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Bitcoin (BTC or ₿) 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.
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. In September 2022, Ethereum's blockchain converted to Proof-of-Stake validation.
Additionally, many other cryptocurrencies operate as ERC-20 tokens on top of the Ethereum blockchain and have utilized the platform for initial coin offerings, as do many NFTs and other smart contract projects.
Tether (often called by its short code USDT) is a cryptocurrency with tokens issued by Tether Limited, which in turn is controlled by the owners of Bitfinex. Tether is the most popular stablecoin, as it was originally designed to always be worth US$1.00, maintaining $1.00 in reserves for each tether issued.
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. 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.
Bitcoin Cash is a fork of Bitcoin that aims to be a true peer-to-peer electronic cash system. Bitcoin Cash was created in 2017 and features fast payments, low fees, privacy, and high transaction capacity.
BNB is the dedicated token for Binance exchange, issued on its own blockchain. It is an integral part of the BNB ecosystem and its subprojects.
Binance USD (BUSD) launched in September 2019 by Binance and Paxos and is a 1:1 USD-backed stablecoin. The New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) approved and regulates BUSD, and its Monthly Audit Report can be viewed on its official website.
Paxos has indicated that 96% of the assets backing BUSD are held in cash and cash equivalents, while 4% are invested in U.S. Treasury bills, as of June 30, 2022.
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.
Dai (or DAI) is a stablecoin cryptocurrency that aims to keep its value as close to one United States dollar (USD) as possible through an automated system of smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. Dai is maintained and regulated by MakerDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), who may vote on changes to certain parameters in its smart contracts in order to ensure the stability of Dai.
Together, Dai and MakerDAO are considered the first examples of decentralized finance to receive significant adoption.
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. GRT is an ERC20 token used to allocate resources on these networks.
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.”
LINK 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. The LUNA token is used to stabilize the Terra protocol's stablecoins, and its holder are able to submit and vote on governance proposals.
The Terra blockchain officially halted at block 7607789 in May 2022. The original Terra Chain has been rebranded as Terra Classic (LUNC).
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.
Polygon 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.
MATIC is an ERC20 token used to pay for services on the Polygon Network, but also serves as a settlement currency between users who operate within the Polygon 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 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.
Solana launched in 2017 during the ICO boom. Its first goal was to minimize the time it took to validate transactions, leading to its novel Proof-of-History algorithm.
SOL is the native currency on the Solana blockchain and was released to the public in May 2020.
Uniswap is a popular decentralized trading protocol that facilitates automated trading of DeFi tokens. UNI is an ERC20 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.
USD Coin (USDC) launched in September 2018 as a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar at 1:1 basis. Every USD Coin in circulation is backed by $1 held in reserve, of both cash and short-term U.S. Treasury bonds. The Centre consortium created USDC and it is issued by regulated financial institutions.
USD Coin’s mantra is “digital money for the digital age” as allows businesses to accept payments in digital assets, with a goal to create an ecosystem where USDC is accepted by as many wallets, exchanges, service providers and dApps as possible.
Stellar was released in 2014 by Jed McCaleb and Joyce Kim, and originally based on the Ripple protocol.