In what was probably the most exciting value-surge in living memory, Sunday's rise in Bitcoin prices saw the cryptocurrency peak at an all-time high of over $11,800. Just four years earlier, Bitcoin was worth $12 and frequently dismissed as another internet fad. But Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have become impossible to ignore, and financial experts are claiming that, due to blockchain technology, these virtual coins are already safer than some foreign fiat currencies.
The mania surrounding virtual currency shows no sign of abating, but Bitcoin is no longer the only horse in the cryptocurrency raise. Here are five Bitcoin rivals which, according to coinmarketcap.com, have a market value of $5 billion.
Featured on Fortune.com as Bitcoins biggest rivals...
1. Ethereum (ETH)
Launched in 2014, Ethereum differs from Bitcoin primarily in the application: Ethereum is an open, decentralised software platform while Bitcoin is used to pay for transaction services and fees. Current rate: $472. Market cap: $45.5 billion.
2. Ripple (XRP)
Launched 2012 in California by former Bitcoin developers, Ripple is considered Bitcoinâs logical successor, and itâs already catching on among banks as a global payment and remittance system. Current rate: $0.25. Market cap: $9.82 billion.
3. Litecoin (LTC)
Litecoin is a cheaper, more accessible alternative to Bitcoin. Launched in 2011, Litecoin processes a block every 2.5 minutes, as opposed to Bitcoin's 10. Litecoin's focus is on merchants who need a large volume of small transactions processed quickly. Current rate: $101. Market cap: $5.47 billion.
4. Dash (DASH)
Dash differs from its competitors in that it focuses on privacy and the anonymity of transactions, and by operating on a two-tiered system involving a network of decentralised volunteers who sign the deals. Current rate: $777. Market cap: $6 billion.
5. IOTA (MIOTA)
IOTA carries the tagline ânext generation Blockchain,â and is one of the most recent contenders in the increasingly crowded world of cryptocurrency. But unlike its rivals, the currency does not rely on an underlying blockchain network. Current rate: $2.43. Market cap: $6.75 billion.