From Bitcoin and Ethereum to Dogecoin and Tether, there are thousands of different cryptocurrencies, making it overwhelming when you’re first getting started in the world of crypto. To help you get your bearings, these are the top 10 cryptocurrencies based on their market capitalization or the total value of all the coins currently in circulation.
What Are Cryptocurrencies?
A cryptocurrency is a digital asset that can circulate without the centralized authority of a bank or government. To date, there are 23,345 cryptocurrency projects out there that represent the entire $1 trillion crypto market.
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Market cap: $575.9 billion
Created in 2009 by Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoin (BTC) is the original cryptocurrency. As with most cryptocurrencies, BTC runs on a blockchain, or a ledger logging transactions distributed across a network of thousands of computers. Because additions to the distributed ledgers must be verified by solving a cryptographic puzzle, a process called proof of work, Bitcoin is kept secure and safe from fraudsters.
Bitcoin’s price has skyrocketed as it’s become a household name. In May 2016, you could buy one Bitcoin for about $500. As of Apr. 12, 2023, a single Bitcoin’s price was around $29,770. That’s a growth of 5,854%.
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Market cap: $229.5 billion
Both a cryptocurrency and a blockchain platform, Ethereum is a favorite of program developers because of its potential applications, like so-called smart contracts that automatically execute when conditions are met and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Ethereum has also experienced tremendous growth. From April 2016 to the end of April 2023, its price went from about $11 to around $1,906, increasing 17,224%.
- Tether (USDT)
- Market cap: $80.5 billion
Unlike some other forms of cryptocurrency, Tether (USDT) is a stablecoin, meaning it’s backed by fiat currencies like U.S. dollars and the Euro and hypothetically keeps a value equal to one of those denominations. In theory, this means Tether’s value is supposed to be more consistent than other cryptocurrencies, and it’s favored by investors who are wary of the extreme volatility of other coins.
- Binance Coin (BNB)
- Market cap: $50.5 billion
Binance Coin (BNB) is a form of cryptocurrency that you can use to trade and pay fees on Binance, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the world. Since its launch in 2017, Binance Coin has expanded past merely facilitating trades on Binance’s exchange platform. Now, it can be used for trading, payment processing or even booking travel arrangements. It can also be traded or exchanged for other forms of cryptocurrency, such as Ethereum or Bitcoin.
BNB’s price in 2017 was just $0.10. By late April 2023, its price had risen to around $320, a gain of 319,672%.
- U.S. Dollar Coin (USDC)
- Market cap: $32.4 billion
Like Tether, USD Coin (USDC) is a stablecoin, meaning it’s backed by U.S. dollars and aims for a 1 USD to 1 USDC ratio. USDC is powered by Ethereum, and you can use USD Coin to complete global transactions.
- XRP (XRP)
- Market cap: $26.0 billion
Created by some of the same founders as Ripple, a digital technology and payment processing company, XRP can be used on that network to facilitate exchanges of different currency types, including fiat currencies and other major cryptocurrencies.
At the beginning of 2017, the price of XRP was $0.006. As of Apr. 12, 2023, its price reached $0.50, equal to a rise of 8,299%.
- Cardano (ADA)
- Market cap: $13.9 billion
Somewhat later to the crypto scene, Cardano (ADA) is notable for its early embrace of proof-of-stake validation. This method expedites transaction time and decreases energy usage and environmental impact by removing the competitive, problem-solving aspect of transaction verification in platforms like Bitcoin. Cardano also works like Ethereum to enable smart contracts and decentralized applications, which ADA, its native coin, powers.
Cardano’s ADA token has had relatively modest growth compared to other major crypto coins. In 2017, ADA’s price was $0.02. As of Apr. 12, 2023, its price was at $0.40. This is an increase of 1,903%.
- Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Market cap: $11.4 billion
Dogecoin was famously started as a joke in 2013 but rapidly evolved into a prominent cryptocurrency thanks to a dedicated community and creative memes. Unlike many other cryptos, there is no limit on the number of Dogecoins that can be created, which leaves the currency susceptible to devaluation as supply increases.
Dogecoin’s price in 2017 was $0.0002. By April 2023, its price was at $0.08, up 41,024%.
- Polygon (MATIC)
- Market cap: $10.2 billion
Founded in 2017, Polygon—formerly known as Matic Network—is a relatively popular crypto. It’s dubbed “Ethereum’s internet of blockchains.” Maybe that’s why MATIC supports more than 7,000 decentralized applications (dApps).
Polygon has also experienced tremendous growth since its first launch. The initial price of MATIC when it first launched was $0.00263. Today MATIC trades at $1.11, a 41,932% gain.
- Solana (SOL)
- Market cap: $9.2 billion
Developed to help power decentralized finance (DeFi) uses, decentralized apps (DApps) and smart contracts, Solana runs on a unique hybrid proof-of-stake and proof-of-history mechanisms to process transactions quickly and securely. SOL, Solana’s native token, powers the platform.
When it launched in 2020, SOL’s price started at $0.77. By late April 2023, its price was around $23.55, a gain of 2,958%.
*Market caps and pricing sourced from coinmarketcap.com, current as of 3:15 p.m. UTC on Apr. 12, 2023.