Consensus 2018, or colloquially known as the annual "bitcoin conference," was supposed to generate investment enthusiasm towards cryptocurrencies. While most conference participants were indeed passionate about the overall blockchain industry, someone needs to tell that to the bitcoin price.
Following Consensus, the original blockchain-reward token is down roughly 10%, falling below the critical $8,000. The recent volatility in the bitcoin price was especially disappointing for long-term proponents, as only a few weeks ago, it was challenging the $10,000 level. Now, the digital token appears ready to test this year's support line at $6,500.
The last few weeks have firmly confirmed one thing: cryptocurrencies are incredibly risky assets, no matter how you cut it. Here at InvestorPlace , sentiment leans somewhat bearishly. Laura Hoy has a neutral view . Ian Bezek doesn't believe bitcoin will return to its all-time highs . And don't invite Lawrence Meyers to Consensus 2019.
Even our feature writer, James Brumley, has been warning investors against cryptocurrencies. I admit, especially at this juncture, their cautiousness sounds exceptionally wise.
But for those sitting on the fence, let me share with you this fact: we're rapidly approaching bitcoin's ten-year anniversary . Thus, I believe the common criticisms that cryptocurrencies are fads that will simply fade away is disingenuous.
I say this because the greatest bubble in human history, the infamous Tulip mania , lasted just over a two-year period. Once people realized that their tulip investments weren't rare at all, the jig was up. The bubble popped, never again to be resurrected.
You can't say that about bitcoin. Especially in our current information age, virtually all concerns are widely and immediately distributed. Yet here we are.
If you've got the stomach, here are 20 cryptocurrencies to consider.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Bitcoin
Bitcoin isn't the fastest blockchain token. It's certainly not an easy one to mine. Nor is it particularly convenient, now that everybody is "clogging up" its blockchain network.
Plus, only 21 million units will ever be mined. Once that metric is hit, that's it. Why, then, would anyone want to buy bitcoin at this time?
Simply, bitcoin has the brand leverage that other cryptocurrencies do not. The term is synonymous with crypto-trading and the broader blockchain industry. And while things move at lightning speed in the technology sector, bitcoin offers familiarity and implied stability.
For newcomers to the blockchain, this reassurance - even if purely psychological - could be the decisive factor.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Ethereum
Second-ranked in market capitalization, ethereum hardly behaves like a perennial runner-up. While bitcoin collapsed from its all-time high back in December, ethereum was going strong until mid-January. Even until early March, it stayed above the $800 price point before eventually correcting.
Fundamentally, ethereum is based on a much more advanced blockchain technology than bitcoin. Essentially, ethereum is bitcoin without its flaws and blemishes. As a result, the runner-up crypto has utility beyond just its use as a digital commodity. Notably, Toyota Motor Corp (ADR) (NYSE: TM ) and Merck & Co., Inc . (NYSE: MRK ) were early adopters of the ethereum platform.
Moving forward, the immediate risk is that ethereum falls to this year's low, which sits around $370. But considering its mainstream value, such a discount would be an enticing opportunity.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Ripple
Just recently, Mila Kunis' husband Ashton Kutcher made an appearance on Ellen DeGeneres' TV show. Kutcher being a tech-savvy investor, donated $4 million to the host's wildlife charity. But the catch was that the donation was paid in the ripple cryptocurrency.
But before you go out and buy ripple, please note that Kutcher co-produced "Punk'd," a show featuring celebrity pranks. Therefore, it's still possible that he's pulling a fast one on us.
That said, I believe Kutcher, if he's sincere, made a shrewd move. Ripple, known commonly as the "banker's cryptocurrency," aims to improve the financial system through blockchain technology. As you can imagine, that's caused controversy among bitcoin proponents, who argue that central banking is anathema to cryptocurrencies.
Still, you can't argue with the heavy-hitters that are exploring Ripple's utility. American Express Company (NYSE: AXP ) and Banco Santander, S.A. (ADR) (NYSE: SAN ) last year announced partnerships with Ripple to speed-up financial transactions. More will surely follow, making its cryptocurrency especially exciting at around 63 cents.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Bitcoin Cash
By including bitcoin cash on this list, I'm going to catch a lot of heat from the "bitcoin only" crowd; this is similar to hardcore traditionalists screaming "King James Bible only." And yes, I admit that some folks have a near-religious fervor when discussing cryptocurrencies. But why the controversy over this offshoot token?
As bitcoin became more popular, it became clear that its underlying blockchain network couldn't handle the immense transaction loads. The original cryptocurrency's creator(s) didn't imagine the spike in popularity. To resolve this issue, most bitcoin proponents fell into two camps: "fix" the original network from within, or start a new, derivative cryptocurrency.
The two sides couldn't come to a resolution. Some of those who wanted to split off started Bitcoin Cash. Utilizing a process called a hardfork , bitcoin cash retains the advantages of the original digital token, but with several other advantages, key among them being faster transaction speeds.
So far, bitcoin cash has been incredibly robust, rising to the fourth-most-valuable cryptocurrency by market cap. As the blockchain industry becomes further integrated into the mainstream, I expect this hardforked token to move significantly higher.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Litecoin
Before the term "altcoin," or alternative cryptocurrency, was created, early blockchain investors had only one other choice, which was litecoin.
The original number two has a colorful history. Originally conceptualized as a quicker and scalable version of bitcoin, it once traded for mere pennies. Up until the early spring season of last year, litecoin traded for mere dollars. Today, it exchanges hands for over $120.
Is it worth the extreme valuation spike? I argue that it is. First, the enormous profitability stems from increased mainstream integration. Second, litecoin transacts significantly quicker than bitcoin, and is therefore useful for everyday purchases. Finally, litecoin has greater brand familiarity than most other altcoins.
Also note that litecoin currently trades close to its year-low price of around $112. This implies that most of the downside has already been priced-in.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Dash
Easily one of the most important goals for any blockchain-based project is mainstream usage and acceptance. If cryptocurrencies are to replace regular currencies, they will have to attract exponentially more people than they do now.
This is where the dash hopes to shake things up. Dash, which stands for digital cash, has a leg up on its altcoin competitors. Presently, over 1,100 businesses accept dash transactions. Granted, that's not a large number, by any means. I wouldn't even call it significant. Plus, many of these businesses are located in countries far away from the U.S.
That said, I appreciate that the cryptocurrency's project leaders are focusing on the retail aspect, and not necessarily on its investment value. This is a blockchain project that's more interested in the cryptocurrency platform's broader economic implications.
However, that factor is exactly why dash appeals to so many, and why its value should continue to rise.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Stellar
While bitcoin enjoyed its breakout moment in 2017, the stellar cryptocurrency was the true winner. Back in January of last year, stellar traded for fractions of a penny. Just one year later, stellar was closing in on a buck. Even at today's deflated price of 30 cents, early adopters accrued immeasurable profitability.
Ordinarily, buying publicly traded stocks for less than a dollar signifies trouble. But in many cases, the most highly-capitalized cryptocurrencies happen to have diluted supply. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as stellar provides practical scalability that the original bitcoin does not.
Also, because Stellar utilizes consensus algorithm for increasing its supply rather than bitcoin's mining process, transactions are significantly faster.
I concede that stellar will likely see wild trading throughout this year, and as a result, it's not for everyone. That said, as a number-eight-ranked cryptocurrency by market cap, its lower price point is extremely attractive for newcomers.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Cardano
Inevitably, the blockchain concept conjures up images of untold riches and flashy Lamborghinis. To be fair, the extracurricular hoopla surrounding Consensus 2018 only reinforced this stereotype. However, some blockchain projects are purely concerned about the platform's technology, which is where Cardano comes in.
Focusing on the scientific aspect, Cardano's website emphasizes its network's open-source nature. That is, anyone with an idea can utilize its blockchain. There are no patents associated with Cardano, thus facilitating a "spirit of collaboration."
That might sound like tech-geeky stuff, and it is. But for the investor who has no time for dealing with the project's granularity, the cardano cryptocurrency is a standout performer. Currently ranked seventh in market cap, it's attractively priced at just under 21 cents.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: NEM
NEM was one of the first "utility blockchains" to hit the market; that is, blockchain projects that are specifically designed for multiple uses and to serve as a platform to launch new ideas.
To that end, NEM's development team created a "Smart Asset System." This unique protocol allows individual users to customize the NEM blockchain to fit their needs precisely. In other words, NEM is scalable to your demands. If demand grows, NEM can seamlessly incorporate additional functionality.
In theory, NEM sounds like a market-winner, and it was. However, a hack which resulted in 500 million NEM units being stolen from a Japanese cryptocurrency exchange killed its value.
But with the hack fading from the news cycle, I believe NEM presents a shrewd opportunity. Irrespective of the breach, its underlying blockchain technology is one of the most innovative. Eventually, more investors will recognize this, increasing its value.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Ethereum Classic
Ethereum Classic confuses crypto newcomers, as it's actually the original Ethereum blockchain. Similar to the Bitcoin Cash controversy, the Ethereum community had its own internal struggle.
A hacker exploited a loophole in the original Ethereum network, draining several ether tokens. Debates quickly sprouted as to how best resolve this crisis. Back in January, I wrote:
A consensus of supporters decided to create a hardfork of the ethereum blockchain. However, a significant amount of dissenters existed. They objected to the hardfork on the basis that it violated the immutable principle of a blockchain application. Rather than follow the new blockchain pathway, the dissenters remained on the original. Thus, ethereum classic came to existence.
That's the extremely abridged version. You can peruse extensive literature on this topic should you wish.
For the rest of us, the ethereum classic cryptocurrency provides a speculative opportunity based on the shared brand name. Not only that, the higher-capitalized ethereum coin was priced where ethereum classic is today before launching into low-earth orbit.
Perhaps a similar thing could occur with this "classic" version?
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: DigiByte
Most cryptocurrency projects are junk, redundant or flat-out scams. Worse yet, several lower-tier crypto projects don't even have the courtesy of putting up a halfway decent website. If you're going to scam me, at least look good doing it!
Although ranked 52nd among all blockchain tokens, what impressed me about the digibyte coin was its development team. Not only do they have a slick, professional website, the programmers explain their project in human terms.
And what makes digibyte tick? Simply, that with their advanced blockchain platform, they can facilitate lightning-quick transactions with unprecedented security . Eventually, the team aims to replace traditional payment-processing services.
I honestly wish all blockchain projects would explain themselves so clearly without BS pseudo-intellectual terminology that no one understands.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: EOS
Another utility-blockchain project, EOS' website states that its programmers "enable vertical and horizontal scaling of decentralized applications ." In human terms, individual EOS users can build custom projects on top of its blockchain platform.
I can't understand for the life of me why blockchain programmers can't speak human ; thus, EOS gets a strike. Second, EOS, like so many other crypto projects, is cryptic. Most of the actual program architecture will be developed by a company headquartered in the Cayman Islands. That's strike two.
But recently, EOS has generated significant buzz . The most important is rumors that the number-five-ranked crypto will be listed on Coinbase.
If that's true - and that's a big if - EOS will land on the moon. Remember that litecoin gained significant investor sentiment when it was listed on Coinbase's consumer-based platform (Coinbase has a separate GDAX trading platform). With EOS currently priced at $12.50, speculators are anticipating a repeat performance.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Presearch
Presearch is one of those cryptocurrencies you find only while randomly browsing the internet inebriated or otherwise impaired. Ranked 288th by market cap, this article may very well be the first that you've heard of this project.
With these caveats aside, Presearch is a tremendously intriguing concept. Marketed as a "decentralized search engine," Presearch users earn PRE tokens for engaging the search engine and its associated community; hence, the name.
Should Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOG , NASDAQ: GOOGL ) worry? For the time being, no. However, I love the Presearch team's ingenuity, and utilizing the blockchain beyond its typical investment-platform process. In addition, as crypto projects become further mainstream, we could see more organizations challenge the current tech hegemony.
The disruptor getting disrupted? That's perfect poetic justice!
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Storiqa
The ultimate goal for blockchain proponents is to create a fully functional digital economy. At present, however, this is just a pipe dream. Traders passionately exchange different cryptocurrencies, but when it comes time to cash out, they do so literally.
Storiqa would like to change this mindset. Developed as a literal market for cryptocurrencies, you can use your blockchain tokens to buy or sell physical goods . Not only that, Storiqa allows you to monetize your business reviews: think Yelp but you get paid for it.
If this sounds like Silk Road 2.0, keep in mind that this is a Moscow, Russia-based venture; thus, our administration is unlikely to pursue sanctions.
As far as the storiqa altcoin, I'm very cautious. Priced at four-tenths of a penny (or 0.00000054 of one bitcoin), storiqa is incredibly speculative.
That said, a dollar will give you 240 units of this stuff, so it may be worth a shot, if only for amusement's sake.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Steem
The 32nd-ranked coin, steem, is an absolute no-brainer. Among major cryptocurrencies, steem is the only one that you can earn for free. That's right! Logon to Steemit.com , create an account, and once accepted (this could take a while), you're on your way to earning blockchain tokens for your blog posts.
In a way, Steemit is what happens when Facebook, Inc . (NASDAQ: FB ) gets blockchained. On the surface, it's an incredible concept. Rather than waste time on Facebook's platform, or that of Twitter Inc (NYSE: TWTR ) and Snap Inc (NYSE: SNAP ), you can make money on Steemit. So why isn't everyone joining?
Bluntly speaking, it's extremely difficult to make worthwhile money. While Steemit advertises their thousand-dollar posts, the reality is that most people will make two or three cents per post. Furthermore, con artists have saturated the platform.
For instance, some of the pump-and-dumpers that urged people to buy precious metals to crash JPMorgan Chase & Co . (NYSE: JPM ) - because they have naked short positions on the metals - are plying their dirty tricks on Steemit.
Still, it is free, which is a huge deal. You can also buy steem tokens to enhance the marketability of your posts, thereby improving your earnings potential.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: IOTA
Currently ranked tenth by market cap, IOTA has one of the most ambitious goals in the blockchain. Utilizing a completely decentralized platform, IOTA is extremely robust and agile. Unlike bitcoin, no limitations exist as to how many transactions can occur within a given timeframe.
Plus, IOTA doesn't charge transaction fees, which is true decentralization!
But the reason this blockchain is structured like this is to actualize the "machine economy." Consider the Internet of Things (IoT), where everything will be digitalized. If the IoT is taken to its extreme, machines will be able to communicate with each other. Under such a system, machines may be able to transact with each other using digital tokens such as IOTA.
If this sounds like Skynet going live, don't worry: we're still a good distance away from the machine economy. However, the pursuit of this concept is very much alive. Thus, IOTA could receive a significant boost from speculative visionaries.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: PotCoin
Arguably the most dramatic investment sector in the stock market today is marijuana . Long-stigmatized, American public sentiment has shifted firmly towards legalization in recent years. That has sprouted significant electoral victories, with more likely in the near future.
Logically, it's only natural that a disruptive plant would join forces with a disruptive technology. PotCoin is just one of many botanical-friendly blockchain projects. Its ultimate goal is to facilitate a fully viable green economy, where growers, dispensaries and individual botanists can transact with potcoin.
Undoubtedly, it's a great story. Moreover, potcoin enjoys legislative tailwinds. That said, marijuana-based cryptocurrencies are incredibly volatile. Not only do they have to deal with problems associated with the blockchain, the U.S. government still categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
But if the "agricultural" industry can generate additional support - and I believe they can - potcoin becomes a solid gamble.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Lisk
Almost every blockchain project promises that they're the "next big thing," yet they all sound the same to the newbie. So what makes Lisk different from the rest?
As an investment, the lisk altcoin has seen wild swings. At one point, the token hit above $35. Presently, lisk has fallen back down to earth, trading hands at just over $9.
Still, another sentiment boost towards cryptocurrencies could spark a return to those highs.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: NEO
The NEO blockchain operates under the "smart contract" principle. Based on the driving force behind Ethereum, smart contracts eliminate the middlemen involved in the enforcement of contractual agreements. In other words, the blockchain acts like an attorney but without the exorbitant legal fees.
Initially, NEO doesn't appear substantially distinct from other blockchain projects. The primary difference is that the NEO altcoin has garnered serious financial success. Back in January 2017, the altcoin traded hands for less than 15 cents. Today, it's a quarter shy of $54.
What speculators are looking for is at least a doubling of its current price. A few months back during the crypto-frenzy, NEO eclipsed $160. While I'm not sure if history will repeat itself, a second bullish wave will surely push the altcoin significantly higher.
Cryptocurrencies to Buy: Factom
Data security and integrity are massive concerns for the business world. Because human operators are fallible, mistakes can end up costing both time and money. Not only that, humans are seducible . Everyone has a price, which adds an entirely new dimension for security protocols.
Specifically focused on the business world, Factom distinguishes itself from the competition. Its program is adaptable to a company's already-established data management system. This allows Factom's clients to benefit directly from blockchain technology without incurring costly integration expenses.
The factom cryptocurrency, called factoid, is significantly off its all-time high of $87. This is one of the cases where I believe the investing community has it wrong. Ranked 96th by market cap, factoids are severely undervalued considering the Factom blockchain's exceptional utility.
As of this writing, Josh Enomoto did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities. He is long all the cryptocurrencies mentioned, except: IOTA, NEO, EOS, dash, presearch, storiqa, and factom.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.