Bitcoin has generated a ton of buzz the world of cryptocurrencies, but it’s not the only option.
We’ve compiled a list of the top alternatives, including open source services, payment systems and digital currencies that can be exchanged for traditional money.
Litecoin is derived from Bitcoin’s open source code, but has a faster block rate — two and a half minutes, compared to Bitcoin’s 10 minutes. However, the two currencies are very similar structurally.
Ripple is a currency as well as a payment system. It can be used to transfer any kind of currency, so you can use it to move anything from Bitcoins to Yen. It was launched by Chris Larsen’s OpenCoin company in 2012, which is now backed by Google Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, FF Angel LLC, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Vast Ventures and Bitcoin Opportunity Fund.
Ripple allows you to easily transfer or convert any kind of currency with a minimal transaction fee of $0.0001; a Ripple credit is called an XRP. Its public ledger is similar to Bitcoin’s blockchain, but uses a consensus process to verify transactions.
David Meyer of GigaOm exposes a couple of key weaknesses in the Ripple network. For example, if a currency is backed by a for-profit company, can it ever truly be trusted?
OpenCoin is an open source digital cash project that started in 2007. The project aims to create an open source version of the electronic cash system invented by David Chaum; Chaum, who invented a series of cryptographic protocols, is attributed with developing secure digital cash in 1982. Many of his ideas inspired the technical basis for the 1980s Cypherpunk movement, which is founded on the belief that cryptography should be used as a route to social and political change.
In April 2012, Bitcoin Magazine called MintChip “the Canadian government’s answer to Bitcoin.” MintChip is run by the Royal Canadian Mint and isn’t actually a digital currency; rather, it’s the digital equivalent to a fiat currency, the Canadian dollar. Personal identification isn’t required to use the currency, and customers can exchange MintChip through person-to-person transactions.
Linden Dollars is the primary form of currency in Second Life. It’s not necessarily an alternative to Bitcoin, but can act as another form of digital currency exchangeable for fiat currency, like dollars or Euros.
For more information on Bitcoin alternatives, check out the Bitcoin Wiki page.
Have you ever made a purchase using Bitcoin or another type of cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments below.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Zach Copley