The cryptocurrency market has been nothing short of unstoppable since 2017 began. Despite a few bouts of volatility, the aggregate value of every single cryptocurrency combined has exploded higher by nearly 4,000% over the last 12 1/2 months to nearly $750 billion. The swiftness of these gains is simply unlike anything investors have ever witnessed before.
Bitcoin has been the face of the cryptocurrency rally
The heart of this rally is often believed to be bitcoin, the world's most popular cryptocurrency, and currently the world's most valuable by market cap, as well. With an opening value of $0.003 in March 2010, bitcoin climbed to nearly $20,000 per coin as of December 2017. It has truly turned modest investments into millions and billions of dollars in just a few years.
Bitcoin's allure boils down to the fact that more merchants are willing to accept its coin than any other cryptocurrency. It wound up landing five major merchants back in 2014, but has been successful in regularly luring in new merchants that want access to a growing number of crypto-inspired investors and consumers.
Bitcoin was also the first to bring blockchain technology into the mainstream. Blockchain is the digital, distributed, and decentralized ledger that records all transactions without the need for a financial intermediary, which is almost always a bank. The emergence of blockchain is expected to tackle some commonly perceived issues with the financial payment system, including long settlement times (especially in cross-border payments) and high transaction costs.
But, frankly, we're tired of bitcoin
Yet, for as good as bitcoin has been for the cryptocurrency community, we're just sort of sick and tired of it. The bitcoin euphoria has worn off, and instead we're left with three reasons to essentially hate bitcoin.
1. Its processing speeds are slower than molasses (relative to most other cryptocurrencies)
To begin with, the popularity of bitcoin's network, and the sheer volume of transactions that it manages, has bogged it down.
According to a recent analysis from HowMuch.net, bitcoin can handle processing a maximum of seven transactions per second (tps). By comparison, Litecoin, arguably its biggest competitor on the merchant front, can process up to 56 tps. Meanwhile, Ripple, which is focused on garnering big banking customers to test its blockchain, can reportedly handle up to 1,500 tps. This compares to payment processing kingpin Visa (V -2.67%), which can handle up to 24,000 transactions per second.
One of the biggest issues for bitcoin, being an open-sourced blockchain community, is that it struggles to reach consensus when it comes time to upgrade its blockchain technology. The only way bitcoin has really been able to scale its operations is through forking its virtual currency and creating an entirely new cryptocurrency. With the exception of modest capacity upgrades, bitcoin has struggled to adapt to a growing merchant network that's still microscopic next to that of Visa.
2. These transactions cost an arm and a leg
Another reason we can't stand bitcoin is its outrageously overpriced transaction fees. One of the main tenets of blockchain technology is that it has the potential to dramatically lower transaction fees. Remember, without a third-party provider to pay, there are fewer mouths to feed. Though it's unclear if lower transaction fees will be passed onto the consumer, the key point here is the expectation of lower transaction fees.
According to an analysis posted to Ripple's Twitter a month ago, the average bitcoin transaction was costing $28.23. Who in their right mind is going to use bitcoin for an everyday purchase if they're going to be assessed a $28.23 fee for their transaction? The slowness of its network aside, the ridiculousness of this transaction fee would cause a meltdown if we switched to bitcoin tomorrow as the only available currency for goods and services.
Comparatively, every other major cryptocurrency, including Ripple, Litecoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, and even privacy coin developer Dash can process transactions for under $1. In fact, Ripple can do so for a fraction of a cent.
3. There are more than 1,400 other coins and countless blockchains to choose from
We're also sick and tired of always having to hear about bitcoin. In case you've had blinders on, there are now more than 1,400 cryptocurrencies to invest in, most of which have their very own tethered blockchain.
According to a survey from LendEDU that was released during the fourth quarter of 2017, just 31.6% of adults aged 18 to 34 were familiar with Ethereum, and even fewer (22.2%) had heard of Ripple. Yes, that may have changed with Ethereum and Ripple both surging to more than $100 billion in market cap recently, but it demonstrates just how oblivious people are to cryptocurrencies not named bitcoin.
But here's the thing about the cryptocurrency market: It has a very low barrier to entry. It only takes time, money, and a team that understands how to write computer code in order to develop blockchain technology and a tethered cryptocurrency. As a result, we're seeing between 50 and 100 new cryptocurrencies come to market each month. Any of these new or existing coins and blockchains could prove more attractive than bitcoin.
Long story short, do yourself a favor and take note that other cryptocurrencies exist. That's not in any way an endorsement suggesting that they'll outperform bitcoin going forward, rather the long-term potential looks to be firmly in the court of virtual currencies not named bitcoin.