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12 Jan 2018
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The Rise of Cryptocurrencies

In 2017 the value of Bitcoin surged by 1,200 percent, ending the year at a value over $19,000 per Bitcoin. Although the value has decreased to around $13,000 today, Bitcoin remains the strongest cryptocurrency. The combination of more companies implementing blockchain technology and the surge of cryptocurrency investors has created a competitive market. Bitcoin may be the most popular, but it is not the only digital currency at the table.

The New York Times compiled a list of the top cryptocurrencies that puts Ripple in second place. [1] Ripple (XRP), which started in 2012, saw a 35,000 percent growth in 2017. Ripple provides the platform to “send money globally” with blockchain technology.[2] Its members include American Express, Santander, MUFG Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFG, UBS and many more. Ripple is “the world’s only enterprise blockchain solution for global payments.”[3] Ripple’s coin XRP can be purchased by individuals with a variety of exchanges such as Kraken and CoinOne.[4]

NEM (XEM), a cryptocurrency and blockchain platform, grew by 29,000 percent in 2017. NEM’s coin XEM, which can be purchased with bitcoin or traditional currency, even provides an additional safety measure called multi signature accounts to secure your cryptocurrency.

Stellar (XLM) was created by Stellar and IBM in an effort to “[improve] the speed of global payments.”[5] Stellar creates an open access “hybrid blockchain” platform that provides all actors equal access to their global financial network. The company aptly describes its model as the “future of banking” as it successfully uses blockchain technology to facilitate secure cross-border transactions. Stellar provides lumens as a digital currency, which can be purchased through Stellar Decentralized Exchange, Kraken and more.[6]

Ethereum (ETH) is a blockchain platform primarily for smart contracts, which allows Ethereum users to even crowdfund new projects. Users can “create a contract that will hold a contributor’s money until any given date or goal is reached. Depending on the outcome, the funds will either be released to the project owners or safely returned back to the contributors.”[7] Whereas Bitcoin is used as a currency, smart contracts have a greater function as they are used as “currency, a presentation of an asset, a virtual share, a proof of membership or anything at all.”[8] Ethereum grew by 9,200 percent in 2017, and can be purchased on platforms such as Coinbase.

Bitcoin Cash (BCH), also available on Coinbase, grew by 500 percent in 2017, but was only released on August 1, 2017. Bitcoin cash was created from Bitcoin as peer-to-peer electronic cash. Bitcoin cash allows investors to send money globally at a low cost within minutes using a secure system.[9]


[1] Reuters. (Jan. 3, 2018) “Bitcoin May Be King, but Ripple Dark Horse in Crypto Currency.” Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2018/01/03/business/03reuters-cryptocurrency-2017.html. Accessed on Jan. 12, 2018.

[2] Ripple. Overview. Available at: https://ripple.com/. Accessed on Jan. 12, 2018.

[3] Ripple. Home Page. Available at: https://ripple.com/. Accessed on Jan. 12, 2018.

[4] See https://ripple.com/xrp/buy-xrp/.

[5] Reuters. (Jan. 3, 2018) “Bitcoin May Be King, but Ripple Dark Horse in Crypto Currency.” Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2018/01/03/business/03reuters-cryptocurrency-2017.html. Accessed on Jan. 12, 2018.

[6] See https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/stellar/#markets.

[7] Ethereum. Home Page. Available at: https://www.ethereum.org/. Accessed on Jan. 12, 2018.

[8] Ib.

[9] See https://www.bitcoincash.org/.

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