since 2011
  • currently it’s on the top 5. position of all cryptocurrencies

This cryptocurrency is limited to 84 million units (vs 21 million bitcoin) and a lot of it’s other settings are similar to bitcoin. It was created by a Google employee, Charles Lee. Due to it’s solid base of support and dedicated development team, it’s a good candidate to take over the overflow from bitcoin.

In May 2017, Litecoin was leading in implementing SegWit scaling solution (change to the data that is sent with each transaction, making it faster and more scalable). They were also the first to use the Lightning Network where a transaction was completed in under one second through litecoin, transferring 0.00000001 LTC from Zürich to San Francisco.

Where to buy litecoin:

It is available on most exchanges like Coinbase, Bitfinex, Bitstamp and others – very easy to buy. If you have the Exodus wallet, you can just exchange BTC for LTC very easily.

Where to store litecoin:

Exodus wallet is the best option, see my review (and it doesn’t have the negative points as with bitcoin – here it’s all cheap with litecoin).

Also, their own Litecoin wallet can be used – you will be connecting to the litecoin network directly. It’s a bit more technical though.

Even it’s buzz seems to be on the rise – overtaking ethereum on 9th of december.

 

IOTA – see my extended analysis of IOTA

This isn’t just an alt-coin. It’s not just an alternative to bitcoin – it’s an alternative system (cheaper, faster) to the system that bitcoin and most of other cryptocurrencies use. If that’s not enough, I don’t know what is. It promises fee-less (yep, no cost to send anything) and faster transactions. It runs on a completely different system than bitcoin or other altcoins – tangle – all based in Germany.

Read my detailed analysis of IOTA here. In short – it aims mainly on IoT – internet of things – and provides a very cheap and scalable solution for all machines and things around us to communicate with each other, gather, store and sell data and is showing promising interest from big name companies – main interest coming from Innogy / RWE group.

Key benefits vs bitcoin:

  • running on a different system than blockchain – the tangle – faster, more scalable, free
  • free transactions
  • targets IoT – internet-of-things market = provides a system for devices to communicate with each other (an example – your fridge can tell your phone that you need more carrots, you confirm and it can buy it for you and pay). This is a huge market and big players are showing interest.
  • has a solid team behind it working on implementation and improvements

Where to buy IOTA:

It is available on Bitfinex for now.

Where to store IOTA:

I have checked all possible options, and it’s not very rosy – your best option for now is to keep it on Bitfinex – see why.

Ethereum / Ether – ETH

Ethereum isn’t just a cryptocurrency – it can handle much more than just transactions. It’s the first system after bitcoin that allows different type of apps running – smart contracts, called Dapps (decentralized apps) – applications that run exactly as programmed without any possibility of downtime, censorship, fraud or third party interference.

From their website:

These apps run on a custom built blockchain, an enormously powerful shared global infrastructure that can move value around and represent the ownership of property.

This enables developers to create markets, store registries of debts or promises, move funds in accordance with instructions given long in the past (like a will or a futures contract) and many other things that have not been invented yet, all without a middle man or counterparty risk.

The project was bootstrapped via an ether presale in August 2014 by fans all around the world. It is developed by the Ethereum Foundation, a Swiss nonprofit, with contributions from great minds across the globe.

This is what kickstarted the big number of altcoins and ICOs we see today (over 1300).

Ethereum is the platform / system. Ethere (ETH) is the currency used for transactions on this platform.

Key benefits vs bitcoin:

  • fast transactions (although ETH network is getting slower as of december 2017)
  • low fees
  • disrupted even more what bitcoin already disrupted – created a whole new system to run various applications and change the way we do things today – has big potential
  • has a solid team behind it working on implementation and improvements
  • is more like IOTA – currency is just a small part of it

Where to buy ethereum (ether):

It is available on most exchanges like Coinbase, Bitfinex, Bitstamp and others – very easy to buy. If you have the Exodus wallet, you can just exchange BTC for ETH very easily.

Where to store ethereum (ether):

Exodus wallet is the best option, see my review (and it doesn’t have the negative points as with bitcoin – here it’s all cheap with ethereum).

 

Digital Cash – Dash

From their website: Based on the Bitcoin project, Dash aims to be the most user-friendly and scalable payments system in the world. In addition to Bitcoin’s feature set, Dash currently also offers instant transactions (InstantSend), private transactions (PrivateSend) and operates a self-governing and self-funding model that enables the Dash network to pay individuals and businesses for work that adds value to the network. This decentralized governance and budgeting system makes it one of the first ever successful decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO).

Benefits vs bitcoin:

  • user friendly addresses (stuff you can read and remember not crypto-mumbo-jumbo)
  • very low or no fees
  • instant payments
  • better scalability
  • has a solid team behind it working on implementation and improvements

They also offer very good FAQ and documentation.

Where to buy DASH:

It is available on almost every big exchange like Bitfinex, Kraken, Poloniex or buy directly with a credit card on Changelly – see full list on their pages.

Where to store DASH:

Exodus wallet is the best option, see my review (and it doesn’t have the negative points as with bitcoin – here it’s all cheap with DASH). There are many more good wallets for mobiles etc listed on their website. Also available on all hardware wallets.

 

Are you wondering why I haven’t mentioned bitcoin cash BCH, Zcash or other similar cryptos?

BitcoinCash – BCH – is a fork of bitcoin, when they couldn’t agree on how to improve it. It’s slower than LTC, it still hs some disadvantages of BTC (no segwit) and therefore isn’t the top option. Although it does have cheaper transactions and is already used a lot. Good comparisom of BCH and LTC is here.

Zcash – very similar to DASH, but messy development and no strong team behind it. A good comparison of Zcash and DASH and reasons why DASH is better is in this video.

What is your opinion? Which ones are your top picks as alternatives to bitcoin? Let me know in the comments at the bottom.

Featured image photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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