Cryptocurrencies have taken the world by storm. With tokens including Shiba Inu (SHIB 5.17%), Bitcoin (BTC 1.78%), and Ethereum's (ETH 2.47%) ether up roughly 75,000,000%, 110%, and 523%, respectively, this year, it's not hard to see why. 

However, investors should still be mindful about which coins they put their money behind. Read on to see what role a panel of contributors think three of the most popular cryptocurrencies should play in your portfolio. 

A Bitcoin logo breaking through a hundred-dollar bill.

Image source: Getty Images.

Filter out the noise and focus on the fundamentals

Daniel Foelber (Shiba Inu)Shiba Inu, a cryptocurrency created as a joke to rival Dogecoin (which was also created as a joke), has taken the market by storm with its 14,044,998% price increase since launching on Aug. 1, 2020.

According to, Shiba Inu has a market capitalization of $27.6 billion, even after its 45% plunge from its all-time high. On the surface, it may seem that Shiba Inu is valuable, but in reality, it has no intrinsic value whatsoever due to a virtually infinite supply and limited use cases. Instead, Shiba Inu's value derives from its intangibles. More specifically, its entertainment value and casino-like characteristics that have, to be fair, made a lot of people rich.

Shiba Inu's insanely high market cap is similar to the kind of values given to non-fungible tokens (NFTs). NFTs represent ownership of a digital asset, such as artwork or a tweet. Some of the first NFT projects on the Ethereum blockchain, such as the fixed supply of 10,000 CryptoPunks NFTs, can fetch very high values. On Thursday, one of these NFTs was sold for 119 Ethereum, which is over $500,000. However, others have reached price tags in the millions.

So, what role should Shiba Inu, NFTs, and this brave new quirky subset of the crypto market have in your portfolio? The short answer is none whatsoever.

Fear of missing out (FOMO) can be emotionally taxing. And seeing others get rich on little more than luck and speculation can be a tough pill to swallow. But for the vast majority of investors, the risk/reward profiles offered by Bitcoin, Ethereum, larger altcoins like Solana or Cardano, and smaller altcoins like Polygon or Cosmos are a lot more attractive and potentially much more profitable than rolling the dice on something like Shiba Inu. Of course, if a person wanted to throw a few bucks on Shiba Inu for fun, then that's fine. So long as it's understood Shiba Inu could very well be worth next to nothing in a few years.

This volatility was never the plan

James Brumley (Bitcoin): It's become little too obvious -- and even a bit cliche -- for some investors' tastes. But Bitcoin is set to remain a centerpiece of the crypto world by virtue of becoming the movement's first poster child. Its future isn't likely to look like its red-hot past, however. Rather than remaining in perpetual rally mode, I see Bitcoin's price leveling off at a relatively stable, more predictable price.

That's always been the intent, of course. The initial concept of cryptocurrency wasn't to make it a means of price speculation, but a digital currency that serves as an alternative to fiat currencies. For any crypto to legitimately work as "money," though, it has to be price-stable enough for lenders, merchants, and spenders to get comfortable using it to transact business; buying and selling using U.S. dollar-based amounts of Bitcoin defeats the purpose.

For investors, this just means Bitcoin is apt to become more of a parking spot akin to cash or a money market, and less of an investment itself.

The Bitcoin community isn't quite there yet. Bitcoin has the lead in this regard, however, by virtue of being the first digital currency to become a mainstream concept and the one every crypto fan can agree to utilize.

Ethereum is kind of like a potentially explosive tech stock

Keith Noonan (Ethereum): While some cryptocurrencies are just that -- currencies -- the value and growth case for Ethereum is different. The Ethereum blockchain provides a platform for smart contracts -- exchanges of verified information that are backed up by network processing. Applications pay the cost of using Ethereum blockchain's capabilities with ether -- the cryptocurrency token underpinning the network. 

The Ethereum blockchain is essentially a framework for other blockchain applications to be built on. For now, that's mostly taken the form of cryptocurrencies and related decentralized finance apps. Thousands of cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance applications are already built on the Ethereum blockchain, and increasing adoption on the network is helping to spur demand for ether. This positive pricing catalyst is occurring in conjunction with broader bullish momentum for the overall cryptocurrency space. 

Investors have already seen Ethereum benefit from a tremendous network effect. The question is whether or not this powerful tailwind will continue over the long term and work to drive its cryptocurrency token's valuation significantly higher. 

Ethereum has provided the network that serves as the foundation for a huge section of the overall cryptocurrency and blockchain ecosystem. With crypto tokens and smart-contract applications rapidly gaining adoption, the ether token valuation could still have huge room to run over the long term. However, investors also have to weigh the possibility that ether's valuation stands to see big swings in conjunction with volatility for the overall crypto space. Ether could deliver more huge gains, but investors should keep their risk tolerance in mind when allocating portfolio space for the token.