The Different Types of Cryptocurrency

How Many Different Types of Crypto Are There?

As of April 2021, there are over 10,000 different types of cryptocurrency.

Why are there so many types of cryptocurrency?

Blockchain technology is open source, meaning any software developer can use the original source code and create something new with it. Developers have done just that. There are estimated to be more than 4,500 different cryptocurrencies in circulation as of this writing, and the figure keeps increasing. For reference, it was only about four years ago that the number of cryptos surpassed 1,000.  

The Different Types of Cryptocurrency


The Most Common Types of Cryptocurrency

Here’s a list of popular cryptocurrency types and descriptions:

1. Bitcoin

Bitcoin is a type of digital currency; it is “cash for the internet.” More specifically, it’s considered cryptocurrency since cryptography facilitates Bitcoin creation and transactions.

Possibly the “Kleenex” or “Coca Cola” of all crypto, in that its name is the most recognizable and the most closely associated with the cryptocurrency system.

There are currently  more than 18.5 million Bitcoin tokens in circulation, against a present capped limit of 21 million.

2. Bitcoin Cash

Introduced in 2017, Bitcoin Cash is one of the most popular types of cryptocurrency on the market. Its main difference with the original Bitcoin is its block size: 8MB. Compare that to the original Bitcoin’s block size of just 1MB. What that means for users—faster processing speeds.

3. Litecoin

Litecoin is increasingly used in the same breath as Bitcoin, and it functions practically the same way. It was created in 2011 by Charlie Lee, a former employee of Google. He designed it to improve on Bitcoin technology, with shorter transaction times, lower fees, more concentrated miners.

4. Ethereum

Unlike Bitcoin, Ethereum focuses not as much on digital currency as it does on decentralized applications (phone apps). You could think of Ethereum as an app store.

The platform is looking to return control of apps to its original creators, and take away that control from middlemen (like Apple, for instance). The only person who can make changes to the app would be the original creator. The token used here is called Ether, which is used as currency by app developers and users.

5. Ripple

Ripple is one type of cryptocurrency on the list, but it’s not Blockchain-based. It’s not meant so much for individual users as it is for larger companies and corporations, moving larger amounts of money (its coinage is known as XRP) across the globe.

It’s more well-known for its digital payment protocol more than for its XRP crypto. That’s because the system allows for transfer of monies in any form, be it dollars or even Bitcoin (or others). It claims to be able to handle 1,500 transactions per second (tps). Compare this with Bitcoin, which can handle 3-6 tps (not including scaling layers). Ethereum can handle 15 tps.

6. Stellar

Stellar focuses on money transfers, and its network is designed to make them faster and more efficient, even across national borders. It was designed by Ripple co-founder Jed McCaleb in 2014 and is operated by a non-profit organization called Stellar.org  .

Its goal is to assist developing economies that may not have access to traditional banks and investment opportunities. It doesn’t charge users or institutions for using its Stellar network, and covers operating costs by accepting tax-deductible public donations.

7. NEO

Formerly called Antshares and developed in China, NEO is very aggressively looking to become a major global crypto player. Its focus is smart contracts (digital contracts) that allow users to create and execute agreements without the use of an intermediary.

It’s going after its main competition, Ethereum, but NEO lead developer Erik Zhang mentioned  on a Reddit AMA that NEO has three distinct advantages—better architecture, more developer-friendly smart contracts, and digital identity and digital assets for easier integration into the real world.

Ethereum, on the other hand, uses its own programming languages that developers must first learn before creating smart contracts on its platform.

8. Cardano

Cardano aka ADA is used to send and receive digital funds. It claims to be a more balanced and sustainable ecosystem for cryptocurrencies and the only coin with a “scientific philosophy and research-driven approach.”

That means that it undergoes especially rigorous reviews by scientists and programmers. It was founded by Charles Hoskinson, who is also the co-founder of Ethereum.

9. IOTA

Launched in 2016, IOTA stands for Internet of Things Application. Unlike most other Blockchain technologies, it doesn’t actually work with a block and chain; it works with smart devices on the Internet of Things (IoT).

All you need to do to use it is to verify two other previous transactions on the IOTA ledger, which is called the Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG), but IOTA creators call it The Tangle.

According to Coin Central, this means the devices need to be able to purchase more electricity, bandwidth, storage, or data when they need them, and sell those resources when they don’t need them.