The use of cryptocurrencies has gradually risen over the last decade and is beginning to weave its way into the mainstream. There are about 2000 cryptocurrencies in the world right now, which makes selecting a list of five a little questionable. However, I have, in my opinion, curated the five most important cryptocurrencies in the world today.

Cryptocurrencies also otherwise called digital currency is commonly marketed as the digital cash that is free from government manipulation or control. While this is true, there is more to most cryptocurrencies. In fact, most thriving digital currencies presently have more to offer than just cryptic unregulated transaction free from the government’s influence. And it is this diversity that has influenced my list of the top cryptocurrencies in the world.

1.      Bitcoin (BTC)

Bitcoin tops every list. Except of course if it does not make a list at all because it has grown to be expected. Bitcoin does not only make this list, but it also tops the list of digital currencies with the highest market capitalization, user base, and community. This is probably because it is the oldest of all digital currencies. And the first.

Bitcoin was introduced to the world in 2009 as a relatively unknown form of exchange whose main properties were ‘decentralized' and ‘digital.' Bitcoin has since grown into the strength it has today because of its age and the loyal investors or community backing it since its inception.

Bitcoin is based on the blockchain technology. However as the first and oldest, it is not without its flaws. Probably the greatest of its limitation is its very slow transaction speed

2.      Ethereum (ETH)

Ethereum comfortably offers more to Bitcoin's digital offerings, and the ‘Ether' maintains its reputation has the first digital currency created with the intention of a decentralized application platform in mind.

Ethereum is currently the second largest cryptocurrency in the world with a total market valuation of more than $18 billion as of August 2019. Ethereum is a robust blockchain platform in itself capable of serving many decentralized applications across the world. The ‘Ether’ currency has become the ubiquitous currency needed to run things on the Ethereum blockchain platform.

With Ethereum, many new cryptocurrencies do not need to develop their own native blockchain and could run their entire operation on Ethereum's.

3.      Ripple (XRP)

Ripple has steadily cut out its own niche across the crypto community and in the mainstream financial sector has well. One of the biggest problems facing Bitcoin is its ability to scale, its mining conundrum, and the resulting slow transaction speed.

Ripple seems to solve this entire problem in its stride, while also simultaneously focusing on more banking-focused objectives. A lot of cryptocurrencies have generated noise of disapproval and discontent across any fields, but Ripple is probably the first to have comfortably breached the gap of ‘cryptocurrency and enterprise-important.’

Its most significant advantages: Ripple can make an international transfer of money possible within seconds at meager costs, and it is also one of the few cryptocurrencies that are being comfortably and unabashedly employed in the real world and among known financial institutions.

4.      Litecoin (LTC)

Litecoin strolls into this list effortlessly. And it is one of the familiar names that has been around for more than a while too. Litecoin can be quickly and aptly described as a much faster ‘Bitcoin.' It does not support applications or smart contracts like Ethereum or EOS (a relatively newer blockchain platform created by Dan Larimer, also founder of Steemit). As Litecoin transaction takes about 2 minutes to process while a Bitcoin transaction can up to 5 times more.

Litecoin mining is however very much expensive, and its prospects are not as bright as other cryptocurrencies with more to offer than just a faster altcoin to Bitcoin.

5.      EOS

EOS is similar Ethereum in terms of functionality: it is a native blockchain platform that supports decentralized applications and likewise smart contracts. Launched last year, EOS was part of the minute selection of cryptocurrencies that remained impervious to the serious bear on the valuation of cryptocurrencies in 2018.

EOS has better scalability than Ethereum and has gone some way to tempting potential suitors to its platform rather than the latter. It commands a market capitalization of almost $4 billion as of time of writing.

There are of course many more cryptocurrencies that could have made my list, chiefly among them being Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Stellar (XLM) and Cardano (ADA). However, the world of cryptocurrencies is a rapidly evolving and surprising one.

A cryptocurrency launched in a month’s time could very well go on to rival Bitcoin by this time next year, you never can tell. If you don’t understand this yet, you only have to read our article on Facebook’s proposed Libra coin.