Growing market: bitcoin cash is just one of 1,500 crypto-assets in existence
Although bitcoin and ethereum tend to dominate the headlines when it comes to investing in cryptocurrencies, there are around 1,500 crypto-assets in circulation, with more added all the time
Each cryptocurrency has a slightly different make-up and function from the peoples favourite, bitcoin, to the banking-focused Ripple XRP.
Here are the 10 most popular cryptocurrencies in circulation today.
The original and most widely used. There are currently more than 16.8 million bitcoin tokens in circulation, against a present capped limit of 21 million.
Bitcoins market capitalisation varies significantly from day to day but has hit a record high of more than $200bn.
It remains the poster-child for the cryptocurrency industry, though critics suggest that its volatility, slow speeds, energy usage and higher transaction fees will put a limit on its growth.
This offshoot of the original Bitcoin, which launched in the summer of 2017, has already soared to become one of the most traded cryptocurrencies.
A little like a share split, there is now approximately the same amount of bitcoin cash in circulation as bitcoin. Nevertheless, there are key differences most notably, bitcoin cash has an 8MB block size compared with 1MB for the original bitcoin.
This means faster processing speeds, but on the downside it is more memory-intensive.
Known as bitcoins little brother, litecoin resembles its older sibling in that it is a peer-to-peer cryptocurrency, but has faster transaction speeds as well as a substantially higher token limit of 84 million.
However, its mining process is more memory-intensive and its market cap is around 1/20th of the size of bitcoin.
This is a cryptocurrency largely recognisable for its image of a Shiba Inu dog derived from the Doge internet meme.
Initially introduced as a parody currency, it now has its own online community. At the start of 2018, Dogecoin saw its market capitalisation reach $2bn.
Ethereum has been labelled a decentralised app provider. Originally developed as a world computer super network, it aimed to get rid of the need for third-party companies such as Apple in the creation of apps.
The apps developed on Ethereum are on a distributed public platform where miners can earn ether to fuel the network.
This works on a similar principle to Ethereum but applies it to digital advertising.
BATs (Basic Attention Tokens) allow advertisers to disintermediate publishers or, in other words, cut out the middlemen by paying internet users directly for their eyeballs.
Painful though this sounds, it simply means users get paid in BATs for browsing on the web.
The first open-source public blockchain in China, NEO was initially launched in 2014 as Antshares and enables the development of smart contracts and assets on its platform.
The group is in the Ethereum model but aims to be the platform of choice for the new smart economy.
Ripple has been designed as a centralised transaction network to be used by banks for money transfers in much the same way as, say, SWIFT.
It uses the XRP currency money is converted to the XRP token to be sent via the Ripple network and then converted back to money when it is withdrawn.
It is designed to be faster, more reliable and less volatile than other cryptocurrencies.
This Stellar network has lived up to its name, with the share price of its cryptocurrency token XLM growing by a stratospheric 30,000pc in 2017.
It was launched by Ripple co-founder Jed McCaleb in 2014 and, like Ripple, it is a transaction network for fast and efficient cross-border money transfers.
Cardano is another platform used to send and receive digital currencies, including its own cryptocurrency, ADA.
Created by Ethereum co-founder Charles Hopkinson in 2015, it is the first peer-blockchain powered by scientists and academics.
The Cardano network also aims to run decentralised apps on the blockchain. It currently has a market capitalisation of around $16bn.
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