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There are two camps in Cryptosphere. Bitcoin Maximalists and Altcoin champions. I first came across the below image when Bitcoin hit an ATH of 7400 during the month of November. Bitcoin rose steeply and many altcoins got butchered. It kind of captured the mood of Bitcoin maximalists very well.
What is Bitcoin?
For the uninitiated Bitcoin is the first widely used peer-to-peer electronic cash. What we mean by peer to peer is that there are no trusted middle parties in the transfer. The ledger of balances that are held by various accounts/parties is maintained by a group of computers called nodes. Since the ledge All these nodes use an algorithm called Proof of Work for consensus. Consensus is coming to an agreement regarding the order of transactions. The order of these transactions is critical as it makes sure that you cannot the spend the money you don’t have. You can also rephrase not spend the same money twice which is generally referred to as “Double Spending” in cryptosphere.
Though there has been references to peer to peer electronic cash for long, 3rd January 2009 (when Bitcoin was introduced and the Genesis block was mined) can be considered as the official start of cryptocurrencies. For a technology that is barely 10 years old it has made many heads turn and has given sleepless nights to many governments and institutions across the world.
What is Altcoin?
All cryptocurrencies other than Bitcoin are called Altcoins. At the time of writing this article there were 1607 coins listed on CoinmarketCap. The fact that you can create a new token in couple of minutes using various token creation services only exacerbates the problem of innumerable coins/tokens popping up each day.
This tweet of mine tries to summarise Bitcoin Maximalism.
Bitcoin is the flag-bearer of cryptocurrencies and my guess is it will remain so for at-least another couple of years. While there are many factors that contribute to the value of a cryptocurrency(or network) the primary factor is still the security of the network. Different camps attribute different factors that represent the security of the network. Some camps attributes security to the amount of POW, a few others attribute it to how distributed a coin is, a few others to vested parties(in DDOS) etc. Considering that Bitcoin has the highest marketcap and highest exposure it is also subject to maximum scrutiny. Security of the Bitcoin network leads to its higher share of Market and higher marketcap makes it more secure. So until something miraculous happens Bitcoin will remain the most secure cryptocurrency network.
For the majority of cryptocurrency lifespan Bitcoin has maintained a dominance of more than 80%. It would be a fallacy to consider Bitcoin Dominance as a unified factor for making any analysis. I think it would make sense to split it into two parts as of now. Pre-March 2017 and Post-March 2017. Though cryptocurrencies were called Smart Money most of their use-cases only went on to prove that they were Dumb Distributed Digital Money. With Ethereum showing the advantages of programmable money and smart contracts the dominance of Bitcoin naturally started falling. I strongly have a feeling that Bitcoin dominance will never cross 80% again. If bitcoin solves its scaling issues it might get back to the levels of 60% dominance again. That would also mean that many of the Bitcoin forks which claim that they are better than Bitcoin or address particular issues of Bitcoin will be further slaughtered.
It is only natural that as the time progress Bitcoin dominance will reduce but it might still remain the dominant coin for at-least foreseeable future(which is crypto is couple of years). For Bitcoin to maintain its dominance above 40% and to reach the figure of 60%, the second layer apps/services on Bitcoin network should drastically increase which doesn’t seem to be the case now. POET is one good project that is moving from Bitcoin testnet to Bitcoin Mainnet. If more project choose this approach Bitcoin will definitely maintain its dominance. The recent occurrences of 51% attacks on various nascent networks and Bitcoin clones only goes on to further prove that it is very difficult to keep the network secure until a hit a critical mass. It would make sense for new projects to choose the most secure network to base their workflows on and may be consider moving to other networks if more advanced secure networks come up at a later stage.
Since we are splitting the dominance charts as pre and post March 2017, let us look at the dominance chart for post March 2017.
From the above graph you can see that though Ethereum rose to 30% during the month of June 2017 due to the craze around programmable money, smart contracts and ICOs it gradually reduced from there and is consistent around the 15% to 20% band. You can observe from the above chart that there is a broadly a inverse correlation between Bitcoin and Ethereum dominance. Whenever the Ethereum dominance increases Bitcoin’s dominance decreases and vice versa. This is no surprise as they were the top two cryptocurrencies. Together they have had a market dominance of 75% till May 2017. After the decrease in December 2017 to a 46% dominance, it has been consistently above 50% till date.
“Others” which were at a meagre 4% around March 2017 has seen a considerable increase in the share till date. It is interesting to see that “others curve” has a general uptrend from March 2017 to till date. There are couple of dates which stand out in this timespan and gives us a better idea of the nature of the so called “others”.
The data for the above table has been fetched using a script I wrote for sampling data from the Highcharts on CoinMarketCap website. You can read more about it here
Try to read the data from the above table and take a look at the chart below to make better sense of it.
March 10, 2017 — Bitcoin : 84.29 , Ethereum : 6.96 , Bitcoin Cash : 0 , Ripple : 1.05 , Others : 4.1
Nothing surprising here. I took this sample just to show how things where when Bitcoin was ruling. So not long ago Bitcoin had a dominance of close to 85 %.
March 26, 2017 — Bitcoin : 66.68 , Ethereum : 20 , Bitcoin Cash : 0 , Ripple : 1.54 , Others : 6.11
Well that was a drastic fall. Bitcoin loses almost 20% and most of it is gained by Ethereum. Ethereum raised from 7% to 20%.
May 18, 2017 — Bitcoin : 48.51 , Ethereum : 13.34 , Bitcoin Cash : 0 , Ripple : 23.83 , Others : 8.83
Ethereum looses some of its dominance. But there is a surprise here from Ripple. Ripple raises to a dominance of 28.83 %. Ethereum and Ripple together bring the dominance of Bitcoin to below 50%.
June 13, 2017 — Bitcoin : 40.23 , Ethereum : 32.45 , Bitcoin Cash : 0 , Ripple : 9.05 , Others : 13.26
Ethereum dominance raises to an all time high of around 32%. Bitcoins dominance is down to around 40%. The craze for programmable money and smart contract is soaring. ICOs become talk of the town. People start asking if Ethereum will overtake Bitcoin.
August 03, 2017 — Bitcoin : 44.67 , Ethereum : 20.84 , Bitcoin Cash : 6.83 , Ripple : 6.73 , Others : 13.55
Bitcoin scaling issues get hotter and Bitcoin is forked to create Bitcoin cash.
November 06, 2017 — Bitcoin : 61.64 , Ethereum : 14.28 , Bitcoin Cash : 5.28 , Ripple : 3.92 , Others : 9.5
As things start settling in, Bitcoin slowly regains its market dominance and regains upto 61% dominance. Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash and Others gradually loose their dominance.
November 12, 2017 — Bitcoin : 53.12 , Ethereum : 15.08 , Bitcoin Cash : 10.62 , Ripple : 4.01 , Others : 10.69
As Bitcoin mining becomes more profitable miners start supporting Bitcoin Cash. Bitcoin Cash raised its dominance to 10.62%.
December 8, 2017 — Bitcoin : 63.13 , Ethereum : 10.05 , Bitcoin Cash : 6.36 , Ripple : 2.28 , Others : 10.81
This is the time where Bitcoin is approaching ATH of close to 20,000 USD. Bitcoin regains its dominance as Altcoins are butchered by the pace of increase in Bitcoin value.
Jan 04, 2018 — Bitcoin : 33.34 , Ethereum : 12.34 , Bitcoin Cash : 5.39 , Ripple : 18.99 , Others : 21.79
Chris Larsen of Ripple becomes richer than Google’s founders. TV hosts start showing how to buy Ripple. Ripple is touted to be the next Bitcoin.
In a span of one month Bitcoin dominance reduced to 33.34% almost half of what it was in December 8th. Post this date looks like Bitcoin dominance might never cross the 60% mark.
Jan 14, 2018 — Bitcoin : 32.54 , Ethereum : 18.47 , Bitcoin Cash : 6.2 , Ripple : 10.44 , Others : 23.91
Ethereum is still facing scaling issues. Others consisting of Tron, IOTA, EOS, Cardano and Stellar keep growing consistently as they promise to enable DAPPS and ICO while addressing the scaling issues.
May 3, 2018 — Bitcoin : 35.93 , Ethereum : 16.29 , Bitcoin Cash : 5.79 , Ripple : 7.67 , Others : 26.98
EOS reaches an ATH of 20USD around this time. Others reach an ATH of 26.98. Others seems to retain their market dominance.
Today-July 05, 2018 — Bitcoin : 41.92 , Ethereum : 17.58 , Bitcoin Cash : 4.79 , Ripple : 7.02 , Others : 22.51
Bitcoin is slowly regaining its dominance. With more cryptocurrencies becoming stable and releasing their mainnets, I think Bitcoin will really have to give a huge fight to go past the 60% dominance mark. BitcoinCash is also trying to position it well by making it usable and user friendly. BitcoinCash might increase its share over the time.
Nevertheless Bitcoin will always have the first mover advantage and even today for many people Cryptocurrencies means Bitcoin. So if Bitcoin addresses its scaling issues and if second layer protocols like “The Lightning Network” become successful, Bitcoin will surely give many new cryptocurrencies a run for their money.
If you found this article please don’t forget to clap and leave comments. I have just listed some dates that I considered in the tug off between Bitcoin and Altcoins. If you think there are other important dates, do let me know in the comments section.
Disclaimer : I am a crytpo-enthusiast and am sharing my opinions for peer review. Please do not consider this as financial advise.
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