Top 5 Cryptocurrencies By Market Capitalization

Beginning with the largest, the top five are currently Bitcoin ($BTC), Ethereum ($ETH), Tether ($USDT), XRP ($XRP), Bitcoin Cash ($BCH).

  1. Bitcoin (BTC) $168bn
  2. Ethereum (ETH) $26bn
  3. Tether (USDT) $9bn
  4. XRP (XRP) $8bn
  5. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) $4bn

How many cryptocurrencies are there?

There are approximately 5,738 cryptocurrencies being traded with a total market capitalization of $270 (as of  July 17, 2020).

Top 5 cryptocurrencies further reading


In August 2008, the domain name was registered. On October 31st, 2008, a paper was published called “Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System”. This was authored by Satoshi Nakamoto, the inventor of Bitcoin. To date, no one knows who this person, or people, are.

The paper outlined a method of using a peer-to-peer network for electronic transactions without “relying on trust”. On January 3rd, 2009, the Bitcoin network came into existence. Nakamoto mined block number “0” (or the “genesis block”), which had a reward of 50 Bitcoins.


Ethereum was launched by Vitalik Buterin on July 30th, 2015. He was a researcher and programmer working on Bitcoin Magazine, and he initially wrote a white paper in 2013 describing Ethereum. Buterin had proposed that Bitcoin needed a scripting language. He decided to develop a new platform with a more general scripting language when he couldn’t get buy-in to his proposal.

The development was funded by an online crowdsale between July and August 2014. The system went live with 11.9 million coins already mined for the crowd sale (about 13% of the total supply in circulation). Following the collapse of The DAO project in 2016, Ethereum was split into two blockchains. The new version became Ethereum and the original blockchain continues as Ethereum Classic.


Tether was issued on the Bitcoin blockchain. In their own words “Tether converts cash into digital currency, to anchor or ‘tether’ the value of the coin to the price of national currencies”. So, the value is meant to mirror that of the US dollar and each unit of Tether is backed by $1 held in reserve.

One of the main uses of Tether is to facilitate trading between cryptocurrencies with a rate fixed to the US$ allowing traders to take advantage of trading opportunities.


Ripple is a real-time gross settlement system (RTGS) developed by the Ripple company. It is also referred to as the Ripple Transaction Protocol (RTXP) or Ripple protocol. It can trace its roots to 2004 when a web developer called Ryan Fugger had the idea to create a monetary system that was decentralized and could effectively allow individuals to create their own money.

Bitcoin Cash

Bitcoin Cash was born out of the idea of making Bitcoin more practical for small, day-to-day payments. In May 2017, Bitcoin payments took about four days unless a fee was paid, which was proportionately too large for small transactions. A change to the code was implemented and Bitcoin Cash was born on 1st August 2017.

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