Types Of Cryptocurrencies, Explained

By CryptoManiaks | CryptoManiaks Blog | 28 Aug 2023

Key Takeaways:

  • The cryptocurrency market continues to evolve, with new digital currencies constantly being introduced. This brings about new opportunities but also poses challenges for the sector. 
  • Cryptocurrencies have roots in the centuries-old goal of secure communication. The concept of decentralized digital currency started to take shape in the late 20th century.
  • Cryptocurrencies can be categorized into payment cryptocurrencies, tokens, and stablecoins.
  • Volatility remains a prominent concern, as the value of cryptocurrencies can change rapidly. Security risks, regulatory uncertainties, and the limited adoption and liquidity of cryptocurrencies also pose challenges to users and investors.

The world of cryptocurrencies continues to evolve, with a host of new options and opportunities constantly becoming available. After Bitcoin hit the crypto market in 2009, many new digital currencies appeared, and people are now spoilt for choice. The emergence of new coins is a continuous process that brings new challenges to the whole sector. On the plus side, it also means improved transaction speed and efficiency for users. 

In this guide, we will talk about different types of cryptocurrencies in the market and how they differ from each other.  

History Of Cryptocurrency

The earliest days of cryptography and the need for secret and secure communication are where the history of cryptocurrencies may be found. But in the late 20th century, the contemporary idea of cryptocurrency as a decentralized digital currency started to emerge. Here is a contextual overview of the history of cryptocurrency:

Cryptographic Electronic Money (1983)

It was not before 1983 that the first idea for cryptocurrencies emerged. A paper titled "Blind Signatures for Untraceable Payments," written by American cryptographer David Chaum in 1983, introduced the idea of anonymous and secure electronic money. The work of Chaum provided the framework for the creation of private and secure digital currencies.

Bit Gold (1998)

Computer scientist Nick Szabo proposed Bit Gold, a forerunner to cryptocurrencies, in 1998. In order to gain rewards, Bit Gold's users had to solve cryptographic challenges, resulting in decentralized digital money. However, the problem of preventing double spending without the assistance of a centralized authority remained unsolved.

Secure communication has been a goal of cryptography for millennia. It encrypts and decrypts messages using mathematical techniques. Modern cryptography created secure means of communication and verification, which laid the groundwork for digital currencies.

The Birth Of Bitcoin (2008-2009)

A white paper titled "Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System" was published in October 2008 by an individual or group under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto. The white paper described a decentralized digital currency named Bitcoin (BTC) that utilized the proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm to address the issue of double spending. 

The Genesis Block (2009)

Satoshi Nakamoto mined the Genesis Block, the very first block of the Bitcoin blockchain, on January 3, 2009. It featured a reference to a newspaper headline to emphasize Bitcoin's disagreement with the established financial system and served as the Bitcoin network's official launch.

Early Cryptocurrencies (2011-2013)

After the launch of Bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies began to appear. In 2011, Charlie Lee's Litecoin featured a new hashing algorithm and a quicker block generation process. Vitalik Buterin unveiled Ethereum, a blockchain platform that allowed for the creation of smart contracts, in December 2013. In the same month, Billy Markus and Jackson Palmer developed Dogecoin, which was first intended to be a humorous cryptocurrency based on memes.

Expansion And Altcoins

Numerous alternative cryptocurrencies, often known as altcoins, were developed as a result of the popularity and success of Bitcoin. These digital currencies sought to provide unique features, enhanced scalability, or specialized use cases. Ripple (2012), Monero (2014), and Dash (2014) are a few well-known alternative currencies.

Initial Coin Offerings (2013)

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) were invented in 2013 by Mastercoin (now known as Omni), allowing blockchain projects to raise money by selling their native tokens. As a fundraising strategy, ICOs became quite popular in 2017, but regulatory worries and several scams caused increased scrutiny and stricter rules.


Stablecoins (2014-2015)

Around 2014 and 2015, the idea of stablecoins started to gain popularity. It was intended to alleviate the price volatility that made cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum less appropriate for regular transactions and widespread adoption.

One of the first and best-known stablecoins is Tether (USDT). It was introduced in 2014 and runs on a number of blockchains, including those for Bitcoin, Ethereum, and others.

Cryptocurrency Boom And Lust (Late 2017 and 2018)

Bitcoin and a number of other cryptocurrencies saw an unheard-of increase in value towards the end of 2017, grabbing the attention of people all around the world. Bitcoin's price hit a record high, and the total market value of cryptocurrencies increased. But in 2018, the market had a severe correction that ushered in a bear market phase.

Institutional Involvement and Blockchain Innovation

The popularity of cryptocurrencies grew despite the market slump. Major financial firms have begun investigating blockchain technology and buying cryptocurrencies, including JPMorgan Chase and Fidelity. The establishment of cryptocurrency exchanges, custodial services, and regulatory frameworks all contributed to the growth of the digital asset ecosystem's infrastructure.

How Many Cryptocurrencies Are There?

As new cryptocurrencies are developed and current ones become dormant or are removed from exchange lists, the total number of cryptocurrencies is continually fluctuating. There are reportedly 22,904 cryptocurrencies in existence as of March 2023.

It's crucial to remember that not all of these cryptocurrencies are useful or have much value, though. After taking into account inactive or deceased coins, there are around 8,832 active cryptocurrencies.

The rising usage of cryptocurrencies, which is thought to be used by more than 300 million people worldwide, is a sign of their rising popularity. Additionally, about 18,000 companies have accepted cryptocurrencies as a form of payment, demonstrating the rising use of digital currencies across a range of industries. It's important to keep in mind that these numbers could alter as the crypto ecosystem develops.

For the most up-to-date information on the quantity of cryptocurrencies in circulation, it is always important to consult current sources, given how dynamic and vulnerable to rapid change the cryptocurrency market is.

What Are the Main Types of Cryptocurrencies?

The key types of cryptocurrencies can be divided into the following categories:

  • Payment cryptocurrencies 
  • Tokens
  • Stablecoins


Payment Cryptocurrencies

Cryptocurrencies for payments, also referred to as payment cryptocurrencies, are virtual currencies created specifically to be used as a medium of exchange for goods and services. With the help of these cryptocurrencies, people and businesses will be able to conduct quick, safe, and borderless transactions that are decentralized.

The most prominent example is Bitcoin (BTC), a pioneer cryptocurrency created in 2009. BTC has become not only a means of exchange, but also a peer-to-peer digital cash option. Other popular payment cryptocurrencies are Monero, Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Dogecoin.


There are several different kinds of tokens available on the cryptocurrency market, each with its own unique features and functions. Let's go over and update the given information:

  • Utility Tokens: Cryptographic utility tokens that function on blockchain networks. One of the first instances and a prototype for subsequent initiatives was the Ethereum network. Utility tokens often experience inflation and have no upper limit. Within the blockchain ecosystem, they provide particular use cases or objectives.
  • Security Tokens: Security tokens serve as a representation of ownership in a physical asset, such as stock in a corporation or fund shares. These tokens may provide access to certain benefits or dividends based on the underlying asset's performance.
  • Exchange Tokens: Cryptocurrency exchanges provide exchange tokens, such as Binance Coin (BNB), to grant users access to their platforms. They are primarily employed to cover transaction costs, take part in token sales, or gain access to extra exchange features.
  • Governance Tokens: Tokens for participation in decision-making on a blockchain network are known as "governance tokens." They let users vote on ideas or adjustments that affect the way the network runs and is headed. The MKR and COMP coins from MakerDAO and Compound are two examples of governance tokens.
  • Media and Entertainment Tokens: Tokens related to the media, entertainment, or gaming sectors include media and entertainment tokens. Users can receive rewards for reading information, playing games, or using entertainment services. The Basic Attention Token (BAT), which encourages users to see advertising in the Brave browser, serves as an example.
  • Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs): NFTs are distinctive digital assets that show who owns or can vouch for a certain good or piece of content. Because each token has unique properties, NFTs cannot be swapped one for one like cryptocurrencies. The use of NFTs in digital art, collectibles, virtual real estate, and other distinctive digital goods has drawn considerable interest.



As a response to the volatility linked to cryptocurrencies, stablecoins have developed. On blockchain networks, these digital assets act as a store of value and have a stable value. The US dollar or the euro are two examples of physical currencies to which stablecoins are often tied. A stablecoin's issuing company keeps reserves to support the cryptocurrency's value.

Stablecoins are popular and well-known because investors value the stability they provide. Many investors decide to use stablecoins as a means of trade or to include them in their savings portfolios. USDT has experienced tremendous growth, and each USDT is backed by one US dollar through the cash reserves already in place because Tether's value is 1:1 correlated to the US dollar.

Advantages of Cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency has gained massive attention among investors. The main reason is the advantages it brings to people and communities. Here are most important perks of cryptocurrencies below:

  • Speed of transactions: Transfering your funds is possible within minutes. This is an efficient way of handling transactions and is appealing to potential users. It is also incomparable to traditional bank transfers that could take five or more days.
  • Low costs: Using crypto generates lower costs than you expect. Many times you won't have costs, or they will be minimal. The elimination of costs is thanks to the absence of third parties who would need to confirm and process transactions. 
  • Safety: Cryptocurrency security is the backbone of digital assets. No one will have access to your funds unless they have your private key. Security is also achieved with a network of computers that approve all the transactions on the blockchain. 
  • Decentralization: Cryptocurrencies are free from central control. This means that prices depend on demand and supply, and banks don't influence them. 
  • Accessibility: You can easily open a crypto wallet and make transactions with your funds. The only requirement is to have a stable internet connection, computer, or smartphone. 
  • Transparency: You can check the status of transactions by visiting blockchain explorer. The system is transparent and free from any fraud.
  • Privacy: Blockchain transactions are private and pseudonymous. No one can connect your identity with transfers, which keeps security on a higher level. 


Drawbacks of Cryptocurrency

With so many types of cryptocurrencies, you should also be aware of associated risks. 

Here are the key risks to watch out:

  • Volatility: The high price volatility of cryptocurrencies is well known. In a short amount of time, the value of cryptocurrencies can change rapidly, which might result in big gains or losses for investors. Numerous factors, including market mood, governmental changes, technical breakthroughs, and macroeconomic situations, all have an impact on this volatility. The volatility of cryptocurrency pricing puts traders and investors at risk.
  • Security Risks: Security is a top priority in the cryptosphere. Cryptographic principles are used by cryptocurrencies to maintain the security of transactions on decentralized networks. But there are security threats including hacking, phishing, and flaws in crypto exchanges and wallets. Individuals risk losing their money or being the victims of theft or fraud if security measures are not adequately implemented.
  • Regulatory and Legal Risks: The regulatory environment for cryptocurrencies is still developing. Governments and regulatory organizations are working to create frameworks to address issues with investment security, money laundering, consumer protection, and tax compliance. Regulation alterations or new legal requirements may have an impact on how cryptocurrencies are used, traded, and accepted, creating hazards to people and businesses engaged in the cryptocurrency industry.
  • Lack of Adoption and Liquidity: Even though cryptocurrencies are becoming more popular, mainstream adoption remains challenging. Cryptocurrencies' widespread usage is hampered by the limited merchant and business adoption of them as a form of payment. Furthermore, some cryptocurrencies can have poor liquidity, making it difficult to buy or sell large amounts without significantly altering the market price. It may be difficult to sell investments or convert cryptocurrencies into conventional fiat currency in illiquid markets.


The Future of Cryptocurrency

As technology develops and becomes more widely accepted, cryptocurrencies have a bright future. Cryptocurrencies are anticipated to have a bigger impact on our financial systems as more people, organizations, and institutions come to understand the advantages of blockchain technology and decentralized finance. We may look forward to improvements in scalability, privacy, and interoperability that will solve present constraints and broaden use cases.

Additionally, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are gaining popularity and may alter established monetary systems. Regulations will stimulate innovation and draw institutional investors into the cryptocurrency market as they become more developed and clear. A more open and effective global financial ecosystem may be possible as a result of the adoption of cryptocurrencies in daily life and improvements to the blockchain infrastructure.


Who controls cryptocurrencies?

Since cryptocurrencies are naturally decentralized, no government or central organization has any control over them. Instead, consensus algorithms and decentralized computer networks—commonly referred to as blockchain technology—generally regulate cryptocurrencies.

How many different cryptocurrencies exist?

There are supposedly 22,904 cryptocurrencies in use as of March 2023, with about 8,832 of them actively trading. The number changes, though, as new coins are added to trade lists and as old coins are taken off of them.

What benefits do cryptocurrency offer? 

Fast transactions, reduced fees, improved security, decentralization, accessibility, transparency, and privacy are just a few benefits that cryptocurrencies have to offer. These advantages draw customers and encourage the expansion of digital assets.

What risks come along with cryptocurrencies? 

Price volatility, security weaknesses, regulatory and legal uncertainty, and limited acceptance and liquidity are some of the main risks. Users and investors face issues due to the fluctuating value of cryptocurrencies, the possibility of fraud or hacking, changing rules, and the challenges associated with exchanging cryptocurrencies for fiat money in illiquid markets.

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