Chart: The Coin Universe Keeps Expanding
Chart: The Coin Universe Keeps Expanding
Bitcoin’s record year is just a part of the big story
Note: This post was updated June 27th, 2017 with current values for all cryptocurrencies.
Bitcoin is the original cryptocurrency, and its meteoric rise has made it a mainstay of conversation for investors, media, and technologists alike.
In fact, the innovation of the blockchain is changing entire markets, while causing ripples with central banks and the financial industry. At time of publication, the bitcoin price now hovers near US$2,400, a massive increase from this time last year.
But the true impact of Bitcoin is actually far more reaching than this – it’s actually helped to birth new markets for over 800 other cryptocurrencies and assets that are available for online trading. And while the market for bitcoins is worth $40 billion itself, the rest of these cryptocurrencies are actually worth even more in combination.
The Altcoin Universe
For the first time since Bitcoin was founded, it now makes up the minority of the entire cryptocurrency market at about 41.6% of all coins and assets.
So what are the other altcoins that make up the rest of this universe, and where did they come from?
Litecoin is one of the first altcoins, and it is nearly identical to Bitcoin after being “forked” in 2011. Litecoin aims to process blocks 4x faster than Bitcoin to speed up transaction confirmation time, though this creates several other challenges as well. At time of writing, Litecoin’s market capitalization is worth $2.1 billion.
Ethereum, launched in 2015, is the largest coin by market capitalization aside from Bitcoin. However, it is also quite different. While Bitcoin is designed to be a payments protocol first, Ethereum enables developers to build and deploy decentralized applications, while also enabling smart contracts. The tokens used to power the network are called Ether, but they can also be traded online. At time of writing, Ethereum’s market capitalization is $25.7 billion.
Also interesting: the Ethereum network actually split into two in 2016. It’s a complicated situation, but read about it here. There is now a separate Ethereum, based on the original Ethereum blockchain, trading as “Ethereum Classic” with its own market capitalization of $1.8 billion.
Ripple (XRP) is the native currency of the Ripple Protocol – a broader catch-all for an open-source, global exchange. It’s already being used by banks such as Santander, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, UBS, and RBC. It solves a different problem than Bitcoin, allowing for settling payments between different currencies and even different payment systems. Today, Ripple’s native coin (XRP) has a market cap of $10.5 billion.
With over 800+ altcoins or assets out there, there’s plenty of information to absorb.
Here’s a short 20-minute course on the history of altcoins that might provide useful context, as well as in-depth explanations of Ethereum and Ripple that may help you learn about the important parts of a rapidly growing altcoin universe.
Charting the Number of Failed Crypto Coins, by Year (2013-2022)
We visualize over 2,000 crypto failures by year of death, and year of project origin. See how and why crypto projects die in these charts.
The Number of Failed Crypto Coins, by Year (2013-2022)
Ever since the first major crypto boom in 2011, tens of thousands of cryptocurrency coins have been released to market.
And while some cryptocurrencies performed well, others have ceased to trade or have ended up as failed or abandoned projects.
These graphics from CoinKickoff break down the number of failed crypto coins by the year they died, and the year they started. The data covers a decade of coin busts from 2013 through 2022.
What is the marker of a “dead” crypto coin?
This analysis reviewed data from failed crypto coins listed on Coinopsy and cross-referenced against CoinMarketCap to verify previous market activity. The reason for each coin death was also tabulated, including:
- Failed Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)
- Abandonment with less than $1,000 in trade volume over a three-month period
- Scams or coins that were meant as a joke
Dead Crypto Coins from 2013 to 2022
While many familiar crypto coins—Litecoin, Dogecoin, and Ethereum—are still on the market today, there were at least 2,383 crypto coins that bit the dust between 2013 and 2022.
Here’s a breakdown of how many crypto coins died each year by reason:
|Abandoned / |
|Scams / |
|ICO Failed / |
|Joke / No
Abandoned coins with flatlining trading volume accounted for 1,584 or 66.5% of analyzed crypto failures over the last decade. Comparatively, 22% ended up being scam coins, and 10% failed to launch after an ICO.
As for individual years, 2018 saw the largest total of annual casualties in the crypto market, with 751 dead crypto coins. More than half of them were abandoned by investors, but 237 coins were revealed as scams or embroiled in other controversies, such as BitConnect which turned out to be a Ponzi scheme.
Why was 2018 such a big year for crypto failures?
This is largely because the year prior saw Bitcoin prices climb above $1,000 for the first time with an eventual peak near $19,000. As a result, speculation ran hot, new crypto issuances boomed, and many investors and firms got bullish on the market for the first time.
How Many Newly Launched Coins Died?
Of the hundreds of coins that launched in 2017, more than half were considered defunct by the end of 2022.
Indeed, a lot of earlier-launched coins have since died. The majority of coins launched between 2013 and 2017 have already become “dead coins” by the end of 2022.
|Coin Start Year||Dead Coins by 2022|
Part of this is because the cryptocurrency field itself was still being figured out. Many coins were launched in a time of experimentation and innovation, but also of volatility and uncertainty.
However, the trend began to shift in 2018. Only 27.62% of coins launched in that year have bit the dust so far, and the failure rates in 2019 and 2020 fell further to only 4.74% and 1.03% of launched coins, respectively.
This suggests that the crypto industry has become more mature and stable, with newer projects establishing themselves more securely and investors becoming wiser to potential scams.
How will this trend evolve into 2023 and beyond?
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