Shiba Inu (SHIB -1.23%) is irrefutably the top dog among cryptocurrencies when it comes to year-to-date gains. The digital token has skyrocketed in the ballpark of 56,700,000% in 2021.
However, Shiba Inu isn't the biggest winner lately. Actually, the high-flying coin has fallen a couple of spots on Coinbase's ranking of cryptocurrencies by market cap in recent weeks. These two cryptocurrencies have zoomed past Shiba Inu.
Avalanche (AVAX -2.78%) currently stands as the No. 11 cryptocurrency based on market cap. It pushed Shiba Inu out of that spot in mid-November. Today, Avalanche's market cap of around $22 million is roughly 20% bigger than Shiba Inu's market cap.
While Shiba Inu is a meme coin, Avalanche is all about real-world utility. It has emerged as a viable contender to Ethereum for developing decentralized applications using smart contracts.
A key attraction for Avalanche is its architecture. Avalanche integrates three blockchains in its network. This approach enables it to process more than 4,500 transactions per second and keep transaction costs very low.
Arguably, the biggest advantage for Avalanche, though, is its time to finality of less than two seconds. Time to finality is the amount of time it takes for a transaction to be irreversibly added to the blockchain. Other blockchains have significantly longer times to finality. For example, it currently takes Ethereum around six minutes to finalize a transaction.
The Avalanche ecosystem now includes more than 150 projects. These projects range from crypto wallets to non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces to stablecoins.
It's not just small developers choosing Avalanche. Global accounting and consulting firm Deloitte announced last month that it's building a cloud-based disaster-recovery platform using the Avalanche blockchain. This kind of adoption could keep Avalanche's momentum going into the new year.
Shiba Inu didn't remain one notch below Avalanche for very long. In early December, Terra (LUNC -2.12%) vaulted into the No. 12 position, based on market cap, with Shiba Inu slipping into the No. 13 spot.
Terra refers to its platform as "programmable money for the internet." Its blockchain supports algorithmic decentralized stablecoins that can be pegged to various fiat currencies. These currencies currently include the U.S. dollar, the Mongolian tugrik, and the South Korean won, as well as the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights, an asset pegged to a basket of currencies.
The prices of the two biggest stablecoins -- Tether and USD Coin -- have moved little if at all this year. That's the "stable" in stablecoin at work. It's been a much different story for Terra, though. Its native LUNA token has soared more than 8,500% year to date.
Why is Terra outperforming other top stablecoins? Governments want to tax any stablecoin income. In late November, Terra stakeholders voted overwhelmingly in favor of funding an upgrade to its TrackTerra tax and reporting application to export transactions to commonly used tax software. This move should make Terra more attractive to investors.
Terra claims to be the fastest-growing ecosystem among cryptocurrencies with more than 100 projects. As more apps are built using Terra's blockchain, the value for LUNA should increase. It wouldn't be surprising if Terra remains the best-performing big stablecoin in 2022.