Using our handy guide, you may have already familiarized yourself with all the intricacies of Bitcoin. But aside from bitcoin, there are hundreds of other digital currencies on the market. These are known as"altcoins," or alternatives to bitcoin; as an instance, ether, ripple, zcash, monero and dashboard, to mention just a few.
Altcoins can differ from Bitcoin in a variety of ways. Some have a different economic model or a different coin-distribution method, such as altcoins which were given out to most citizens of a nation. Others employ distinct proof-of-work mining algorithms, maybe to resist technical mining hardware -- or maybe they don't rely on proof of work in any way. Many altcoins offer a more flexible programming language to construct software together with, while yet others provide more privacy compared to Bitcoin. And additionally, there are altcoins that serve very special, non-monetary use cases, like domain name registry or data storage pointers.
However, in addition, there are many altcoins that don't do much fun at all. The huge majority of outcomes just tweak a few parameters that don't matter, or offer something that may sound useful but isn't. If, for example, an altcoin has a larger total amount of coins, it just means each coin is worth. When an altcoin finds blocks faster, it only means that a transaction requires additional confirmations to get a similar level of security.
As such, most altcoins provide no advantage over Bitcoin at all. Plus, they have less hash power procuring them, involve fewer developers enhancing them and are generally less useful due to smaller network effects. And while many altcoins promise useful features, upon closer inspection lots of these promises are just that: promises.
This also suggests that altcoins are usually more rapid than Bitcoin. Their exchange rates are often more volatile, and within the decades practically no altcoins have preserved their worth against bitcoin; many have come and gone. On top of this, many altcoins can be considered blatant scams, mainly created to enrich its own inventors and early adopters.
While some altcoins out there can and do perform tasks that are useful (for example, acting in a testnet capability or offering greater anonymity compared to bitcoin) and may have a future, many others are completely driven by speculation or worse. So be sure to do your homework, and client beware.