The last year has been a wild ride for cryptocurrency, but one of the most impressive performers of 2021 was Shiba Inu (SHIB 1.21%). The crypto saw its price skyrocket essentially overnight, and if you had invested and sold at just the right moment, it's possible to have made a lot of money.
However, Shiba Inu's price is currently down around 64% from its peak in late October, and it may or may not be able to bounce back.
This cryptocurrency, in particular, is a riskier investment because its price swings are due largely to hype. For the most part, Shiba Inu lacks real-world utility. This means its price may see wild fluctuations in the short term, but it will be harder for it to achieve stable long-term growth.
If you missed out on the Shiba Inu surge, don't worry. There are plenty of stronger cryptocurrencies to choose from, and these three options could be a smart bet in 2022.
Ethereum (ETH 1.43%) has long been one of the strongest players in the crypto space, and for good reason. The network is the most popular platform for decentralized applications (dApps), and it hosts everything from non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces to decentralized finance (DeFi) projects.
This year could be especially strong for Ethereum as it continues transitioning to its proof of stake (PoS) upgrade. With this update, the network will change how it verifies transactions. Once Ethereum moves fully to a PoS system, it will have several major advantages over its competitors.
For one, it will be more environmentally friendly. After its update, Ethereum is expected to consume around 99.95% less energy. It will also be substantially faster, moving from its current rate of around 14 transactions per second to a lightning-fast 100,000 transactions per second.
This increase in speed will also lower transaction fees -- a problem that has been plaguing Ethereum as it scales. With all of these improvements, Ethereum could be an even stronger crypto in 2022 and beyond.
Solana (SOL 5.24%) is one of the breakout stars over the last year. Its biggest advantage is its speed, and it can currently process up to 65,000 transactions per second.
It's also a platform for dApps, and because the network is so fast, developers have been flocking to Solana -- making it one of the fastest-growing blockchains. This has helped Solana compete with Ethereum, especially as users become frustrated with Ethereum's current sluggish speed and high transaction fees.
Whether Solana will remain a strong competitor after Ethereum's upgrade is still uncertain. But for now, Solana is one of the fastest networks and the 8th most popular cryptocurrency, giving it plenty of room for growth.
Avalanche (AVAX 1.53%) is similar to Ethereum and Solana in that it's a platform that can host dApps.
It is the youngest of the cryptocurrencies on the list, launched in 2020 -- compared to Solana which was created in 2017, and Ethereum in 2015. However, it's also one of the fastest-growing cryptos, up close to 3,000% since the beginning of last year.
Two of Avalanche's most significant advantages are its speed and low transaction fees. Like Solana, it has been labeled by some as an "Ethereum killer." It can currently process around 4,500 transactions per second, and it can reportedly complete transactions in under two seconds (compared to Ethereum's rate of around six minutes).
Again, whether Avalanche's advantages will still hold up after Ethereum's upgrade is unclear. But crypto isn't a zero-sum game, and it's possible to have multiple similar cryptocurrencies fulfilling different niches. There's a chance, then, that Ethereum, Solana, and Avalanche could all succeed and co-exist.
Before you invest anywhere...
Cryptocurrency can be a tempting investment, but it's important to keep in mind that it's still speculative at this point.
Many cryptos are in a slump right now, as prices have decreased drastically over the last few months. While this could make it a smart time to buy at a more affordable price, there are never any guarantees that prices will rebound.
Before you buy, make sure you understand the risks involved in investing in crypto, and only invest money you can realistically afford to lose. If crypto is right for you, these three investments could be a good fit for your portfolio.