had an exceptional year in 2017. It opened the year at around $800 – $1,150, just short of its previous all-time high of $1,242, and it closed the year at around $13,000. On December 15 2017, the value of a single Bitcoin reached a staggering $17,900.
This remarkable and sudden growth was great news for those who had already invested in Bitcoin, and it prompted an avalanche of interest from investors around the world. Bitcoin was once seen as a risky investment and associated with criminal activity and shady transactions, but it rose to significance within the mainstream and has since become the world's most widely accepted and traded digital currency.
Digital currencies threaten Bitcoin
As well as boosting its own value through increased investment, this growth of Bitcoin has prompted the rise of other cryptocurrencies and has shone a spotlight on digital currencies in general. Now Bitcoin may be under threat from other crypto assets which are rapidly gaining prominence and picking up investment support. These blossoming digital currencies have broken Bitcoin's monopoly, and they have the potential to surpass its value in the coming months and years.
Litecoin is one of the biggest challengers to Bitcoin's crown. Though it has not yet gained the traction of larger blockchains like Ethereum, it offers a more stable and transparent trading platform which includes Segregated Wireless technology. This brings faster transaction speeds and a greater blockchain capacity to the currency, making it an attractive option for investment.
Ripple's links to major financial institutions make it an important player in the cryptocurrency market. It is reported to be working on cross-border exchanges with American Express, MoneyGram International and Banco Santander. These high-profile partnerships, plus its fast transaction speed which beats Bitcoin's best times, mean Ripple and its RippleNet are certainly worth watching during 2018.
Formerly RaiBlocks, Nano is a growing cryptocurrency which is a relative newcomer to the market, but which is already making waves thanks to its incredible fast processing speeds. Nano uses a personal blockchain system instead of one central network blockchain, which drastically improves the rate at which transactions are made. It boasts a rate of 7,000 transactions per second. This means not only can it rival larger crypto assets like Bitcoin, but it also gives traditional payment merchants like Visa a real run for their money.
Another quick processing chain, Stellar and its Lumens coin assets are shaking up the world of cryptocurrencies. Stellar incorporates many of the positive features of existing currencies, such as Ethereum and Bitcoin, while maintaining those important quick processes. It uses smart contracts to verify and protect transactions made on the blockchain, and it has recently partnered with IBM's blockchain to extend its impact and improve its market reach.
These are just a few of the cryptocurrencies which have the potential to impact on Bitcoin this year. While Ethereum remains Bitcoin's greatest challenger, it is Ripple, Stellar, Nano and Litecoin which have real potential to unseat the crypto giant and secure the largest market share for themselves.
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