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 capitalisation – the total value of all the coins currently in circulation.
What Are Cryptocurrencies?
A cryptocurrency is a digital asset that can circulate without the centralised authority of a bank or government.
To date, there are 21,910 cryptocurrency projects out there that represent the entire £697 billion crypto market.
1. Bitcoin (BTC)
- Market cap: £363.1 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 £370. As of 1 February 2023, a single Bitcoin’s price was around £18,835. That’s a growth of 4,990%.
2. Ethereum (ETH)
- Market cap: £159 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 February 2023, its price went from about £8 to around £1,299, increasing approximately 16,142%.
3. Tether (USDT)
- Market cap: £54.8 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 favoured by investors who are wary of the extreme volatility of other coins.
4. Binance Coin (BNB)
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.
In 2017 it was priced under 10p. By February 2023, its price had risen to around £253.
5. US Dollar Coin (USDC)
- Market cap: £34.2 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.
6. XRP (XRP)
- Market cap: £16.72 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 £0.004. As of 3 February 2023, its price reached around £0.33, equal to a rise of approximately 8,128%.
7. Binance USD (BUSD)
Binance USD (BUSD) is a stablecoin that Paxos and Binance founded to create a cryptocurrency backed by the U.S. dollar. To maintain this value, Paxos holds an amount of U.S. dollars equal to the total supply of BUSD. As with other stablecoins, BUSD gives traders and crypto users the ability to engage in transactions with other crypto assets while minimising the risk of volatility.
8. Cardano (ADA)
- Market cap: £10.86 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 decentralised 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 about 1.5p. As of 2 February 2023, its price was at £0.31. This is an increase of around 109%.
9. Dogecoin (DOGE)
- Market cap: £9.8 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 £0.00016. By January 2023, its price was at £0.07, up approximately 46,237%.
10. Polygon (MATIC)
- Market cap: £7.9 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 decentralised applications (dApps).
Polygon has also experienced tremendous growth since its first launch. Today MATIC trades at £0.91.
*Market caps and pricing sourced from coinmarketcap.com, current as of 1 February, 2023.
What are cryptocurrencies?
Cryptocurrency is a form of currency that exists solely in digital form. Cryptocurrency can be used to pay for purchases online without going through an intermediary, such as a bank, or it can be held as an investment.