Differences Between Different Types of Cryptocurrencies

Though Bitcoin was the first Cryptocurrency, many other cryptocurrencies have been launched using the open source code that Satoshi Nakamoto made available. Each cryptocurrency as modifications to the original code to give each it's own characteristics. The oldest cryptocurrencies were launched to correct faults in the original Bitcoin design, though some recent cryptocurrencies have been launched “just because”. New alt coins are being introduced at an astonishing rate - 26 new coins were launched in May 2013 alone.

Why are so many alt coins being launched? There is an element of “pump and dump” on the part of those doing the launches. And there is also the feeling among some that as Bitcoin mining is too expensive, the only way they can participate in the cryptocurrency world is to mine some of the new alt coins in the hope that one of them “makes it”. There is a germ of truth there - one of the coins may just stabilise to be used alongside bitcoins and may even surpass it - we are at the very early stages of cryptocurrency development.

Many people wonder “what's the difference between bitcoin and litecoin”, or devcoin or namecoin. This page is designed to provide the answers with a table that shows the differences between the cryptocurrencies at a glance.

Name         Date Launched   Transaction Fees                      Confirmation time     Max. no. of coins  Merged Mining  Special Notes                 

Bitcoin      Jan 3rd 2009    Yes for transactions under 0.01BTC    Minimum 10 minutes    21 million coins   Yes            The original cryptocoin.        

Litecoin     Oct 7th 2011    Yes for transactions under 0.01LTC    Minimum 2.5 minutes   84 million coins   No             Scrypt proof of work algo (memory intensive)

Devcoin      Aug 5th 2011    Yes 1 DVC                             Minimum 10 minutes    No maximum         Yes            90% of coins distributed to developers. 50,000 coins per block instead of 50 (they moved the decimal place)

PPCoin       Aug 19th 2012   Yes, 0.01PPC/1kb (but 0.01 at least)  Minimum 10 minutes    2,000,000,000 PPC*  No            Based on proof of stake rather than proof of work  

Terracoin    October 2012    Yes                                   120 seconds           42 million coins   No             Ability to get signed notifications of transactions

Namecoin     Apr 18th 2011   Yes                                   Minimum 10 minutes    21 million coins   Yes            Distributed domain name system 

Freicoin     Jun 2012        Yes - see notes                       Minimum 10 minutes    100 million coins  Yes            Demurage coin (continuous fee of 4.4% APR applied to all accounts which is distributed to the miners)

Novacoin     Feb 2013        Yes, 0.01PPC/1kb (but 0.01 at least)  Minimum 10 minutes    2,000,000,000 NVC* No             Scrypt proof of work, proof-of-stake. 65500 + 44500 coins instamined and publicly destroyed later

ChnCoin      May 2013                                              60 seconds            462 million        No             Scrypt proof of work 88 coins per block Launched by Chinese developers (should be pronounced "china coin")

Ixcoin       Aug 2011        Yes                                   Minimum 10 minutes    21 million coins   Yes            96 coins per block  - also appears to have some pre-mining and no development work for some time. Advice to stay clear

Feathercoin  April 16th 2013 Yes                                   Minimum 2.5 minutes   336 million coins  No             200 coins per block. This is a scrypt fork of Litecoin. The coin came under a 51% attack. Feathercoin managed to defend against the attack thanks to automated mining pools which switched to mining the coin, diluting the attack. 
  • PPCoin and NovaCoin have no deterministic emission limit. 2,000,000,000 coins is just a sanity checking threshold.

Related pages:

Where to spend your cryptocurrencies

Checklist of criteria to consider when investing in alt-coins


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