Since Bitcoin’s inception there have been hundreds of Altcoins created, based on the fact that Bitcoin’s source code was open source.  These ranged from names such as Dogecoin, Pandacoin, Darkcoin, Litecoin, Peercoin, and even Maxcoin (from RT’s Max Keiser.)

So what are they? Are there any worth following?

While some of the altcoins have had limited success, generally, I would posit that most Altcoins are flash in the pan scams, based on the fact that they use the underlying technology behind Bitcoin and do not really bring a huge amount to the table. They do pose a sort of temporary “inflationary” pressure on Bitcoin in the short-run, which runs contrary to the conventional logic that Bitcoin is finite.  Furthermore, Bitcoin has a significant first-mover advantage over the rest of the market space, better publicity, more attention and investment.  I see it as unlikely that most coins would derail Bitcoin.

So are there any interesting competitors?  Yes. A few.

R3CEV:

This is a Bitcoin derivative technology which is likely to be implemented within many major global banks.  If Bitcoin is the internet of cryptocurrency, R3CEV is the intranet. Having poached one of the largest Bitcoin developers, Mike Hearn, this is likely to be implemented by a growing consortium of major banks in order to drive down their transaction costs.

It’s unlikely, however, that the Cryptocurrency community will take this as good news as many see Bitcoin as a moral alternative to the decadence of Wall-Street in the post-crisis years.

Essentially this is Wall-Street’s solution to the banking system losing ground against crypto.

Ripple

A payment protocol system which has been implemented by some banks and is largely seen as a competitor to Western Union for monetary transfers.  Ripple also offers a bridge with Bitcoin to expedite transfers without holding the underlying currency.

Ethereum

Ethereum is a cryptocurrency with a built in platform which allows users to program smart contracts, allowing customizability on top of the underlying coin.  The complexity associated with this cryptocurrency merits further research, but I would point out that this currency has most recently diverged some in price with Bitcoin.  A move to the upside.

476fd792338dcd467ddc52db4f9e9ea03fff40ab
Whereas many cryptocurrencies (particularly the Bitcoin source-code substitutes) often start with an initial ramp as this chart did, but then decline to a low price. A recovery in price as seen in the right is not particularly common.

 

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