Cryptocurrency is quickly gaining momentum with investors, banks, and governments worldwide. The technology behind most cryptocurrencies, blockchain, has infiltrated industries far beyond the financial sector and is offering up solutions to long-standing problems. But when it seems like there’s a new ICO (initial coin offering) popping up everyday, how does a new investor know where to start looking, much less start investing?

In this list, I’ll fill you in on some of the most prominent cryptocurrencies on the market as well as a few intriguing altcoins with interesting backstories. Happy trading!

These are the top 10 cryptocurrencies to watch in 2017:

Bitcoin (BTC)

This is the big one, the cryptocurrency that started this radical snowball of change in the financial world. It was invented under the name of Satoshi Nakamoto, and it is what brought the word “blockchain” into the public eye. A currency–one that you can spend–that isn’t controlled by a government and doesn’t require a bank? Unheard of in 2009 when the technology behind this cryptocurrency was released as open source.

It was quickly adopted by underground criminals, and was often spoken in the same breath as the “Deep Web” or “Dark Web” depending on who you were talking to. It was an integral part of The Silk Road.

Once considered the realm of hackers, drug dealers, and assassins, this cryptocurrency has evolved into something for investors, traders, and governments. It has made many people rich and its foundational technology, blockchain, has fostered changes in nearly every sector from fintech to supply chain to healthcare to government to energy.

At the time of this writing, a single bitcoin is worth $2526.41.

Ethereum (ETH) & Ethereum Classic (ETC)

Ethereum and its associated currency, ether, came about from a proposal in 2013 by Vitalik Buterin. When the blockchain split in 2016, the network was divided into Ethereum and Ethereum Classic, with Ethereum being the majority. Ethereum has also provided the basis for many decentralized apps (DApps) using their networking technology. Now, ether (eth) and bitcoin are often spoken in close succession, and it is among the most popular cryptocurrencies on the market.

Right now, during this writing, ether is worth $296.15 per coin.

 

Monero (XMR)

Monero went about cryptocurrency slightly differently than its predecessors and gave a major focus to privacy and scalability. Originally launched as BitMonero, they quickly shortened their name to Monero and saw rapid growth. This cryptocurrency is based on the CryptoNote protocol and is strictly “proof of work” and has no maximum block size, unlike Bitcoin.

Right now, one monero is worth approximately $46.41.

 

Litecoin (LTC)

Litecoin was released in 2011 by former Google employee, Charles Lee.

Important notes in history about litecoin include:

  • First to adopt SegWit (Segregated Witness) among the top five cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. SegWit was a change that inspired much debate in 2016 that, put simply, involved removing signature data in order to free up space.
  • First use of the Lightning Network which sent LTC from Zurich to San Diego in <1 second.

At the time of this writing, one litecoin is worth approximately $39.97.

 

Zcash (ZEC)

Zcash, short for ZeroCash, has often been touted for its strides in anonymity via zero-knowledge cryptographic proofs. Zcash offers both shielded and transparent transactions that vary in whether or not the amount and recipient of a transaction are private or not. Although it only released in 2016, Zcash is already in the top ten cryptocurrencies by market cap.

Right now (during this writing), Zcash is worth approximately $308.85 per coin.

 

STEEM & Steem Dollars (STEEM)

Steem is an interesting blockchain / cryptocurrency project  in that it is linked to the social network SteemIt. STEEM is related closely to Steem Power which is a value assigned to how much influence a SteemIt account has. Influence can be gained on SteemIt much like any other social network–by creating posts that contain valuable or entertaining information. It is also related to Steem Dollars which is linked closely with the US dollar. STEEM can be traded on cryptocurrency exchanges as well as for Steem Dollars.

At the time of this writing, STEEM is worth approximately $1.77 and has a market cap of over $416M.

 

NEM (XEM)

NEM was launched in March of 2015 and includes a reward system, messaging, and support for multisig transactions. While some investors are hesitant to invest, others expect NEM to grow in the coming months. Whichever side of the fence you’re on, it’s definitely a cryptocurrency to watch in 2017

At the time of this writing, XEM is worth approximately $0.16 and has a market cap of $1.6B.

 

Dash (DASH)

Dash, formerly known as both Darkcoin and Xcoin, is a popular cryptocurrency thanks to instant and private transactions as well as decentralized governance. Although otherwise similar to bitcoin, these important features set dash apart from the crypto crowd and have given reason for investors to continue to grow the value of this cryptocurrency.

Currently, dash is within the top ten most valuable cryptocurrencies by market cap. At the time of this writing, dash is worth approximately $181.07 with a market cap of over $1.3B.

 

Ripple (XRP)

Ripple is a lot of things beyond just a cryptocurrency. Ripple is also a payment protocol. Without getting into too much technical jargon, understand that Ripple has been favored by banks over other cryptocurrency methods such as those that back bitcoin, although many of the basic-level core principles are still the same–a shared ledger for example. For anyone interested in the more techie stuff, the Wikipedia article has a great outline of the Ripple technology.

At the time of this writing, ripples are worth approximately $0.25 and the ripple market cap is over $8B, placing it among the top in the world.

 

Dogecoin (DOGE)

Dogecoin is based on a meme, and originally started as a joke. The graphical version of the coin features a silly meme dog face and was created by Billy Markus. Despite the silliness, this meme coin grew in value rather quickly, and is currently traded on most major exchanges that deal in altcoins.

Dogecoin is worth approximately $0.002 and has a market cap of over $289M at the time of this writing.

Maybe we should all have a little more humor!

 

Which coins are you dealing in this year? Let us know in the comments below!