Move over, Bitcoin. The world of virtual currencies is getting crowded with altcoins.
These days, there are about 20 types of cryptocurrency that sell for more than $1, according to CoinMarketCap.com. Even more are in penny-stock range.
Here are 12 cryptocurrency alternatives to Bitcoin. Prices and market capitalization of altcoins are based on data from CoinMarketCap.com on Feb. 28, 2014, and not all are in the top 10 by either measure.
Market cap: $353.3 million
Year created: 2011
Litecoin sets itself up as the “silver to Bitcoin’s gold.” Confirmations of transactions are purportedly processed more quickly with Litecoin than Bitcoin. The way it’s mined also eliminates some of the advantage for miners with specialized computer hardware.
Market cap: .3 million
Year created: 2012
Peercoin markets itself as using less energy and being more environmentally sustainable than some of the other coins on the market. It says it is designed to have a 1 percent rate of inflation.
Market cap: .1 million
Year created: 2013
With this coin, miners have to use their computers to find Cunningham chains, which are sequences of prime numbers. Primecoin touts the mining of such prime numbers as “providing potential scientific value in addition to minting and security for the network.”
Market cap: $26.9 million
Namecoin was created to explore the record-keeping side of the cryptocurrency technology. It acts as a peer-to-peer, decentralized domain name system for dot-bit domains. People can purchase dot-bit domains with Namecoin, and then Namecoin tracks the transaction in the “block chain, ” or public ledger.
Market cap: .4 billion
Price: Namecoin tracks the transaction in the “block chain, ” or public ledger.
Market cap: $1.4 billion
Ripple has already attracted millions in venture capital, including from Google Ventures. In contrast to Bitcoin, there is no mining of Ripples. Ripple also is set up as a payment network, not only for Ripple, but for other currencies, and as an automated system for currency trades.
Market cap: $450, 700
According to its website, the goal of Sexcoin is to have a way for purveyors and consumers of “adult content” to have a fast, stable and secure method of transactions that protects privacy.
Market cap: $12 million
The Quark coin uses nine rounds of encryption to ensure security and anonymity in its transactions. It claims that, because Quark is mined using regular computer processing power, it offers the “fairest distribution model available.”
Market cap: .4 million
Price: It claims that, because Quark is mined using regular computer processing power, it offers the “fairest distribution model available.”
Market cap: $1.4 million
Freicoin imposes a “demurrage fee” of about 5 percent annually on money held by users, meaning that users who hoard their money instead of spending it will see their money fall in value.
Market cap: $29.5 m.036
Market cap: .5 million
Created to address some of the security and price stability issues of Bitcoin, it implements more advanced features on top of the block chain. It appears the importance of Mastercoin is more in its technology than in its currency.
Market cap: $44.8 million
Nxt, like Ripple, does not build on the Bitcoin code. Instead, it uses its own code written from Java software.
Market cap: $236.6 million
Year created: 2014
Auroracoin was created after a purported Icelandic entrepreneur came up with the idea of distributing cryptocurrency to everyone in his country. Auroracoin is based on the Litecoin and is 50 percent pre-mined. The pre-mined coins will be distributed to the entire population of Iceland beginning at midnight March 25.
Market cap: $59.3 million
This altcoin initially started as a joke by combining two Internet phenomena — bitcoins and the doge meme. It’s one of the most talked about cryptocurrencies behind Bitcoin, which may explain in part its growing market cap. It doesn’t hurt that its mascot is an adorable Shiba Inu puppy.