Not only has Bitcoin become a trendsetter, but it has also become the de facto benchmark for cryptocurrencies, inspiring an ever-growing legion of followers and spinoffs, ushering in a flood of cryptocurrencies based on a shared peer-to-peer network.
Ethereum, the first Bitcoin alternative in our list, is a decentralized software framework that allows the development and execution of Smart Contracts and Decentralized Applications (DApps) without any downtime, theft, control, or intervention by a third party. On its platform-specific cryptographic token, ether, the applications on Ethereum are run. Ether is like a vehicle on the Ethereum blockchain for moving around and is pursued by most developers looking to develop and run apps within Ethereum, or now by investors looking to make transactions of other digital currencies using ether.1 Ether, released in 2015, is currently the second-largest digital currency by market cap after bitcoin, although it lags behind the dominant cryptocurrency by a significant margin. As of January 2020, ether’s market cap is roughly 1/10 the size of bitcoin’s.
Ethereum introduced a pre-sale for ether in 2014 that received an enormous response; this helped usher in the original coin offering era (ICO). It can be used to “codify, decentralize, secure and trade almost anything,” according to Ethereum.2 After the 2016 assault on the DAO, Ethereum was divided into Ethereum (ETH) and Ethereum Classic (ETC).3 As of January 8, 2020, Ethereum (ETH) had a market cap of $15.6 billion and a coin valuation of $142.54.44 per token.