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The 9 Types of Cryptocurrencies You Must Know

In the last few years, the crypto ecosystem has grown rapidly. It’s so fast that outsiders find it difficult to understand the many use-cases within that space. You should now be able to draw mental models that can help you compare the most recent blockchain projects after reading this article.

Some coins will try to do everything. Each coin was limited to being listed only once. Items are therefore grouped according to their primary purpose, regardless of whether they can theoretically do more.

Here is an overview of the top 101 cryptocurrencies and their purpose

Store of Value

This category only has one true asset, and it is not the one intended to be there. Bitcoin was initially designed to be a digital currency. However, the transaction fees are insanely high and expectations change over time. It has become an asset that is more similar to gold or other asset storage. It is an investment and not for direct spending.

  • 1 – Bitcoin

Digital Currency

This is what Bitcoin was originally intended to be. It’s a category full of Bitcoin spin-offs and new tech that focuses primarily on faster, cheaper transactions. These use cases include everyday purchases as well as large-scale transactions such as cross-border intrabank transfers. This list includes smart contracts for about half of the users. However, they are primarily known for their speed and currency use.

  • 5 – XRP
  • 8 – Litecoin
  • 10 – Bitcoin Cash
  • 12 – Stellar
  • 17 – Bitcoin SV
  • 21 – Terra/Luna
  • 24 – NEM
  • 46 – Dash
  • 48 – Decred
  • 56 – Zilliqa
  • 65 – DigiByte
  • 74 – Nano
  • 84 – Horizen

Smart Contracts and Distributed Applications

This list is going to be a long one. Many people see smart contracts or DApps as the most interesting ‘generic use’ for Blockchain/Crypto Currencies. They open the door to many unique financial structures and applications. Everyone in this category wants to be Ethereum’s top 100. The competition is fierce, with each entry trying their best.

  • 2 – Ethereum
  • 4 – Cardano
  • 6 – Polkadot
  • 18 – Eos
  • 19 – Elrond
  • 20 – Tron
  • 27 – Tezos
  • 29 – Avalanche
  • 32 – NEO
  • 34 – Solana
  • 43 – Algorand
  • 53 – Ethereum
  • 54 – Kusama
  • 55 – Waves
  • 59 – NEAR Protocol
  • 63 – Hedera Hashgraph
  • 71 – Celo
  • 80 – Qtum
  • 82 – Matic Network
  • 90 – Fantom
  • 95 – Energy Web Token
  • 96 – IOST


These tokens are intended to be pegged to a real-world value (generally USD) by using a variety of methods. It’s pretty straightforward, and it varies depending on which network or exchange you are on.

  • 3 – Tether
  • 13 – US Coin
  • 36 – Dai
  • 40 – Binance USD
  • 84 – HUSD –
  • 89 – Ampleforth ( The peg to USD is quite weak )
  • 91 – TrueUSD

Stablecoins can be described as digital representations of fiat currencies. There are three types:

  • Fiat-collateralized : A crypto-currency can be backed by fiat currency. Examples include Tether (USDT), and the Gemini Dollar .
  • Crypto-collateralized: The crypto-currency is backed by a crypto-currency. DAI is an example.
  • Non-collateralized Stablecoins rely upon a smart contract to purchase/sell the stablecoin to maintain a constant price.

This topic is covered in the HyperQuant article:

Crypto-collateralized Stablecoins This is a four-part series that serves as a primer for understanding the fundamentals surrounding

Coininsider helped me understand it.

Many stablecoins, however, are not coins but tokens. TerraUSD, and Steem dollars are two examples of stablecoins. TetherUSDCoin are two examples of “stable tokens”. Both tokens are ERC20 tokens and can be found on the Ethereum blockchain.

Exchange Tokens

These tokens are associated with a crypto-currency exchange. While some tokens may also be used for other purposes (mostly as Digital Currencies), their main purpose is to be exchange tokens. Their success will determine how high or low they fall.

  • 7 – Binance Coin
  • 15 – Uniswap
  • 33 – Huobi Token
  • 38 – Sushiswap
  • 39 – FTX Token
  • 41 – coin
  • 44 – UNUS SEED LEO
  • 61 – Loopring
  • 64 – SwissBorg
  • 67 – THORChain
  • 68 – Curve DAO Token
  • 73 – PancakeSwap
  • 76 – Voyager Token
  • 81 – OKB
  • 92 – Alpha Finance Lab
  • 100 – Bancor

Alternative Exchange Tokens

These tokens are not exchange tokens, but they are closely related to crypto trading markets. These tokens are used for exchange-like activities or to offer a narrow, specific type of alternative trading.

  • 25 – Synthetix – Options Trading
  • 52 – 0x (DEX Aggregator)
  • 42 – UMA ( Options Trading)
  • 72 – 1 inch (DEX Aggregator)
  • 78 – HedgeTrade – Crypto Hedge Fund Trading
  • 87 – Kyber Network ( DEX Aggregator )

Extra-Blockchain Communication/Transfers

These tokens/networks are intended to solve the problem between different blockchain networks/the other non-blockchain world and allow for the transfer of assets across those barriers. (Ex. (Ex.

  • 9 – Chainlink
  • 22 – Cosmos
  • 60 – Ren
  • 75 – ICON
  • 77 – Quantity
  • 99 – Ravencoin

Lending/Banking/Yield Farming

These networks and tokens are focused on making trustless lending (savings accounts) and banking (savings account) possible and yield-farming through said lending. They work by encouraging users to secure/lock up digital collateral from different networks and then pay the tokens of other users who borrow their assets.

  • 14 – Aave
  • 28 – Maker
  • 31 – Compound
  • 45 – Celsius
  • 47 –
  • 58 – Nexo
  • 97 – Venus
  • Privacy coins

Fairly self explanatory, these primarily exist to keep as much data about the network/transactions/wallets as anonymous as possible. Although they have been accused of being used for illicit activities, there is nothing wrong with privacy.

  • 23 – Monero
  • 50 – Zcash
  • 101 – Verge

These coins/tokens are unique in their use cases and leave them with few/any direct competition in the top 100. It will depend on whether their use cases are actually available and if they can fill them correctly. Some of them are looking to long-term moving into more general categories but they at the moment have a narrower focus.

  • 11 – Dogecoin ( Meme/Intro to Crypto )
  • 26 – THETA ( Distributed video streaming )
  • 30 – VeChain ( Supply Chain Logistics
  • 35 – IOTA – Internet of Things Logistics
  • 37 – Filecoin ( Distributed File Host )
  • 49 – The Graph (Distributed Search Indexing ).
  • 51 – BitTorrent ( Blockchaining the Bittorrent Protocol)
  • 57 – Revain ( Distributed Review Platform)
  • 68 – OMG Network ( Less expensive ETH Transfers)
  • 69 – Ontology – Identity/Private Data Management
  • 70 – Basic Attention Token ( Web Advertisement/Marketing Replacement )
  • 79 – Siacoin ( Distributed File Hosting )
  • 85 – Reserve Rights ( Stablecoin Counterbalance Token )
  • 88 – Stacks ( DApp Extension onto the Bitcoin Network)
  • 93 – Decentraland ( Distributed Virtual-Reality Platform)
  • 94 – Ocean Protocol ( Data Monetization )
  • 98 – Enjin Coin ( Video Game Items/In-Game Economy )

Wrapped Assets

These are wrapped versions of other assets (Bitcoin), which can be used on other networks. These are generally not worth the risk when you can invest in their liquid base assets. (Ex. They would only be bought to be used in specific DApps/etc., and not to keep them in general.

  • 16 – Wrapped Bitcoin
  • 62 – renBTC
  • 86 – Bitcoin BEP2
An Overview of the types of Cryptocurrencies

Coins vs. Tokens: A technical distinction

Coins represent assets on the native blockchain of their respective assets, while tokens represent assets that are foreign to the blockchain where they reside. Bitcoin on the Bitcoin blockchain, Ether on Ethereum blockchain are examples of coins. Tether is a token that can be used on multiple blockchains. Chainlinks token “LINK” and Uniswaps token “UNI” use the Ethereum blockchain. It is very popular to build tokens on top of Ethereum. Most are ERC20 tokens.

You should note that the terms can be interchanged in certain conversations, articles, and videos.

Although the distinction between tokens and coins is technically difficult, tokens and coins can be grouped according to their intended use. There are many use-cases for tokens and coins, but two main groups stand out: security tokens & utility tokens.

Security Tokens

A security is a financial asset that can be traded. The Howey-Test can help you determine if an asset or security is being held.

A contract, transaction, or scheme in which a person invests money in a common enterprise, and is lead to expect profits only from the efforts of third parties, [is a security according to the US Securities Act]

This is often simplified to:

  1. Did you invest money?
  2. Did the money go to a common venture?
  3. Did there seem to be a profit expectation?
  4. Is the profit solely due to the efforts of the promoter, or a third-party?

You can find examples of security tokens by searching for security token offerings (STOs). and are two examples. SolarStakeL’Osteria were two of the recent examples I found.

Bitcoin is not a security token because it is not invested in any common enterprise.

Equity Tokens

Equity tokens, a type of security token, allow holders to own some rights. This has been mentioned several times. However, I have yet to see a public example. Please share if you have one!

Asset-backed tokens

Tokenization makes assets tradable. You trade the token, not the asset. This was similar to trading paper money. Instead of trading actual gold, you trade paper that represents a portion of it. Asset-backed tokens lack oversight. The token issuer can claim that the asset is backed with anything. This claim is worthless without actual checks.

Tokenize assets:

  • Precious MetalsPAXGDGX are backed up by gold
  • Company shares – Instead of trading company shares on well-known exchanges they could be traded in crypto tokens. This is not something I have seen.
  • Other commodities The PetroXPD), was said to be backed up by oil and mineral resources. Other examples have I not seen.
  • Real Estate: There is multiple tokens about real estate, and many countries that are interested in a crypto token to represent real estate. Although the IHT Coin appears to be heading in that direction, it gives off the impression that it is not yet ready. Although the concept is appealing, there is no ready to use product.

Utility Tokens

The expectation of making a direct profit is the reason security tokens are traded. Utility tokens, on the other hand, are traded with the expectation of receiving some utility. A FIL ( filecoin token / SCSIA_) token can be used to store files. To verify an individual’s identity, the CVC token (Civic). Let’s just say it is the idea. I don’t have any clear instructions as to how to do it.

Gift cards and tickets for public transport are two examples of utility tokens in the real world.

The Basic Attention Token, and the Golem Token are two other examples of utility tokens.

Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

Most tokens and coins can be interchanged. It doesn’t matter what currency you use to buy snacks. It doesn’t matter which collectible you own if you want to buy art, comics, or stamps. 

No van Gogh can be compared to any other van Gogh. CryptoKitties is the digital equivalent. It is your idea that only you can have digital value. You can have some digital value. This is particularly attractive for computer games where rare items are often purchased at a high price. The blockchain allows players to have more control over the asset. It might even be possible for the items to be traded across games.

NFTs can also be created on Ethereum ( ERC-721ERC-1155).


These questions will help you get a general understanding of a cryptocurrency project:

  • Is this a coin, or a token? Which blockchain is it on? Is the project possible to start with a token on Ethereum, and then transition to their own blockchain. This might give you an idea of the security issues that you may need to be concerned about, the areas where most of the work will be done, and whether the high prices for Ethereum or Ethereum 2.0 might be of interest to you.
  • Select from 9 groups. Is it a cryptocurrency, an exchange token or a smart contract Blockchain, NFT? An asset-backed token, a utility token, or something else? This answer could impact regulations, but it should allow you to see how the project can bring value to its users.
Henry Hicks
Henry Hicks
NFT and Crypto Enthusiast. Loves Travelling and Exploring the Metaverse!


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