You'll Be Shocked to Learn Which 10 Cryptos Are Still in the Top 50 After Five Years
- Just 20% of the cryptocurrencies that topped the market cap charts in 2017 are still in today's top 50.
- The prices of 40% of 2017's top 50 have fallen or collapsed completely in the past five years.
Our analysis shows just how volatile the cryptocurrency market can be.
Cryptocurrency investing can be a challenging prospect for long-term investors because the market is still in its infancy. That, combined with high levels of speculation and hard-to-predict trends, means that many top cryptos can't hold their positions for long periods.
We compared the top 50 cryptos from five years ago with the ones in the list today using CoinMarketCap data. Not only are there huge changes in the prices and market caps, there are also significant changes in the top cryptos themselves.
These 10 cryptos are still in the top 50 after five years
Just 20% of the cryptocurrencies that were popular in 2017 have stayed the course. Here they are:
- Bitcoin (BTC): The granddaddy of crypto was in top place five years ago, and continues to dominate today. Bitcoin's price has gained over 3,000% in the past five years.
- Ethereum (ETH): Ethereum was the first cryptocurrency to introduce smart contracts. These tiny pieces of code live on the blockchain and are the backbone of the burgeoning decentralized finance industry. With a 6,000% price increase, Ethereum retained its second place.
- Tether (USDT): Back in 2017, Tether was the only stablecoin in the top 50. Now there are five top-20 dollar-pegged stablecoins. These cryptos have gained popularity with investors for their high yields and the ease of moving in and out of volatile crypto positions.
- XRP (XRP): Ripple has fallen from third to sixth place in the crypto charts, but still retains a strong position. The global payments platform is in the throes of a legal battle with the SEC over whether it should have registered as a security and followed the SEC's strict rules.
- Dogecoin (DOGE): Not only has the original meme token spawned hundreds of copycats, it's also begun to find utility beyond the joke intended by its creators. DOGE is up almost 30,000% since 2017.
- Litecoin (LTC): Litecoin aims to be a faster, more scalable form of digital payment than Bitcoin. It has fallen from fourth to 21st position in the past five years, but still remains one of the top cryptocurrencies.
- Stellar (XLM): Stellar is similar to Ripple in that it offers global money transfers, with two key differences. Stellar is more focused on retail customers and it isn't stuck fighting the SEC in court. It has only fallen one place, from 28 to 29 and its price is up over 5,000%.
- Monero (XMR): The privacy-focused crypto was one of the first coins to prioritize anonymity, which is one reason it's not available on many top U.S. crypto exchanges. Monero gained over 1,000% in the past five years, but it has also lost ground in the top crypto rankings. Monero was in seventh place in our 2017 snapshot and is now in 31st place.
- Ethereum Classic (ETC): Ethereum Classic was formed after a split in the Ethereum community. It also runs smart contracts, but where DeFi Llama shows the original Ethereum has the most money invested on its platform of any blockchain, ETC is in 93rd place. In terms of performance, ETC is similar to Monero. It's gained about 1,000% and fallen from sixth place to 32nd.
- Zcash (ZEC): Like Monero, Zcash is a digital currency that prioritizes privacy. Currently at 50th place in terms of market cap, it's crept into our list of survivors. With a price increase of around 130% in five years, it's the worst performer on this list.
Changes in the top 50 cryptos
The cryptocurrency industry has seen some dramatic changes in the past five years. It took a long time to recover from the crypto crash of 2018 and a number of projects collapsed during what some call a crypto winter. It's worth noting that 20 (40%) of the cryptocurrencies that were topping the charts in 2017 have lost value or are no longer trading.
This is one reason new crypto investors are advised to stick to the big cryptos such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. These industry giants have a better chance of surviving periods of turbulence, even if they might not produce the same gains as smaller cryptos. That said, if you're buying Bitcoin hoping for another 3,000% increase before 2027, you'll probably be disappointed.
On the other extreme, our analysis shows that 10 of 2017's top 50 cryptos produced gains of over 1,000%. This alone highlights the attraction (and risk) of crypto investing and is a good reason to only invest money you can afford to lose. There's a chance your coins and tokens could produce incredible gains, but there's also a chance they could collapse completely.
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We're firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.
Emma Newbery owns Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, and Stellar. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Bitcoin.
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