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Deciding whether or not to invest in Bitcoin? Here are the other big names in crypto

Bitcoin, the most popular digital currency, hit a new all-time high of nearly $70,000 per coin this week. It has climbed almost 125% this year, while the good old S&P500 (SPX) is up less than 24%.
The first Bitcoin ETF began trading last month, allowing investors to participate in the crypto craze without buying the currencies directly.
Clearly, the crypto craze is here to stay. But there is big questions about the type of regulation could be in the works for the asset class. And even some of the biggest names on Wall Street, including JP Morgan (JPM) CEO Jamie Dimon remains skeptical about the staying power of cryptos.

For investors new to the space, the myriad of coins can be daunting. Here is an overview of the five biggest cryptocurrencies.


Bitcoin has always been the biggest player in the cryptoverse and is now worth over $1.2 trillion in market capitalization, according to CoinMarketCap.
Its new all-time high makes it more than 10 times more valuable per unit than the next largest crypto.

Launched by an anonymous creator in 2009, the digital currency runs on blockchain technology – another crypto buzzword. Essentially, blockchain is a decentralized ledger system where records of transactions are stored. This is the main difference between bitcoin and traditional fiat currencies like the US dollar or the euro, which are controlled by central banks.

Many Bitcoin bulls call it a “store of value” — a label historically reserved for safe-haven investments like gold — and argue that digital currency is a good tool to hedge against inflation, which is worrying a lot of investors right now.
But it is also subject to strong fluctuations in value, including flash crashes.

Part of bitcoin’s value is determined by the finite number – 21 million – of coins that can be created. Not all are in circulation yet. Bitcoin “miners” use computers to solve complex puzzles to create a new block on the chain. This process is in turn rewarded with bitcoin, although the reward is halved for 210,000 blocks mined.

These “halving” events have in the past caused volatility in the price of bitcoin. And the mining process consumes a lot of computing power and electricity, which has raised concerns about bitcoin’s environmental impact.


Ethereum is the eternal second fiddle in the crypto world.

But it’s still one of the most popular and valuable digital currencies, and with a market capitalization of almost $560 billion, it sits firmly in second place behind Bitcoin. Its all-time high was just below $5,000 this week, according to CoinDesk Data.
Move over, bitcoin.  Ether is back and nibbles your heels

The value of Ethereum, launched in 2015 as open-source blockchain-based software with its own cryptocurrency, has risen over 540% this year. It has been boosted by investors who believe Ethereum, also known as Ether, will be the key to decentralized finance, including smart contracts and NFTs (non-fungible tokens).

The software was created to extend the use of blockchain beyond bitcoin so it could be used in broader applications, making it more than just a cryptocurrency.

And unlike bitcoin, ether supply is not capped. New tokens are continuously created through a similar mining process.

Binance Coin

The third-largest crypto, with a market capitalization of over $100 billion, Binance Coin, or BNB tokens, is a different beast. A product of Binance Exchange, the largest cryptocurrency platform by traded volume, it was created as a way to pay fees on its own Platform.

It has a cap of 200 million BNB tokens, but the tokens are regularly destroyed – or “burned” – to reduce the total supply and stabilize their value over time. This means that people’s Binance holdings should not fluctuate in value as much as other cryptos.

Binance Coin is also different in that it can only be exchanged for other cryptocurrencies, not dollars or any other fiat currency.

Last summer, Binance hired Brian Brooks, who was acting head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency during the last eight months of the Trump administration, to lead its US operations. Brooks resigned in August after only a few months on the job. He is now the CEO of Bitfury, another bitcoin mining company.


Tether has risen to fourth among the five largest digital currencies, with a market capitalization of nearly $74 billion.

It is an example of a so-called stablecoin because it is pegged to the US dollar. This keeps Tether relatively stable compared to other cryptocurrencies, which can be very volatile. When it was created in 2014, the value of each token was set at $1.
Federal regulators want to impose bank-like rules on stablecoins
While regulatory uncertainty is a hot topic for all cryptos, stablecoins could be particularly at risk: Earlier this month, the President’s Financial Markets Task Force, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the Office of the controller of the currency have all urged Congress to impose bank-like rules on stablecoins. Regulators fear that digital assets are actually not stable and could harm investors and create financial stability.


Solana is essentially a competitor to Ethereum. It is a blockchain network with its own digital currency called Sol.

How the stablecoin is different from other cryptocurrencies...and why it's not
Only as old as the pandemic – Solana was founded in March 2020 – crypto has skyrocketed over 10,000% in the past year, according to data from CoinGecko.

That’s right: the crypto has grown from a modest value of $2 per unit to a value of over $200, taking its market capitalization to over $70 billion and overtaking other cryptos Cardano and XRP, which have also spent time in the top five.


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