Looking back at 2013 it will come as no surprise that bitcoin (BTC) was number one in the top 10 measured by market capitalization (and about every other metric). It is a position that BTC has maintained, from the time the first competing altcoin – Namecoin – was launched in 2011 until today.
The list of other top 10 coins from five years ago includes some familiar names — but also several coins that many that have only entered the cryptocurrency space in recent years will have likely never heard of. The top 10 coins on September 1, 2013, were Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ripple, Namecoin, Peercoin, Feathercoin, Novacoin, Primecoin, Terracoin, and Infinitecoin.
In addition to bitcoin, Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP) have also remained part of the leading crypto assets throughout their existence. Litecoin managed to retain its “silver to bitcoin’s gold” status thanks to its active community and continuous innovation led by its vocal creator and former Coinbase engineer Charlie Lee. Litecoin is one of the few digital currencies, next to bitcoin, that has experienced a degree of merchant adoption thanks to its fast transaction times and low fees.
Ripple has held on to its top 10 position thanks to strong financial backing and sustained investor believe that it will be successful in its goal of becoming the ‘go to’ currency for interbank money transfers — a sentiment which is reflected in its market capitalization of over $13 billion.
The fourth largest cryptocurrency in 2013 was Namecoin, the first ever altcoin, which was launched in 2011. Namecoin was launched to enable the storage of data on the blockchain and to develop secure decentralized DNS. At the time, Namecoin (NMC) had a market capitalization of around three million dollars and was trading at $0.57.
Namecoin has survived the past five years (unlike many of its peers) but it has fallen off the radar for cryptocurrency investors and enthusiasts — currently ranking number 181 on Brave New Coin’s market cap table with a capitalization of $20 million and a price of $2.17. Compared to returns in the thousands of percent of its more successful peers, Namecoin’s comparatively meager 280 percent return over five years suggests that this project – despite its innovation – has not managed to retain investor interest.
Number five on the list of top coins in 2013 was Peercoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency to adopt a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) mechanism in combination with Proof-of-Work (PoW). Peercoin was launched in mid-2012 as a more scalable and energy efficient alternative to existing digital currencies. However, it did not manage to attract an active community to push the project forward.
At the time, Peercoin (PPC) was worth $0.17 and had a market capitalization of $3.6 million. Today, Peercoin is ranked number 125 with a market capitalization of $37 million and a price of $1.33. Similarly to Namecoin, Peercoin has survived but has failed to attract investor attention.
Next on the list is Feathercoin (FTC), which was launched in April 2013 as a fork of Litecoin. Its main selling point is that it is “10 times faster than bitcoin” due to its 60 second block times and NeoScrypt hashing algorithm. At the time FTC had a market capitalization of $2.2 million and was trading at $0.15. Since then this altcoin has fallen to number 240 with a market cap of $11 million and is trading below its 2013 level at $0.058.
Number seven of the top 10 coins of 2013 was Novacoin. Like Peercoin, Novacoin combines PoS and PoW to be more energy efficient than its pure PoW peers but uses a different hashing algorithm to Peercoin. However, the differences between Peercoin and Novacoin did not seem to convince investors of Novacoin’s value. In 2013, one NVC was worth $3.92 and its market cap was $1.4 million. Today, Novacoin is ranked at 335, with a market capitalization of $5 million and a price of $2.17.
2013’s eighth biggest coin was Primecoin. As the name suggests, Primecoin had something to do with prime numbers. More specifically, Primecoin (XPM) uses a proof-of-work system that searches for chains of prime numbers. However, the search for new prime numbers used in mathematical research was not enough to convince investors of the value of this coin.
In 2013, Primecoin had a market cap of $1 million and was trading at $0.54. Today, one Primecoin is worth $0.99 and its market cap is $24 million. It is ranked number 163 on the BNC market cap table.
Number nine out of the 2013 top 10 largest cryptocurrencies was Terracoin. Terracoin (TRC) was launched in 2012 to focus on speed, anonymity and user governance. However, despite its innovative features, Terracoin did not manage to hold investors’ attention for long. In September 2013, one TRC was worth $0.17 with a market cap of $600,000. Today, Terracoin has a market cap of $2.5 million, its price is trading at $0.11 and it is ranked at number 392.
Finally, Infinitecoin (IFC) was the last of the top 10 cryptocurrencies as of September 1, 2013. Launched in June 2013 as what can only be described as another bitcoin clone with little innovation, by September IFC was trading at $0.000004 and had a market cap of $340,000. Today, Infinitecoin is ranked at number 296 and its market cap is $7,000,000. The price of one IFC is $0.000078 and it appears that this project falls into the failed altcoins category.
While these “fallen angels” do not see much investor interest, a few of them are still being actively mined, which is why they still see some – albeit small – daily trading volumes, even if their developer teams are no longer actively working to improve their coins.
The Top 10 crypto assets today
Looking at today’s top 10, which is composed of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Bitcoin Cash, EOS, Stellar, Litecoin, Tether, Cardano, and Monero, it becomes clear that the cryptographic asset space has come a long way.
Five years ago, altcoins were largely clones of bitcoin with little more to offer than slightly faster transaction speeds and lower fees. Today, the top 10 largest digital assets have much more to offer, ranging from smart contract functionality, to acting as a transactional layers for the Internet of Things (IoT), to enabling anonymous payments.
The fast-changing list of top assets suggests that those who have stood the test of time may have the potential to continue to do so and thus offer a more defensive addition to crypto portfolios. At the same time, though, the leading altcoins change constantly and many projects that have been dubbed the next Bitcoin or Ethereum have fallen off the radar shortly after reaching the top 10 — Dogecoin, NEM, Omni, Steem and Nxt to name a few.