Meme stocks aside, there's arguably been no investment hotter in 2021 than joke-based cryptocurrency Dogecoin (DOGE 2.49%). At one point in early May, it had delivered a trailing-six-month return of 27,000%. For context, that's higher than the benchmark S&P 500, including dividends, over the past 56 years.
While there are a number of reasons retail investors are sold on Dogecoin as the future currency of the world, one of the most-commonly cited catalysts are its lower transaction fees, relative to the Big Two in crypto, Bitcoin (BTC 5.82%) and Ethereum. After all, a new medium for transactions should be more efficient than the existing infrastructure it's trying to replace.
However, the reality is that Dogecoin's transaction fees are markedly higher ($0.74, as of June 8) than a number of other popular digital currencies. According to BitInfoCharts.com and various white-paper data, the following seven popular cryptocurrencies (listed in no particular order) all offer significantly cheaper transaction fees. And they happen to be more efficient at validating and settling transactions, too.
Under-the-radar cryptocurrency Stellar (XLM 0.82%), which I've chosen as one of my digital currency survivors, can easily undercut and outperform Dogecoin. Payments made on Stellar's blockchain can be verified and settled in mere seconds -- Dogecoin takes closer to 20 minutes -- and the average transaction costs 0.00001 of a Lumen, Stellar's token. Based on the Lumen's price of $0.36 on June 9, the average fee is about $0.000004 per transaction.
What's more, Stellar's developers have claimed it can handle up to 3,000 transactions per second, which would give it a real chance to become a medium for payments in the future.
Another payments-focused cryptocurrency with exceptionally low fees is Ripple (XRP 2.61%). The average transaction on Ripple's open-source, decentralized blockchain takes approximately 3 to 5 seconds to validate and settle, which would substantially expedite the up to one week it can take some cross-border payments to complete. Ripple can do all of this for a fee of approximately $0.00265, according to BitInfoCharts.
It's also noteworthy that Ripple has partnered with a number of financial institutions to test its RippleNet cross-border payments network. These include Bank of America, American Express, and Royal Bank of Canada.
3. Ethereum Classic
Even though it's known more for its smart contracts than its payment prowess, Ethereum Classic (ETC 4.76%) can also run circles around Dogecoin. Ethereum Classic is capable of handling in the neighborhood of 15 transactions per second, and according to BitInfoCharts has a transaction fee of less than a penny ($0.00749, as of June 8). It's completing most transactions in 5 to 7 1/2 minutes, which is considerably quicker than Dogecoin, as well.
More than likely, Ethereum Classic's future will depend on its ability to upgrade its smart contracts -- i.e., the protocols that help to verify, facilitate, and enforce the negotiation of a contract.
While it might not be the most obvious payment choice next to Ripple and Stellar, privacy coin Monero (XMR 4.48%) also offers substantially lower transaction fees, relative to Dogecoin. As of this past week, the average transaction on Monero's blockchain cost $0.059. That's 92% lower than Dogecoin's typical transaction fee.
What makes Monero so intriguing is its open-source protocol known as CryptoNote, which creates ring signatures that obfuscate the name of the sender of payments made in XMR (Monero's coin). Or, in English, it makes it impossible for an outside observer to know who sent a payment. Once a transmittance has been made, only the recipient will be able to see the stealth address, making the transaction anonymous and secure.
Nano (NANO 1.11%) is unique among the cryptocurrencies in this discussion because it has no transaction fees. That's right, folks: It doesn't get any cheaper than free! Transactions are also validated and completed in under a second, in most cases. This suggests over 1,000 transactions can be completed with Nano before a single Dogecoin transaction is confirmed by miners.
Rather than relying on a single blockchain where people are competing to add blocks, every user operates a blockchain that they can add to. This Block Lattice, as Nano refers to it, is transparent, immutable, and ensures that expansion can be limitless, without compromising network performance.
Ultra-popular cryptocurrency Cardano (ADA 2.52%) can also run circles around Dogecoin from an efficiency standpoint. It's verifying and settling transactions considerably faster, and its average transaction fee equates to roughly 0.16 to 0.17 ADA (Cardano's token), or about $0.27 at the midpoint.
Most eyes are on the rapid multi-point development of Cardano's blockchain. An upgrade last summer, known as Shelley, increased the number of nodes that network participants can run, which ultimately boosted average daily transactions well over tenfold. There's also the Goguen development, which incorporates smart contacts onto Cardano's blockchain. The launch of smart contracts in the coming months should really ramp up interest in Cardano.
Even though Litecoin (LTC 2.94%) and Dogecoin share some history (Dogecoin is a fork of LuckyCoin, which was itself forked from Litecoin), Litecoin is the far superior of the two, in terms of efficiency. The typical Litecoin transaction settles in 2 1/2 minutes, which is one-quarter of the time for Bitcoin and one-eighth the time for Dogecoin, on average. Its transaction fee of $0.0075 is also microscopic next to Dogecoin's.
Although acceptance for cryptocurrencies remains minimal worldwide, it's also worth pointing out that roughly twice as many businesses accept Litecoin compared to Dogecoin, according to online business directory Cryptwerk.