…Bitcoin isn €™t the only cryptocurrency out there. Several others are also surging in popularity and value, and they claim to offer technical improvements that make them better suited to mainstream use.
Some of these competing currencies already represent significant stores of value. The value of a single bitcoin on the most popular exchange was $93.70 at time of publication, and the total value of all bitcoins in circulation just over $1 billion (it was over $2 billion at the market €™s high point last week). The largest alternative cryptocurrency, litecoins, were worth $2.31 each and $38 million in total; the next largest, PPCoin, were worth $0.22 each adding up to a total value of $4 million.
Bitcoin is based on mathematical techniques that control the production of new bitcoins, make it possible for a person to verify money sent to them is genuine, rule out counterfeiting, and limit the maximum number that can ever exist (to 21 million) (see €œWhat Bitcoin Is, and Why It Matters €).
The Bitcoin alternatives are inspired by that design, which is published openly, and try to offer improvements.