They cannot stop us. They cannot stop the future.
Welcome back ladies and gents to the most critical three part article I’ll likely create on this site. As a trader, you can simply skip over this article, as chances are you are not keeping a large stake in altcoins or otherwise. If you’re like me however, and you see the potential that altcoins and the companies behind them have in the future then you’ve absolutely come to the right place. I’ve compiled a list of the top 20 companies and altcoins that I truly believe are going to be monumentally huge, profitable, or otherwise valuable with the potential that, should they be realized, will change the game of their respective industries forever. These are long term holds that should be treated as such, so we will always ignore short term volatility in favor of long term rewards. Expect to wait years for many of these coins to realize their potential, but for those lucky few who were patient and held their stake in these businesses will come out of the other end with future riches.
This article will detail the “Big Caps” first, the highest market cap coins with proven track records and history of success – in parts 2 and 3, I will detail 10 more Mid Caps and 5 Low Caps. I used the process detailed in this article to curate my altcoin picks to find the most profitable investments. You can read about it here. Without further delay, let’s get to it.
A big cap, as defined by yours truly, is a cryptocurrency/asset that has a current market cap (as of the writing of this article) at or above 100 million dollars. These are the market leaders, assets and currencies that have proven their effectiveness, use case, or potential and ones that grow in price and strength along with the rise of Bitcoin.
Ethereum Classic – ETC
Ethereum Classic is the original version of the Ethereum Project, (which is now a fork of ETC) a blockchain based company focused on Smart Contracts. A Smart Contract is essentially a computerized agreement written in code which will execute the given code contained in the contract when two parties agree on it. As an example, instead of trusting Uber to be a mediator between you and the driver (Uber serves as a third party) who has to take you to the city, you can use the Ethereum network to remove the third party entirely and put your faith in the code, which is immutable. Continuing the example, if the driver takes you to your destination, the Smart Contract executes, and you pay the driver in ETC tokens.
It’s of note that I am placing Ethereum Classic in this spot instead of Ethereum. While there will be Ethereum based projects later on this list, it is of my opinion that Ethereum itself is supported by Vitalik Buterin almost entirely (in the sense that if he were to some day leave the project, Ethereum’s very potential would severely drop) as well as the high current price of the asset (and the fact that Ethereum Classic is the ORIGINAL chain) leaves ETC in a prime spot for future investment. Several projects are already beginning to use ETC over ETH, and in time this will only increase with the network effect of ETC, its strong community support, and the potential of Ethereum minus the downside of having a “benevolent dictator” with the capability to delete your funds at will.
By entering into contracts on Ethereum Classic, you can be certain that the network remains neutral. The outcome of transactions will be dictated by code you voluntarily interact with. Unless explicitly defined by the contract code, there are no reversals, no undos, no opt-outs.
Transactions are final; applications are unstoppable.
Smart Contracts have the potential to change anything and everything that we currently use money for. One of the emerging technologies that are vastly superior to anything we had previously is provably fair gambling – with code that you can read yourself, you can check that the game of Ethereum Classic blackjack you’re playing is completely fair to both parties, and this look behind the curtain is something we were previously unable to do within the time span of a few seconds. Usage of Smart Contracts can remove the dependence on third parties to mediate agreements, escrow companies that hold your funds, and overall create a much more streamlined commerce path between two people. Banks could use Smart Contract code between each other to settle large financial deals and have a public ledger of the transactions that anyone can read. Smart Contracts could be written and utilized by wealthy individuals to mete out their riches to their progeny in a fair manner rather than have invested parties squabble over who gets the “family fortune”.
The introduction of gas costs means that the network will be very expensive to attack and becomes more expensive to do as the network grows in user-base and power. These gas costs also serve as a great benchmark to compare against other systems in place today. Why pay eBay 10% of everything you sell when you can create a Smart Contract based market where the seller saves all of the cost of having eBay serve as a third party mediator?
Turing-completeness is an often quoted feature of Ethereum and Ethereum Classic. What this essentially means is that the code that can be used is versatile in scope and can fit almost any need the developer sees fit. The open endedness of this is dangerous however – as Ethereum is intended to be a featureset that allows absolutely anyone to create their own Smart Contract, these contracts can be full of bugs and holes that can easily be exploited by hackers or more tech-savvy parties. Ethereum often has funds stolen, the biggest example being The DAO, where over 3.6 million Ether (over 50 million dollars at the time) was siphoned off due to security flaws in the DAO Smart Contract.
This is the problem I have with $ETH. Code may be immutable, but who writes the code?
— Roy (@StartaleTV) June 2, 2017
Ethereum and Ethereum Classic are also being used for many things that simply replace current technology with technology that does the exact same thing on the blockchain, oftentimes with even slower results due to the added expense of using a blockchain. One of the examples that I like to use is many of the “decentralized prediction markets” that are actively receiving millions of dollars of funding for what tantamounts to a technology that doesn’t even need to use blockchain, and moreover slows the process down from current day alternatives. Not everything needs to be a Smart Contract.
Oracle bribing is also another potential problem. Ethereum Classic uses “oracles”, which are essentially the replacement for third parties mediating the results of a given event in a smart contract. In our previous example, Uber pays the driver after you (the passenger) states that you’ve arrived at your destination and there were no problems. In a Smart Contract, the oracle would be a piece of code (or a person) that checks your location and looks for input from both the driver and the passenger that the ride is complete before payment is released. However, it’s possible to “bribe” these oracles, feeding them false data or giving them money to change the outcome of a given Smart Contract. While this is costly, and currently only a concept, it’s a possible vulnerability to Smart Contract code.
Ethereum is the forked chain of the original Ethereum Classic, and is the most closely related competitor. Led by Vitalik Buterin, who is hailed as one of the key players in the battle for the blockchain future, Ethereum is a massive project, with billions of dollars of funding, expert engineers at their beck and call, tremendous community support, and being the “first to market” so to speak (an attribute shared with Classic, strangely enough). Most projects run on Ethereum as of today, and so vastly outnumber the amount of projects that Classic has. Still, the core tenet of Ethereum was that “Code is Law.” Unfortunately, this very core facet has been ignored by Vitalik himself the very moment he forced a chain split and made it clear to the world that he did not care for the immutability of the chain as much as he did his own ambitions. For this reason, I believe Ethereum Classic to have a much higher future potential than Ethereum, as people will flock to the immutable chain over the one run by the benevolent dictator. As we can see already, projects such as Postalgia and Gambit run on Ethereum Classic, and more in the future will soon follow suit.
NEO, previously known as AntShares, promises all of the current benefits of Ethereum with many important improvements, the main one being the ability to code a Smart Contract in any code the developer desires, instead of Solidity (the language of Ethereum). While initially this may seem like an auspicious investment opportunity, the ability for anyone to write their own Smart Contract is a train wreck waiting to happen.
While Ethereum bleeds out millions of dollars of Ethereum to buggy code every other week, NEO essentially signs its own death warrant by opening an even bigger can of digital worms. For this reason, I believe NEO will likely have a much larger initial audience, but also a much larger amount of potential problems in the future. Still, should NEO prove to not have these issues, a re-evalutation will have to take place, as the ability for anyone to write their Smart Contract could prove useful in the future.
Ethereum Classic has all the advantages of Ethereum as well as support directly from the community rather than reliance on Vitalik as the spearhead of the project. Ethereum Classic also has the promise of true immutability. This, combined with the advantages against other competitors in the space leave Ethereum Classic as the number one choice of investment vehicles when it comes to Smart Contracts.
MaidSafe – MAID
The first step in the natural evolution of the Internet was a series of innovations called “Web 2.0”. This included things like push notifications, social media, live streaming through Internet, and mobile integration. The problem with the way the Internet works currently is that everything is centralized – sensitive information is kept on servers that serve as single points of failure, web sites can be attacked by DDoS and shut offline due to server load problems and there is also the issue of trusting whoever it is that you’re sending your personal information to. Enter MaidSafe, the decentralized Internet – MaidSafe is one of the most interesting projects on this list because it’s not blockchain at all. MAID coins were created on the OMNI protocol in order to fund the project, which will be traded in for SafeCoin once the main network launches – however this network doesn’t run on blockchain, but rather distributed computers all over the world. Imagine instead of connecting to Google’s servers to access your e-mail, you connected to computers all over the world that all contained secure segments of the information you wished to access – this way, no one can hack into a single server because single servers don’t exist. Your sensitive information is also split and encrypted across the distributed network such that no one on host computers can have access to your information either.
The Safe network promises to completely reverse the current infrastructure of the Internet and rebuild it in a decentralized manner – this is a hugely ambitious project to be sure, but if it succeeds will be one of the most utilized ones on the planet – With the Safe browser, you will finally have complete privacy from prying eyes and be able to properly protect and secure your data. The Safe network has a large feature-set, including things like distributed data storage allowing you to use the network as a decentralized Google Drive of sorts, where you pay in SafeCoin in exchange for access to storage space that would otherwise be more expensive to purchase alone. There are also many corporate advantages to this kind of system, especially in the cyber-security and medical sectors, where privacy is one of the most expensive costs for companies.
With such a largely ambitious project, there is always the ever present question if too much is attempting to be done here. Decentralizing the Internet is no small task after all, and the years of work that have already been done on the Safe Network just show the absolutely monumental task that is being done in this space.
It will also depend largely on the amount of user adoption of the Safe Browser, which is in direct competition to browsers already used in the current day. This will be huge opposition, however browser plugins for popular apps will mitigate this problem somewhat. If you can access the SAFE network from your Chrome browser with seamless integration then there will be no real barriers to entry apart from the usage of the plugin.
SHIFT is a project that’s also aimed at decentralizing the Web. While details of the project itself are rather scarce, SHIFT is one of the few competitors to the Safe Network due to the sheer scale of the project. SHIFT attempts to bridge decentralized web along with a Smart Contract enabled platform, however the relevance of these two facets makes little sense – they have since shifted focus more towards a decentralized Web, however SHIFT has several shortcomings that make MaidSafe a simply better choice. They have no whitepaper released as of yet and their service also functions on blockchain – which becomes a detriment when comparing it to a non-blockchain service like MaidSafe due to the speed of transactions. Not only this, but the erratic developer updates and security flaws makes MaidSafe the superior choice.
Revolutionary projects such as the Safe Network are few and far between – they often have high failure rates and investors must have a large amount of pain and risk tolerance. After all, investing in this kind of service is one of the most un-sexy sounding things you can imagine when it comes to blockchain. The MaidSafe team has very little marketing, focusing more on their development, as well as the idea itself being one that takes a very long time to come to fruition – this has led to a rather low overall price of tokens. This also represents opportunity that, should MaidSafe succeed, will pay investors back many times over in the years to come.
Tezos – XTZ
Tezos is likely one of the most creative cryptocurrency ideas since Ethereum. Taking the concept of Decred (DCR) one step further, Tezos allows for true self governance – where even the developers and updating the codebase of the protocol are decentralized. This takes the idea of democratized decentralization to the extreme level, and possibly its final evolution. From the Tezos website:
Tezos is a new decentralized blockchain that governs itself by establishing a true digital commonwealth. It facilitates formal verification, a technique which mathematically proves the correctness of the code governing transactions and boosts the security of the most sensitive or financially weighted smart contracts.
The impact of something like Tezos isn’t something that’s necessarily self-evident the first time you think about it. It’s similar to Bitcoin in that regard – there were initially many more detractors than supporters of the idea of a decentralized currency. In this sense, Tezos shares many of the same inspirations from Satoshi Nakamoto’s original Bitcoin vision. Imagine a currency that is self-improving and does so using democratic processes. The voice of the people can be heard as they literally meld their currency to fit their specific needs. This takes the concept of electronic, programmable cash and can be applied to almost anything the users can imagine. In a sense, Tezos could be the final cryptocurrency, because it has the potential to do it all. Developers from all over the world collaborate and improve the protocol, as the code becomes a monster that is unstoppable and uncensorable.
Giving too much power to the people could prove to be one of the most dangerous aspects of this project – Tezos serves as not only a blockchain and currency experiment, but a social one. The ability for the protocol to be updated, forked, and everything else about it to be manipulated in some form or another by users could definitely pose problems for the coin. What happens in the event of a community divide? Will 51% of the coin holders take the other 49% hostage? Will a happy medium be struck between users? Time will tell.
Tezos has no real competiton, aside from cryptocurrency itself. While it doesn’t directly compete with Ethereum, it is capable of more secure Smart Contracts. While it doesn’t directly compete with Decred, it is capable of a more powerful version of self governance. While it doesn’t directly compete with more robust projects such as IOTA and EOS, Tezos has the capability to challenge these projects on multiple fronts by being used as a platform for other projects.
Tezos is one of the most unique projects that we’ve seen thus far in the blockchain space – it’s exactly the kind of project an investor is looking for when they’re scouting for Unicorn companies and moonshots. While it may be one of the riskier picks in this portfolio, those who are daring enough to invest in it will be handsomely rewarded should the Tezos experiment prove successful.
Dash – DASH
Dash attempts to be one of the premiere cryptocurrencies used by the masses and people not as involved with the blockchain space. Dash is a foray into the population at large with their core tenets being ease of use, privacy, speed, and market saturation. As their web site states, “Dash is Digital Cash”, and the Dash team goes to great lengths to ensure that their product is one of the most professional in the blockchain world.
More than any other cryptocurrency, Dash poises itself as a frontrunner in the race to be a digital world currency. The impact of Dash can be compared with Bitcoin – whereas Bitcoin serves as a storage for currency, Dash will be the other side of this coin. Dash can be used for real world things like going shopping or paying your rent. Dash, more than any other coin, has the most systems and services in the real world today than any other cryptocurrency. With such a large network effect, ease of use of their applications, and obvious benefits, it’s a simple call to make when choosing whether to invest.
There are always talks of scams and unfair launches when it comes to cryptocurrency, and Dash has been the subject of many of these talks over the years. The truth is that there is a large portion of Dash that is currently held in the hands of the founders of the coin – while this isn’t necessarily a problem, it’s been a continual thorn in the side for the project as detractors levy regular attacks against the team and coin for this reason.
There have been many competitors in the crypto space when it comes to Dash, and PIVX is the latest of these contenders, being the most polished and able one to take down the reigning champion. The important thing to remember here, however, is that PIVX has no real advantages over Dash (it even lacked master-nodes for some time) and much less market saturation, as well as being “second to market” means PIVX will be little more than another challenger that will be left to history.
The goal of cryptocurrency is to be electronic, programmable money. No other project has this goal in mind as much as the Dash project. With a Bitcointalk thread spanning over 6’000 pages, there is already proof in the pudding of massive community support and the potential for true user adoption. Dash is one of the safest bets one can take in the crypto space, because it has actual use cases that people can take advantage of today as a general idea of what to come. International, instant money transfers, micropayments and subdivision of money all present themselves as obvious advantages over fiat counterparts. Anonymity and privacy, while not the specialty of Dash, are supported features that give the power back to the user, and its governance systems ensure a flexible plan for the future.
Monero – XMR
Anonymity, the power of being able to use your currency as you see fit without governments, third parties, or malefactors getting a peek into your activities and purchases is likely one of the most liberating innovations that cryptocurrency will bring. Monero was created to be the coin of choice when it comes to privacy and untraceable, unlinkable transactions, and it focuses solely on this aspect to become the industry leaders.
The capability of having a truly anonymized way to pay for things and be invisible to third parties is something that as of yet has not truly been seen in the modern world. Currently, Monero is used by darknet markets such as Alphabay as their currency of choice in order to keep hidden from the government, however in the future, private transactions will be useful for more than just buying illegal items. As an example, tax evasion is one of the most prolific crimes in the 21st century, and while it may not be a pretty idea to consider such cases, Monero enables one to truly hide their wealth away.
Implementation, reputation, and niche will be the biggest problems that Monero faces down the line. Implementation is difficult due to the technologies that Monero use to privatize transactions – as of yet there are no hardware or mobile wallets that support Monero. Reputation is also a problem with attracting new users – most people regard Monero as only usable for buying drugs and doing other illegal activities. This is similar to how Bitcoin started off, however, so this perception may change over time. Finally is the niche it fills – while Monero is very good at what it does, it only does privacy. If you’re looking for fast transactions, ease of use, or other features that your average user would be interested in, you’re best off looking at other currencies.
Z-Cash is an honest competitor which boasts many powerful anonymity features. Although the goal of anonymized transactions is the same as Monero, Z-Cash does this with different technologies. Ultimately the winner of “best privacy cryptocurrency” will likely go to the coin with the most privacy features – and while Z-Cash certainly has a lot of edges over Monero, it has one huge drawback; the trusted set up. The way Z-Cash works, is that upon creation of the currency there is some seed data that is required – five developers of Z-Cash had access to this data upon launch, and we as users are merely supposed to trust the Z-Cash creators simply deleted this data and removed it from existence. In this sense you need to trust the creators did this action, because with the seed data you are able to create an infinite amount of Z-Cash coins, thus destroying the value within the network. Monero wins out on this due to having a trustless setup – you don’t need to trust the Monero team with anything, as the technology they use is different.
Monero is simply one of the most powerful cryptocurrencies that currently exist in the blockchain space. Its privatized transactions, Ring Signature technology, and diverse (if morally questionable) use cases make this a great pick for future investment.