2017 was the breakout year for cryptocurrency. Starting at the beginning of the year, the total market cap for all cryptocurrencies was just over $17 billion and at the end of December, it reached just under $600 billion. Bitcoin (BTC), the original cryptocurrency, from the year 2013 to the beginning of 2017, held almost 90% dominance of the total market. Currently, BTC only holds 34.4% dominance. As cryptocurrency gained mainstream attention, Bitcoin slowly started losing the market cap dominance as individuals started buying up the less expensive coins to get their hands in the market. 2018 is shaping up to be the year of the altcoins, as you can see from the chart below. Bitcoin’s growth has slowed since it’s Bitcoin futures contracts launched on two Wall Street exchanges, mid-December. I would like to add, however, that BTC is still up over 1100% for the year in growth. Many who got in early investing in Bitcoin, made a serious profit last year.
As investors seek the “next Bitcoin”, Ethereum has held slow dominance. It was passed by Ripple (XRP) briefly two times in a years time, in May of 17′ and a week and a half ago. However, currently, it remains the clear second on the market by almost $60 billion. Both development teams on Bitcoin and the Ethereum network are facing the same issue, scalability. Transaction times on the Bitcoin blockchain have slowed exponentially and yesterday transaction times were around 2,000 minutes. The current fees associated with withdrawing Bitcoin and converting it to your fiat currency on Coinbase is currently around 60% (BTC/CAD). This is to cover the cost of the slow transaction time and the high fee. Bitcoin.org has even changed their website’s language, as you can see from the comparison photo below.
The lightning network is the project that is supposed to speed up the current Bitcoin blockchain, by adding a “layer” to the top of it for micropayments. Its current test net is running and it is being used but has endured several bug issues.
Ethereum’s main development team is working on scaling the Ethereum blockchain by way of quadratic “sharding.” In a Github post posted two days ago, the founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, points out the specs as to what sharding will look like. He held a developer meeting recently and anticipated that the fourth phase should be completed “in a month and a bit.” “Then from there we’re going to try and shard it into a working test, a kind of test network,” Vitalik said. If the Ethereum team can get this up and functioning faster than the lightning network, this could mean big things for the cryptocurrency. As you can see from the chart below, Ethereum’s market cap is just under $84 billion from Bitcoin’s market cap and could very well pass the coin this year. What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured Image: Dnevnik