What Are Altcoins?

An altcoin is any digital cryptocurrency similar to Bitcoin. The term generally stands for “alternative to Bitcoin” and is used to address any crypto coins that are not Bitcoin. Altcoins are created by deviating from Bitcoin consensus rules (the essential rules of the cryptocurrency’s network) or by creating a new cryptocurrency from scratch.

The word “altcoin” is short for “Bitcoin alternative,” and therefore describes every single cryptocurrency except for Bitcoin. Altcoins are referred to as Bitcoin alternatives due to the fact that, at least to some extent, most altcoins aim to either replace or improve on at least one of Bitcoin components.

There are hundreds of altcoins out there on the market and more are introduced each day. Most altcoins are more or less Bitcoin clones, changing only minor features such as its transactions speed, methods of distribution, or hash algorithm. Most of these coins don’t last very long. One exception is Litecoin, which was one of the first altcoins to be created. Beside using a different hash algorithm than Bitcoin, Litecoin has quite a higher number of currency units. Thanks to this, Litecoin has branded itself as the “silver to Bitcoin’s gold.”

However, some altcoins make their break by experimenting with useful features Bitcoin does not have. For instance, Darkcoin aims to provide a platform for complete anonymous transactions, BitShares views itself as “a fair edition of Wall Street,” and Ripple acts as a protocol that users can use to make inter-currency payments a piece of cake. Some altcoin ecosystems, such as CounterParty and Mastercoin, even use the Bitcoin blockchain to power the security of their platform.

Many people who support Bitcoin pose an argument that altcoins are unnecessary and will not succeed because they cannot be on par with the infrastructure Bitcoin has. However, altcoins serve an important role. Decentralization is one of Bitcoin’s most important goals, and altcoins will make the cryptocurrency community even more decentralized. Otherwise, what is the point of Bitcoin being a decentralizer if it is the only coin there is? That’d be ironic.

What Was the First Altcoin?

Namecoin was the first ever altcoin, created in April of 2011. Even though it also works as a currency, Namecoin’s main goal is to decentralize registration for domain-name. This makes it harder for Internet censorship. Namecoin has remained one of the most successful altcoins throughout its short lifespan, seated at top ten most successful cryptocurrencies.

Where Can I Get Altcoins?

Similar to Bitcoin, there are more than a couple of ways to obtain altcoins. The most basic way, though, is to accept them as payment for products and services. If you are interested in getting Altcoin, place an ad illustrating your skills on a job board that uses crypto coins.

You can also trade for altcoins on crypto exchanges. Most exchange use Bitcoin as an go-between, so you will need to buy some bitcoin if you don’t own any before you can trade them for altcoins. Some of the highest traffic exchanges include Bittrex, MintPal, and Cryptsy.

Many altcoin communities also conduct giveaways to give themselves exposure for their coin and encourage new users to join their ventures. This is a great way to acquire coins if your budget and skills aren’t very significant.

One Comment

  1. Pete Anzalone November 11, 2017 Reply

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