Altcoin – What is it and how to identify an altcoin?

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When you start in the vast world of crypto assets, it is normal to be curious and investigate the different concepts that are appearing in this ecosystem of digital currencies. Perhaps when you investigate a topic of crypto assets you will find at some point the term Altcoin is used to cover a wide range of cryptocurrencies.

When we talk about the term Altcoin we are referring to any cryptocurrency or token that is not Bitcoin. This is because the original meaning of altcoin comes from the definition “alternative currencies to Bitcoin” because this was the first cryptocurrency properly created; Therefore, all other currencies become an alternative, however, as the cryptocurrency ecosystem has evolved, this meaning has changed in a certain way.

Previously this term was used to differentiate a currency from Bitcoin and it is that many of these new cryptocurrencies were faster than this or their transaction cost is cheaper. Nowadays currencies like Ethereum do not fit within the definition of Altcoin and this depends on the person since there are similar cryptocurrencies with characteristics that can be called an alternative to Ethereum.

Some of the most famous altcoins


Ethereum is a Blockchain network that has its cryptocurrency called Ether, it is the second most recognized cryptocurrency in the world. It is considered an altcoin by some users and not by others, but what is a fact about Ethereum is that it has created its micro-ecosystem of tokens generated on its blockchain, ETH was created in 2014 just 5 years after the launch of the Bitcoin.


Dash is a cryptocurrency with its Blockchain network, it was created to improve some features that Bitcoin could not cover such as transaction speed, privacy, and payment savings. Dash’s name comes from the English word game for “Digital Cash” Dash was born in 2014 after a fork of Litecoin and a subsequent update to its features.


Litecoin is perhaps the most recognized Altcoin, as an alternative to Bitcoin, because, technically, it is almost the same as it except for some characteristics that differentiate them.

It is born directly from a copy of the open-source code of Bitcoin, changing some of its characteristics to be able be a new cryptocurrency. Among the main differences between both currencies is that you can generate more coins than Bitcoin and your transactions are a little faster. It was created and launched in 2011, just three years after the birth of Bitcoin.


Tether is a token that operates in multiple Blockchain networks of other cryptocurrencies. Despite not being a cryptocurrency itself, or not having its blockchain, it is a very good option as an alternative to Bitcoin and the other leading cryptocurrencies. Tether, or USDT, is one of the most successful stable tokens on the market. Thanks to its 1:1 parity with the dollar, Tether has made its way to the top of the various cryptocurrency rankings.

Tether was launched in 2014, five years after Bitcoin.


Cardano is a cryptocurrency with its own Blockchain and is very particular to others since it has successfully implemented the PoS proof of participation system for mining its cryptocurrencies.

Cardano is one of the newest cryptocurrencies to achieve great popularity. ADA was launched in 2017 just eight years after Bitcoin was born.


Solana is one of the newest cryptocurrencies and one that has been well received by digital asset enthusiasts. It is a project that seeks to facilitate financial solutions in a decentralized way. Like a few other cryptocurrencies, it also makes use of the Proof of Participation and Proof of History system which allows greater scalability than other cryptocurrencies. Solana, although it was released in 2020, has been in development since 2017.

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According to the historical context that surrounds the term Altcoin. It’d be said that Bitcoin Cash is an Altcoin since it was born from a fork of Bitcoin, and this separation allowed Bitcoin Cash to be given a different emphasis, which makes it an alternative to Bitcoin.

Of course, it must be taken into account that each cryptocurrency or token has the characteristics that make it unique, which is why, depending on the need, an altcoin can be more useful than any of the large cryptocurrencies.

Although the most popular cryptocurrency in the world is Bitcoin, some studies have reported that there are currently more than 12,000 cryptocurrencies and tokens within the ecosystem of digital assets.

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