Altcoin House of Sand: Only BTC, LTC and XRP Remain From Five Years Ago


If anyone is in need of a harsh reminder of the precarious nature of the altcoin market, one could do worse than to browse historical cryptocurrency data charts. Of particular note is the severe lack of presence by a vast majority of coins which would have been considered major altcoins just five years ago.

Bitcoin, A Hardfork & The Coin Formerly Known as Ripple

Looking at a historical snapshot of CoinMarketCap’s front page from December 2013, we can see that only Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC) and XRP (XRP) have survived the five years since.

In fact, from the entirety of the fifty coins listed in 2013, none are currently placed within the market cap top hundred, except the three previously mentioned. The coin to come closest is Nxt (NXT) – a coin which was ranked 16th in 2013, with a market cap of $5 million. Now Nxt floats just outside the top hundred, ranked 106th with a market cap of $28 million – a not insignificant upturn.

Ranked 4th in 2013, with a market cap of $87 million, Peercoin (PPC) went the other way, and now holds a value of $14 million. The once popular Namecoin (NMC) shared a similar fate.

Naming Conventions

As you can see from the names of 2013’s highest capped cryptocurrencies, the current convention of giving cryptocurrencies vague, enigmatic, somewhat futuristic names had not yet begun. (TRON, Ethereum, Ontology, Qtum, I’m looking at you).

Instead we have a succession of ‘coins’ with various levels of importance and function suggested by their names – ‘World’, ‘Prime’, ‘Peer’. The trend is bucked only by Bitshares PTS (PTS) and Quark (QRK), while further down the list we have BitBar (BTB), Franko (FRK) and Argentum (ARG) – none of which rank any higher than 900th today.

Bitcoin Loses Dominance

In 2013, the coins ranked 2nd, 3rd and 4th combined to produce a market cap just one tenth that of Bitcoin – which was worth $10 billion during December 2013’s peak. Litecoin, XRP and Peercoin added up to just over $1 billion at the same time.

Bitcoin dominance was at 88.9% five years ago, while even Litecoin’s 6% of the market share was greater than the ‘Others’ which made up the entire rest of the altcoin market.

This contrasts with today’s status quo which sees Bitcoin worth $60 billion, and the next three alts worth a combined $24 billion – a significant increase from one tenth, to two fifths of Bitcoin’s value.

Taking those numbers as a cross-section of the market, we see that the altcoins have exploded, and grown ahead of Bitcoin in the last five years – but for how much longer? As the Nxt (NXT) example shows, even though the altcoin market was diluted and overrun in the last few years, still enough new money came in during 2017 to continue to keep some old coins afloat.

But with the current altcoin decline of 95-99%, and the ICO trend beginning to fray around the edges, one wonders for how much longer cryptocurrency investors will keep faith in something that has proved so fleeting and transitory in the recent past.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.



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