Do not invest unless you are prepared to lose all the money you invest. Cryptoassets are high-risk investments, and you should not expect to be protected if something goes wrong. Take two minutes to learn more. Additionally, capital gains tax may apply to profits from cryptocurrency sales.
We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market capitalisation in 2023.
Market capitalisation (or market cap) is a metric used to measure the size and popularity of a cryptocurrency based on its current price and the volume of the cryptocurrency in circulation. The higher the market cap, the more popular the cryptocurrency is.
To get the market cap at any given point in time, simply multiply the current price of a cryptocurrency of your choice by the total number of that cryptocurrency in circulation.
Please remember that cryptoassets are highly volatile unregulated investment products with no UK or EU investor protection. You could lose all the money you put into them.
Here are the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap:
Bitcoin is a form of digital money that you can buy, sell or securely send to anyone anywhere in the world without the interference of banks, payment platforms or central governments.
Launched in 2008, Bitcoin is by far the world’s biggest and most popular cryptocurrency, with a market capitalisation of around £399 billion (at the time of writing).
There will only ever be 21 million Bitcoins in the world, making it a scarce cryptocurrency. Around 3 million Bitcoins are still available to be mined, and this will happen slowly over the next hundred years. The last blocks will theoretically be mined in the year 2140.
Bitcoin was created in 2009 by a person or organisation called Satoshi Nakamoto, who explained their theory of digital peer-to-peer transactions without the interference of the government in a white paper entitled “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”.
A blockchain is a specific type of database containing a list of transactions that anyone can view and verify. You can think of it like your bank statement or a bank ledger, where you can see a history of transactions carried out over a particular period. In the case of Bitcoin, the Bitcoin blockchain is a record of every time someone buys or sells Bitcoin. Read more about blockchain here.
Bitcoin uses cryptographic technology, making it more secure than standard debit or credit card transactions. However, there are some risks involved with Bitcoin transactions. For example, Bitcoin wallets are not necessarily anonymous, and they rely on passwords that can never be recovered once lost.
The current price of Bitcoin can be found on CoinMarketCap.
In early 2010, one Bitcoin was valued at a fraction of a penny. By October 2013, it had grown to over £100 (that’s over 1,000,000% growth in just three years), and by December 2017, the price skyrocketed to a whopping £15,000 (an increase of about 15,000% in four years). As of April 2022, the price of Bitcoin was £33,000 (120% growth from 2017).
Ethereum is a technology that lets you send cryptocurrency to anyone for a small fee. It also powers applications that everyone can use and no one can take down. According to the official Ethereum website, Ethereum is for more than just payments. It is a marketplace of financial services, games and apps that cannot steal your data or censor you.
The Ethereum cryptocurrency is called Ether (ETH), but most people call it Ethereum.
Ethereum was launched in 2015 and is the second-biggest cryptocurrency in the world by market capitalisation after Bitcoin. Ethereum builds on Bitcoin’s innovation with significant differences making it an even more exciting blockchain network and cryptocurrency.
In 2013, Vitalik Buterin (a 19-year-old computer programmer and Bitcoin Magazine co-founder) published a white paper proposing a highly flexible blockchain that could support virtually any kind of transaction. The Ethereum blockchain would allow for automated and immutable cause-effect statements for developing next-generation smart contracts and decentralised apps (dApps). Buterin’s focus was unifying how dApps run.
Ethereum is a decentralised blockchain network powered by Ether. Ethereum, unlike Bitcoin, was not created to be digital money. Instead, the founders set out to build a global, open-source, decentralised computing platform that takes the security and openness of blockchains and extends those attributes to a vast range of applications. The Ethereum blockchain allows for automated and immutable cause-effect statements, allowing for the development of next-generation smart contracts and decentralised apps (dApps).
Similar to Bitcoin, Ethereum is secured by proven cryptography. This protects your wallet, your ETH and your transactions. However, there are some risks involved with Ethereum transactions. For example, Ethereum wallets are not necessarily anonymous, and if you choose to use an Ethereum domain name (e.g. yourname.eth) to make your wallet address more readable, anyone with any internet connection can see all your transactions. Additionally, Ethereum wallets rely on passwords that can never be recovered once lost.
The current price of Ethereum can be found on Google Finance.
In 2015, the price of one Ethereum was less than one British pound. Three years later, in 2018, the price had grown to about £950 (over 9,000,000% growth in just three years). By November 2021, the price of one Ethereum had reached an all-time high of roughly £3,500 (an increase of about 270% in four years). As of April 2022, the price of Ethereum had dropped to £2,500 (a 29% decline from the 2021 high).
Tether or USDT is a stablecoin pegged on a one-to-one basis to the US dollar. This means that you should always be able to exchange 1 USDT for US$1 (at least, in theory).
Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies pegged on a one-to-one basis to a “stable” reserve asset like the US dollar, euro, yuan or gold. They are designed to reduce the volatility associated with cryptocurrencies. In theory, one stablecoin should almost always equal the value of the reserve asset it is pegged to (i.e. 1 USDT = 1 USD). This way, one can spend, hold or gift stablecoins without worrying about the price volatility associated with unpegged cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. This is especially beneficial for people in developing countries where the national currencies are unstable. Stablecoins also serve as a safe haven for crypto traders in times of extreme volatility.
Tether was launched in 2014 and is the third-biggest cryptocurrency in the world by market capitalisation after Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Tether’s creators claim that every Tether token is 100% backed by reserves, including traditional currency and cash equivalents, and may include other assets and receivables from loans made by Tether to third parties.
Tether is not only available in US dollars. It is also available in euros (EUR₮), offshore Chinese yuan (CNH₮), and gold (XAU₮).
Tether USDT was founded in July 2014 by crypto enthusiasts and entrepreneurs Brock Pierce, Craig Sellars, and Reeve Collins, and it was originally known as “Realcoin”.
Tether does not have its own blockchain. Instead, Tether tokens are built on several leading blockchains, including Ethereum, Solana, Omni, Bitcoin Cash’s Simple Ledger Protocol (SLP), EOS, Liquid Network, Tron and Algorand.
Similar to Bitcoin or Ethereum, Tether is secured by proven cryptography. However, there are some risks involved in buying and holding Tether, such as losing all your money if you lose access to your wallet or being a victim of a scam or fraud. Another point to note about Tether is that, unlike Bitcoin or Ethereum, which have a strong sense of community and purpose, Tether comes across as a money market fund run by a single independent company.
It runs on several blockchains.
The current price of Tether can be found on Google Finance.
In early March 2015, the price of 1 USDT was about US$0.61. It then jumped to US$1 a few days later. Since then, it has largely stayed at about US$1, with a few instances of it dropping slightly below or rising a little above the US dollar.
You can buy Tether USDT in the UK from crypto exchanges such as Coinbase.
BNB, which stands for “Build and Build”, is the native cryptocurrency of the BNB Chain (formerly Binance Smart Chain and Binance Chain). It was first minted in July 2017 on Ethereum but later migrated to Binance Chain.
BNB is a utility token that allows holders to pay discounted fees for trading on Binance’s exchange. BNB can be used for travel expenses and is spendable on products and services using the Binance Visa card. Holders can also donate BNB to charity via the Binance Charity Foundation (BCF) project.
The coin has a limited supply of 200 million, and Binance conducts a quarterly coin-burning event as a deflationary measure to reduce the total supply of BNB in circulation. The burning events will occur until the total supply is reduced to 100 million.
BNB, or Binance Coin, was created by Binance, a crypto exchange and blockchain platform initially domiciled in China but now headquartered in the Cayman Islands.
BNB Chain is a native blockchain created by Binance. It is a programmable ecosystem like Ethereum that can run smart contracts and serve as a platform for other applications and cryptocurrencies. BNB Chain is a merger of two previous blockchains created by Binance - Binance Chain and Binance Smart Chain (BSC).
As with most of the major cryptocurrencies, BNB uses cryptographic technology, which makes it more secure than standard debit or credit card transactions. However, there are some risks involved with BNB transactions. For example, BNB wallets are not necessarily anonymous, and they rely on passwords that can never be recovered once lost. It is also important to highlight that the UK’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has banned Binance in the UK.
BNB holders pay discounted fees for trading on Binance’s exchange, which is one of the biggest crypto exchanges in the world.
The current price of BNB can be found on Google Finance.
In 2017, one BNB was valued at a fraction of a pound. By October 2018, it had grown to about £13 (that’s about 13,000%). The price began spiking in January 2021, and by November 2021, it had reached an all-time high of £485 (an increase of about 3,600% in four years). As of April 2022, the price of one BNB was £320 (a 34% decline from the 2021 high).
You can buy Binance Coin BNB in the UK on various online crypto exchanges such as eToro.
USD Coin or USDC is a stablecoin pegged on a one-to-one basis to the US dollar. This means that you should always be able to exchange 1 USDC for US$1 (at least, in theory).
Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies pegged on a one-to-one basis to a “stable” reserve asset like the US dollar, euro, yuan or gold. They are designed to reduce the volatility associated with cryptocurrencies. In theory, one stablecoin should almost always equal the value of the reserve asset it is pegged to (i.e. 1 USDC = 1 USD). This way, one can spend, hold or gift stablecoins without worrying about the price volatility associated with unpegged cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum. This is especially beneficial for people in developing countries where the national currencies are unstable. Stablecoins also serve as a safe haven for crypto traders in times of extreme volatility.
Launched in September 2018, USDC is a stablecoin backed by cash and dollar-denominated assets of at least equal, fair value to the USDC in circulation in segregated accounts with US-regulated financial institutions. According to Coinbase, one of the founders of the USD Coin, such accounts are verified publicly by an independent accounting firm.
USD Coin was created by the Centre consortium, a partnership between peer-to-peer payment services company, Circle, and cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase.
USD Coin is powered by the Ethereum blockchain.
Like Bitcoin or Ethereum, the USD Coin is secured by proven cryptography. However, there are some risks involved in buying and holding USDC, such as losing all your money if you lose access to your wallet or being a victim of a scam or fraud. That said, the founders of USDC continuously reiterate and give the assurance that 1 USDC can always be redeemed for US$1, provided you have a US dollar bank account. Exchange rates will always apply to customers without a US-dollar bank account.
Although Tether is a much more popular stablecoin, the USD Coin is generally considered the safest alternative amongst the USD-pegged stablecoins due to higher transparency, increased interoperability and improved legal framework.
The current price of USD Coin can be found on CoinMarketCap.
Over the years, the price of USDC has ranged from US$0.97 to US$1.04.
XRP is the native cryptocurrency of Ripple, a blockchain payment system created in 2012 by Ripple Labs Inc. It facilitates cross-border transactions at a speed and throughput that is orders of magnitude faster than Bitcoin or Ethereum. For context, transaction speeds can be as fast as 60 minutes with Bitcoin, 10 minutes with Litecoin, 2 minutes with Ethereum and 0.07 minutes with XRP.
XRP proposes a cheaper and more efficient alternative to SWIFT to process international transactions.
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, or SWIFT, is a global messaging network that banks and other financial institutions use to quickly, accurately, and securely send and receive information, such as money transfer instructions. SWIFT currently has more than 11,000 member institutions globally.
XRP proposes to do SWIFT’s job cheaper, more efficiently and in an eco-friendly manner. The XRP Ledger settles XRP transactions instantly without the energy costs associated with proof of work (or mining), as is the case with Bitcoin, Ethereum and many other cryptocurrency blockchains.
XRP currently has over 300 financial institutions on RippleNet and consistently handles 1,500 transactions per second, 24 hours a day, and can scale to handle the same throughput as Visa. It also recently won a lawsuit against the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Ripple Labs Inc. was founded in 2012 by Chris Larsen and Jed McCaleb and is based in San Francisco, California, US.
The XRP blockchain, called the XRP ledger, is an open-source, permissionless and decentralised blockchain technology that can settle transactions in 3 - 5 seconds.
Unlike other blockchains that use proof of work or proof of stake verification mechanisms to settle transactions on the blockchain, the XRP ledger uses a protocol called Consensus, which is a more centralised and efficient solution to reduce transaction processing times and costs. The ledger reaches consensus on all outstanding transactions every 3 - 5 seconds, much faster than SWIFT, Bitcoin or Ethereum.
The XRP ledger is maintained by independent participants of a global “XRP Community,” of which Ripple is an active member.
All cryptocurrencies carry a certain amount of risk, and XRP is no different. Although XRP uses cryptographic technology, which makes it more secure than standard debit or credit card transactions, there are still some risks involved. For example, you could lose all your money if you lose access to your wallet or are a victim of a scam or fraud. Additionally, XRP is difficult to purchase, so it might also be difficult to exchange or convert it to cash.
The current price of XRP can be found on Google Finance.
In August 2013, the price of one XRP was £0.002. By April 2018, it had reached an all-time high of £2.50 (representing a 125,000% increase in just five years). As of April 2022, the price of XRP had dropped to £0.55 (a 78% decline from the 2018 high).
Cardano is one of the biggest cryptocurrencies by market cap, with a market cap of £7 billion at the time of writing. It is very similar to Ethereum 2.0 in that it uses a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm to validate transactions before they are added to the blockchain instead of proof of work, as is the case with the Bitcoin blockchain and Ethereum 1.0.
Cardano claims it is built on a more sustainable and scalable blockchain technology called Ouroboros, which provides and improves the security guarantees of proof of work at a fraction of the energy cost.
Cardano, like Ethereum, can be used for running smart contracts, which allows for the development of a wide range of decentralised finance apps, new crypto tokens, games, and more.
The native cryptocurrency of the Cardano platform is ADA (named after Ada Lovelace, a 19th-century mathematician who is recognised as the world’s first computer programmer). Any user located anywhere in the world can use ADA as a secure exchange of value without requiring a third party to mediate the exchange. Every transaction is permanently, securely, and transparently recorded on the Cardano blockchain.
There is a maximum supply of 45 billion ADA, and at the time of writing, 33.7 billion were already in circulation.
Cardano was launched in September 2017 by Ethereum co-founder Charles Hoskinson.
The Cardano blockchain is designed to be a highly scalable and environmentally sustainable blockchain platform. It uses a new and innovative proof-of-stake consensus mechanism called Ouroboros, which is intended to be more energy-efficient compared to the energy-intensive proof-of-work mechanism currently used by Bitcoin and Ethereum. (Ethereum is also moving to a proof-of-stake mechanism via the ETH2 upgrade).
The Cardano blockchain is divided into two layers: the Cardano Settlement Layer (CSL) and the Cardano Computing Layer (CCL). The CSL contains the ledger of accounts and balances (and is where the transactions are validated by the Ouroboros consensus mechanism). The CCL layer is where all the computations for apps running on the blockchain are executed - via the operations of smart contracts.
Splitting the blockchain into two layers helps the Cardano network process as many as a million transactions a second.
According to the Cardano Foundation, “Ouroboros exists to define the parameters of the new world: a protocol more secure, scalable, and energy-efficient than anything that has come before.” However, you should be aware of the general risks associated with cryptocurrencies, such as losing all your money if you lose access to your wallet or are a victim of a scam or fraud.
The Cardano blockchain is designed to be faster and more energy-efficient than the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains.
The current price of Cardano ADA can be found on Google Finance.
In early 2017, one ADA was valued at just about one penny. By January 2018, it had grown to 80p (representing a 7,900% growth in just one year). In September 2021, the price reached an all-time high of £2.15 (an increase of about 169% in three years) ahead of the launch of a new feature that allowed users to deploy smart contracts on Cardano. By April 2022, the price of ADA had dropped to £0.73 (a 66% decline from the 2021 high).
Dogecoin is an open-source, peer-to-peer digital currency that brands itself as the “fun and friendly internet currency”. Dogecoin is based on similar technologies as other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin but with faster access speeds and more affordable transaction costs. It uses the Scrypt hashing algorithm and proof-of-work protocol to enable it to receive work from other Scrypt-based networks.
Through the support of large online communities on platforms such as Reddit, Twitter and Discord, combined with publicity stunts such as funding the Jamaican Bobsled team for the 2014 Winter Olympics, Dogecoin has become immensely popular, and its price has grown by more than 4,000%.
Unlike other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Dogecoin has no maximum supply, and its miners earn 10,000 DOGE per block, and each block is created every minute. However, only 5 billion coins are added every year.
Dogecoin was created in late 2013 by Bill Marcus and Jackson Palmer with the primary purpose of raising public awareness of blockchain technology capabilities. Although originally created as a “joke”, Dogecoin is now one of the biggest cryptocurrencies by market cap.
Dogecoin has its own blockchain. It uses a proof-of-work consensus algorithm called auxiliary Proof of Work that allows it to be mined while mining other coins that also use a proof-of-work algorithm. It uses the Ren Project to enable it to be used on the Ethereum blockchain to achieve transactions and trades on decentralised crypto exchanges. The use of Scrypt technology allows it to use less energy when mined.
Like all other cryptocurrencies, there are general risks, such as losing all your money if you lose access to your wallet. Also, as it is decentralised, no protective measures can be taken if you are a victim of a scam or fraud. Dogecoin also has relatively weaker security and code level scrutiny than Bitcoin and might be less safe than cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Bitcoin.
The current price of Dogecoin can be found on CoinMarketCap.
The price of Dogecoin peaked at US$0.6848 in May 2021, having increased dramatically since the start of 2021 from less than one cent. It has decreased in price gradually since then, with its current price being around US$0.06.
Solana is a blockchain that employs novel approaches to achieve high transaction speeds without sacrificing decentralisation. Solana’s native cryptocurrency is SOL, and it can be used to pay transaction fees and for staking. It also gives holders the right to vote in future upgrades.
While initial work on the project began in 2017, Solana was officially launched in March 2020 by the Solana Foundation, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland.
Solana is very similar to Ethereum. The key difference is that while Ethereum employs proof of stake to validate transactions on the blockchain, Solana employs both proof of stake and proof of history.
Proof of history was first created by the founders of Solana and serves as a timestamp mechanism to speed up the validation of transactions on the Solana blockchain. Proof of history helps reduce transaction processing times, making the Solana blockchain faster and more cost-effective than its predecessors, Bitcoin and Ethereum. For context, Solana can process around 50,000 transactions per second - compared to 15 or fewer for Ethereum (Ethereum is currently being upgraded to ETH2 to address speed and cost issues).
Software engineers can also build and run crypto, DeFi and web3 applications on Solana, just like Ethereum. The transaction processing speed and cost efficiency make Solana more appealing to engineers looking to build products that scale.
Solana was created by Anatoly Yakovenko, Greg Fitzgerald and Stephen Akridge, all former employees of Qualcomm.
Solana is a decentralised blockchain network powered by SOL. It uses a combination of proof-of-stake and proof-of-history consensus mechanisms to validate transactions before they are added to the blockchain.
Like Ethereum, Solana can interact with smart contracts to power a wide range of applications and projects in the crypto ecosystem, including dApps, DeFi, Web3, NFT marketplaces, games, decentralised lotteries and much more.
As with most cryptocurrencies, Solana uses cryptographic technology, making it more secure than standard debit or credit card transactions. However, there are some risks involved with SOL transactions. For example, SOL wallets are not necessarily anonymous, and they rely on passwords that can never be recovered once lost.
The current price of Solana can be found on CoinMarketCap.
In April 2020, the price of SOL was just £0.62. In August 2021, the price suddenly spiked from around £25 at the beginning of the month to around £54 three weeks in, drawing mainstream attention to the altcoin. By November 2021, SOL had reached an all-time high of £192 (a 256% increase from the August figure). By April 2022, the price of SOL had dropped to £77 (a 60% decline from the 2021 high).
Polygon is a Layer 2 scaling solution for Ethereum that aims to improve the speed, scalability, and efficiency of the Ethereum network. It provides a framework for building and connecting Ethereum-compatible blockchain networks. Polygon is designed to enable the development of decentralised applications (dApps) and is sometimes referred to as the “Internet of Blockchains.” The native token of Polygon is called MATIC.
Polygon was launched in 2017 as the Matic Network and rebranded to Polygon in February 2021. Its goal is to solve some of the limitations of the Ethereum network, such as high gas fees and slow transaction times.
Polygon was co-founded by Jaynti Kanani, Sandeep Nailwal, Anurag Arjun, and Mihailo Bjelic. They have backgrounds in software engineering, blockchain, and product management. The team aimed to create a scalable, secure, and user-friendly solution to address the challenges faced by the Ethereum blockchain.
Polygon is a Layer 2 scaling solution that uses a combination of Plasma chains, Proof of Stake (PoS) checkpoints, and sidechains to create a flexible and efficient network. The Polygon network is designed to be compatible with the Ethereum blockchain, allowing developers to build and deploy dApps easily. The network also supports the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM), enabling seamless integration with existing Ethereum-based applications.
Polygon employs proven cryptographic techniques to secure its network and transactions. While the technology is considered secure, it’s important to remember that all cryptocurrencies and blockchain networks have inherent risks. Users should exercise caution, especially when managing private keys and passwords, as lost credentials can lead to the loss of funds.
Polygon’s unique approach to scaling the Ethereum network sets it apart from other Layer 2 solutions. Its hybrid architecture combines multiple scaling techniques to improve the performance of the Ethereum ecosystem. Some of its key features include:
The current price of Polygon MATIC can be found on CoinMarketCap.
In May 2019, the price of one MATIC was less than £0.01. By the end of 2020, the price had grown to approximately £0.017 (a 70% increase in about 1.5 years). In May 2021, the price of one MATIC reached an all-time high of around £1.90 (an increase of over 11,000% in just six months). As of April 2023, the price of Polygon MATIC has dropped to around £0.79 (a 58% decline from the 2021 high). Despite this decrease, the overall growth of Polygon MATIC remains impressive over the years.
Every month, we’ll send you The Plug - a curation of the best personal finance content in the UK. We share real-life stories, how-to guides, top personal finance news, popular community questions, and tips to help you stay on top of your money.