The term “altcoin” is commonly used to refer to any cryptocurrency that is not Bitcoin.
Since Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency, any subsequent cryptocurrencies were considered “alternatives” and thus labeled as altcoins.
While some individuals, particularly Bitcoin enthusiasts, also categorize ETH as an altcoin, others exclude ETH and consider altcoins to be any cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin and ETH.
Difference Between Crypto and Altcoins
Altcoins encompass all cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin and ETH. Some Bitcoin advocates emphasize that Bitcoin is not merely a cryptocurrency but represents its distinct category. However, in terms of classification, there is no fundamental difference between crypto and altcoins.
Types of Altcoins
There are various types of altcoins with different characteristics and purposes:
- Payment Tokens: Payment tokens primarily focus on facilitating transactions and payments. These tokens are often perceived as less decentralized compared to other cryptocurrencies.
- Utility Tokens: Utility tokens serve a specific purpose within their respective ecosystems. For instance, they can be used to pay for particular services or access platform features.
- Governance Tokens: Governance tokens are utilized for voting on project governance matters. Token holders can influence decisions such as fee structures or protocol changes.
- Memecoins: Memecoins are cryptocurrencies created as a humorous or satirical concept, lacking a straightforward utility.
- Stablecoins: Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies pegged to the value of traditional currencies like the dollar. They are designed to minimize price volatility and often have collateral in fiat currencies. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, stablecoins maintain a relatively stable value.
Pros and Cons of Altcoins
Altcoins come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages:
- Variability: There is a wide range of altcoins, each offering unique use cases and features.
- Upside Potential: Altcoins have the potential for significant value appreciation due to their lower market capitalization than Bitcoin and ETH.
- Innovation: Altcoins contribute to the market by introducing novel solutions and technological advancements.
- Volatility: Altcoins tend to be more volatile than Bitcoin and ETH, resulting in higher price fluctuations.
- Illiquidity: Altcoins may have lower liquidity than major cryptocurrencies, leading to greater price volatility and potential challenges in buying or selling.