How many virtual currencies are there in the market today? Well, believe it or not there’s over 1,600 cryptocurrencies vying for your attention, with the market capitalisation of cryptocurrencies expected to touch the $4 trillion mark by the end of 2020. Since their inception in 2008, digital currencies have been one of the major hotspots for people looking for lucrative returns on their investment. Here’s a look at the top 10 cryptocurrencies in the market today.

1.   Bitcoin (BTC)

The very first cryptocurrency was introduced in 2009 by an anonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. There are currently more than 16.8 million Bitcoins in circulation, as compared to the total number of tokens, which has been capped at 21 million. Bitcoin’s market capitalisation stands at around $163 billion, with the crypto having garnered a market share of about 36%. The market cap touched the $200 billion mark at one point in 2017. It was the first cryptocurrency and undoubtedly the most popular one, so it remains the poster child for the cryptocurrency industry.

2.   Ethereum (Ether)

Ethereum is the second most valuable cryptocurrency today. It was created in 2015 by Vitalik Buterin. It is a decentralised platform, created to execute peer-to-peer smart contracts. It enables people to code and enact contracts, without third parties. Ether is the cryptocurrency used for all transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. A majority of ICOs, worth $5.6 billion, were launched on the Ethereum platform in 2017. Ethereum was one of the best performers of 2017, with an ROI of 17,000%. It has a market capitalisation of $ 77.5 billion.

3.   Ripple (XRP)

Ripple is a very unique cryptocurrency.  It was founded in 2012 to make international transactions both cheap and fast. It uses the XRP currency, where fiat currency needs to be converted to XRP to be sent via the Ripple network and then converted back to fiat money when it is withdrawn. Out of the 100 billion XRP that will ever exist, 50 billion are owned by Ripple Labs. The crypto has a market cap of over $34.12 billion and is the third most valuable cryptocurrency.

4.   Bitcoin Cash (BCH)

A hard fork off Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash was created to resolve issues of scalability and transaction fees in the parent coin. BTC has a block size of 8MB, as compared to 1MB for the original coin, making it faster than Bitcoin. There is now approximately the same amount of BCH in circulation as BTC. Its value grew from about $500 in July 2017 to about $4,000 in December 2017, giving a return of about 10,000% in less than 6 months.

5.   Litecoin (LTC)

Created in 2011, by an ex-Google employee, Charlie Lee, Litecoin is known as “Bitcoin’s little brother.” Built on the Bitcoin blockchain, Litecoin aimed to improve it with faster transaction speeds. It has a substantially higher token limit of 84 million and has been in the market for over 7 years. Litecoin’s market cap stands at $9.64 billion. The crypto grew over 8,000% in 2017, as its price rose from $4 in January 2017 to $350 by December 2017.

6.   Stellar (XLM)

Stellar was founded in 2014 by Jed McCaleb, who also founded Ripple. It aims to provide a transaction network for fast and efficient cross-border money transfers. Stellar is a non-profit organisation, which makes it different from all other cryptocurrencies. It has established partnerships with over 30 banks and organisations like IBM and Deloitte. Its price grew from $0.0039 in April 2017 to $0.85 in January 2018, giving returns of 21,694%. Stellar’s plans to bring financial inclusion to remote areas and revolutionise the payment industry has made it one of the top 10 cryptocurrencies available today.

7.   IOTA

IOTA was founded in 2015 and launched on exchanges in 2017. It is the only one among the top ten cryptos to use a new protocol, called “Tangle.” IOTA is focused on making the Internet of Things (IoT) more secure, seamless and scalable. It has zero transaction fees and promises infinite scalability. It has a market cap of almost $6.61 billion. The crypto price saw a steep rise from $0.44 in June 2017 to $5.34 in December 2017, providing 1,200% return on investment.

8.   NEO

NEO is a Chinese cryptocurrency, created by Da Hongfei. It was initially launched in 2014, as Antshares, and was re-branded to NEO in June 2017. It is referred to as the Chinese Ethereum, since it offers a blockchain-based platform for the development of smart contracts and for launching ICOs. It can complete 10,000 transactions per second. NEO saw its price reach about $162 in January 2018, from $0.16 in January 2017, representing growth of a whopping 111,400%. NEO has market capitalisation of $5.53 billion.

9.   Cardano (ADA)

Created in 2017 by Charles Hoskinson, Ethereum’s co-founder, Cardano is the first peer-to-peer blockchain powered by scientists and academics. It has been developed for decentralised apps and smart contracts. It has its own cryptocurrency, ADA. Cardano is being considered as the third and most advanced generation of blockchain technology. Despite being new to the market, Cardano has garnered a market cap of $9.35 billion. ADA’s price grew from $0.20 in October 2017 to touch $1.20 in January 2018, giving returns of about 500% in 3 months.

10. EOS

EOS was launched as an ICO in June 2017. It is an operating system made for businesses to construct blockchain applications as a replacement for web-apps, while retaining similar structural principles. It is allegedly capable of 10,000-100,000 transactions per second, which is significantly better than Ethereum. Since its launch in 2017, EOS has reached a market cap of over $4 billion. It is one of the few cryptocurrencies that was least affected by the market crash that occurred in early 2018.

Cryptocurrencies are no longer inaccessible for the public. They offer real investment opportunities to real people with lucrative returns. Despite how many new players enter the market, these virtual currencies are going to stay there on the top. These cryptocurrencies form more that 50% of the total cryptocurrency market by market capitalisation. To know more, you can also check out the 5 cryptocurrencies with the largest market share.