Battle Of The Blockchains: Rival Cryptocurrencies And Who Comes Out On Top

Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, Taylor Swift and Kanye West – history is full of legendary feuds and rivalries, and the world of cryptocurrency is no different.

While some insist the competition is good for progress and innovation, too much can be counterproductive, with large amounts of time and resources being wasted on undermining the rival’s efforts. Still, the repercussions of a good competition are always fun to watch from the sidelines, so without further ado we present our 5 favourite cryptocurrency rivalries.

1. Bitcoin vs. Litecoin

While Bitcoin, the undisputed monarch of cryptocurrency, could technically be paired off against any altcoin for this list, we decided to go with Litecoin, the “silver” to Bitcoin’s “gold.” Created by Charlie Lee in 2011, Litecoin was intended to have all of the same functionalities of Bitcoin while improving on its shortcomings.

A bold claim. And given Litecoin’s meteoric rise in value of over 4,000% in 2017, for a while it seemed like it might actually overtake Bitcoin.

But how well does Litecoin actually follow through on its ambitions?

First of all, there are a few key differences between the 2 cryptocurrencies. In keeping with the gold/silver analogy, there is a much smaller supply of Bitcoin (21 million) than Litecoin (84 million). Litecoin, a hard fork of Bitcoin, was intentionally made this way to keep prices down. Thus, while Bitcoin is currently valued primarily as an investment asset, Litecoin may achieve its goal of being used for small purchases a lot sooner – so Litecoin has practicality in its favour.

Second, Bitcoin is notorious for being slow and currently suffers from scalability problems. When it comes to processing transactions, Litecoin is a lot faster and more versatile – it takes Litecoin users 2.5 minutes to generate a block, while it takes 10 minutes with Bitcoin.

When it comes to mining algorithms, Bitcoin uses the SHA-256 algorithm, which is highly complex and has led to the development of prohibitively expensive mining hardware (such as ASICs), effectively putting Bitcoin mining out of the reach of the little guy. Litecoin, on the other hand, uses the much simpler Scrypt algorithm, making mining far more accessible to the average users.

Functionally, Litecoin has in many ways the superior technology. It’s quicker, more useful in daily life, and its creator Charlie Lee has high hopes for where it’s headed. However, when it comes to a coin with political clout and first mover’s advantage, Bitcoin is still the name most people recognise and flock to. Plus, Charlie Lee selling all his LTC towards the end of December 2017 was a blow the Litecoin community is still recovering from.

So in terms of coming closer to filling the role of fiat currency, Bitcoin is currently the winning coin. Just as long as it doesn’t get too comfortable on that throne…

2. NEO vs. Ethereum

Here is another obvious comparison, with NEO often being referred to as “China’s Ethereum.” But is it really as simple as that?

After Bitcoin, Ethereum is the mostly highly valued and recognizable name in the crypto world. It came early to the game, launching in 2015, and made waves by offering users the capacity to write their own smart contracts on top of their open-source blockchain. Like Bitcoin, it suffers from scalability problems, but slowness and its older technology have not stopped Ethereum from becoming the second most in-demand cryptocurrency.

While NEO is a relative newcomer to the crypto scene, launching in December 2016, its price has risen steadily, and in a little over a year it has already accrued a robust ecosystem of dapps and partnerships within the fintech industry. And it certainly mirrors Ethereum in many ways: they’re both decentralised platforms that run dapps and smart contracts. They both host ICOs and have their own native token.

Ethereum might be the obvious giant – their market cap (at the time of writing) is US$65 billion to NEO’s US$5 billion. Nearly every ICO is built on the ERC-20 token platform, and “Vitalik Buterin” is as legendary a name as “Satoshi Nakamoto.” However, NEO has enormous potential that shows all signs of it being able to blow Ethereum out of the water.

First of all, NEO’s technology is faster, more secure, and overall superior to Ethereum’s. It can process 10,000 transactions per second, while Ethereum can only process 15. NEO supports different programming languages – C+ and Java, and eventually Python and Go – and uses the more energy-efficient Proof-of-Stake (PoS) validation to Ethereum’s Proof-of-Work (PoW). And, while Ethereum seeks to dominate the dapp market, NEO has a much grander ambition: to be the platform of the smart economy.

A smart economy is an economy based entirely on smart contracts, which will involve all physical assets and user identities represented digitally. To work properly, this will require strict identity verification, and NEO – crucially – has support from Chinese state-backed banks to make this happen. This is enormous in terms of the future development of NEO; getting on the good side of the Chinese government, who are notorious crypto-sceptics, means NEO will have more or less sole access to the Chinese market.

It’s difficult to say who has the edge in this rivalry. In terms of technology, speed, and ambition, NEO is superior to Ethereum. But does that mean NEO is going to “take over” all of Ethereum’s dapp-hosting functions?

Not at all. It’s still very much localised in China, whose market is robust enough to keep any blockchain occupied for a good while. Plus, Ethereum is firmly entrenched as vice regent of the crypto realm in the West, where NEO is still on the fringes of people’s awareness. So for all practical purposes, we’ll have to declare this one a tie.

ICO of the week:
Working product – ✅
Major player involved – ✅
Experienced team – ✅
Active community and social channels – ✅
Potential of mass adoption – ✅

3. Monero vs. Dash

Monero and Dash are both privacy coins, which tend to raise a few eyebrows, reminding people of darknet and the black market. In fact, privacy coins are coming to the forefront in the digital age, as anti-censorship and protection of our online identities and personal data becomes a hot topic.

Unlike Bitcoin, which is traceable and merely pseudo anonymous, true privacy coins are untraceable and completely anonymous. The market has a long list of privacy coins, some more reputable than others, but at the top of the list in terms of untraceability and fungibility are Monero and Dash.

Dash, to begin with, is a fork of Bitcoin – so it has much of the same function, but with an eye to pick up where Bitcoin left off in terms of privacy, security, and usability. Unlike Bitcoin, whose network is maintained by miners, Dash has a multi-faceted masternode network.

This allows for InstantSend and PrivateSend transactions, which are impossible to be traced by third parties – it is important to note, the PrivateSend function is something users can opt into, rather than private transactions being the default. While privacy is an important feature of Dash, its primary concern is to create a digital currency that people can use easily to make everyday purchases.

Monero, on the other hand, is a fork of Bytecoin, and from a different family tree altogether. It’s fungible, untraceable, and completely anonymous. And Monero is not holding back when it comes to cutting edge privacy features.

Monero runs on the CryptoNote protocol, which makes transactions truly untraceable, as opposed to Bitcoin and its forks, where all transactions and metadata are kept on a public ledger for anyone to look up. Monero ensures complete anonymity using stealth addresses, in which sender and receiver addresses plus amount of currency sent are cryptographically scrambled to anyone except the two parties involved.

Monero also uses ring signature technology, in which funds sent are randomly selected from a group signing pool, making it difficult to decipher who actually sent the transaction.

There isn’t really a contest when it comes to these two coins. While both coins serve their purpose for making transactions, with robust communities and placings in the top 50 cryptocurrencies by market cap, Monero goes all the way in terms of the privacy and anonymity that Dash only dabbles in.

As a fork of Bytecoin, which is itself a fork of the CryptoNote protocol, Monero’s very existence is devoted to honing its privacy features until they’re the very best they can be. So, in the sphere of privacy coins, at least, Monero beats Dash.

4. IOTA vs. ByteBall

In the biz, the term “blockchain” is often used synonymously with “cryptocurrency,” but that is not necessarily the case. In a move away from blockchain, we’re starting to see cryptocurrencies built on a different technology. This is the case with IOTA and ByteBall, which are both built on Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG), a distributed ledger without blocks.

IOTA and ByteBall were both launched in 2016 (July and December, respectively) but they have a few key differences. For example, IOTA runs on DAG technology known as the Tangle, which allows users making transactions to confirm previous transactions in lieu of a transaction fee. ByteBall, on the other hand, charges a transaction fee of 1 BYTE per Byte of data.

But their fundamental difference lies in their scope: ByteBall interests itself in peer-to-peer smart contracts, providing a platform for peer-to-peer insurance or prediction markets (gambling, essentially). ByteBall has also taken a big step towards making cryptocurrency transactions more user-friendly, by offering a feature on their wallet where users can send crypto to an actual email address instead of a long, cryptic alphanumeric address.

IOTA, on the other hand, deals with the Internet of Things (IoT), the exponentially increasing network of inter connectivity between humans and smart devices. IOTA is developing an IoT marketplace, a network of secure, efficient data exchange for the large companies working in the industry – and their zero transaction fees make them a pretty valuable partner.

After a stellar 2017, the upcoming launch of their new desktop Trinity Wallet, and exciting news about joining forces with venture capital companies to build smart cities in China, it’s clear IOTA has enormous potential.

IOTA is still very much in the raw form. With ambitious capabilities in the works such as hardware-as-a-service and data-as-a-service, they’re set to dominate the IoT market once they’re fully fledged. However, their Tangle is not yet stable, and their cryptography is still new to the market.

Therefore, at the moment, ByteBall has the edge, just for its sound technology and features (IOTA doesn’t even offer smart contracts yet). But come back and ask us again this time next year, and we might have a different answer.

5. Lisk vs. Ark

Here we have another pair of parent blockchain (Lisk) and hard fork (Ark). Both platforms have the end goal of bringing about mass adoption of blockchain technology, but they set about doing that in different ways: Lisk by applications, and Ark by SmartBridges.

Lisk, being the original blockchain, has something of a head start on Ark. They already have a few impressive partnerships under their belt, including one with Microsoft Azure. Essentially, Lisk seeks to act as the conduit between companies and blockchain technology, providing an accessible blockchain written in JavaScript as opposed to more esoteric coding languages.

This, in fact, was the driving concept behind Lisk, and it achieves it with a two-punch approach: it offers businesses a main blockchain as well as various sidechains to run dapps. Their ICO at the beginning of 2016 was the 7th most successful in blockchain history, raking in US$5.8 million for a total of 100 million Lisk tokens. Lisk also has a few other winning factors in its corner, including being registered in a crypto-friendly country (Switzerland) and a stellar team, boasting Senior Advisors who previously worked on the Ethereum team.

Ark, on the other hand, has the ambition of creating a web to connect all cryptocurrencies, ultimately building a vast ecosystem of different blockchain platforms. Essentially, Ark’s SmartBridge technology acts as an inter-blockchain translator: once a particular blockchain connects a piece of its code to the Ark system, it is automatically connected to the SmartBridge and can then interact with all the other blockchains on the system.

For example, assuming both of these blockchains are SmartBridge compatible, directions sent over the Monero blockchain could trigger a smart contract on Ethereum. By enabling different cryptocurrencies to act cooperatively, Ark effectively amplifies each of their capacities, as well as the audiences they reach.

While both platforms have innovative technology and sound framework, we give Ark an edge here because of its capacity for linking different blockchains, and for providing the infrastructure for blockchain platforms to work cooperatively. It is Ark, more than any of the other cryptocurrencies mentioned above, that provides credence to the idea that the blockchain revolution truly is more than the sum of its parts, and that blockchains have a lot more to offer in communication with each other than acting alone.

That said, Lisk has had some great momentum in 2018 so far. After a much-anticipated re branding, they have continued to show progress with releases and updates in their tech and ecosystem. If they keep at this pace, they could be setting up Lisk for success in the future.

It remains to be seen how this match-up will turn out.


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Author: Anna Snyder
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