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Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency and a digital payment system invented by an unknown programmer, or a group of programmers, under the name Satoshi Nakamoto. It was released as open-source software in 2009. The system is peer-to-peer, and transactions take place between users directly, without an intermediary. These transactions are verified by network nodes and recorded in a public distributed ledger called a blockchain. Since the system works without a central repository or single administrator, bitcoin is called the first decentralized digital currency. Besides being created as a reward for mining, bitcoin can be exchanged for other currencies, products, and services in legal or black markets. As of February 2015, over 100,000 merchants and vendors accepted bitcoin as payment. According to research produced by Cambridge University in 2017, there are 2.9 to 5.8 million unique users using a cryptocurrency wallet, most of them using bitcoin.
Ethereum is a decentralized, open-source blockchain with smart contract functionality. Ether (ETH or Ξ) is the native cryptocurrency of the platform. Among cryptocurrencies, Ether is second only to Bitcoin in market capitalization.
Ethereum was conceived in 2013 by programmer Vitalik Buterin. In 2014, development work commenced and was crowdfunded. The network went live on July 30, 2015. The platform allows anyone to deploy permanent and immutable decentralized applications onto it, with which users can interact. Decentralized finance (DeFi) applications provide a broad array of financial services without the need for typical financial intermediaries like brokerages, exchanges, or banks, such as allowing cryptocurrency users to borrow against their holdings or lend them out for interest. Ethereum also allows for the creation and exchange of NFTs, which are non-interchangeable tokens connected to digital works of art or other real-world items and sold as unique digital property. Additionally, many other cryptocurrencies operate as ERC-20 tokens on top of the Ethereum blockchain and have utilized the platform for initial coin offerings.
Ethereum has started implementing a series of upgrades called Ethereum 2.0, which includes a transition to proof of stake and aims to increase transaction throughput using sharding.
Ripple (XRP) was founded in 2012 by Jed McCaleb and Chris Larsen. Compared to other cryptocurrencies, Ripple takes much less energy and time to confirm transactions.
Aave (which means “ghost” in Finnish) was originally known as ETHLend when it launched in November 2017, and was renamed Aave in September 2018. It was one of the first crypto lending platforms to appear and currently has more than $12 billion in total value locked.
Cardano is a public blockchain platform. It is open-source and decentralized, with consensus achieved using proof of stake. It can facilitate peer-to-peer transactions with its internal cryptocurrency, Ada.
Cardano was founded in 2015 by Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson. The development of the project is overseen and supervised by the Cardano Foundation based in Zug, Switzerland. It is the largest cryptocurrency to use a proof-of-stake blockchain, which is seen as a greener alternative to proof-of-work protocols.
AXS is the governance token of the Axie Infinity ecosystem, giving holders rights to participate in votes and decide how funds are spent.
Axie Infinity is a trading and battling game that allows players to collect, breed, raise, battle, and trade creatures known as "axies" (characters based on axolotl), which are digitized as NFTs. New players need to purchase at least three axies to begin playing. Eighteen months after launch, the company estimated that the average player had spent around US$400.
The game uses a "pay-to-earn" model (also called "pay-to-play-to-earn" model) where participants can earn a token which is traded on Binance as an Ethereum-based cryptocurrency. Players can also exchange in-game assets as NFTs.
Bitcoin Cash is a cryptocurrency that is a fork of Bitcoin. Bitcoin Cash is a spin-off or altcoin that was created in 2017.
Chiliz is a popular digital currency used for sports and entertainment fan clubs operated on the Socios platform. When fans purchase CHZ, they gain access to fan tokens and can claim a stake in their club.
The Compound mainnet launched in September 2018, and has become extremely popular due to its open and flexible lending platform. It currently has more than $8 billion in total value locked.
Dogecoin is a cryptocurrency forked from Litecoin in 2013 and based on the popular doge internet meme.
The Graph is an indexing protocol that queries blockchain data from networks such as Ethereum and the InterPlanetary File System (IPFS). Open APIs, called subgraphs, can be developed by anyone to make data from Graph-supported networks easily accessible.
Chainlink is a decentralized blockchain oracle network built on Ethereum. The network is intended to be used to facilitate the transfer of tamper-proof data from off-chain sources to on-chain smart contracts. Its creators claim it can be used to verify whether the parameters of a smart contract are met in a manner independent from any of the contract's stakeholders by “connecting the contract directly to real-world data, events, payments, and other inputs.”
Chainlink's LINK token is an ERC677 token, an extension of ERC20. According to Chainlink, the trade value derived from these tokens is used to pay node operators for retrieving data from smart contracts, and also for deposits placed by node operators as required by contract creators. Tokens can be stored in any ERC20 wallet, as the ERC677 token retains all the functionality of an ERC20 token.
Litecoin (LTC or Ł) is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency and open-source software project released under the MIT/X11 license. Litecoin was an early bitcoin spinoff or altcoin, starting in October 2011. In technical details, Litecoin is nearly identical to Bitcoin. It is a source code fork of the Bitcoin Core client, differing primarily by having a decreased block generation time (2.5 minutes), increased maximum number of coins, different hashing algorithm (scrypt, instead of SHA-256), and a slightly modified GUI.
Litecoin was released via an open-source client on GitHub on October 7, 2011. The Litecoin network went live on October 13, 2011.
Terra started in 2018, and its mainnet was launched in 2019.
Decentraland launched its beta in 2019, following its $24 million ICO in 2017, and opened its platform publicly in February 2020. The premise of the platform is to support content creators who are looking for a new artistic medium, opportunity, or simply entertainment.
The Matic Network is a layer-2 scaling solution with side-chains for off-chain computation, while ensuring asset security using the Plasma framework and a decentralized network of Proof-of-Stake (PoS) validators. It aims to offer scalable and instant blockchain transactions. By utilizing an adapted version of the Plasma framework, the system is built on PoS checkpoints that are pushed to the Ethereum main-chain. As a result, it is expected to allow each Matic sidechain to theoretically achieve 2^16 transactions per block. The Matic Network has been a significant contributor to the Ethereum ecosystem, having worked on implementations of Plasma MVP (Minimum Viable Plasma), the WalletConnect protocol, and Dagger, a popular Ethereum event notification engine. Many projects have already been building applications on and integrating with Matic. MATIC is an ERC-20 token running on Ethereum used to pay for services on the Matic Network, but also serves as a settlement currency between users who operate within the Matic ecosystem.
The Sandbox was launched in 2011 by Pixowl, and was an early pioneer of blockchain-based gaming. Many big-name gaming, entertainment, and sports industry brands have lent their support to the platform, including Atari, Adidas, and Snoop Dogg.
The Shiba Inu token (SHIB) is a decentralized cryptocurrency characterized as a "meme coin" and created in August 2020 by an anonymous person or group known as Ryoshi. It is named after the Shiba Inu (柴犬), a Japanese breed of dog originating in the Chūbu region, the same breed that is depicted in Dogecoin's symbol, itself originally a satirical cryptocurrency based on the Doge meme.
Shiba Inu was created in August 2020, dubbing itself the “Dogecoin killer.” On May 13, 2021, Vitalik Buterin donated more than 50 trillion SHIB to the India COVID-Crypto Relief Fund.
Uniswap is a decentralized exchange protocol built on the Ethereum blockchain that offers non-custodial trading of ERC-20 tokens. Its first version (Uniswap v1) has been operating since November 2018 (launching at DevCon 4), while the second version (Uniswap v2) launched in May 2020. In Uniswap, users can swap tokens, add tokens to a pool to earn fees, or list a token without trusting any central intermediary. Since all interactions are done directly on-chain and thus cost gas fees, Uniswap has become the most significant gas contributor on the Ethereum public network and became the most widely used decentralized application in early 2021. Uniswap is built on a unique system called Automated Market Maker (AMM). At its core, liquidity is created by pools composed of two ERC-20 tokens. As a reward for liquidity provision, parties (Liquidity Providers, or LPs) collect swap fees that are incurred whenever individuals swap tokens. In Uniswap v2, swap fees are set at 0.30% of the notionally traded amount. Collected fees are allocated to the reserve of the pool. Once the protocol switch is turned on, UNI holders will collect 0.05% of each swap, while LPs' reward will decrease to 0.25%. Despite not being the first AMM, Uniswap has popularized the growth of automated market maker protocols, leading to the creation of competing protocols like SushiSwap, which greatly rely on its set of audited open source contracts. UNI is an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain that offers control over the Uniswap protocol governance, the UNI token community treasury, the protocol fee switch (0.05% of the fee would be collected by UNI token holders if activated), eth ENS, Uniswap default token list (tokens.uniswap.eth), and SOCKS liquidity tokens.
Stellar was released in 2014 by Jed McCaleb and Joyce Kim, and originally based on the Ripple protocol.