Crypto: An Introduction to the World’s Top 10 Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin’s rise since it was created in 2009 has been meteoric. It has ushered in a wave of other cryptocurrencies, inspiring an ever-growing legion of followers and spin-offs, all built on decentralised peer-to-peer networks.

But the vast array of cryptocurrencies can be daunting for a first-time investor to understand. Here, Planner Bee breaks down some of the world’s top ones you should know about.

What’s a cryptocurrency?

A cryptocurrency is virtual or digital money that takes the form of tokens or “coins”. While some have ventured into the physical world through credit cards and other forms, the majority remain entirely intangible. 

Cryptocurrencies are almost always designed to be free from government manipulation and control, relying on peer-to-peer transactions that can be traced on a public ledger.

As of June 2023, there are more than 22,000 crypto projects in existence. That’s an overwhelming number, especially if you’re looking to enter the world of crypto trading.

Coins vs tokens

There are two broad categories of cryptocurrencies – coins and tokens.

Coins are cryptocurrencies that are primarily used as money, and exist to be a store of value. These include Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano and Ripple.

Tokens, on the other hand, are smart contracts that make use of blockchain, mainly the Ethereum blockchain. Tokens have a wider range of functionalities than coins, giving access to future products and services such as farming and staking. They are usually created, distributed, sold and circulated through a crowdfunding exercise known as an Initial Coin Offering, or ICO.

Top 10 cryptocurrencies (based on market capitalisation)

There are thousands of different cryptocurrencies, ranging from Bitcoin and Ethereum to Dogecoin and Tether, making it difficult to get acquainted with the world of cryptocurrency. 

Read more: Buying your first Bitcoin? Here’s what you need to know

To help you get started, these are the top 10 cryptocurrencies in terms of market capitalisation, or the total value of all coins currently in circulation:

RankNameMarket CapDescription
1Bitcoin (BTC)Over US$508.1 billionBitcoin is widely considered the OG of cryptocurrency. Developed by pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto in 2009, it was the first cryptocurrency. It remains the most versatile cryptocurrency around, and can be used to purchase goods, exchanged peer-to-peer and swapped for other currencies.
2Ethereum (ETH)Over US$192.2 billionBoth a cryptocurrency and a blockchain platform, Ethereum is a decentralised software platform that enables smart contracts and decentralised applications (dApps) to be built and run without any downtime, fraud, control, or interference from a third party. Ethereum is also leading the way in the rising trend of non-fungible token (NFT) creation.
3Tether (USDT)Over US$83 billionTether was one of the first and most popular of a group of so-called stablecoins, cryptocurrencies that aim to peg their market value to a currency or other external reference point to reduce volatility. Because most digital currencies, even major ones like Bitcoin, have experienced dramatic ups and downs, Tether and other stablecoins attempt to smooth out price fluctuations to attract users who may otherwise be cautious. Tether’s price is tied directly to the price of the US dollar.
4Binance Coin (BNB)Over US$32.5 billionBinance Coin is a utility cryptocurrency that operates as a payment method for the fees associated with trading on the Binance Exchange. People using the token as a means of payment on the exchange can trade at a discount.
5USD Coin (USDC)Over US$26.1 billionLike Tether, USD Coin (USDC) is a stablecoin, meaning it’s backed by the US dollar and aims for a US$1 to 1 USDC ratio. It’s powered by Ethereum, and you can use USD Coin to complete global transactions. The system allows users to make transfers from other cryptocurrencies back to US dollars more easily than converting to normal currency.
6Ripple (XRP)Over US$25.4 billionCreated by some of the same founders as Ripple, a digital technology and payment processing company, XRP can be used on that network to facilitate exchanges of different currency types, including fiat currencies and other major cryptocurrencies. Global banking corporations have chosen it as their preferred currency, making it a silently used method of sending and receiving payments.
7Cardano (ADA)Over US$8.7 billionScalability, interoperability, speed, flexibility, sustainability – Cardano excels at all of these. A recent update that added the ability to build smart contracts has opened doors for developers to work on dApps and decentralised finance (DeFi) uses. With low transaction fees and huge potential to grow in the days ahead, Cardano is one cryptocurrency that interests many crypto enthusiasts.
8Dogecoin (DOGE)Over US$8.7 billionThis cryptocurrency has enjoyed huge prominence over the last few months – thanks to Elon Musk. Dogecoin has become one of the most viable investment options.
9Solana (SOL)Over US$7.4 billionDeveloped to help power DeFi uses, dApps and smart contracts, Solana runs on a unique hybrid of proof-of-stake and proof-of-history mechanisms that help it process transactions quickly and securely. SOL, Solana’s native token, powers the platform. It looks to be a potential long-term rival for Ethereum.
10TRON (TRX)Over US$7.1 billionTRON, like Solana, is a blockchain that is designed to run smart contracts and other DeFi applications. TRX is the platform’s native cryptocurrency, and it fuels the platform’s proof-of-stake consensus method.

*Market caps and pricing sourced from coinmarketcap.com as of 9:31 p.m. UTC+8 on Sep. 12, 2023.

Read more: Best Platforms To Buy Cryptocurrencies in Singapore

Differences in trading cryptocurrencies and stocks

Store of value vs ownership

Cryptocurrencies function as a store of value, and investors tend to hold them in the hope that they will increase in value over time, allowing investors to sell for a profit. In contrast, stocks represent ownership of a company which you believe will increase in value in the future. Some companies also pay out dividends to stockholders.

Trading hours

Traditional stock exchanges are open on weekdays in their local time zones, while cryptocurrency exchanges are open for trading 24/7.

Market maturity

Stocks have been traded for centuries, while the first cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, first came onto the scene in 2009. Being relatively young, the crypto market is very attractive for investors, as there is a lot of potential for profit in a largely unregulated space.


Cryptocurrencies are gaining in popularity among retail investors and institutions, but while the future of the sector seems promising, high volatility and the negative environmental impact of mining might be factors to consider before diving in to invest. Manage your risk appetite and always do your own research.

Read more: 5 Things To Look Out for When Choosing a Crypto Exchange

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