The three most well know cryptocurrencies are Bitcoin, Ether and Ripple.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency or digital currency, designed to act as a means of exchange. The Bitcoin transaction process is conducted via online peer-to-peer technology using cryptography and is managed by dedicated Bitcoin servers. Each time the servers communicate, they update and share information about the number of Bitcoins that each user owns.
Bitcoin was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009 and is the largest cryptocurrency in the world.
Ethereum is a digital software platform, like Microsoft Windows, where people can build decentralised applications, like security programs and identity software, on top of the Ethereum platform. Ethereum was launched by Vitalik Buterin in 2014.
Many people get confused between Ethereum and Ether. The Ethereum website solves this – “Ether is the crypto-fuel for the Ethereum Network” – Ether is essentially the money that is used for payment on the Ethereum network. So, while we often view Ethereum as a cryptocurrency, the more accurate name to call it is Ether.
Like Bitcoin, Ether’s price skyrocketed in 2017, however there are some key differences between the two; notably that Bitcoin aims to be a store of wealth and eventually become a global form of currency, whereas Ethereum aims to become a software platform upon which smart contracts and decentralised apps can run.
Ripple is an open payment network (RippleNet) designed to give people an alternative to traditional financial institutions like banks – and thus enabling the transfer of any currency around the world using the Ripple coin, XPR.
The concept of Ripple started in 2004 by Ryan Fugger and eventually took off in 2014 when several large banks started using its payment networks. The company behind Ripple is called OpenCoin and there are two distinct entities within Ripple; the open payment system and the actual currency used on the payment system.
Ripple is the third largest cryptocurrency (behind Bitcoin and Ethereum) and its value increased by 40 times in 2017 alone.