If you follow cryptocurrency, you know that there’s always something new and exciting happening. Different currencies establish new purposes; forks occur from time to time; values rise and fall; and on a fairly regular basis, brand new cryptocurrencies emerge. Altogether, these changes account for much of why the cryptocurrency world can be so unpredictable. But they also have a lot to do with why that world is so exciting.
In particular, the constant changes in cryptocurrency make it fascinating to look ahead — not just in the sense of wondering where major currencies’ prices might be in a few months, but rather, into the future. When you look back on the brief history of these bizarre modern assets, it’s clear that we don’t always know what’ coming. That led us to ask: Which cryptocurrencies will we even be talking about another five years from now?
The world of digital currency is far too unpredictable for anyone to answer that question with too much confidence. But when we think about it, five cryptos come to mind first.
It may not be the most creative suggestion, but bitcoin isn’t going anywhere. In fact, it only seems to be growing. Bitcoin has managed to maintain a strong price throughout a pandemic in 2020. At the same time, opportunities to use bitcoin as currency are sprouting up around the world, and bitcoin growth in certain places it didn’t emerge early on (like Africa) is noteworthy. We may ultimately see some other cryptocurrencies attain similar clout or significance, but it’s hard to imagine anything but bitcoin being the headline asset in this class in another five years.
When you look at ripple’s trading value in USD, it’s easy to disregard it as one of the smaller players in the cryptocurrency market. A single ripple token (known as XRP) costs well under $1, whereas bitcoin at times can cost $12,000 or more. Nevertheless, ripple is almost universally viewed as a significant asset because of its utility in financial systems. This particular cryptocurrency exists largely to assist with the transfer of wealth over borders and among large financial institutions. It’s proven its value where these functions are concerned, and should thus become all the more significant in the years to come.
As you may know, the ethereum network allows crypto users to form and execute smart contracts — essentially, exchange-based agreements that are carried out on the blockchain. Ethereum is often cited, for this reason, as one of the most significant cryptocurrencies of the future, and it may well be. But the ChainLink network may ultimately serve as a sort of next iteration of ethereum.
Also built to house smart contracts (with help from its LINK tokens), ChainLink is the first major crypto network that can connect others. It makes it possible for businesses to conduct transactions taking advantage of various other cryptocurrencies and blockchains, making for more complex and exact smart contracts. This functionality, coupled with a market cap near $1 billion, indicates that ChainLink has a strong future.
Libra was announced as a digital currency project by Facebook in 2019, and has had a somewhat confusing journey since then. The social media company has already progressed to a version 2.0 of the currency, and we don’t yet know exactly when we’ll be able to use it — or how. In fact, we don’t even know if it will be a cryptocurrency in the strictest terms. But it’s built similarly, and it’s meant to make it easier for people to spend and exchange digital money online. Purely given the clout of Facebook, we have to consider it among the major players of the coming years.
Unknown Government-Backed Options
In some previous predictions for the future of cryptocurrency, we acknowledged that government agencies will soon adapt to blockchain technology. This indeed seems inevitable, and with China leading the way we’re beginning to hear about national digital currencies. As with Libra, these might not be cryptocurrencies in the strictest sense.
China’s, for example, is a direct adaptation of the country’s existing currency — a yuan in digital form. But national, government-backed currencies running on blockchain tech will be equated with cryptocurrency, and it’s likely that some of them will be very significant within a few more years.
There will be more cryptocurrencies than these that we’re talking about in five years. Mainstays like ethereum and litecoin will likely still be around, and there will probably be a few significant options that don’t even exist today, or which are small enough to escape notice. The five cryptos we’ve listed above, however, look to be particularly safe bets to continue attracting our attention in the years ahead.