For real pennies you can dip your toes (or dive in for those who are confident amongst us) into the pool of digital alternate currencies, which at the beginning of 2014 exploded in value, quantity and popularity. Here is a list of a few of the main players so far and potential forays worth investigating.
There are two ways to acquire these currencies. The first is to “mine” them, using your computer’s graphics card to solve tough mathematical equations where parts of the coin become unlocked. The second is to exchange real world money for them through an exchange online.
The original and so far – biggest success of the crytocurrency movement has proven to be the investment of 2013. Its breakthrough has spawned several other coins based on the same (or similar) code and concept.
Based on peer-to-peer technology, there is no central bank that produces a set amount on market fluctuations. Add to this that transactions are anonymous, international and becoming more accepted and you have reason to understand the appeal of them.
Litecoin is second in popularity and investment only to Bitcoin, being based on it and remaining very similar to this day. It was designed to slowly appreciate in value by being harder to mine, whereas Bitcoin has peaked very early, Litecoin will take a lot longer to reach these levels.
Litecoin also enjoys faster confirmation times and is looking to be a long-term investment for those late to Bitcoin. However an apparent downside has been its marriage to Bitcoin mirroring any falls (and rises) in value not helping in what is already a volatile market.
Originally intended as a joke based the “Doge” Internet meme based around the Shiba Inu, which incidentally is also on the logo of the coin.
It has shattered expectations by becoming the most traded coin ever, and transactions involving Dogecoin have surpassed and stabilised above Bitcoin.
However, the creators have been very clear in their intention for Dogecoin to remain at a low value and be used mostly for small transactions. Therefore, as an investment Dogecoin could be ill suited.
A well-branded and “environmentally friendly” coin is Peercoin. Its advantages are that mining it is less intensive on hardware, saving energy.
Peercoin is inflationary, however and rises in quantity by 1% each year, which means that technically the supply of Peercoin is unlimited and is suited more as a serious currency for services such as transactions or even services like voice over recording rather than an investment.
Being different in some ways, Ripple is a centralised currency, unlike many of the other decentralised alt coins which to some, originally gave them their appeal. Ripple has however, rocketed to the higher points in the charts of popularity and value, making it a main competitor to Bitcoin itself.
Reputable companies such as Venture Capital have given to the company behind Ripple to invest and support its legitimacy and use. When mining Ripple, the equations solved by hardware are used to solve scientific and medical problems, making for a glowing reputation.